20th May 2012 Distance: 1000m
Mix.D.IM3.2x Crew: David Richardson (bow), Susanna Holt (stroke)
Result: an easy win for the Cantabs double
Cantabs (D): 3:53.4
Weybridge (D): 4:08.6
Oundle (C): 4:24.3
Champs (E): DNS
For the D crews these times include the 8 seconds spent waiting at the start. The C crew had to wait another 7 seconds.
When we raced Head of the Cam together it had seemed as if our sculling styles were naturally well matched. Since then Tom had coached two outings where we worked on hand speeds in the first few strokes start, settling into a race rhythm, using our hips together and using the same amount of back-lean.
We did not know the opposition and went into the race in good spirits. We did a few bursts into the head wind on our way to the start with each one being better than the previous. A practice start with the tail wind we were going to have in the race was not quite straight but otherwise solid.
There were entries from three age categories with us in the middle. The E doubles got an 8 second head start on us so we knew exactly when the “go” would come for us and set off to a flying (and straight) start. We had eased past the other D double by 250m and were gaining on the E double and moved past around the middle of the race. At that point we drifted to stroke side and the quality of our sculling deteriorated. The water felt particularly choppy and difficult to manage.
We recovered and built up to a solid and satisfying (if unnecessary) sprint for the line.
The C double who had started after us never really made an impact and we would have beaten them without handicap.
It so happens that the winners of the championship Mix.D.2x were in our race which means we would probably have won that event too if we had entered it. Their winning time had been 3:57.9 compared to our real time of 3:45.4. Normally that event is won by a crew from Wycliffe College but they had chosen not to do that race this year.
With a bit of practise we may be able to compete as men, where the winning time was 3:33.0 and where we would have come fourth.
W.D.1x Crew: Susanna Holt
Results: I came second in a tight race for the silver medal
Brown (X-Press): 4:07.9
Holt (Cantabs): 4:13.6
Reay (Bedford): 4:14.5
Moore (Grosvenor): 4:14.7
Skipper (MA&A): 4:33.8
Wood (Durham University): DNS
This is one of my three big races for the season (along with Henley Masters and World Masters) and it was also my first regatta for this year. Tom had arranged a lot of sparring on the Cam where it became clear that I find it difficult to settle when there is someone next to or ahead of me. I am also prone to reverting to bad habits such as lake squaring when I am under pressure.
My process goal was to row my own race and not let myself be distracted by what is going on around me. For the first time ever (in the single) I was really looking forward to the race as I sat at the start line and to this opportunity of testing the improvements I have made over the winter.
I had a tight turnaround from the race in the double and that worked well for me: I row technically better in the double and that sets a good standard for the single. I was properly warmed up for this race, not too tired and did not have enough time to get stressed.
I came off to a decent start and while I noticed that Sue Brown and Joy Skipper on either side shot ahead I paid no attention until I had completed the start sequence. I never saw Sue again. At that point I was already gaining ground on Joy Skipper; Reay from Bedford (whose start may be even slower than mine) was a bit behind and Moore was ahead of Joy Skipper. I got into a decent rhythm, and continued to push past Joy Skipper and by half way Moore was slightly ahead of me and Reay slightly behind. I pulled ahead of Moore but then hit a bad patch of wind and water that pushed me toward Joy Skipper’s lane. She was too far behind for that to matter but I was worried about clipping a buoy on my way back. I got my boat back into my lane and was able to sort myself up reasonably quickly, but by now I was running out of water. I hit another bad patch with about 250m to go and recovered in time for a tight race for the silver medal – on the last 20 strokes I did not even dare look at the other competitors in case I upset the balance of the boat again. I am told this was quite exciting for the spectators and that the commentator was predicting a photo finish. In the end it did not come to that although I could have done without what seemed like a long wait until I knew who was going to be called up for collection of the silver medal.
I was pleased with my sculling in the final sprint: I came back from a dodgy patch, remembered to get speed from a strong backend and never gave up. I don’t think there were any problems with late squaring or sculling my blades either.
Overall, I suspect that I was losing length at the front end through not being patient enough and not allowing the blades to lock on properly before driving the legs down. I was rating about 30spm which is probably a bit low for the strong tail wind.
I had spent a lot of time on visualisation and race planning and the only bit I actually implemented in the race was the start and the sprint for the line. There just seemed to be so much going on and then suddenly the race was over. This is not terribly surprising as I cannot even get that right in the practise pieces, but I believe it is worth spending more time on this as it should allow me to race to my abilities.
On the other hand, the concentration work I have been doing is really helping me stay focussed before and during the race. I will continue with that.
As far as the outcome of the race is concerned, I would have preferred to finish closer to Sue Brown. On the other hand, this is the first time I have beaten Reay from Bedford which is a nice result.