On saturday the 3rd March close to 300 crews assembled at the Thames to compete at the biggest event of the Head Race season - Women's Head of the River. Three of these crews consisted of Warwick Rowing Senior Women 1st and 2nd VIII and a Novice Women's VIII, all motivated to culminate the season with a result they could be proud of.
The Senior Women's 1st VIII had, had a late-starting but fantastic season consisting of silver at BUCS and wins at both Reading and Trent Head. Nevertheless they were entering WeHORR as the "underdogs" with scores from their previous years not presenting a recognizable threat to their main competitors. With little expectation of the crew from outside the club the girls knew they had the opportunity to shock and impress the rowing world and really put Warwick women on the map.
After a motivational speech from coach, Rob Fellowes, the girls set off on the warm up with silence in the boat as every girl focused on what they needed to do in the coming race. The girls started off at a fairly low and consistent rate, taking time to settle into the race. As time went on the girls pushed on, sticking to what they knew they were best at: consistency, rhythm and strength. After overtaking two crews, the girls pushed on determined to take down and horizon Milton Keynes. Through determination and power they achieved this and some more, overtaking a total of seven crews over the duration of the race. Once they passed under Hammersmith Bridge the strong head wind kicked into the boat, cox Priya assuring the girls they had the confidence and aggression to continue, and the girls sat up and dug in, not adverse to rough conditions. After an all out finish, every single girl knew they had given 110% to the boat and could only wait to see if it was enough.
The final result was a placing of 56th, an astonishing improvement on the previous years result of 210 and a Warwick Rowing club record!
1st VIII crew from bow: Robin Pflughaupt, Emma Passey, Millie Spellman, Karen Donaldson, Jess Wilkinson, Flavie Bahuaud, Carmel Smith, Sarah White. Cox: Priya Sinha.
In previous years, the 2nd VIII has consisted solely of novice rowers, however, this year, we were able to put out of a crew predominantly made up of seniors with a couple of high class novices to fill the remaining seats. They, along with the rest of the crew outperformed everyone's expectations, achieving a highly credible result and setting the crew up for a successful regatta season.
Setting off 155th, the crew didn't know what to expect. However, everyone kept their heads and held a solid and consistent rhythm throughout the race. The crew was not fazed by seeing crews drift into the distance after overtaking a multitude of IM3 competitors and Zoe, the cox, held her line well despite the obstacles.
Through determination and aggression, they stormed into 123rd position, setting a new Warwick Rowing record for the women's 2nd VIII; 56 places off the previous 2nd VIII record. This marked the third ever highest placing for Warwick Women, only 20 places behind the previous 1st VIII record.
2nd VIII crew from bow: Fiona Angell, Ella Godwin, Emily Preece, Amber Capewell, Georgie Smith, Lexie Titterington, Catherine Stuart, Lauren Rutter. Cox: Zoe Buckland
Novice Women's 3rd VIII
After a rather late boating the 3rd VIII used their time on the row up to focus on their task ahead maintaining a positive attitude. During the winding up to race pressure a slight equipment failure brought the boat to an abrupt halt. After this frantic check 50m from the start line, the crew managed to regain composure and storm through the start. Maintaining a strong balance at rate 28 and technical focus throughout, the crew maintained firm pressure throughout. As the last boat to cross the start line, the crew faced the challenge of having no crew to push off. But this did not faze them, as they continued to hunt down the opposition closing to within a length as they cross the finish line. A massive achievement was accomplished as the 3rd VIII were proud to hear that they came 243rd overall setting a new record for women's third VIII as well as matching previous years novice women's result.
3rd VIII: Crew from bow: Francesca Salzano, Sarah Calder, Becky Nutbrown, Hettie Reed, Jenny Clark, Stella Fox, Ella E-Peterson, Lara Cross Cox: Jaymal Amin
These results are truly representative of the level to which Warwick women are now operating and are deserved by the women entirely. Nevertheless, they would not have happened without the help of all the individuals who have contributed to the women's rowing in some way over the last few years (Ross Martin, James Chilcott and Nick Wake to name a few.) However, the main recognition should be for the dedication, perseverence and ambition of Senior Women's Coach, Rob Fellowes and Novice Women's Coach, Oliver Frazer. These two men worked tirelessly to ensure that Warwick women stepped up and gained some big results, and they achieved that and more!
As Senior Women's Captain I wanted to do something big for 2012 and here it happened. I really have never been prouder.
Don't worry though, this isn't the end for Warwick Rowing's women, it is only the beginning! See you in Regatta season!