The sun is glistening off the snow-capped mountains that frame the lake here in Varese, Italy. We’ve just arrived for the European Championships that are due to start, today, Friday 9th April; our first international race since the World Championships in August 2019. The European Championships are our first international race of the 2021 racing season, our first race in 19 months, and the first time we will get a sense of our relative boat speed against the international competition.
This time last year I was completing a full day’s training in the shed at the end of my garden. I remember it being hot and feeling that I had to dig a little deeper to find the motivation to train. The Olympics had been postponed and the thought of racing internationally felt like a distant prospect. Fast forward a year and we’re on the eve of racing again. The past twelve months have seen us complete the 2020 season at home during lockdown, return to training in a new season, and go through selection once more for the new 2021 Olympic Team. It is with a real sense of excitement that in a couple of days we will be lining up against other crews from around Europe. We’ve prepared well and this weekend of racing is a great opportunity to learn as much as we can from ourselves and our European opposition.
The European Championships start with heats on Friday, followed by the semi-finals on Saturday, and the final on Sunday. The semi-finals will be live on the BBC red button and the finals will be shown live on BBC2. The last time we raced internationally was the World Championship final in 2019 where we lost to Poland and Romania, both crews are here this weekend, as well as some strong crews from around Europe. It is with a lot of pride knowing that on Friday I will be wearing my GB rowing kit, sitting on the start line, ready to pull that first stroke in anger.