The Ladies Quad set off to St Ives for the Head to Head race not entirely sure what was involved. A discussion in the car concluded that a racing turn was unlikely to be possible on health and safety grounds, so there would probably be a welcome breather at the half way point, which happily proved to be the case.
The first hurdle was getting the boat off the top of the trailer, as unlike at the Winter League there were no tall club members loitering who could be roped into help. The next hazard to be negotiated was getting into the boat: the river level was very low and it literally required a leap of faith. Happily we all successfully made it into our seats while remaining dry and set off for the start. After a bit of milling round while the race order was altered it was our turn to go, with a loud cry from our cox of ‘remember ladies you’re going for gold!’ ringing in our ears.
From past experience we have learnt to be a little sceptical of some of our cox’s utterances in the heat of a race but were delighted when she prefaced her comment ‘you are catching the boat in front’ with the word genuinely. We could also see we were pulling away from the boat behind which was encouraging. We had tried to ignore the tree tops thrashing around when we were rigging but once on the water it was clear conditions were somewhat less than ideal; but thanks to excellent steering around the testing bends we made it to the turning point with no encounters with the bank.
On our return trip we felt confident enough to ask the starter to give us a longer gap before setting off, as the combination of bends, wind and tendency for the boat in front to go down the middle of the river meant we were unlikely to be able to overtake. We were now against the wind which was increasing to gale force, and at times were hit broad side by waves, but made it back to the finish in one piece, mainly thanks to the skill of our cox. Thank you Mel.
After the race we were unsure how to find the St Ives club house on dry land, and needed to get back to Ely to help with the trailer, so we set off immediately for home happy it had been a fun day out. We were surprised and delighted when we saw the times that evening, and all very over-excited when we found out we were going receive medals to mark our victory.