Yale women's crew is currently in Henley-On-Thames, England, at the Henley Royal Regatta. Periodically during the trip, a member of the team will blog about the experience. Today, Taylor Ritzel describes what it's like to race at Henley.
Never before as a competitor have I witnessed a crowd like the one standing along the Thames shore today. According to regatta officials, up to 300,000 people are expected to attend over the weekend! There were people everywhere, sitting with their feet in the water, cheering from motorboats and socializing at the numerous bars set up alongside the river. Due to the sheer amount of spectator boats on the water today we had to alter our usual warm-up path and row the course in reverse for a good 300 meters. For being an international crew racing in a foreign country it was really neat to hear all the cheers for Yale as we made our way to the warm-up area. Once there, we saw a boat full of Elvis impersonators blasting Jailhouse Rock, another boat full of men dressed as Vikings proudly displaying their Norwegian heritage and not one but two women flashing us from aboard a very classy riverboat. Just goes to show the carnival-like atmosphere Henley can become and how easy it is to be distracted!
As far as the racing is concerned, we were able to find a long and sustainable rhythm that lasted through to the finish. Although the water was bumpy and there was a fairly strong headwind, the temperature was just right. Our race today was one of the most fun I've ever experienced. The volume from the crowd, the beautiful Henley racecourse and the unstoppable energy all nine of us created and shared made it a race to remember!
Note: To see video of Yale's victory visit http://www.youtube.com/YaleAthletics and look under recent activity.