It’s that time of year again.
Our coxless four has been in the boat tents since Sunday where that warm, damp, woody smell is yet to take on the slightly fetid tinge of sweat that tells you for sure you’re in the Henley boat tents. It will take the onslaught of qualifiers to really bring that edge out, but there’s plenty of other reminders that you’re back to tide you over.
Carrying the boat to the water, we pass a crew from the US who are having their post outing chat. Or “Team-talk” I should say. They finish up by standing in a circle, placing their hands together and shouting “1,2,3,*team name*”. Brits everywhere role their eyes.
As we boat, our bowman identifies his “steering blade” by the chips on the end and jokes that there might be a few more by the end of the outing.
Paddling out for our first lap of 3 we watch another coxless crew back onto a pontoon to land. They punt it with their stern, miss it, miss the next one, and just about make the next one. Cool glances cover the mistake. Must be another Wyfolds crew…
On the way up to the start we note that the pile that marks the beginning of the sectioned-off warm up lane is rather tight this year. We miss it by about an inch. Not to worry, we’ll get it next time.
Next, we spot that for some reason the Eye has been taken down from the alignment chevrons. The white buoys on Berks are bent as a banana. There are no red buoys on the Bucks station yet to warn you that the booms are about to begin. Great. Our outing contains 6x500m pieces. The ones off the start look like they’re going to be fun.
Accordingly, and like a proper Wyfolds crew, we halt our first 500m piece early as we nearly hit the first pile on Bucks.
We get close to the booms on the second, where a detached boom tricks the steersman to steer in only to bite back at the last minute. Ah, the booms.
The third piece happens without incident. Bowman begins to calm.
We then stop the fourth piece as we nearly hit an American crew who have stopped at the end of the island for some particularly detailed feedback from their coach. Ah, the American crews. Bowman stops calming process.
We’re getting our eyes in now though and the last two pieces are straight and without incident. Dull, really.
It’s quirky to say the least, but I doubt there’s one of us who’d change it.
Our brand new GoPro arrives in the post in time for the next outing – stay tuned for some footage from the river of the world’s quirkiest regatta.