On Friday 5th September, Craig Wilson, Luke Fitzhenry, Jordan Calder, Zoe Thompson and Ben Dooley all had an early morning as they all gathered at 5:30 to depart for Dublin port to catch the morning boat across to Holyhead. Arriving there in time and boarding quickly, most slipped back into the world of dreams as it got moving. The peaceful crossing and plentiful amount of interesting photos taken, the crew left Holyhead for there 4 and a half hour journey to Nottingham.
Along the way there were multiple breaks for lunch, toilet stops and the need for some people to stretch their legs. After enduring the journey with an unimaginable amount of songs being skipped due to the two front passengers (cough, cough Ben and Jordan) they safely arrived at the Regatta Course where they dropped off the trailer with 7 of the finest racing boats and met up with Afton Fitzhenry to have the dinner at the Gamston Lock. After a much needed feed they dropped Zoe with Afton (with her many items of loose clothing) and the remaining 4 went of to find their hotel, hopefully not getting any penalty points while they’re at it (thanks tramways of Nottingham). Having been up for many hours, after check in the bunch flopped into there beds
It was an early morning for the lot on the Saturday with the race meeting at 8am. Due to some complications, everyone had their race entries paid for but not entered for any race. So Ben and Afton graciously allowed the rest to go eat breakfast while they had to suffer the boredom of the meeting. After everyone was entered into their races and had eaten, they waited around until their first race which was Jordan racing Boys D k1 200m heat at 1:48pm where he came 1st with a time of 44.69 giving him a place in the finals. The next races were Luke and Craig for Boys C 200m heats with Luke gaining a 1st in his heat with 44.84 and Craig getting a 3rd with 46.42 allowing them both to get into the finals. With Zoe up next in Girls D 200m, she performed very well gaining a 1st place in her heat with 54.80 getting her immediately into the finals.
With everyone easily getting into a final, they all went around shopping before their next race. With some pressure from CANI to get their own boats, Craig bought his own boat, a white Plastex, but decided not to race in it for his final. The first final of the day was Jordan’s 200m final where he came first overall with 45.34 easily beating the rest of the competition and will hopefully get him promoted to Boys C next year. Zoe ‘s turn was up next and only narrowly beaten for first place but still achieving a remarkable time of 53.22. Then nearing the end of the race schedule was the Boys C final with Luke and Craig in it. Luke gave it his all and was leading the pack until the last 10m where a little wobble caused him to drop to 4th place, losing out to 3rd by 0.04s and Craig coming in 8th place. It was a slight disappointment, however they still performed well with times of 45.30 and 46.80 with the difference between 1st and 8th being 1.9s. To finish the day off , Ben lined up for his Masters A 200m straight final and came 6th with a 46.22. After a good day of racing they all went for dinner and ate to their hearts content. It was an early night for all of them as some had an early race the next morning.
Early rise for the lot on the Sunday as, to Ben’s annoyance, the Boys C K2 200m heat was the second race of the day at 8:30 am. Clambering out of bed, they headed back to the race course where Luke and Craig immediately warmed up for their race. They came first in the heat with a 45.28 allowing them into the final. Next race was Girls D 500m k1 heat which Zoe tried her best in, coming 6th with 2:42.39 which meant she couldn’t get into the final, but would have missed anyhow as she had a flight to catch later that day. Then came the k2 200m final which Luke and Craig were in. They were a bit stupid before their race however and nearly missed their race which meant they had to sprint to make the start, but they still achieved a 4th place after a little swerve in the last 10m to get a time of 45.55, only 0.05 off from 3rd place. They were still really happy with their time due to the unfortunate incidents that occurred. With only the Boys D 500m heat and final left, Jordan eased into the final with 2:24.17 and ended up with a first in his final with 2:17.61.
With all the races finished , the group was rewarded with chocolate cake from Zoe’s relative where Luke and Craig devoured half of it between them. Before Zoe had to leave for the airport she bought her own boat which also encouraged Luke to buy his own and so with 3 more boats, the trailer was full. Saying goodbye to Zoe and then dropping of Afton, the rest drove back to Liverpool but this time even more songs were not listened which annonyed some of the other passengers. Reaching the port, they tucked into their preapred meals from M&S before getting onto the boat for the overnight journey home.
I would like to thank all those in involved with the trip including those who raced, Ben Dooley for driving them there and back , Afton for the support she gave to the paddlers (and sorting out payment for Luke’s boat), Matt for organizing the trip and especially to Ray Sweetlove, who unfortunately could not be with the squad this time, but had coached the squad into what they have become today. Over this winter, training will be a lot more intense especially for Luke and Craig who go off to Queens University. The next major regatta’s for the squad will be either May or July depending on exams.