Two regattas in two weeks; spring racing is coming to an end but we're finishing strong! Both the William's Island Regatta and Dogwood Junior Championships presented their own set of challenges but we managed to push through and have made some great progress!
William's Island Regatta
The William's Island Regatta was the first of these two. It's an unofficial race held at Baylor, a school in Chattanooga. Last year we were met with some choppy water and strong winds, but this time we were fortunate not to have these obstacles.
Instead, we had others!
To start, as soon as we got to the venue we had to "rig" our boats, as usual, but this time we struggled finding the hardware that we needed and repeatedly mistook "what goes where." Nevertheless, with a little help, it all got sorted out.
Then, once on the dock, no one brought our oars down for us! That's one thing that a rower truly needs! Eventually some were brought down, but we were still short a pair, and so, one of us had to row with a different pair. I'm not sure if that affected us later on or not.
Finally! We were all set and pushed off the dock, ready to head up for our race!
It's a bit tricky going under the small bridge at Baylor. It's a tight space, and if we don't get it just right, we could end up flipping!
Luckily, that didn't happen and we got through just fine!
Don't think that our troubles were done already! The worse is yet to come!
When we got up to the starting line and had to get ready to start racing, we had some trouble getting lined up. There would be four boats in our race: us, two boats from other teams, and another from ours. We were supposed to be in the lane between the two other teams, but they didn't leave enough space for us to fit, so we had to settle in another lane. Fortunately, I don't think that the coaches minded.
And with that, we were ready to race!
It was a tight race at the start, but as we went on, the two other teams kept inching their way ahead. We were determined to stay ahead of our own team's other boat though! It wouldn't be easy, but we'd definitely try!
Thank you Coach for this video :)
But then, still extremely close to the start, barely into the race, it happened. Our bow rower shouted "HARD LEFT!" ordering us to row harder with our left hand. This was to straighten our boat back up and point straight down the river. It's nothing to worry about, and not really hard to do. For one or two strokes that is...not the entire race!
The ENTIRE race, from the first few meters to the very end we were rowing "hard lefts," so much so that my left wrist hurt when we were done! But even doing this we still couldn't get our boat going straight! No matter what we did it kept drifting off course! You can even hear it in the video as the officials yell "Huntsville, lane 3, push starboard!" It was a nightmare and left us all exhausted; out of breath and with sore arms!
Regardless, we still managed to finish the race! And we still beat our team's other boat, like we'd wanted!
And after waiting for a while, we passed under the bridge again and prepared to dock.
With the commotion over and that being our only race of the day, we went to set our boat down.
Curious about why we'd had so much trouble on the water, I decided to check on the skeg (fin used for steering) of the boat. Maybe it was broken or bent? I was right! It curved one way and made steering the boat almost impossible! That's why we'd had so much trouble! Of course, I told Coach about it so that it could be fixed for next time.
We probably would have done better if it had been straight, but we did what we could and came third of four. With it being an unofficial race, though, we didn't get medals :(
And after that painful race, all that was left to do was load the trailer, help out, and enjoy some time with my friends!
Dogwood Junior Championships
Baylor was just a practice race though. It was mostly for fun and getting used to racing close to other boats. Dogwood Junior Championships were what we were really training for. Well, that and upcoming Regionals.
This time I'd compete in two events: the quad that raced at Baylor and a double!
But Dogwood was the week right after Baylor, and so we only had two practices between them! One of them wasn't even a full practice as we had to unload the trailer during that time too! That was the one and only time that I'd ever rowed in my new double before the race, and it was only for less than an hour and in a creek! Before Dogwood we hadn't even gone out in the river in that boat!
As soon as we got there, we had to rush to get boats ready to go! The women's four would be the first to race, and though I wasn't in it myself, I still had to help get it ready! Same as with the singles!
The doubles would be next to head out, and that included mine!
The time to race came before I even knew it, and boy was I nervous! We'd only had one practice in this lineup...ever...and it worried me quite a bit! And with it having been in the creek, it was only in short sprints, so I wasn't sure how we'd handle an entire 2k!
But I wasn't about to quit. Especially not before we even gave it a try! So, we pushed off the dock and started heading up to the starting line!
