As in any team only more so, a rowing crew must function as a single unit. Yet that single unit is made up of individualseach with her own character, strengths, and areas for improvement. So we begin with a few words on each of the girls who rowed as this year´s 1st IV, and their support staff. By the summer term we had crew tops with captions which the girls had chosen for themselves, and for their cox and bemused coach Ú I have included these below.
[pn] Esther Vernon, aka ýCalm down, it´s only pain.Ű As her caption suggests, Estie was easily the hardest-working member of the crew, putting all her effort into every training session, whether on the water or in the gym. Estie´s main lesson this year was that relaxing and flowing with the rest of the crew is more effective than working hard as an individual. The crew motivator!
[pn]Two: Abi Challis, aka ýChablis.Ű Abi stood out by her willingness to listen to coaching, and put what she learned into practice. By her own hard work she made the biggest individual improvement in the crew: the main challenge was to persuade her to believe in herself. By the end of the year we had nearly done it! Her competitiveness and determination show through in her fearsome racing scowl!
[pn] Sophy Searight, aka ýAlas, blonde is me.Ű Initially at Stroke, Sophy settled well into her middle pair role, and was very effective back up for Elle Ú steady and dependable. With a certain penchant for melodrama she provided plenty of the laughter which can hold a crew together. An encourager and peacemaker who helped the crew to bond as much as she helped the boat move quickly.
[pn] Elle Coates, aka ýO Elle.Ű The most natural stroke-woman in the crew: capable, competitive and opinionated! She kept me on my toes with her frequently demanded ýWHY??!Ű, and determinedly drove the rest of the crew on. She learned to judge ratings accurately, and began to develop a good feeling for race strategy which will be an effective weapon for this year´s crew. A true fountain of banter!
[pn] Mike Knight, aka ýFrodo.Ű Poached from the boys´ 2nd VIII by a combination of flattery and outright demand, Mike put up with endless gentle abuse from the girls and developed into a very effective cox. He honed his natural talent for making useful calls, steered an accurate line, and, perhaps his greatest achievement, won his crew´s confidence. This year´s crew will be worse off now that Mike´s rapidly increasing height makes coxing all but impossible!
[pn] John Cameron aka ýJC Giraffe.Ű Also known as ýcamelŰ, giraffe manŰ ýCammieŰ, ýI amŰ, ýFurmanŰ or simply ýHey youŰ. The
frequent butt of jokes, I nevertheless had immense fun watching this crew improve and enjoy themselves.
The hard work of taking a group of girls with varying experience who had never before rowed together, and turning them into a crew, was done by Barry Taylor from whom I diffidently took over in mid-February. Barry will no doubt be mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter, but he deserves a special mention here for all he did at Monkton to develop and support girls´ rowing.
The crew trained steadily throughout the year, with on average three water sessions and four land sessions every week. A great positive was their determination to be at all the training sessions or to catch up in their own time if they missed one.
The Rowing Camp at Nantes was a highlight and was invaluable for getting in many miles of steady rowing before the summer season. It was also important for the fun and crew bonding which makes the early morning training sessions back at school more bearable. Long may that Camp continue.
Success is the goal for which all crews strive, and it comes in many forms, some of them unexpected. The crew took part in the Wycliffe Head, the Bristol Head and Evesham Sprints. An unfortunate draw meant that at Women´s Henley they were knocked out by the winners of their division of the National Schools´ Regatta. They won their divisions at the Avon County Head and Coate Water Regatta. Impressive though these wins certainly were, I think their greatest successes were at the Schools´ Head on the Tideway, and at the National Schools´ Regatta in Nottingham.
On the Tideway, a longer race than they had ever rowed before, and still early in the season, they fought relentlessly to hold off the eventual winners for at least a mile and a half of the four and a quarter mile course. Anyone who has taken part in this de facto side by side racing will know the determination that requires. They finished in the middle of their division.
Nottingham was for me, and I hope for them, the highlight of the year. They prepared carefully for the race, developed their own race strategy, and most importantly bonded together as a crew. They believed in themselves, wanted to race hard, and wanted to win. During the race, they stuck to their race plan, rowed together better than ever before or after, and showed that gritty and determined will to win which breeds results. Missing a place in the next round was a very real disappointment to all of us, but on reflection seemed to me less important than the lessons they had learned and the spirit and professionalism they had demonstrated. Success, as I said, can take unexpected forms.
There is little to add except to say how much fun I had working with this crew, watching then mould together, and getting to know them as individuals. If you all gained as much enjoyment from rowing as I did from coaching you, I´ll be happy! As a final thought, I never did work out why Abi finds electric pepper grinders so amusing˘