Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Season that Wasn't

Greetings from sunny and springlike Oxford! The weather here has been suspiciously lovely of late; it seemed like one week it was still harsh winter, and the next all the flowers were out and the sun was shining. Here's hoping it lasts!

I realized that in the rush of finishing up last term, I never did a recap post of how rowing went for our winter season. Coming into the winter months, I was feeling quite smug because at home obviously no one was getting out on the water (unless you count snowshoeing across a frozen lake an outing...), so I was looking forward to England's relatively mild winters to get to keep rowing and racing.

And then... the rain came. As I wrote about a few times previously, we tried to get around the flooding by hauling up to Eton Dorney (the site of the 2012 olympic rowing events) but could only get up once a week at most and were otherwise stuck in the boathouse erging all winter. All in all, the Isis (the river that we row on in Oxford) remained closed for 85 days continuously, which I think might be an Oxford record.

Unfortunately this meant that Torpids, the big end-of-winter intracollege competition that we had been aiming for all term, ended up being cancelled. There were a few days in the week before where we got tantalizingly close to having the river open again and being able to row, so it was doubly frustrating when it ended up getting called off just two days before it was supposed to start.

 (Finally out on the water!! This was the week after term ended)

 (In our matching, and ridiculously pink, kit)

To make up for the disappointment of Torpids, we staged an unofficial race back at Dorney against a few of the other women's college teams. We went in with pretty low expectations, as we'd had so little water time, so it was a big thrill to take an early lead and hold it through 2000m to win! Hooray! A very happy start to my Pembroke rowing career :)

(dealing with some chop - I'm in the sunglasses in front of the girl in the white hat)

Alas, though, our luck sort of ran dry at that point, as we then turned our hopes to qualifying for the college race at the Henley Boat Races by winning a head race against the other women's teams a week later. After being initially declared the winners of the qualifier, it turned out that there had been a scoring error and our results had to be dismissed, requiring a re-row. By the time the second race occurred, the weather had turned extremely blustery, which didn't favor our strong but fairly inexperienced crew (as difficult conditions favor better bladework and technique over raw power), meaning that we got beaten fairly convincingly. Bummer.

 (My main technical fault at the moment is opening my body too early... as evidenced beautifully by this photograph (I'm in the red jacket). Whoops.)

(I thought riding produced the doofiest possible faces in sport... and then I started rowing.)

It was perhaps a blessing in disguise, as this meant that we could all take a break from the intense training we'd been putting in and get a moment to enjoy being on vacation. Plus, it meant that we got to dress fancy and drink like rogues when we went to Henley Boat Races, instead of worrying about rowing!

Even though the winter season was a bit of a downer in terms of water time and racing time, rowing remains the highlight of my time here at Oxford so far. I've loved feeling like an athlete, getting stronger, and having an outlet for my sort of obsessive tendencies that riding used to absorb. Most of all, though, I really love being on a team and getting to hang out with my amazing teammates every day. I feel really lucky to be part of this weird, crazy little world.

(PCBC all gigged up for our end of term black tie dinner)

(My boat; we take ourselves seriously...)

(...but not too seriously.)

Now, on to Summer Eights!
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