Worcester Regatta crew, Autumn 2021: Cox: Bridget Donaldson, Stroke: Paul Metz, 3: Isaac Hilsley, 2: Simon Martina-Perez, Bow: Richard Bradshaw
Isaac Hilsley, three seat: “Over the summer break, the men have had a small but committed group of oarsmen training in preparation for next year. Training overwhelmingly in fours, having seen the brilliant progress made when I came down for a few days earlier in the summer, Graham suggested that we enter Worcester regatta to get some early racing experience, and to begin the men’s resurgence into external racing.
In the days before the event, the crew was rowing with poise on the ISIS, ready to put into action all they had been working on over the vacation. When the full crew assembled the day before the races, the boat was as smooth as ever; after running through race starts and some clean three-minute pieces at rate 34, we were quietly confident of our chances against the Academicals crew that we were to meet first.
For all of the crew, the process of loading the boat onto the trailer and preparing for an external event was totally new, unique, and strangely exciting. We set off for Worcester City on Saturday, full of anticipation for the new experience ahead of us. Arriving at the event, we dosed ourselves full of brownies and readied ourselves for the race. Graham briefed us on the start, and when our time rolled around, we carried the boat from the field to the water (navigating it through the crowds was a bit of a challenge!) and pushed off the bank for our warmup.
We had a decent paddle before lining up for the start, ironing out the pre-race nerves and finding our balance- even sneaking in a few racing starts outside of the umpire’s view. We placed ourselves next to our opposition in the queue for the start. As we waited in what seemed like the calm before the storm of the 800m head-to-head sprint, the tension was palpable. Finally, we were called to line up, readied ourselves for a start, and our cox (Bridget) lowered her hand to signal we were ready.
The race began, and our start sequence commenced. It was definitely one of our most frenzied starts; as a result, the curse of the M1 crab struck us once again as the crew suffered a (rather catastrophic) crab- the first we’d ever had as a crew! After the red mist cleared and we realised what had happened, Academicals had an absolutely huge lead, well over 15 boat lengths on us. We cast the mistake to the back of our minds, restarted and silently resolved to give the race our absolute all, regardless of the result.
As we found our rhythm, Bridget called that we were catching our opposition. The crew continued to find extra gears (and higher pain barriers!), and we managed to close the gap from who knows how far down to about three/four boat lengths. Although we ran out of river and ultimately lost the race, we had undoubtably been the cleaner and faster boat. Credit to the Academicals four, however, who kept calm under the pressure to take the win.
The experience gained from Worcester will allow the crew to hit the ground running next term, being one of the more established boats on the ISIS. Its left us hungrier than ever to prove ourselves next year, and we’ll no doubt be found at another event as soon as possible, hopefully picking up some silverware next time! FTD