By not having to race on Friday, the Sudbury Rowing Club Women’s Senior 3 eight were able to enjoy a leisurely drive to Henley that day, and emerge early on Saturday morning relaxed and focussed for a training outing on the 1500m course. A light breakfast followed, then the time soon passed until they had to boat for their race against curiously named ‘Old Bones’ of Eire.
With nerves mounting, trying hard to convince themselves this was ‘just another race’, they rowed up to the start line by Temple Island. With centimetre perfect precision the start marshall lined up the two crews, then from a launch just behind the boats the umpire set them off. The crew of Tricia McGrillen, Katherine Cass, Liz Spencer, Rosemary Hogsbjerg, Vicky Leonard, Claire Everest, Julie Sutton and Susie Moule, coxed by Antony Moule, proceeded to make history by being the first eight ever to compete at Henley Women’s Regatta in the 129 years of Sudbury Rowing Club, building on the previous entries, in fours, in 1995 and 2001.
After a good start, the crew struggled to settle into their rhythm as they hit difficult water at the end of the island, but responded well when stroke Susie Moule dropped the rating to enable the crew to regain control. Club Captain Sam Hogsbjerg and Women’s Coach Andrew Blit were following the race in the Umpire’s launch and were unconcerned at this point, as the crew had, the previous weekend, pulled back a one length deficit to win a heat during Reading Amateur Regatta.
Now rowing together well, the crew felt they would be able to come back at their opposition, but although they put everything they had into the race, this was not to be. With Sudbury pushing even harder in the last 500 metres, ‘Old Bones’ were the winners by some 6 seconds, but this was no easy victory. ‘Old Bones,’ with Irish national champions in the crew, were knocked out in the next round, and it would be nice to think that they had used up all their reserves in order to beat Sudbury.
The results of the racing on Saturday are here and those for the finals here.
This was an international regatta, with crews from USA, Eire, Switzerland and Sweden as well as the many representing England, Scotland and Wales. Although initially disappointed not to go through to the next round, the Sudbury women were amongst the top 15 in their class and were proud to have represented both the town of Sudbury and the Rowing Club in such a high standard event.