Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rowing Downtown

This past Sunday marked our second Head Race of the season. Our first was two weeks ago with the race around Wye Island on Maryland's Eastern Shore. I've been too lazy to get around to posting pictures and writing about it and perhaps I still will, but the bottom line is we won! There were three boats in our category (Masters Men 8+) - ourselves, a boat from Wilmington and one from Alexandria. We were first off and slowly pulled away from Wilmington and we never saw Alexandria. We later heard they made a wrong turn somewhere along the line. So a great start to the Head Race portion of our schedule.

Sunday our race was the Head of the Potomac. I was scheduled to race in a 4+ and a mixed 8+. The mixed 8+ consists of 4 men and 4 women. I didn't get to race in the Men's 8+ primarily because I have the suckiest erg time for 5,000 meters among the men. I need to work on that although part of it is that I'm also the smallest guy on the team. However in the men's 4+, I was moved from2 seat to the stroke seat so a bit of a promotion there. My first race was in the Men's 4+. The boats launched from Thompson's Boat Center although the race itself is hosted by the Potomac Boat Club. For those familiar with the Washington area, it all happens down at the Georgetown waterfront. One of the interesting aspects of the area is that the old C&O Canal runs through it. Keep in mind this is right downtown.

The course itself starts above Key Bridge - way above and finishes at the Roosevelt Bridge. It's shorter then most Head Races although not by much. However it seems longer then most. As far as a scenic course, it can't be beat. This is looking up the course from Thompson's.

After the race, you circle back to the docks at Thompson's and row by the Kennedy Center.
So for my races. My boat finished last in the Men's 4+ (out of 7 boats), even after the time adjustments due to the age of our boat (50+ category). The race didn't feel that bad, but obviously we have some work to do. The Mixed 8+ was the next to last race of the day. There were 3 boats in the race - one from Capital Rowing Club and one from Thompson's. We were the third boat crossing the start. I had no real expectations for this race. The 8 of us had never rowed together and the crew was not made up out of the cream of the crop of the rowers in our club. It took us a while just to figure who should row in what seat. I got elected to stroke, which was ok with me. As we rowed up tot he start, the sky was turning an ominous color of black. The referees on the course told us as we passed them that if the storm struck to row to Potomac Boat Club and wait it out rather then to try and make it all the was back to Thompson's. We were late getting up to the start as we hot seated the boat with our Men's 8+. Hot seating meaning we rowed the same boat as the Men's 8+. They pulled into the dock and hopped out and the Mixed 8+ hopped in and took off. So we basically rowed up, spun the boat and headed to the start. As we crossed the start line it started to rain. Lightly at first and then harder. I kept the boat at a 28 stroke race through most of the race. As we approached the Key Bridge, our coxswain started telling us how close we were to passing the boat from Thompson's. Frankly I thought she was lying to us just to keep us motivated as I didn't think we would be passing anyone, but who knew? We did catch and pass them. I have to put a mention here of our coxswain for the race, Sammie. She coxes primarily for the women's side, but for this race she agreed to do the Mixed 8+. She's from Australia and still has the accent. It's so cool listening to her. Her calls sometimes are a bit different then our calls here in the States, but that just adds to the experience. Anyway, as I mentioned we passed the boat from Thompson's and then Sammie was telling us how we were gaining on the boat from Capital. By that time we were nearing the finish and I picked the stroke rate up to 31/strokes per min so we finished hard. The organizers were quick to post the time and we had the fastest time and won 1st Place Medals. So cool. Oh and rain, it slowly diminished as we raced so it turned out to be a nonfactor. Besides our Mixed 8+, the Women's 8+ also won. Our other Men's 4+ came in 4th, one of our Men captured a 2nd in the Masters single (1X), The Women's 4+s came in 2nd and 5th (out of 14) respectively, and the Men's 8+ came in 4th (out of 11). Overall a good day for our club. next week we race on our home water in the Occoquan Challenge. I will return to the Men's 8+ for the race, which I love.
Some more pictures from this weekend. The Men's8+ loading at the dock.

Men's 8+ leaving the dock and rowing up to the start.

The Women's 8+ loading at the dock.

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