4 – 5 July 2013

Report from Andrew Halls, OA 2012

Taking confidence from consistently faster times to course markers in the first round of racing, we went into Thursday's race with confidence that if we raced to our ability we would progress to the Friday. Vesta, aware they were up against a selected crew, went really hard off the start to try and upset our race plan, but to no avail – by the Barrier, we had a length of open water over them and were feeling comfortable. This allowed us to step down the rate to conserve energy, but with the confidence brought from being able to see the crew behind you suffering we were still able to draw further away. This meant at Fawley, we had a 3 length lead and so were able to relax further. By the finish, the margin of victory was 3½ lengths.

This brought about a contest against a young but fast American Green Lake Crew in a prime-time first slot after lunch on the always packed Friday, with intense sun beating down from a cloudless blue sky. Despite plenty of distractions on the bank on the way up to the start, along with many heckles, the crew remained focus on the job at hand, determined not to be beaten by a 'bunch of schoolboys', albeit talented ones. After an extended wait on the start due to the arrival of a helicopter in the adjacent field, the crews were called to attention and set off. Unfortunately, the blade of a not to be named rower got slightly caught on the 4th stroke (some say his long hair obscured his vision), dragging down the boat to one side, allowing Green Lake to jump ahead. Luckily, the crew was experienced enough to keep calm and carry on, drawing back to level by the end of the Island. The crew never looked back. By the Barrier, we had moved to over half a length ahead and were moving away. At Fawley, we were feeling comfortable and had opened up nearly a length of clear water advantage. From there we took it home, sitting at just below the normal race rate, opening up to a maximum lead of 3 lengths. As we reached the finish, to their credit, Green Lake put in a huge sprint to the finish, closing the gap up to 1½ lengths, although the result was never in doubt.

A shout-out must go to the large number of OA supporters on the bank that cheered raucously from start to finish. Next up is Thames Rowing Club for a chance to make the final.

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