Sunday, 13 July 2008

How not to prepare for a regatta

We raced at Kingston yesterday - a IV and an VIII. Another regatta gone and another regatta from which we've returned empty-handed. Mind you, we were lucky to race our IV at all - only a few hours prior to being on the stake boat for our first race in the IV, it looked like we would have neither a boat nor cox - not an ideal situation to be in. But then, non-ideal preparation is pretty much what our IV has been doing for the last couple of weeks. So much so that I reckon I'm now amongst the world's leading experts in how not to prepare. To ensure others don't feel the need to try these experiments for themselves, I've put together this handy guide to how not to prepare for a regatta:

  1. Ensure that your stroke person is under pressure at work, studying for exams, stressed out and lacking the time to row;
  2. Put a hole in your boat during a minor misunderstanding with the Thames foreshore nine days before racing;
  3. Have your penultimate training session in a boat in which you know you won't be racing as another four will be racing in it ten minutes before your race starts;
  4. Fail to arrange for a cox to turn up to your final session in which you've actually managed to get out the boat in which you will be racing (and sharing with the men - thus meaning you secretly have to hope they won't get to their final, which will clash with yours);
  5. Leave the boat in which you will be racing on a trailer overnight, and find the canvas broken and holed and the boat unrowable the next morning, thus finding yourself in the position of having one river worthy four and five crews needing to row in it;
  6. Get to bed at a reasonable hour only to find that your neighbours are holding an unfeasibly loud, chattering classes party which continues until 4am when another neighbour tells them in no uncertain terms to make less noise or suffer extreme violence. Get only two hours' sleep as a result;
  7. Have a sufficiently wrecked body clock so as to be unable to breakfast in the morning before setting off to the regatta;
  8. Be on autopilot whilst driving to the regatta and continue well past the exit you should have taken, and instead head merrily toward Guildford and work. (I assume this must be something to do with associating driving whilst being too tired to reasonably do so with working for a living);
  9. Having got to the regatta and successfully borrowed a boat, find out that the bow ball is a little wobbly for the liking of the safety marshall (who recommends a large quantity of gaffer tape be added to it to aid the stiffness), at the point at which he considers failing the boat;
  10. Row in your race boat for the first time as you paddle down to the start;
  11. Discover after winning your race (and thus generating a requirement to use the boat again later in the day) that your club have unfathomably managed to turn up to a regatta without the requisite gaffer tape;
  12. Catch up on missed sleep between races by bedding down in the middle of a field, ensuring that on waking up, every body part has reached its maximum stiffness;
  13. Repeat this trick later in the day, this time in scorching sunshine to gain an extra, bonus challenge of dehydration.

Given that little lot, getting onto the water (let alone managing to win a heat) should prove quite a challenge. Somehow, we managed it. Admittedly, we could have done better in the final. Given the circumstances, though, I can't really complain at the results.


Rob Clack said...

Great that you won your heat. Given the circumstances conspiring against you, fantastically well done! Hope you've caught up on some sleep and that the stiff parts of your body (most of it, sounds like) have started to limber up.

But Why? said...

Thanks for your congratulations - it was satisfying to get a couple of decent rows during the regatta (even if we lost whilst rowing well).

I am catching up on sleep nicely (and feel much the better for it) -headed straight for the Turkish baths on Sunday with a crewmate to spend some time soothing our aches and pains; consequently the only bits of me which are still sore are the bits which didn't get pummelled to within an inch of their life during a massage (so just my legs, arms, most of my torso, neck and shoulders... My lats feel lovely, though.)