“Build for five!”
What the Dickens am I talking about?
So last Saturday was the ‘Head of the Dee’ – a rowing event where the actual race lasts for less than twenty minutes, however the prep before and after the race takes significantly longer!
Regardless of training, coaching, choosing the crews and making the entries, all of which are carried out by other ‘teams’ often behind the scenes, the main prep for this event started on Friday around 5pm.
Participating crews are instructed to be at the club to derig and load. Woe betide anyone who turns up without a rigger jigger!
“Where do you want Smile?”
“Are we splitting Kevin?”
“How many trestles?’
“Check if that’s tight enough please”
“Fasten the seats in!”
This usually takes a couple of hours depending on the number of boats and indeed trailers going to the event.
As we wave the trailers off our thoughts turn to carb loading and food prep for the following day, an early night and definitely an early start!!
Silly ‘o’clock Saturday morning and we hook up said trailer and drive to Chester. One last check – ties are tight, riggers stored safely, seats tied in, tool boxes easily accessible and we’re off.
Navigate round the Roman walls – some more accurately than others. Arrive at allocated car park and try man handling a trailer full of boats down a muddy slope into a space big enough to park a mini!
“Hands on Marge!”
“Let’s put Kevin back together”
“Where’s Boizel’s box?”
“We need more tall people”
“Cox’s meeting in ten!”
“Who’s got the numbers and safety pins?
“All singles and doubles to boat immediately!”
And so boating for the first division begins. All boats are on the water and must row up past the starting post over four thousand metres up river. There could be as many as one hundred and fifty crews! Imagine how long it takes to get them all on the water and up there? If you’re one of the first it seems like ages!
We are racing in division two so now we can relax, eat, drink coffee and watch the first division come down. It’s great when the weather’s good but on a rainy day… it’s wet!!
12.45pm and division two start boating.
“Last toilet stop!”
“Have we taken the blades down?”
“Check foot restraints”
“Bring the bow round”
“Excuse me please err excuse me err watch yourself err mind your backs”
“Easy – feel for the edge – and down”
That’s us getting from the trailer to the water’s edge with the boat!!
Blades in and we head up the river. Umpires and marshals along the way pass the time of day and shout instructions at us. We have been notified where we need to wait and we must NOT under any circumstances turn the boat around in preparation until we are told. Very tricky in windy conditions as the boat seems to develop a mind of its own!!
At last we are told to make appropriate kit choices and turn the boat around.
“Warrington start paddling’’
“Here we go girls – let’s give it our all – nothing left in the tank – this is our race – we can do this”
“Build for five!”
“make it easy for bow – up two – back up stroke – we’ve got overlap – let’s have them – keep it there – this is nice – ratio – last 500 let’s go”
“…….and easy there!”
They are the best words ever!
Now we ‘just’ need to paddle back to the landing stage, lift the boat out, collect the blades, derig, load the trailer, count the trestles, push the trailer up the slope, hitch it on to the car, drive back to Warrington, unload the trailer, rerig, put blades away, and lock up the club.
6.30pm – call at fish and chip shop, drive home, and pour a large glass of liquid refreshment.
All this happens because we are part of a team – the Warrington Rowing Club team and best of all our little sub team – our crew – our quad. We had a fantastic row because we work together (we have photo and video evidence!) we back each other up, we respect each other and we listen. Our bow person might be the smallest in the boat but she is the most powerful part of our crew leading the way, keeping us informed and encouraging us every minute – all fifteen minutes and thirty seconds!