Furnival Sculling Club

Furnivall Sculling ClubRowing club based in Hammersmith, London. Established 1896

FSC racing at Henley Royal Regatta

Thursday, 26th June 2014

The crew at Henley for pre-regatta training

The club was very proud to have a coxed four entered for the Brittania Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta 2014. The crew of David, Brian, Dan, Andy and cox Scot trained incredibly hard during the first half of 2014 and initially took part in the qualifying races on Friday 27 June.

Unfortunately the field was extremely strong and the crew missed out on qualification. However, they certainly achieved one of their aims of inspiring the club to aim at this level of competition in the future.

In the final week of training before the qualifying races, Scot gave us a taste of what the crew experienced on their journey to Henley:

21/01/14 – Dan has a dream. FSC men qualify for Henley Royal Regatta.

22/01/14 – We assemble a crew, finding four experienced rowers, who are willing to endure months of hard training.

23/01/14 – "Project Qualify": we develop a training programme with the initial aim of building fitness.

11/02/14 – Red flag, Tideway closed.

07/03/14 – Yellow flag, Tideway closed.

20/03/14 – Green flag! Hurrah! The guys are now incredibly fit due to weeks of hard land training. They have erged, lifted and erged some more.

The journey on camera

Scot continues: "The past six months have been an incredible journey for the five of us. We have laughed, cried, fought, ached and won. The main flaw in the plan was that unfortunately the squad didn’t have a regular coach, which presented many issues. Although we were fit and strong, we were lacking terribly when it came to the technical aspect. Given that we have been training in a bowloader, there isn’t an awful lot a cox can do influence technique. However, we mustn’t forget club captain Mike who, despite trying to run the club, control the men’s squad and get out sculling himself, he did coaching sessions for us, and for this, we are incredibly grateful. We also had the benefit of the Go-Pro camera which became an essential bit of kit which has been attached to various riggers, heads and the canvas. We had some memorable times following particularly wet and windy morning outings, sitting on the sofas in the clubroom, drinking tea and analysing the videos.

Golden weekend in Nottingham

We had no idea where we were sitting in terms of our contemporaries in the IM2 4+ category, so it was with uneasy minds we headed north for our “Big weekend in Nottingham”. We raced at Notts City on the Saturday before the rest of the squad joined us for dinner ahead of the British Masters Championships the next day.

We lined up on the start, with some of the crew never having raced a full 2000 metres before, and were immediately flummoxed by the start being a “beep” rather than a “go”. Lesson number one: always read the competitors instructions. Nevertheless we managed to make it off the start after only a slight hesitation and had a relatively good row. We rowed through two crews to come 4th in the heat but only the first three qualified so it was with slightly heavy hearts that we restored the boat to the rack. Things however improved when we realised that had we been in the other heat, we’d have won it by 5 seconds. Nevertheless, 4th out of 11 in the IM2 category in the heats was not a bad first attempt.

After a fabulous evening in Nottingham and another year of me choosing a terrible hotel. First year the “scary ladies”, second year “your rooms are through the car-park”, third year “the loo seat literally in the middle of the room”, we returned to Holme Pierrepont on Sunday to storm to victory in the Open A 4+ and win gold. All-in-all a pretty useful weekend!

The finishing touches

After the Nottingham weekend it was very much the final countdown to Henley, with only six weeks remaining until qualifiers. The only problem was that we were dropping like flies with colds, flu, weekends away and last minute training plan changes. We tried to get as much water time in as possible, and did our absolute best to get everything out of every outing. The remaining niggling issue was that our start still wasn’t working for us. It wasn’t until a training session in Henley in early June that we finally nailed it by changing the order slightly. It had finally clicked and we flew.

Marlow Regatta was another interesting experience. The change in start had clearly worked as our times were nearly a minute faster than the time we’d posted in Nottingham a few weeks earlier. We scraped into the B final and despite not having a great row, still pulled a respectable time.

FSC onwards to Henley

The list of crews requiring to qualify for HRR was posted the day after Marlow. We are on it, not to our surprise, which means we’ll be fighting tooth and nail against 12 other crews for one of the four remaining spots in the Britannia. This knowledge is not sitting easily with us; 6 months of blood sweat and tears could be over come Friday evening, but we can but hope. We know we’re fit, we know we’re strong, and we know we can row well. We will have to rely on this as well as the trust we have in each other to get us through it. We were never trying to win, we just want to qualify. We want to take the Furnivall men’s squad to the next level and hopefully this will leave everyone feeling a little bit inspired.

It’s been a very hard six months, we’ve all had ups and downs, bickered, cried and laughed, but on the whole it’s been pretty good. I’m not sure we’re going to know what to do with ourselves once this is over but it has been a great experience and I could not thank the boys enough for a) all their hard work, b) their support of each other and c) spending a whole Monday night with me in A&E when I came off my bike.

We hope to make Furnivall proud next Friday. We’re racing at 4.15pm if anyone fancies coming to support us."

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