This fall has been super busy and exciting, with three great regattas in a short period of time. I've raced in eights, quads, fours, and even the double that I've been pushing for since last year! We faced everything from horrible weather to equipment malfunctions, but we always pushed through and finished strong! Each of these regattas has been an amazing experience in its own way, with much progress and much more to come!
Here's what happened at the Secret City Head Race, Music City Head Race, and the Head of the Hooch!
Secret City Head Race
To start off the season was the Secret City Head Race, our first regatta since Spring, and I was excited to get back out on the water!
Last year when I went to Secret City, I raced in my double and did pretty well, medaling third of the four boats in our race. This year I wouldn't get to row my double, but I was still hoping to medal in my eight or quad! The first chance came around noon, when the eight got ready to head out!
Once everything was in its place, we pushed off the dock and started our journey 5k up stream...
...and then raced back down!
A few interesting things happened during that event. First was the fact that it took us a while to get to the starting line, and it didn't help that we'd gotten delayed on the dock waiting for another team to finish. By the time we made it, we were late for our race. Luckily, the referees let us go after some fours in another event, so we still got our chance!
However, our eight was faster than those fours and eventually caught up to them, causing some issues when they didn't yield and instead pushed us closer to shore. That made our oars collide and even resulted in one of our teammates getting an oar to the head!
Still, we pushed through and finished 7th out of 11, keeping up with the pack and passing a few boats!
Back on dry land, we put our boat away and gathered around Coach to talk about the race. I think she was happy with how we did...
Then we had a few hours to rest before most of us on the girl's squad got back on the water for a second race.
My double partner and some other girls from our team were in a four that went out shortly before my quad. While rowing up to the starting line I got to see them coming down the course!
That quad of mine had some of the strongest and best rowers on our team, so I was sure that we were going to do great! Unfortunately, we just didn't have much time to practice together leading up to that race. Allie and I spent nearly every practice in the eight, so we weren't quite ready to race in a sculling boat.
Still, we survived.... that's the important part! We also managed to beat a boat, placing 9th out of 10. And that's with another boat that didn't yield properly; they ran into us and both boats came to a complete stop!
This was the one and only time that we raced in this quad the entire year, so who knows how we would've done if given a second chance at redemption! Hopefully we'll find out!
I think that if we practice in that quad some more, we might stand a chance during spring racing next year!
So, although I didn't medal like I'd wanted, I still had a great time at the Secret City Head Race, and learned something very important...we had to train harder if we wanted to win at our next regatta!
Music City Head Race
The very first regatta I ever went to was the Music City Head Race of 2021, and one year later I found myself competing there again! This time in an eight and a four instead of my double....
The double was the first boat that I raced in, and by far, the best! It helps that I was paired with the BEST double partner that I could have ever asked for! And though we raced together during all three of my Fall 2021 regattas, Coach hadn't placed us in our double since :(
Well, for this regatta I would be racing in the eight and a four. The four was actually like a shrunken version of the eight, since it's just like we took out the middle four rowers!
Mami and I left home really early in the morning and drove up to Nashville for the regatta in time to help unload the trailer.
The first event of the day for our team would be the women's eight, racing at 8:30, so we had to get everything set quickly to launch in time!
Though one of the very first races of the day, the dock was very wet when we got there, so as soon as the shoes came off, our feet got wet :( It's not really nice rowing with cold, wet socks, but I guess that's just what you have to do!
With everything ready to go, it was time to push off the dock and prepare to race!
Time to head up the river!
And now back down!
From what I remember, this race went pretty well. We made it to the starting line in time for our race (a bit tight, but still on time) and at times it felt like we were flying across the water!
Exhausted, we made our way to the dock...
...took our oars out and carried the boat...
...and joined Coach to hear how we did. Turns out we did pretty well! Though only 7th out of 10, the competition was fierce, and we managed to shave off over two minutes from our previous race only two weeks earlier!
We had to derig and load the eight before we could do anything else, but when that was done, my double partner and I decided to head up to the bridge, accompanied by another teammate of ours.
Last year, while we were up there it started to rain, but this time we were lucky enough to stay dry! There was no rain or thunder all day!
