Lessons from first time racing!

Posted on Tue, 9 May, 2023

Four of our adult members had their first experience of racing at Hammersmith Regatta.  See below for their key takeways from the day!

Number 174 at the Hammersmith Regatta - that was us! 

And who are we? Well, we are Page, Melis, Catherine and Nina from FRBC. Catherine from the race group and Page, Melis and Nina from the Novice group. 

Some might think we were slightly mad to participate in the regatta, considering not knowing each other and a clear lack of sculling experience. But how do you get experience? By taking part, of course! Some wait for the "right moment”, but you can also take the approach to make the moment right. You take control. 

And what's more apt for a first regatta than to race in your backyard? We know this stretch of the river inside and out. We've been there in glorious sunshine, when it's rained and when it's been pitch black. We know it when it's ebb and when it's flood. This is our home territory. 

So, a week before the Hammersmith Regatta took place, we finalised the crew and we decided to make a go of it. We decided that this was the moment we were making the right one for us. 

Ideal conditions for our virgin regatta? Absolutely not. So how did we prepare? Well, firstly we had to connect as a crew. We got hold of each other’s numbers and created a WhatsApp group. And so, the planning started. We managed to find a time in all our busy calendars to meet on the Wednesday morning before our workdays started to meet and train together. It was a bit wobbly, but we got to know each other - as people as well as scullers. The next time we could train together again was Saturday morning. Yup, race day. But by then, we knew our race time and it wasn't until 6pm, so it was doable. This session we felt more together as a crew and we'd also swapped some positions, which seemed to work well. We went back home and agreed to meet again at FRBC at 4.45pm. 

4.45pm and we met again. We'd changed our clothes, Page as bow put the number on her back and then it was time for us to prepare our boat and go out on the water. 

We knew that it was likely that we'd have to hang around in the boat waiting for our time and so we did. We were so lucky with an amazing day - the sun was shining and as you know, London, and particularly when you're on the Thames, is seductive in those moments. Anyway, this was a great moment. Some of the Jnr crews were amazing. They were laughing and singing and just having fun. And so, it made the whole atmosphere relaxed and just fun. 

Then we heard "174, you're next' and all of a sudden, the adrenaline kicked in. We were about to race, and against another FRBC crew! And off we went. Did we follow our "race strategy"? Kind of. We didn't catch a crab and we didn't capsize. Those were our key strategies. ? And we had fun, and we did our first ever regatta! What more could we ask for? As a crew, we improved massively from our first meeting to race day and that's a victory in itself. Even if we lost our race. 

Key take home points:

1. Sign up to a regatta. If you have others you want to race with, great. But if you don't, still sign up. You might meet and make new friends! 

2. Don't wait for the right moment, make a moment the right one.

3. You've gotta start somewhere. There's always room for improvement (why would professionals otherwise still train?), but the racing environment has to be experienced. It cannot be just taught beyond a certain level.

4. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the experience. We're members of FRBC because it's fun. Racing is just another dimension of that fun. 

5. A victory is not just about winning. To dare doing something new is a victory on its own.

6. Don't forget the group photo! (We forgot to do this!)

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