After freezing conditions prevented February trials from going ahead, the squad turned their focus to training in an 8 in preparation for the Womens' Eights Head of the River Race. This is a 7.5km race on the championship course on the Tideway, from Mortlake to Putney raced on 3rd March. 300 womens crews have entered, with the start order based on previous results. We will be starting as 7th crew, chasing down Mortlake, Anglian and Alpha, who having finished just ahead of us last year should provide some close racing.
In preparation for this race, the girls raced at Trent Head of the River, a 6km downstream race based at NRC. The crew, with Ellie sitting at 2 and Lindsay at 6, had a strong race, winning the Robin Haslam Trophy for fastest womens crew. We successfully reproduced some of the technical changes we have been working on in paddling, and with one more week of training in the eight, are looking to further increase boat speed before we take on the tideway. Bring it on!
The triallists are required to submit a 5k ergo below set cut-off points before being able to compete at the February assessment, so the whole squad got together on the 28th January to complete the 5k. This was quite a big event, with the senior men, intermediate men and the womens' squads also taking the opportunity to test themselves against the machine and each other, and stake a claim in boats for the eights head boats. This provided a great atmosphere, with supporters coming down early and staying after they had completed their tests to cheer each other on.

Everybody in the group had a good result, with Stu, Ed, Rich, Pippa and Nikki all getting PBs, whilst everyone else who tested improved on the times they posted this time last year. Catherine and Lindsay both completed the erg in a solid time, further forging their way back to full recovery after prolonged injury, with it looking positive for the forthcoming head races.

The 5k erg was the biggest test of our winter training, suggesting that as a squad we are stronger and faster than last year. Barr the Head of the River Race, we now move on to summer training, with trials held over 2k next weekend at the Olympic rowing venue in Dorney - doing summer race prep when it's snowing is a strange experience!
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