Women’s Quad take the Thames

The women’s quad headed to the choppy waters of the Thames for the Vets Head on Sunday, brimming with confidence after a successful pot-filled summer. Comprising of the same personnel who had competed at Fours head exactly one year previously (plus cox) it was the culmination of a year of blood, sweat and tears whilst learning the art of sculling. The day started brightly with the predicted 40mph winds not materialising and even more surprisingly some sunshine. With a highly professional rigging session behind them (and with no tape measure in sight) the quad set off for the row to the start. A determined row to the start ensued with the four scullers focused on the task ahead of them and the cox realising that the river looks different when you’re going forwards. Luckily a race plan had been meticulously created and studied in the few previously. Nothing would deter this crew from their moment. And then disaster struck…

Whilst in the marshalling area before the start line a crew who were late to the start came bearing down. Despite the shouts from many around the boats collided leaving the Sudbury crew without a rudder and with a 3inch gash in the boat. Was this the end? Was the race over before it had even begun? No, Sudbury would not be denied and after landing at TSS the crew sped into action. Race desk was alerted, hammers and vices were employed with the amount of effort that only pure adrenaline could bring, gaffer tape was used to cover the gaping hole and hole the rudder in place and finally, the boat was rowable. And so to the start line.

Rejoining the waiting boats in the line for the start, there was no time for anymore preparation. The race was back on. After winding for the start line the crew settled in the kind of rhythm this crew is renowned for. Working hard in the conditions, the first men’s crew of the day was overcome. Driving past the landmarks, the crew soon came across Hammersmith (with a perfect line under the second lamppost J) where they were met with a wall of wind. Whereas the river before had been not too different from what we enjoy on theStour, here it turned into a battle against the elements. But waves crashing over the bows and boat-stopping gusts were not enough to overcome the determination of these women. With every stroke, they clawed their way towards the finish line and overtook another men’s quad in the process. Pressed on by the cheers from the Putney boathouse, a final wind for the line came to get them over the finish line.

The women’s quad had overcome adversity in every form to get over that line and finished in a respectable 112th overall and 2nd in their category. A fine day for all.

Helen Taylor