We spent a while up there, watching some boats pass by and just hanging out before the women's doubles from our team started passing by on their way to the starting line!
I know I wanted to be in one of those boats!
Some time passed before it was time for my next race...the four!
As we do for every race, we got warmed up, grabbed our boat, and carried it to the dock. The thing that I don't like about Music City is the little dip before the docks, since it makes the boat harder to carry. Half the team is in the dip at a time and can't reach, so the others have to lift the extra weight! It's not much of a problem for small boats like singles and doubles, but it is for the rest! Then there's the steep incline to get to the docks, covered in gravel so it's easy to slip! We have to be extremely careful going up and down!
Still, we made it down safely and pushed off, out into the river, ready for our next adventure!
There was some difficulty this time, since a device that the coxswain uses called a cox box, wasn't working properly. It's used to measures speed, rating, and time, so without those functions, we were basically flying blind. We had no idea how we were doing, if we were going too slow, at a rating that was too high, so all we could do was guess the rating and pull as hard as we could!
To make things worse, it was hot and humid, and it was HORRIBLE! By the time we crossed the finishing line I felt like I was going to pass out! I was really dizzy, and it felt like the dock was spinning when I stood up! I'm sure I wasn't the only one that felt that way, because as soon as we were done doing everything that we needed to, we all sat down to rest!
I sat down in the shade of the trailer and enjoyed a tasty bag of Hippeas!
Alas, rest time was cut short, as I had to go help the guys' doubles that were coming in and put away their boats.
Then, not long after, the women's singles were finishing, so I headed over to the water's edge to watch them race! One of those singles was Hayden, who finished in first place!
With the boats already on the trailer, wrapping up the day went quickly, and we were all on our way home!
Head of the Hooch
The final regatta of the season, the "last of the great fall regattas", Head of the Hooch is what we had all been waiting for. It's the second largest regatta in North America, with teams from all over competing! This time, we'd be racing on Saturday and Sunday, with myself taking part in 3 events!
For my Mami and I, the weekend started a little after noon on Friday when we left for Chattanooga. Surprisingly we made great timing and barely hit any of the traffic that we usually do! Once in the city, we made sure to stop by Cashew, a great vegan restaurant, and get something to eat to fuel up for race day! From there we headed on to the hotel to rest before the long day that lay ahead of us!
We arrived at the venue at a decent time. It was nice not having to be there at 6am and instead being able to wake up at a reasonable hour for the regatta, since my first race wasn't until noon, and I didn't have to help many other boats get ready before then!
In that time waiting, I did have one boat to help launch though. It was a four, and one of the first boats for the day, so I got that out of the way soon. After that, I didn't have anything to do until my own race. Nevertheless, the time to set out for my eight finally came!
So we grabbed our boat and started the trek to the dock!
At the Head of the Hooch, it's a pretty long walk from our trailer to the docks. At least, it feels like a long walk when you're carrying a heavy boat on your shoulder!
We made it to the dock and prepared to start our row after getting everything set pretty quickly!
I remember thinking to myself that the water looked a little rough, but I honestly didn't think much of it. I had NO idea what was in store for us though!
"Choppy" doesn't even begin to describe how bad the water was at the starting line. When we got there, it still wasn't too bad, but as we waited for our turn to race, things turned around fast! The wind started to pick up, going against the current, and as it did, the water began to swell and even whitecap! As time went on, the waves got bigger, and water even started getting in the boat! Our coxswain got wet after a while, with an inch or two getting in her seat! The wind also got so bad that all of the boats waiting at the starting line started getting pushed into one another, so we had to back it away frantically trying not to run into anyone!
Eventually it was our turn to race, so we turned our boat to the start and began picking up speed. Unfortunately, the wind was also picking up speed, and let's just say it wasn't in our favor. The waves just kept getting worse and as we started racing, we kept getting splashed and flooded, that by the time we made it back we were all wet!
That's also due to the fact that it started drizzling right after our race but while we were still out on the water.
Regardless of everything thrown our way, we still made it out alive and put up a good fight! We managed to place 24th out of 33!
Oh, and by the way, just look at the chaos on the dock!
