Weather report – rain, more rain, some wind, some more rain, cold, rainy…..did we mention rain?
Water conditions – perfect
Race day prep – read the 7 pages of corona concept rules, buy masks, get wristbands, show up 2hrs early, leave immediately, no spectators and no socializing with other clubs.
After what seemed like forever, training without a clear goal and wondering if there would be any races in 2020, the race schedule was announced. The President’s Cup was up first, with SM to follow. In a very strange 2020, suddenly having races to look forward to gave us purpose. We set our sights on the President’s Cup.
But let’s back up to the spring and those first goalless rows. Our first day back in the 8+, it was clear that we had done an excellent job perfecting our technique…..erg technique, that is. With nice, aggressive erg-like finishes, we powered through those first few outings. We were grateful that Corona hadn’t taken our fitness, just our style….erm, technique.
However, with a few more outings and a training weekend (or 100km) later, we started to pull together and felt ready for the Rotsee. After the choreographing and reading through seven pages of Corona safety protocols, we were ready to show up in our masks and waterproof gear. There would be a new challenge though: would we recognize each other under all that gear?.
Race day came and so did the rain. After patiently waiting for months for this day to come, it was close to the wettest day of the year. It reminded our British crew member of long summers at home. Nothing like cold and dreary skies to bring about race day excitement. Would we even be able to hold onto our oars?
Thankfully, we were able to recognize each other under the masks, and after a quick rig, we got the boat on the water. We almost ended up in the water boatless versus on the water, after a men’s 8 very aggressively pushed off the dock (their race day excitement was evident). Once we recovered our balance and accounted for all our rowers, we pushed off ourselves.
Fortunately at the start line, the rain let up, but it left behind plenty of water in the boat. Waves of water sloshing against our legs throughout the race was a nice distraction. Our race plan was set: start, high 20, then settle with a push at half way. Luzern and Bern lined up next to us, and we were off. We got off to a strong start, pushing into the lead from the very first strokes. But our effective push after 500m propelled us into the lead and gave us a strong confident rhythm that enabled us to finish a good 1/2 length in front of Luzern.
As soon as we finished, we realized that our race plan had apparently gone out the window. Our lungs were on fire; maybe all that erging hadn’t paid off. At that point our cox, Felicity, let us know our SR36 was the culprit. Start….great, high 20….great, settle….ummmmm, we forgot that part! We also forgot we’re not spring chickens anymore. Was all of the forgetting down to our age, or our burning desire to leave Luzern in our wake? Not today Luzern, not today. Afterall it was Emma’s first Rotsee race; we had to get a gold medal. And of course, we had to live up to Inge’s standards: 30 years ago she had won her first gold medal here on the Rotsee at the innagural FISA World Cup Final.
After collecting our gold, we headed back to the dock. Masks ready so that we could enter the wristband- verified enclosure; it was the end of a very surreal race day. It wasn’t the end though, as the rain picked back up and we almost froze to death, soaked to the skin derigging the boat. After that last hurdle, we found the extra energy to sprint for the locker-room to get dry.
All in all, it was a very cold, rainy, Corona-influenced, magical race.
Emma Wright and Michelle Lesh