Rowing with Sons has taken me to places I never thought I would visit. After the emotional high of Henley 2016 we decided to reward ourselves with a trip to Copenhagen, and yes, while we are there, why don’t we compete in the World Masters!
It would mark a full year’s rowing for me and I was stoked at the prospect of traveling to a remote area of Copenhagen with some of the best ladies I know to compete in, let’s face it, a pretty darn awesome event.
With 11 of us traveling, we had our 8 rowers, our half pint sized cox, our coach and our tirelessly supportive mascot, Lorena. Coordinated outfits packed, stripy socks cleaned and neatly folded with the Sons onesie, tickets and passports at the ready and off we go.
With the full complement of ladies, coach and mascot, we had a wonder down through what I can only describe as a magical woodland, similar to that of Kevin Costner’s Prince of Thieves hide out as Robin Hood! The 20 minute stroll, gave me plenty of time to imagine, plan and decorate my woodland tree house when we arrived at the lake. It was breathtaking!
The air was still and the water like glass reflecting the surrounding trees, a multitude of greens lining the water at the end of the season. Dragging myself back to the reality of rigging boats, we located the trailer and got to work. With three 8+ between the clubs that were on the trailer and a complement of two crews, it didn’t take us long.
With the jobs done and the checklist ticked, we put our minds to investigating the area. I could see some of the ladies getting anxious … merchandise store located! What a relief!
With our first race the next day, we were early to bed to get well rested before the warm up session. Best laid plans and all that. Five out of the 8 didn’t sleep at all, with Coopsie having spent the night with a movement sensitive light illuminating the room whenever she turned over, creating a disco like environment not desperately indicative to a good night’s sleep.
We can laugh about it now … just.
Bleary eyed but excited to race, we all walked down to the lake, some focused on their next coffee, some on the race ahead and others on the logistics of that treehouse. As we approached the boats, we immediately forgot all our worries and sleepless nights. The morning sun rising over the mirror like lake was filmic in its beauty.
All the late nights training and juggling family, work, rowing and a feeble attempt at a social life seem to fade into insignificance when gliding across the glass like water with nothing but the sound of the blades in the water and the trickle under the boat.
The first day of racing went … let’s just say it went.
We had entered a fair few races, and wanted to try out a few new approaches to the race as a team, under pressure, we (by we, I mean our coach) asked us to experiment with different rates at the beginning, settling in different places and approaching our sprints. As it was 1K, it would be interesting to see what we could do on race day.
We all understood what we were doing as we had been trialing and testing in practice pieces, on camp and throughout erg pieces so … you know … confidence up, let’s see what works when we’re feeling the race day jitters.
The first race was a disaster. The idea was to go all out and get the lead straight away and tap it along, applying more and more power depending on our opponent. Yeah …. so with all the nerves and excitement and our beloved half pint yelling motivational orders down the speakers, the envisaged rate 36 became a rate 44 and 90% became 200% and we blew out at 500m!
Contrary to what it may seem … this was not our first rodeo!
Feeling the weight of total failure crush every and any rowing related dream, we got out of the rather subdued boat. Not brave enough to look the other girls in the eyes as the crippling feeling that you, single-handedly, ruined the race by blowing out too soon and not managing your energy levels the way you know you should! You have never been so undeserving of a seat in a boat of such dedicated rowers!
A comforting arm goes around a slumped shoulder and the chat starts ... quickly silencing the self-depreciating internal monologue and realising that we were all feeling exactly the same. We had all collectively, gloriously messed up what should have been a perfectly good race. Sharing the burden of all the emotions as a crew, we carried each other through the initial disappointment and laughed off all the less positive thoughts, bringing us as a team to the lessons learned and how to grow from it. The total and unconditional support we all provided for each other is most definitely a team moment you can’t replicate.
Win as a team, loose as a team!
Living and eating together always provides a few laughs and that night, for one night only, JoJo became ‘JoJo the BBQ Master’ a well-earned title! Fed and watered and feeling a bit more human, we all toddled off to bed to rest up for the next day of racing.
Day two proved to be much better, throwing in a couple of near wins and some great runs in a mixed 8+, and two 4+ we had a thoroughly fun day. Rounding up the weekend with an all-out -battle for our masters 4+ with a disappointing loss by half a second and a very tearful crew, comforted only by the merchandise store and the promise of an espresso martini later on.
With the boats ready to trailer, spirits back on top form and all our kit and equipment packed, all there was to do was eat everything in the fridge, survive the next day’s hangover and hop on our flight home.
The traditional boomerangs made their appearance into our afternoon festivities and we celebrated a fantastic year of rowing with an amazing group of friends that I have been blessed to have in my life.
Thanks Copenhagen, you did not disappoint!