HRR Update Eight

HRR Update Eight, from 51.5768° N, 0.9895° W

Today’s update is from rising fourth year Connor O’Brien. Affectionally called O’Breezy by teammates, he has studied German so he was the translator in Switzerland and has transitioned into being the connoisseur of British tunes and car DJ; lots of Arctic Monkeys. Connor sits in bow of the four.

The guys enjoying the infamous porridge for breakfast out in the garden.

Today we once again woke up and were greeted to a lovely porridge breakfast from our gracious hosts. However, there was a more serious tone in the air this morning, as today was the day of our time trials, where both boats would have to fight for a spot to compete in their respective events, with the fastest eight fours and the fastest ten eights advancing onto the Regatta proper.

After breakfast, the team headed down to the Thames for one last lap on the course to rehearse their race plans before the time trials this afternoon. It was only a light paddle with a few strokes at race pace to help both crews familiarize themselves with the course one last time before the big event this afternoon. Both crews felt confident after the morning’s row and flushed out some race day nerves before heading back to the Mill House to get some more rest and a good meal before embarking upon our dance with destiny.

Both crews felt confident heading into the time trial this afternoon, thanks to our training throughout the week at Henley, as well as the time put in in Switzerland, and the entire season thus far. The four went to the course first to get ready for their race, with the eight following shortly after.

We went through our mental prep and visualization of the race in the four after arriving at the course, completed our land warm-up, and before long hands were on the boat and we were once again on the historic river Thames on the way to our time trial. The warm-up on the water felt a little shaky as the very last of the nerves past through our bodies before it was game time. All of the fours in the time trial lined up in alphabetical order, and the stewards started each crew thirty seconds apart.

Before long it was our turn to show the UK what it means to row for Virginia. The conditions were not optimal, with a bracing head wind whipping down the course that would occasionally turn into a cross wind, making it difficult for the boats to stay stable on the water. However, thanks to our physical and mental training we were able face the conditions with confidence and quickly established a smooth and sustainable rhythm that carried us down the course. Our adrenaline was flowing, as we knew that this could be the end of our racing if we failed to perform, but all five members of the boat kept their composure with rowers and coxswain executing our race plan with ease.

As the race progressed, more and more spectators lined the shore of the Thames and their cheers of “Virginia” spurred us on as our bodies and minds were pushed to their limit; and just like that, we crossed the finish line, took our boat back to the tents, and awaited our fate.

The eight just after the time trial results were announced in the boat tent.

We all felt confident, as we had left everything we had on the water; for ourselves, for each other, and for Virginia; but the whimsy of chance and fate can often be cruel to even the most deserving. Fortunately, we were masters of our fate today, and the results were soon in confirming our thoughts that we had made it through the time trial and are ready to compete in the Regatta.

Shortly after our results had come in it was time for the eight to launch and go through the same ordeal that we had, but they too felt confident in their abilities, and despite changing winds throughout their time trial, they too triumphed and once again showed London what it means to be a Wahoo and are ready to continue their pursuit of greatness throughout the Temple Challenge Cup. After a hard day of racing and a lovely supper provided by our hosts, the Hoos headed down to a local pub in Nettlebed and enjoyed a nice drink before heading off to bed, ready to continue our training with a new level of intensity and focus tomorrow, and keep advancing through the Henley Royal Regatta.

If you’d like to see more of our adventure, you can also follow our travels on twitter (@VirginiaRowing) and instagram (@vmensrowing).