Thursday – plan was to arrive early and relax in Auckland before hitting the water again on Friday. Plane delays and getting to the hotel seemed to take all day; finally getting to our room and some nice home cooked chicken, potatoes and salad for dinner. Friday – up early to head down to Westend Rowing Club meet Simon and David, our Coxless four crew. Being low tide we ended up going up and down the small inlet which was a fun insight into rowing on Auckland Harbor. Then headed to Cambridge and Lake Karapiro, a nice relaxing trip. Received an SMS from Simon asking if we wanted to do an A four as well as the C we had entered; row must have gone better than we thought. First glimpse of the Lake was amazing; dusk with a little nip in the air. Saturday – started with the A / B Pair and quickly realised that those Taranaki Farm boys are fed far too much milk. These guys are huge. Starts aren’t held so we got a slowish start, for our standards, but quickly worked our way into third where we stayed for the remainder of the race. A good first race clocking a 3.21 with the winner coming through in 3.18. Pretty tidy. Still amazing how much you can learn from every race and new challenge. Harden up Brad, it’s the first race of the regatta. The Girls from Queensland contacted us last week to race in an eight and double with them so next up Mixed eight A-B. Again a slow start, got to get those sorted by Sunday, push through the middle 500m, nice win by 5 secs. A little bit more confidence now but we need it for the next day. The last race; a B grade double scull, the wind is getting up a bit and it’s on the choppy side. A better start, neck and neck with Dunstan Arms club at 500m mark; nothing more than a ½ length back to 3rd and 4th. This is going to hurt; push through the 500m got us a seat ahead but we didn’t want to leave this sprint too late. Keep working, keep working, finishing on 40+ and I think we won. Did we? Yes by 2 secs. 3.15 with a side wind. Again a lots to learn from this one. A little messy at the end but a few upset men from Taranaki. BBQ Saturday afternoon and a few drinks (love that Speights) and a really social atmosphere everyone is so friendly. We got invited to the boys from Westends house Saturday night for dinner and a few stories. Eric Verdonk (Soul, 1988, Bronze medallist, single scull) lead some of the stories of NZL rowing. Same mould as Kim I reckon; loves a chat. Sunday – the Lake looks amazing; nothing to lose today, let’s have some fun, A double scull first up, with a change of tactics; lets sprint from the 500m. Nice start, controlling the race from start to finish and good rhythm sets this up; win by 2 and half secs. Fours are next. West End boys just won their D four. Let’s make it a clean sweep, off to a good start ¾ length lead to the 500m mark. Getting use to their style; a little faster off the back than I’m use to the but boat is going fast; wind up to the line. A few crews sprinting hard but a nice length win; warming up now. Next is my single in a borrowed boat from West End but it weighs more than our double; 30+ Kgs I reckon. Still, managed to get it to the water unaided. Get to the 500m and I try to move my feet forward, whoops my foot stays; wield is a bit dodgy. Rush to the start. Under starters orders and I’m screwing the front down as the gun goes off; have to get it screwed down though. Start 5 lengths behind and my feet keep coming up to say “hi”. Enjoy my single though and work myself through to third; happy with that result. Get off the water. First task; let’s get another single. Lucky I find another and seems like it works ok. A single loaded field; 9 starters but only 8 lanes. Lane 8 and 9 (me) start beside each other. This guy doesn’t want to chat. Meanwhile I’m convincing the judges that there is far too much weed. At the start I decide to start wider. Gun goes; not the fastest out but hazard a glimpse and feel comfortable to the 500m . I’ll burn now for 20 strokes. This works and I take a couple of lengths and relax into my final 250m. The 4 secs win feeling great now. I sneak out of my double scull for Matt to row. Ken and his new mixed doubles partner push that final 200 m and win nicely by 2 sec. Ken impressed with the rowing potential of his new partner. Matt teamed up with another light weight to race the A mixed double but their combined weight didn’t even match one of the Clifton crews. They did really well finishing 7 from 10; go figure only 8 lanes but 10 in the final. Overall what a great experience everyone was so friendly . This was an event run for athletes that made some money, rather than a money making venture that had athletes. Nothing was too much trouble and we had a great time . We stayed in an amazing cottage and thanks to Matt for organizing it. Would I go back YES. Love to support this event in the future! I’ve made some good friends for life. It’s amazing how Rowing can bring people closer and be more than just rowing itself.