Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Geeze, where did the rest of that trip go? For that matter, what happened to Monday and Tuesday? Ah well. One thing at a time.

So, the big race on Race Day. I was up bright and early again on Sunday morning, this time to get race-ready. There were several things on my list of concerns, and the best way to address them was to get underway early, so I did. First stop, Dunkin' Donuts for some coffee and a breakfast croissant (only gig in town open at 6 am). Then, down to the boathouse to get the single situated. I was concerned about getting permission to launch from the dock at the Newell Boathouse, because the rulebook said, "No wet launching" and I don't like to break rules. I managed to quickly find the Harvard Boatman, who had a penetrating gaze, and was granted permission. Phew! Then I found a rower to help pin my number on my back. Phew two.

When I returned back outside to the trailer, BD, the coach who was loaning me a boat, had arrived. Hurrah! I was able to get his permission to use a different set of sculling oars from the ones I'd practiced with on Friday, figuring the worst that could happen was they'd be just as bad as the ones I'd used Friday. He and his assistant coach helped me carry the single through the boathouse and down to the water without incident. Phew three. A bit more civilized than Friday's wet-launch, but not a big ordeal either way.

Three strokes in and I could tell the oars were way better already. BIG PHEW FOUR. I got tied in and then joined all of the other single scullers making their way down to the Basin. It seemed like I launched a bit early for my event, to judge by the fact that most of the scullers I saw were male, but that was quite all right because I had wanted the extra time to make sure I was as well-adjusted as I could be with the boat and everything, especially given how squirrelly practice had been on Friday.

The Basin was about as crazy as you can imagine, given that there were four back-to-back singles races happening. Regardless, I managed to thread my way through and then found a good spot to hang out and wait while the officials started to queue everyone up. Soon enough, almost everyone in our race was lined up correctly, odd bow numbers towards the Boston shore (=me, bow 23), even bow numbers towards the Cambridge shore. From first glances, I determined that the odd-numbered rowers immediately behind me looked frighteningly strong and fast. This was not going to be a simple race for the finish - there would be some passing happening, and it probably wouldn't be me doing the passing. The makings for an interesting head race, ahem. I hoped I wouldn't embarrass myself too horribly. Except, one boat was missing - the boat that was supposed to be just ahead of me, bow number 21. I tried to lave some space, resisting the urgings of the officials to close up the gap. And then, at the VERY last minute, bow number 21 showed up and hopped in line.

Soon enough, time to row towards the start in order, then time to take up the power, then the glorious sound of the announcer informing me that I was now on the course. Here we go!

The first stretch towards the Powerhouse bridges felt incredible. It wasn't ALL adrenaline, I swear, but adrenaline was certainly involved. The water was calm, and the boat and oars responded very well to the increase in speed and stroke rating. I got that same feeling of flying along that I've had fleeting glimpses of over the past couple of months. I had a nice chunk of open space in front of me, and a comfortable amount of space behind me, so I could relax and take a clean, tight line around the bend near Magazine Beach without worrying about where other boats were.

As I looked around, I could see that I was even gaining on a boat that had started ahead of me, and it also looked like I was opening some ground on the boat right behind me. Oh boy, there's a chance I'm not going to finish dead last! (I had no illusions about doing well, mind you, but that's okay.) On the other hand, just as I'd suspected, a boat further back in the pack was starting to move forward by that point, and was on the verge of passing the boat right behind me.

I decided my best course of action would be to try and stay out of the way while rowing through the Powerhouse section between the River Street and Western Ave Bridges, so I stuck to the outside arches instead of heading towards the middle arches.

Then it was time to head towards the Weeks Footbridge. This is a point where there's a 90-degree bend in the river, and it's a point that can make or break the race, depending on what happens (see photo at the end). There were boats very close right in front of me and also tight right behind me, all traveling at different speeds and making me nervous. So my angle entering the bridge was pretty good, but I wound up going way too wide as I exited the bridge, taking slightly more of a tour of the shoreline than I would have liked.

Regardless, I straightened out as best as I could and headed towards the Anderson Bridge opening. There were still too many boats around, and there were some scary near-misses in there that I can't precisely remember now, other than remembering that my stern came within two inches of another boat's bow - yikes. No direct hits or clashes, though, thank goodness. The main thing I remember is that in the end I had a great point coming out of the Anderson Bridge, straight towards the ventilation building on the horizon. I wouldn't repeat the same mistake as in 2012, where I took a wide course and cost myself time in that stretch.

