[Note : in the archives this note appears as "Elite Women 2002" but the text suggests it is from 1999].

Summer racing. Training in tee shirts. Crop tops. Large drinks bottles. Weighing in. Jumpers for goalposts!! How soon the autumn is with us.

Back to Ghent. Our second trip to Gent in mid May was wonderful. On Saturday Kristel and Emma got the worst of the draw in the pairs, but rowed another cracking race in the four with Sam and Jo to make the final. Bev and Caroline, and Jen and Sue cruised to their final in the Pairs and Fours, so we were set for a busy afternoon.

Wonderfully, after a rotten start in the pairs final, Bev and Caroline rowed a splendid race to win, with Jen and Sue 5th. Even more splendidly they repeated the feat in the Fours, beating the Dutch Under 23's into second, much to their dismay. The other four rather ran out of steam, which persuaded Steve and I to suggest to the girls that they "do" the VIII the next day – I mean what's the fun in repeating something when you can do something new!! Fortunately, the grumpy boatman had put the VIII on and entered a crew – even though no-one had stepped in an VIII since March!! It was a gamble as we'd never raced a Womens VIII in Europe before!! but the paddle went well, so game on.

Sunday was fun. We cruised over in the heat and then completely ruined the Dutch four's weekend by walloping them in an VIII as well in a splendid final. Beating Upper Thames by 12 seconds was the icing on the cake. Game Set and Match to Marlow.

However, God moves in mysterious ways, and to balance the above both the Met and Docks Regattas were blown off the Docks!! Quick quiz question for 2010 – which Marlow sculler won her first sculling race at the 1999? Metropolitan Regatta, one of only four races to be held in the whole regatta?? Answers on a postcard to ….

 

Emma, Sam, Jo and Kristel

As the whole of UK Womens rowing staggered blindly with no form towards Women's Henley Regatta, the gloom for us was lifted by the Commonwealth Games VIII which PT had the honour to coach through June. Jen and Sue settled at 5 and 6 and the Henley draw was eagerly awaited. Bev and Caroline were sucked into the Longridge programme, and the Kristel, Jo,Sam and Emma four prepared to race club coxed fours and prayed for a tailwind!! Unfortunately, Wallingford and a headwind were too strong and we were all left high and dry by mid day on Saturday – failure hurt and was revenged later. The Commonwealth VIII raced with great gusto, beating Boston University in the heat and, very splendidly, Upper Thames /Twickenham (with a few Longridge "guests") by some way the final. Well done Jen and Sue!!

And so to the Nationals. PT had returned to the fold, leaving the VIII to yet more angst ridden seat racing, while Lee and Liz finally arrived from South Africa. So there were 6!! Emma and Kristel were pairing and out for revenge in the Four, so Lee and Liz attacked (literally) pairing with great gusto when the coxed four played, and tried out a coxless four when the little pair played, all the while chasing Julie and her scales – sorry new boat up the river. Jen returned from very unfair seat racing with an even stronger accent and a friend called Nieve or Niamh (depending on your colours) to row a pair for Northern Ireland (which is separate for the Commonwealth Games but not the Home Countries!! – home rule for Bucks??!!).

Saturday - Coxed four heat – joy, we dump on Wallingford, make the final but are too slow for a medal – gloom. Coxless four looks great and makes final with good medal chance. Both the heavy pairs make the final and look good – who needs to train all year in a pair?? The final answered that!! Little pair looked very good.

Sunday – a good day. The heavy pairs row really well, but the lack of time catches up with them. Lee and Liz enjoy many lanes – 2100m is a long way!! Well rowed Northern Ireland who, despite being pipped by Wales for the bronze, get to go to Canada!! The coxless four have a terrific race, defying a charge from Upper Thames (yes them again!!) to win the bronze medal and the club plaque!! Well done Jo, Liz, Lee and Sam. Caroline. Bev and Sue are now the stern 3 of the Commonwealth VIII and romp home 30 long seconds clear of the field!! The best was saved to last. In the lightweight pairs, we were up against the Scottish and English pairs for the Commonwealth Games, the Scots full of confidence after a silver at Lucerne!! After a steady start, Kristel and Emma settled in third at 500m and stayed there for a long time!! On the towpath the Scottish cyclists were getting very excited, but they were to be silenced in the last 500. With a distinct look left and right, Kristel turned the screw and with a devastating push, Kristel and Emma blew everyone away, taking 3 lengths off the Scots in 400m!! Fantastic! Emma has not stopped smiling since, and that's no mean achievement in any ones books!!

The Commonwealth Games saw the VIII get to within 2 lengths of the Kiwis who only beat the full GB VIII in 1998 by a length! A great effort. Charlotte rowed in the four and with Jen finding new South Africans to be very painfully crashed into by Marlow had four girls at the games – Well done all.

The end of the season saw Steve Wills return to sheep worrying down under! His enthusiasm and passion will be greatly missed. Gary and Phil have a tough act to follow. Good on you cabbage.

And so to the Millennium season