Thank you Jeny P for the post, and Holly B for the photo!
We got tied in and ready to shove off the dock with plenty of time to get through the Cut. Coree came around and wished us good racing. Then a bird pooped on my leg, which Alex and I decided must be good luck. There was plenty of bumpy water and inattentive boat drivers on our way through to the warmup area, but we made it through the Cut without swamping and got our warm up in pretty cleanly. Sam was on his best behavior and got yelled at exactly zero times, except by Sarah from two seat (totally justified). We were lined up plenty early and got to watch all the men's races leave the start platform while we silently sized up our competition.
We locked on to the platform easily and Sam had us ready to rock. Our start was clean, and our high strokes high. LUC and LWRC had good starts too and we were all pretty even through the first hundred meters or so. Sam kept the rate high until LWRC started to fade, and then we made our first shift down, to about a 38. I could hear Alex behind me anxiously pleading for a the real shift so we could find our rhythm and start walking. We kept the rate high until we got our bow ball ahead of LUC's and then finally shifted down to our base pace around the 600m mark. We expected LUC to make a move around the thousand meter mark, so we jumped the gun and took a pretty stealthy one at the 900. And sure enough, their coxswain called a big, loud move right at the 1000 -- we could hear her counting strokes and were ready to respond as soon as she hit 10. LUC gained a few seats in their move, but we didn't care because we knew the Pain Cave awaited us and we were going in willingly. Just as soon as LUC finished their middle move, Sam yelled NOW, and we went. Stroke by stroke we walked back up on them, and by the time we were well into the cheering crowd lining the Cut, Sam called out "bow ball" and we knew we had a comfortable lead. But not comfortable enough to lay off the pressure.
As we passed under the Montlake Bridge, I thought, "Dear God, MAKE IT END." The Pain Cave was deep on Saturday and tunnel vision was setting in. Now was just the time to hang on to this lead, put it away and redeem ourselves from our third place finish the year before. Sam called us up for the first tier of our sprint. Marcy kicked off the footboards hard and we all jump on the bandwagon. Three hundred meters to go. No need to push it yet, we were still holding LUC off and the other two boats were a distant memory. Two hundred meters to go. Sam called us up for the second tier -- just clean up the hands. We got a little quicker and a little sharper and found those rates we had at the start of the race. One hundred meters to go. One more tier, one more shift. Last ten strokes. Last five. Paddle.
We cruised across the line in 6:52, four seconds ahead of LUC, and seven ahead of LWRC. We reclaimed the W30+ Opening Day crown for PRC. And it felt good to be in the company of these amazing women who were just as dedicated to the cause.