The weather may have been roasting this past weekend as hundreds of rowers descended upon Dorney Lake for Metropolitan Regatta, but the MAABC Senior Women’s Squad was hotter.

Taking advantage of the 3 weeks of the year when Britain actually experiences sunshine, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd June saw 5 MAABC crews competing across 4 different boat classes (plus an MAABC guest star rowing in a composite crew).  Knowing this was their last chance to experience competitive lane racing before Henley Women’s Regatta, the girls came ready to eat, nap and row really, really fast.

Saturday

Saturday morning started nice and early for the Lwt Quad, with the girls proving that neat, nippy technique and rapid rate are a formula for success.  The crew qualified convincingly for their final after going off the start so quickly that they may have broken the sound barrier, racing an excellent second race later in the day to come 6th overall in the Club/Tier 2 category.

Next up were the duelling Double Sculls, with the 2 MAABC crews we like to call “IzzyKat” and “SammyNat” (just kidding… nobody calls them that) racing in the same Club/Tier 2 heat just after midday.  Kat and Izzy won the heat comfortably, finishing 6th overall in the category after a long and strong final, an excellent day for the newly-formed crew.  Nat and Sammy unfortunately narrowly missed out on a finals berth with a split-second 4thplace in their heat, but **spoiler alert** would return Sunday for more excitement!

The Coxed 4 took to the water for their heat at 4.30pm, and soon learned why the art of the standing start is an under-appreciated aspect of the sport (note to selves: next time we do starts practice on the Tideway, do not zone out and start day-dreaming about brunch).  Still managing to qualify fastest for their final (an adjective not often used in relation to Coxed 4s), the girls, fiercely directed by their fearless leader Tamsyn, fought tooth and nail to pip Commercial RC by 0.3 seconds and win the Club/Tier 2 category.

Last boat of the day was the Coxless 4, who clinically dispatched of their opposition in the straight final of the Club/Tier 2 category.  Starting off with an early lead, the girls never took their foot off the pedal (driving like my grandma on the way to Lidl immediately after discovering dishwashing liquid is on sale) and took an epic win in the Club/Tier 2 category by a margin of approximately 15 seconds.  No doubt that a strong training camp fuelled by industrial quantities of ham & cheese toasties and stroopwafels placed the girls in peak position for victory!

Sunday

Gluttons for punishment, 4 crews returned bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (i.e. slightly limping and extremely caffeinated) for more action on Sunday.

Kicking off the day at 10.30am, the Coxed 4 qualified for their final of the Championship category fastest by a whopping margin of 0.2 seconds – obviously the girls enjoy the extreme heart palpitations that come with a close finish – and then managed to produce a win in the final over 2 formidable Oxford Brookes crews.  A special shout-out to Heather, stroke of the Coxed 4, who decided that the crew should pace their Sunday races at a blistering rate 34 (and above) to get their legs warmed up after Saturday’s activities.  Some pre-race lunges would have sufficed Heather…

Next, in what can only be described as a stacked event, the Coxless 4 narrowly missed out on the final with a 4th place finish in their heat of the Championship category.  The crew kept up intensity the whole race whilst showing off some pretty damn impressive muscles – obviously all that circuit training is working! Anyone keen to add more V sit-ups?

SammyNat (the name is going to catch on, I swear) returned after lunch determined to lay down the power in the Club/Tier 2 category.  Bouncing back from a tough Saturday, the girls fought harder than seagulls scrapping for a fish finger to finish 3rd in their straight final of Club/Tier 2 Double Sculls.  Of note was their ridiculously strong last 250m to overtake another crew, showing that bulk Haribo really is the answer to 95% of life’s problems.

Later in the afternoon Kat was a key player in the composite crew coming 4th in the C final of the Challenge VIII’s, with the crew never having rowed together before the race and only just falling short of third place behind the Edinburgh Uni B crew.  With such a cool result, we will forgive Kat for rowing with the enemy… this time.

Our rapid rating Quad finished up the day, rowing the course beautifully but missing out on a place in the finals.  After serious injury threatened their season, these girls have hustled to get back on the water and post impressive stroke rates that the rest of us can only dream of – snaps for them!

Overall, a great regatta for MAABC, with some incredible support and guidance coming from the coaching pit crew of Val, Ben and Merv.  They deserve massive kudos for keeping the squad on track all weekend: producing a few truly cracking inspirational speeches, risking life and limb cycling alongside the lake during races, and doing the vast majority of boat assembly/disassembly due to a strange meteorological phenomenon whereby rowers seemed to vanish into thin air at the very mention of de-rigging.  The commitment of our entire coaching team over the past year, plus a ton of hard graft by the rowers, means that the MAABC Senior Women’s Squad is charging in to the tail-end of summer season strong, focused and hungry for competition (and snacks). Roll on Henley Women’s!!!!!

by Kaila Engelsman