The IRA National Championships were this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Basically in the midst of moving and not really having a place to stay I had to commute to Cherry Hill, NJ once, sometimes twice, a day. It was rather tedious, but thats what happens when you don’t expect to go, so you don’t make hotel reservations.
The races did not go as planned at all. The expectation was that the boats we were racing (4-) were all 2V and 3V heavyweights and lightweights. We should easily be able to knock them out and make it to the final. The expectations were wrong.
Our first race on Thursday was a rude awakening. We go out there, excited to race and really pumped up about the whole thing. We start, and we immediatly steer into the wrong lane. We spend most of the first 500m trying to correct for that, but it just causes us to continue going down the course in a messed up direction. Joe told me if by 1000m down there was no way we could end up in 1st place, take the rate down and finish the race off easy. Boats that finish 2nd through 6th go into a random lane draw so it didn’t matter where we finished. We finished 6th.
After the race we regrouped, saw where our weakness was and formulated a plan for the semi-final.
Friday’s semifinal did not go any better than Thursday. We arrive at the race course, and get on the water, we paddle up to the start line and are told that Columbia has damaged their boat. They are going to attempt on the water repairs and we should wait. An hour and a half later after paddling around in the hot sun Columbia is ready and we start the race. Very annoyed I tell the boat that we have to beat Columbia, they made us wait for them at the start, we should also be waiting for them at the finish.
We start the race and we are up on everyone. This time we steer straight and finish the first 500m strong. For half the race we are neck and neck with Syracuse. We take our move by the 1000m mark, we walk a little, but as soon as we come back down, they take it back. Around 1200m in, we lose it, we fall back into last place. Around 400m left, I call the rate up, we start our sprint, but it falls apart. The steering is all wrong, and we aren’t getting the race high enough. We were out of control. We end up finishing the race in lane 4 when we started in lane 5. The attitude in the boat is poor, and people are yelling at eachother. I screamed at them to shut the hell up, its embarassing to do this on the water in front of everyone.
After we came in, we sat down and talked about the race, what went wrong, what went right, and what needed to change for our 3rd level final on Friday.
Friday morning we woke up early, and headed to the course, but due to thunderstorms the night before, the races are delayed and the course has to be cleared of debris. After realizing that the schools we were racing were not lightweights, and not 2V and 3V guys we resolved to beat at least one crew. We had to beat at leasat one other boat.
We go onto the water, and already the attitude is better, everone is focused and our warmup goes really well. We start the race pretty much on time, and as ususal we are up on the start. We actually lead the pack for a brief time, and the announcer (whose son goes to Delaware) focused on us for a while. Our rate on the start was unusually high for us, but it was effective. About 700m into the race, we take our move and bring the rate up again, this puts us ahead of Syracuse and BC. This time we hold the lead we take on them through the 1000m. However, as usual around 1300m we start to lose it, our power drops and we start to get sloppy. I try to call quick strokes, but it dosn’t help. We fall back into last place again as we prepare to start our sprint. Our sprint was better this time, we actually rowed together, and brought the rate up. We finished in last place again, ranking us 18th overall.
I really can’t complain. I can’t say that we had a bad last race, because we didn’t, we were focused and effective. We rowed well, and theres nothing that we could have done during the race to change the result. It just came down to everyone else being stronger and faster than our boat. It’s just the way it was, we underestimated the competition, and we weren’t prepared for what we faced. Personally I think this gives the guys who are coming back next year the drive to work hard over the summer. Finishing this way leaves you feeling very dissasisfied and imcomplete.
I look forward to seeing what they can do.