Women’s Head of the River Race

Recap from Saturday’s adventure – my crew and I ventured to London to race the Women’s Head of the River Race(WeHoRR), 7k on the Thames.

We met for crew breakfast in hall, and then proceeded to the station to get the train into London. The adventures began right away, as we had an altercation with some people in the queue for tickets. It turns out you can only buy tickets one at a time on the machines, and there were seven of us. The plan had been for one person to get all the tickets to save time, but once we realised we had to get each one separately, we figured it made sense for us each to pay for them individually. Three separate people in the queue saw this and started freaking out, yelling at us about queue skipping, being foreign and not understanding the concept of queues, not considering other people’s feelings, being inexcusably rude and ignorant, etc. It was really quite unpleasant. I’m not sure I’ve ever had anyone have a go at me quite like that. In the end, Julia ended up buying each ticket individually herself, because they couldn’t handle us ‘skipping the queue,’ although it of course made no difference to the amount of time we had to wait. Three of us tried to explain to these people the situation, but they were having none of it. It was quite horrible actually, but we eventually got our tickets, although we missed the train we were aiming for. Fortunately, there is no shortage of trains on Saturday morning, so we hopped on the next one.

A beautiful day for an adventure

Obviously, we had provisions for the train. Percy Pig makes an appearance again

It was an absolutely stunning day

From King’s Cross, we grabbed the Tube to Hammersmith (I love the Tube! I love London!)

We walked from the station to Hammersmith Bridge/the river – the tide was up and the river was sparkling!

We were using the facilities of Auriol Kensington Rowing Club, which is where we had a week-long training camp at the start of this term. (Actually, that is blog worthy, at some point). In any case, we were pretty familiar with the area, and the boathouse. It’s located in between two pubs, and lots of people were out enjoying the weather and activity.

Once we had settled in, we had to deal with our boat. In order to get it from Cambridge to London, we had to de-rig (take off all the metal bits, etc., and take the boat apart (it divides into two halves)), and put it on a trailer to get to London. Unfortunately, the trailer was parked very very (very) far away from where we were putting the boat on the water, so there was a lot of carrying to be done.

Putting the boat back together

Look what I found!

Our blades, ready to go

Getting on the water (this was so much easier than on training camp, when the tide was always out. Will do a ‘then and now’ picture for side-by-side comparison)

(in January)

A) Note the weather. B) Not sure you can quite tell from the photo, but that is a metal grated ramp at about a forty five degree angle. When carrying a boat that weighs rather a lot, this entire process was pretty unpleasant. Going straight out onto the pontoon this weekend was a treat! (Of course, by the time the race was over, the tide was considerably lower so we did have to go up the ramp.. but that’s another story).

On the water – my blade. Notice how flat the water is. This is not normal for the Tideway! Because it’s such a big river, it’s usually pretty choppy. We were very lucky.

Whole crew while we’re waiting for the start. There are more than 300 crews that race WeHoRR, so there is a lot of loitering while all the crews get into position.

Whilst we were waiting around, I took advantage of the opportunity to recline. Yes, I am lying down in the boat.

Obviously I don’t have any photos from the race, but because it’s quite a big race, there are a lot of professional photographers taking pictures for purchase. Here are a couple links to some of these.

The race itself was ok, ish. We were missing 3 members of our Lents crew, and had about three outings together before the race, and our lack of experience and consistency showed during the race. Of course, we knew going into the race that we didn’t have the experience in the boat, so we didn’t have huge expectations. At least it was sunny!

By the time we got off the water, the sun was setting, and the river was even more beautiful.

Once we had dealt with the boat (de-rig again, carry it back to the trailer, etc.) we got changed and joined current and past members of First & Third for a pub crawl. There is an annual ‘Boat Race pub crawl’ (usually nearer to the actual Boat Race, but whatever), which visits pubs along the Boat Race course (the reverse of the WeHoRR course). They got started whilst we were racing (this meant we got a massive cheer as we rowed past them during the race 🙂 ), and we joined them at pub number six, The Old Ship.

By this point, my camera battery was dying, but I did manage to get a photo of the ‘super moon.’ (I didn’t actually know about this in advance, but I certainly noticed once the sun had set!

We continued on to The Black Lion, The Bull’s Head, Ye White Hart, and ending at The Ship. This was quite enough for me, no lunch + racing meant my pint or two (or three) of cider was felt quite quickly. Nevertheless, wandering around London was awesome, as was pub crawling. At the end, we stopped for food at a Thai/curry place, as by that point we were all very very desperate for some sustenance. I had some simple egg fried noodles, which were tasty and did the job. It was a good way to finish off the night!

All in all, it was another surreal experience – visiting lots of British pubs with lots of British people, just one of the crowd! It was really great fun. There was, however, quite a lot of walking. The boat race course is 7k long, and we joined in about 2k in.. We also had to walk probably another 25-30 minutes to get to my friend’s car. (She drove down from Cambridge and volunteered to take me back, as I wasn’t hugely keen on cycling back from the Cambridge station post-several pints, plus I’d forgotten my bicycle lights). When we finally reached the car, I promptly fell asleep until we were essentially outside my door.

Yesterday was spent sleeping, eating, procrastinating, erging, and hanging out with friends before I begin the serious holiday work. (I’ve inaugurated that today by writing this mammoth post.. Hmm..)

This afternoon the plan is to attempt to go out (rowing) in a double (two people, four oars, high likelihood of falling in. Yikes). Will see how that goes!

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