By Brie Stark, former BMC rower and Philadelphia Inquirer Rowing Performer of the Year (2012)
I was selected to cox the Cambridge University Women's Lightweights in the famous Henley Boat Races against Oxford University, which recently took place on March 24th, 2013. The races, as the name would have it, usually take place at Henley, on the river Thames. This year, due to strong winds and current, the race was moved to Eton Dorney Lake, where the 2012 London Olympics were held.
Race day was brutal, to say the least. The wind chill was about 27 degrees Fahrenheit, and despite wearing several layers, everyone was frozen when we got to the starting line. Even though the race was moved to Dorney from Henley on account of the wind, the wind that day was still remarkably strong: a 45 degree crosswind that blew along the course at 20mph. This crosswind made my coxing job much more difficult, especially as I knew my boat, a lightweight crew (each girl weighing a maximum of 130lbs), would have a harder time dealing with the conditions than a heavyweight crew might.
After pulling into the stake-boats, we began a hard fought race against the dark blues. We were the first off the starting blocks, with Oxford drawing even roughly 500 meters in. We continued to vie for position for quite some time before Oxford began to move through us, though we steadily fought throughout the entire race. We were hit strongly with a crosswind at the 1000 meter mark (halfway), and fought to regain a steady rhythm afterwards, which I felt was the biggest struggle of the race. Though we did not win, my team and I feel that we did our best, and look forward to coming against Oxford again at the British University & Colleges Sport Championships in early May.
Before this big race, we had several 'sparring' matches with crews from around the country, in which we defeated several top boats - even more impressive, they were all heavyweight boats. The motto of my boat - small but mighty, with a lot of fight!
Brie is the person at the left of the photo (wearing hat and facing opposite from others)
Brie is third row from the bottom all the way to the left