With the water being as bad as it was, we weren't sure if the double races later on were still going to take place, or perhaps be cancelled or suspended.
Speaking of doubles, since my races last fall, I've wanted to be placed back in my double with my rowing partner. However, an injury in spring made that impossible, and since then Coach hadn't placed us together expect for a short part of practice on seat racing day (however, I was placed in bow, and I'm not good at that seat in a sculling boat, so we didn't do very good that day). That all changed on Halloween when Coach offered us the chance of racing that boat, realizing how much we really wanted that opportunity. With two short practices before the race, we were set to race that boat at the Hooch, so we really hoped that the doubles were still on!
There wasn't much we could do though except wait and see how things turned out, so we went back to the team tent for some lunch.
Then after some time, we went back to Coach at the trailer to see what was going on. The U19 double was still going out, since they're the most experienced of us, and the other U17 one wouldn't since the water was still too rough, so Coach made the call for them. Our double, however, was given the choice to go out or stay in. Since we'd been rowing together for a while, Coach gave us that option, and we chose to give it a shot! We'd been trying so hard to keep our double, to show Coach that we should row in it, and this was our shot to do just that! With little time to prepare, we set out once again!
The water was much better this time around; though still a little choppy, the wind had died down. It felt great to be back in our double, regardless of it being a tough race...
Nearly all of our practice was invested in the eight, so we had very little time in sculling boats. This made my arms and lungs hurt so bad that I nearly felt like giving up! Lucky for me, my double partner wouldn't let me and kept motivating me to keep going...I'm so glad that she did!
We finished 33rd out of the 45 boats in our event! Our time was better than that of last year, even with the lack of practice, and our time was close to that of our team's U19 boat! For me, that's a big win!
It was strange coming in though. Those assigned to help us didn't come, and we couldn't find any of the coaches.
But after setting our boat down and drinking a lot of water, we walked back to the team tent to join our families. Once there, we told them about how our race went...
...and had some fun carrying each other!
When the last of our team's boats had come back in, we all set out our different ways to get dinner and rest before the next day. We tried going out to eat together, but waiting times were too long, so instead, Mami and I crossed the bridge and got something at Chipotle! I really enjoy their burritos with Sofritas, rice, veggies, and their green sauce...YUM!
So, after enjoying our dinner by the Tennessee Aquarium, and having those chocolate bars at the hotel, we tried to get some sleep before the busy day that would follow!
First off on my agenda was watching Hayden's single race and cheering her on! She did amazing by the way!
Then I spent most of the day helping out when I could and watching other boats race, but mostly just hanging out with a couple of my teammates. It started raining a bit, but not much, and it felt like the time for my race arrived quickly! It was the U19 mixed eight, and I was excited for this race. Some of the best rowers from the team, both from the women's and men's squad, would be in my boat!
But the race right after us, launching at about the same time, would be a mixed U17 eight. So, when the coaches talked to us before we left, they reminded us to beat their time, because if we didn't, they'd never let us forget it!
With that in mind, we got ready to race!
Preparing the boat...
...and pushing off the dock...
...going out to war!
It was a pretty rough race. Though the water was much nicer than the day before, a new set of challenges was presented!
About 50 meters in, or around the very beginning of the course, my feet flew out of my shoes! They're made for men, so too big for me, and the Velcro straps are worn out a bit, so my left foot easily slid out, and it wasn't long before my right foot followed. It's a lot harder rowing without shoes, but that's what I had to do! Fortunately, we made it to the end...
...finishing 23rd out of 31...
...and most importantly, beating the U17 eight. It wasn't by much, but we still beat them!
Following our race we had to derig the boat quickly and get everything put away.
Unfortunately, there was some trouble in doing so. There was a slight error in estimating the space for the eights on the trailer, but that was enough to mess us up completely! We had to untie some boats, shift them to a side, reload the eight, and tie that up, and it took a long time to do!
Once that was done, we were free to start our journey back home! Mami and I made a quick stop at Whole Foods for something to eat first, and then resumed our drive!
This past Monday signaled the end of the fall rowing season, with a short break before winter training begins. Now it's time to train hard so that we can medal in the spring, and so that I can prove to Coach that my double is destined for greatness!