A very overdue blog post - it's been a busy week!
The 19th and 20th October saw the British Championships being brought to the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. This is the first time that the event has been held at this time of year, in the format that was trialled at the Diamond Jubilee in 2012; with doubles and fours racing on the Saturday, and quads and eights racing on the Sunday. Heavyweights, lightweights, U23 and U19 all raced together, with medals awarded to the top 3, and pennants to the winners of the sub categories. All athletes wishing to represent GB in the summer were required to race at least one day, whilst anyone on funding had to race both days, ensuring that racing was of a very high standard at the top end. Each day starts with time trials to allocate which semi-final you were to race, with the top 12 going to the A/B semis, 13-24 to the C/D semis and so on. This format means that you are guaranteed close racing whatever your standard, as you are divided into groups of similar speeds. It also means that you are guaranteed 3 races, and come away with a final ranking, whether that be 1st or 31st.
The squad had 2 doubles entered on the Saturday, with Yaz and Nikki racing as a lightweight double, and Kirstie and Laura C racing in the heavyweight double. The time trial is raced over 1900m, and knowing this could decide how your day is going to pan out, with the threat of missing a higher semi final by a small margin hanging over you, it definitely wakes you up! After a tense wait, the light double were to race in the C/D semi, whilst the heavy double were in the G/H semis. In the C/D semi the light double had a close fight with two U23 bronze medallists, who just pipped them to the line, but ensured a close race for the C final. The heavy double had an excellent semi-final where the top 3 boats almost crossed the line together, and they ensured their place in the G final, where in a strengthening cross head they rowed a hard race and left everything out on the water. In the C final, the light double couldn't match the strength of the heavyweights in their final off the start, but slowly clawed their way back through the field, pushing past the Leander C boat and the U23 lightweights, and finished second - giving a finishing position of 14th, in an event won by VML and Fran Houghton, and 4th lightweight boat overall.
On day 2 the heavy quad of Cathers, with Start athletes Katie, Sarah and Beth, came out to play, whilst Nikki joined fellow lightweights from MAA and Putney Town RC in a composite quad. Both boats made it through to the A final, and were drawn in adjacent lanes. The favourites from Tees lead from start to finish, whilst Wallingford pushed out into second, leaving the Nottingham and Mortlake quads to fight for third. Through every timing marker the quads were level, with both crews being able to hear and respond to the other boats calls. At 250m to go the composite had their noses in front, but in a final move to the line, the Nottingham quad managed to push through and take a hard earned bronze medal.
                                                          Photo by Naomi Baker Sports Photography
Overall the weekend was a great success, it is a well organised event with close racing. The only thing missing were a few more spectators! There has been a lot of debate about the format of this event as a 'true National Championships', with summing up opinions well if you are interested.
The squad have a busy few weeks up to Christmas, racing on the 3rd November at the Small Boats Head, followed by GB trials a fortnight later, then 4s head 2 weeks after that, and then trials again 2 weeks after that.
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