The season ended with a trip to Henley Women’s Regatta for W1. Unfortunately, one of our rowers was contact-traced just days beforehand. However, luckily, Tatiana (our ‘super sub’ from W2) agreed to jump in the boat at the last minute. With three of our crew having their graduation the day before Friday’s 9am time trial, it was a tight turnaround… but we just about made it down in time to rig the boat - we were the last ones left in the competitors’ area at 9pm!
The next morning, we were up bright and early for our time trial, which was one of the first races of the day. We lined up next to Temple Island after a short warm-up paddle. Setting off with our standing start (which we had perfected during the June Eights Regatta!) we settled at a strong rate 38. It was the first time any of us had rowed at Henley, so it was difficult to judge distance without the landmarks we were used to on the Cam. However, the relatively short 1450m flew by and, before we knew it, we were taking it up for the finish. We had the encouraging calls of Amy telling us that we were gaining on Lady Margaret to help push us over the line. Queens’ has not qualified for Henley since 2007, so we were ecstatic to find out that not only had we made it through the heats, but were actually in 10th place! This result meant that we posted faster times than crews like the University of Leeds and Wolfson College (Oxford) who recently gained headship. An extra well done goes to our Stroke, Emma, who despite an injury, still managed to maintain a high and consistent rate throughout the race!
The crew had the afternoon off to enjoy some racing (and a physio appointment for Emma!) before our heat the next day. We were set to face the University of Bath - a race we knew would be difficult. Nonetheless, we were determined to give it our best shot. Our tactic was to go out hard, and hold onto them for as long as we possibly could. We tapped up to the start, there was a long pause… and we were off! However, in the time we were waiting for the umpire’s flag, the two boats had drifted towards each other and, within just a few strokes, our blades had clashed! There was an anxious wait before it was decided that the clash was the fault of neither crew, before we were told to back-it-down to the start. Having already done it once before, we were less nervous for our second start and flew off, holding onto Bath. By halfway through the course, they had only gained half a length on us and with our ‘reset’ call they were struggling to make any more progress. As we moved further into the second half of the race, however, we started to run out of steam and Bath pulled ahead into clear water.
Despite our defeat, it was a brilliant race and the crew gave it everything they had. When the race times were released, we realised that ours had been the fastest heat and we knew that we’d given Bath a good run for their money. It was a fantastic way to end the season!