And when they were done with their single races, two other girls from our team hopped into their double and rowed up to join us!
Being a championship race, it would be organized as time trials, semi-finals, and finals. In each of my events, only the top 18 in time trials would get to move on. If we weren't amongst those, our racing for the weekend would be over right then and there!
So naturally, we wanted to finish as one of the fastest 18! It would be particularly difficult for our double considering there were 28 entries and each one of them wanted to advance!
All that we could do was give it everything we could and hope that it was enough! I was surprised by how well our boat felt! And we were putting up a fight too! We managed to pass a boat by a lot and only one other passed us!
But even after crossing the finishing line we had no idea how we'd placed since it was time trials! We'd only know once we'd viewed the results...
...and there was no time to do that either!
Both my double partner and I had to immediately "hot seat" into our quad. The rest of our teammates in that boat would be there to help us get ready, and we wouldn't have any time to waste before heading back upstream for the next event!
I only had enough time to grab another water bottle before it was hands on the boat! I don't think I even had the chance to put my shoes back on!
After less than five minutes on land and still no news about whether we were moving on in our double, we were back on the dock getting ready to race again!
Quick on the dock...
...and we were off! This was my first time ever having to go directly from one boat to another, and it was chaotic, but other than that, it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be! The row up to the starting line was at a steady pace, so I had some time to recover, and luckily the races were delayed a few minutes, so we still had some time to rest!
The race itself was pretty painful though...as always. At the start, half of our boat wasn't aware that our timer had already started. Then I think it was about halfway through that a boat passed us.
We weren't going to let them do that, so we pushed hard and caught back up to them! But the lanes aren't big enough for passing, so we kind of ran into them doing so...
They weren't going to let that happen either, so they picked up speed and started gaining on us!
In the end, I think that we crossed before them, but since they started after us, their time was still better.
I was exhausted by the time it was over! I gave it everything that I had, but I was worried that maybe it hadn't been enough. Once again, we wouldn't know the results for a while. Again, we'd have to place top 18 to move on, but this time there were only 24 boats competing, so our odds were a bit better.
The guys had to use our boat for their own race, so we didn't have to worry about putting anything away. All that we could do was wait to see who'd be moving on. I was worried that that may have been it for me. If I wasn't moving on, that would've been my last race at Dogwood this year!
Finally! I was told which boats would be advancing to semi-finals!
The quad was done. In that boat we'd placed 20th, which didn't make the cut. We were less than a quarter of a second from the boat ahead of us, but several seconds away from 18th and qualifying.
My double, on the other hand, had made the cut! We finished 16th of the 28 boats competing, so we would have another opportunity to race! I was super excited, especially since I'd feared that we wouldn't make it! And another win for me is that we finished less than 7 seconds off of our team's other double, and they've been racing together a lot longer! I'm coming for you!
So, knowing this, I joined my Mami for some lunch and rest before I'd have to get ready once again!
A few hours later, we were sent out to get back to the starting line!
And, it seems, that while I was out, a family of ducks came to visit...
And although I didn't see them myself, Mami took a lot of pictures, so I just had to include them!
Look at all the adorable ducklings!
Now...back to the race!
Unlike time trials where we all started at different times and had no idea how we were doing, semi-finals were head-to-head, so everyone knew how we were doing!
For the first part of the race, we were in the middle of the pack, and we were really tight for most of it! Even as boats started getting ahead, it was all still pretty close! We were neck in neck with another boat for the entire time, and not far behind another too!
It was really the closest race that I've ever been in! At every other head-to-head race like this one, the other boats have jumped up in front at the start and stayed there the entire time! This time, we were right in the middle for most of it!
We finished last, so clearly not advancing to finals, but we pulled in tight! We were about a quarter of a second behind 5th place!
Also, we were placed in the lane farthest from shore, which is the one that suffered the most wind! We were continuously being pushed out of our lane, but we still made it through!
Knowing that we wouldn't advance to finals, we had to put our boat away and enjoyed the rest of the regatta!
But not before taking some fun pictures showing off our muscles!
I would have loved to have won a medal at Dogwood, and to have received one at Baylor, but I still had a blast and am happy with how we did!
We'll see, hopefully we medal at Regionals in a few weeks!