26 Jun 2021
Peterborough Junior Championships Rowing Regatta

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I'm so excited to be writing to you today about our first and last regatta of the year, and our first regatta ever! At 8:30 this morning the girls' quad left for Peterborough rowing lake to compete twice in lane 1 of 4. We had hoped for many more crews from OSBC to race there today, but due to Covid isolations it was not possible, therefore it was just the Girls Under 15 and the Boys Under 14 Coxed Quads.

In my crew, since Thursday evening there were some very last minutes changes due to Kirkeby going into lockdown, which meant we ended up rowing today with a crew who had never rowed together before! Originally, we had been signed up for our crew to be Lily Obagi as Cox, myself as Stroke, Rowan Griffiths at 3, Jenny Lin at 2, and Felicity Mansergh at Bow, and we practised this again in our last session on Thursday. When Jenny went into isolation on Thursday evening, we were struggling to find another option before withdrawing our last Under 15 Quad, when Mr Aston realized we could get Luke Empson to Cox our quad if Lily filled in at 2 for Jenny. We were all very nervous, none more so than Lily, about the fact poor Lily hadn't rowed at all for the past two years, let alone in a quad before - as you can imagine, not an ideal start!

Our first race was at 11:10 and was a time trial round. It didn't go amazingly well due to nerves, a new crew combination, about 6 hiccups along the way which meant we had to stop and refocus, and a very close capsize! We didn't have the experience of how to pace ourselves under the pressure, so started off very fast with a lot of power and ended much slower with a lot less energy! Nevertheless, out of the 20 schools competing, this placed us in the Plate A Final, racing against Sir William Perkins School, Kingston Grammar School, and Norwich School. After a crew talk with our amazing coaches, including Miss Morris and baby Henrietta, we had a much better race at 12:35, completing the course 15 seconds faster than our first race with no mistakes and much better pacing, narrowly losing out to the Gold from Sir William Perkins by 4 seconds and beating Bedford Girl's School who finished 3rd. We were very proud of ourselves for achieving what we had thought would be an impossible transformation of technique and teamwork, especially because we had started off the second race by letting the other schools get ahead (definitely on purpose...) but managed to get it back and overtake Kingston Grammar School, Norwich School and catch up with Sir William Perkins by moving as one to keep the rhythm, technique, and speed constant which immediately showed the teamwork and effort going into the improvements. There were a lot of moments when I could feel my crew behind me getting tired, and times when I thought I couldn't keep adding more pressure to lead the others and speed us up, but Luke helped us enormously with key motivation at the most crucial points. We are overjoyed with our Silver medals and the huge boosting of confidence that the extraordinary transformation has given us. It was proof of what true teamwork can do!

The Boys' Under 14 Coxed Quad arrived as we were finishing our second race to participate in their first ever races too. They started off with a really good time trial round and finished with a very credible 9th place out of 17 crews which placed them in the C Final. In the C Final they had an even better row and managed to overhaul crews from Bedford School and Norwich School, finishing 2nd just behind Kingston Grammar School. I didn't get to see them after their final race but know that they should be happy with themselves!

Eleanor Thomas L4