Harry Lane-Fox, stroke of the J15A VIII
We started out on our journey with a vague idea of what we were planning to achieve in the five days we were spending at Pangbourne. After a short three-hour journey we eventually arrived at a promising looking youth hostel with a very precariously positioned drive. Once inside we threw our bags into rooms the size of a shoe box and had some lunch. After that we got back into the buses and drove down to the boat house at Pangbourne, where we had to re-rig the boats and then had an opportunity to pull our hands apart on a nice rubber handle, after two weeks’ rest, or what Mr Manser likes to call “rowing”. After successfully blowing the cobwebs away we went back to the hostel and tried to get comfortable in our rooms. It was at this point we discovered something terrible: the beds were uncomfortable. But we got over that.
Our hopes were high for the second day and we wanted to achieve something. After a month and a half out thanks to illness, on my part it was very nice to be back and I was praying that we could find some speed. It happened to be Miss Rule’s birthday. So after a loud and untuneful chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’, we set out for a paddle.
As a squad, I think that we found a lot of speed that day and we also succeeded in making our blisters even more painful than before. Then in the afternoon we mixed the two crews up and did some racing, which was concluded in an agonising victory of ½ a length to the other crew. After a crippling day of training we had some time to chill and then eventually sleep.
We had planned to only do an outing in the morning and then head into Oxford for the afternoon. So in the morning session we went for a paddle and also rehearsed our start routine for regattas. This is more complicated than it sounds as we have to get the boat going from zero to full speed in as short a time as possible. After achieving something fairly close to nothing, we decided that we had done a good job and so then we got in the buses and headed towards Oxford. First port of call was Dr Oakley’s old college, Corpus Christi, where we heard about many of his wild nights as a student. After that it was time for punting, where we happened to find one hundred French school students also punting. Something similar to the Battle of Trafalgar then ensued, where 19 mal-coordinated rowers proceeded to crash into all and sundry. After upholding the name of the School for a couple of hours, we had supper in a Mexican restaurant and then did little bit more chilling.
This day had been looked forward to with much anticipation, as it was the day of seat racing (a complicated affair which involved racing two fours and then swapping one member of each crew to try and work out who makes the boat go faster). After it was concluded that both Jake and Nick made the boat go the same speed we all got quite annoyed, as it meant that instead of small boats on the last day we would have to do more racing.
That evening we went to the local pub for supper and then to the cinema. I cannot personally comment on the new Tom Cruise blockbuster because l spent most of the film asleep!
The last day of the training camp we woke bright and early to prepare to decide the final position in the A crew. When we arrived at the boat house I could feel the tension growing, both parties were after that seat. So after a couple of 1000-metre pieces, the crew for National Schools was set.
The squad now has a very busy period in the build up to National Schools on Saturday 25th May. Training has gone well and we hope to be in the mix come the day!
Harry Lane-Fox (Rt V)