As everyone finished school for summer for 5 HMSG rowers, Pippa, Charlotte, Emma, Millie and Hannah, the hard work continued as in three weeks they would be representing Wales in Ireland at the Home International Regatta as the Women’s Junior coxed four.
Charlotte and cox Hannah would also take part in the junior 8 with 7 girls from The King’s School, Chester. Pippa would take a seat in a composite coxless quad with girls from Tideway Scullers School, Llandaff and St Neots while Emma and Millie would fill two empty seats in the senior 8.
The girls left for Cork, Ireland on Thursday 24th July taking a ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare. 12 hours of travelling later and they arrived at their hotel in Cork. The next day was a chance to see the lake, rig up the boats and have a gentle paddle to familiarise themselves with the course. This also gave the girls a chance to get to know the rest of the team and proved a good bonding experience. Back at the hotel after dinner it was time to receive the new kit, something that was perhaps almost as exciting as racing. However the excitement soon subsided as an early night was necessary to prepare themselves for the following day of racing.
The morning of race day was filled with obligatory nerves and anticipation to get onto the start line but also laughter and support from the whole team. As the King’s Chester girls began racing in the coxless four and coxless pair the HMSGRC girls gave their boat some pre-race TLC with a soapy wash and towel dry, hoping it may bring them some luck. The time soon came for the girls to put on their racing kit and get onto the water. A pre-race talk with the coaches, Holly Airbright from Welsh Rowing and Paul Townshend from The King’s School Chester and they were ready. With one mission the girls paddled to the start and soon enough they were attached to the stake boats and the nerves made themselves known. But as the umpire shouted ‘GO’ they were forgotten and all focus was on doing the best they could. With a quick start the girls began to pull ahead and soon had the lead, pulling away quickly from Ireland and England. A call from cox Hannah to restart the race at the halfway mark gave the girls further distance on their opposition. However at 500m to go the Scottish four, who took part in the GBvsFrance match earlier in July, began to pull closer. The HMSGRC girls pushed as hard as they could and began the finish with 250m left giving 110%. Unfortunately the Scottish four took the medals. While disappointed with not medalling the girls are proud of how much they’ve improved since National Schools in May when the same Scottish four beat them by a much larger margin.
With the first race done, Pippa had a quick change into her composite quad which, despite a determined effort finished the race in a close 4th place just 3 seconds behind the hosts. For Hannah and Charlotte a strong paddle to the start in the women’s junior eight meant they were first onto the stake boats and had a clean start. All boats were level after the first 500m then a cross wind picked up pushing the boat into the buoys and at the halfway mark a blade hit a buoy and someone caught a crab bringing the boat to a halt. Despite a united effort from all girls they also came in 4th. Emma and Millie then had the senior women’s eight which unfortunately also came in last.
It was then a race against time to de-rig all of the boats and head back to the hotel for a quick shower and change before the banquet where they were given the chance to let their hair down and celebrate the end of the 2013-2014 season. A big thank you to all of the coaches that organised the trip and looked after us in Ireland and to our own coaches whose support since being chosen for the Welsh team has been greatly appreciated.