There was just one small problem. At this point, two fast boats behind me had caught up and were just passing me, one slightly ahead of the other, jockeying with each other for the prime position inside the turn. Meanwhile, I was still gaining on the boat just ahead of me. So for a spell, there were four boats across, all trying to make our way around the big 180-degree curve towards the Eliot Bridge. What a nightmare!

Regatta rules are that slower boats must yield the right-of-way to faster boats, starting when the faster boats are 1 boatlength behind. In the heat of the moment, that's often easier said than done. Because I'd taken such a wide course through the Weeks Bridge, I was on the outside of the course while trying to pass the slower boat ahead of me - far from the ideal place to be. The two fast ladies weren't nearly so nice, and took the inside of the course, as they should. That left the slow boat trapped between me and the fast ladies, with nowhere to go.

At one point, things got so hairy that she just stopped rowing, almost trapping my oar, so at the same time I had to stop rowing myself and yell at her to keep moving. That kerfuffle took enough time that the two faster boats managed to edge ahead of both of us. I then decided to focus on motoring up ahead of the slow boat as much as possible, so I kicked up my stroke rating and surged ahead temporarily.

Meanwhile, I could hear and see the two faster boats just ahead of me engaging in their own loud "diplomatic negotiations" about the right-of-way. And so with all of the congestion, I resigned myself to taking another wide turn around another crucial bend in the course. Unfortunately, this meant that I wasn't able to get free of the slower single. So as the Eliot Bridge came into sight, I decided "to hell with this," and took the outside arch again, leaving her the full inside arch to use as she pleased.

That meant even more steering once I was through the bridge, but it also meant I would finally have the inside of a turn as we headed towards the finish line. Fine. As I carried along, I got passed by yet another boat, an amazing 1x rower from the event behind us. Way to go, junior sculler. You are fast! But at least in the last stretch it felt like I could open the throttle again and just get the whole thing over with.


I'm still sort of scratching my head over how the race went. On the one hand, those close calls could have gone MUCH worse. I am SO GLAD I have gotten to train with other boats in close quarters during practice and at the Wine Country Classic because the practice has helped me do a better job of dealing with situations as they arise during races.

On the other hand, I need to work on being more confidently aggressive when the situation warrants it. It's very hard to make the appropriate snap decisions in the heat of the moment, while also trying to turn around and steer and row well and hard and fast. Those things are all a product of practice, which I haven't been able to get enough of, this year. At some point during the weekend, another rower was telling me about an effective passing move where the oncoming boat used their bowball to tap the stern to the side. I could see how one could do this, given enough confidence, and how it could cause the boat that's being overtaken to yield. But I didn't quite have a clear enough sense of the timing of how long it was going to take for the boats behind me to catch up, versus me overtaking the slower boat ahead of me. Oh well. Future goals.

Altogether, my time was 25 seconds faster than in 2012 (23:07 vs. 23:32). So technically, I achieved my goal of being faster than my prior self, woo! On the other hand, the first-place finisher this year was 31 seconds faster than in 2012, so the water conditions were probably better this year. But it was also a dramatically different race for me - I know I had an almost-perfect course in 2012, and I don't think I had nearly as much boat traffic to deal with.

So I'm calling it "an experience." It was good to feel like I've gotten more confident in the single, even while it was frustrating to feel like I wish I'd been able to train more effectively.

Regardless, I'll revisit the matter in a couple of years, the next time I'm eligible to put in an entry, because it's still great to get to go back and row on the Charles.

Seen around Boston
Rowers coming through the Weeks Footbridge on Saturday morning. If you look closely (click through), you can see that the rower on the left in the foreground took a crazy, wide arc, and is going to get a time penalty for going outside of the course buoys. The rower on the right has close to a perfect course for lining up for the opening under the Anderson Bridge. The boats in the middle distance are both overcorrecting towards the Boston shore. And way back in the background, you can see another single going for the extra-wide tour on the left, like I did, plus two other boats that came through just fine.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1183967.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


Latest Month

May 2019


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Naoto Kishi