by Nina Faure Beaulieu, stroke
There was no better way to end the term than a crew trip to London to take part in Women’s Eights Head of the River Race. Following on such a successful Torpids for all of our crews, this race was an opportunity enjoy rowing with a little less pressure on our shoulders, as well as a great chance to step out of the Oxford rowing bubble. For three of our rowers: Meryem Arik, Hannah Asiki, and Eleanor Fielding, this would be their first tideway race - and more importantly, their first distance longer than the Isis 2k! Our cox, Olivia Murray, had also never coxed the tideway before and was going to have to change from her usual calls of the last week that had mostly been about how close we were to bumping! Luckily, Amanda Thomas was experienced with WEHoRR and talked Liv through important info such as bridge order and getting used to being shouted at by marshals.
In the morning, after fuelling ourselves on pancakes and nutella, we set off to Cygnet rowing club where Marlow RC had very generously offered to let us borrow a boat. We arrived to witness a lawn filled with rows and rows of boats from rowing clubs from all over the country. With so many boats waiting to go on the river, WEHoRR chaos quickly settled in and after a stressful hour of rigging, to heads, to waist, to heads again, to shoulders, and queuing, we were finally off! The wait to our race was long but far from boring. We were all very excited to be on a river three times the width of the ISIS and this was evident from the numerous times Olivia had to ask some of us (Juliette & Meryem - captain and novice) to keep our heads in the boat…
Finally, when it was our time to start, we picked up the pace and shot out of Chiswick bridge ready to take on this 6.8km course. The race was tough and long but guided by Olivia, we overtook two crews and did not let anyone overtake us. We didn’t get bumped during Torpids and we sure as hell weren’t going to get bumped on the Tideway! The push off Hammersmith bridge was nothing like any of us had experienced before: with hundreds of spectators cheering the boats on it really felt like we were part of something big. After crossing the finishing line, we were all exhausted but enjoyed a row back snacking on large amounts of chocolates. During the race we managed to move from position 199 to 159 with a time of 21.31, which was definitely a feat to be proud of!
This was a fantastic end to Hilary term, leaving the girls hungry for Summer VIIs and ready to tackle holiday training to prepare for more bumps success next term!