A Day at the Olympic Rowing – and a Surprising Gold Medal!

So, we went to the Olympic Rowing event yesterday at Eton Dorney. How was it? Here’s our review.

Weather

Look at that sky!

Typically British. Drizzle, followed by damp, cool (3-4 layers needed), windy interlude, followed by proper rain right at the end. Miserable.  4/10. (Not too bad for the rowers, bit of a cross wind but they like it cool).

 Atmosphere

Very good, the weather probably took the edge off a touch but a very good natured crowd even when Stand 2 (which we were in) were held back for 15 minutes at the end to ease congestion. Good to see and hear groups cheering different countries, we all cheered the man from Niger in the sculls. And it got positively spine-tingling in the semi-finals that had GB representation. I can’t imagine how good it’s going to be in the finals! Games Helpers were lovely, lots of them. The commentators did a superb job –didn’t sound condescending at all to the  largely non-expert audience, were informative and interesting.  8/10

 Rowing

No finals but some very good racing, particularly the two sets of semi-finals (Mens Double Sculls and Lightweight Fours). We walked down the course before the programme started and it was good to see a lot of crews on their training outings – saw the GB Four and Eight and lots of others. That’s worth doing if you’re there early.  8/10

Security and “Facilities”

Security seemed to be in the main military, certainly in the main airport style check-in area. That was done with a lot more grace and humour than you get at the airport. Queue at 8am was less than ten minutes.  The loos were OK, not always perfect (not surprisingly), but not bad and plenty of them – no real queues.  8/10

 Transport

The real shock. We did Park and Ride from Windsor Great Park. Total queuing time for buses over the two legs of the journey – approximately 15 seconds. And we were in the mass of people exiting, not ahead or behind the main crowd. Spotless, apparently brand new First double deckers, done out stylishly in the Olympic colours. Well organised car park and channelling of people at the arrival site. Traffic through Windsor flowing well. Took about 5 minutes to get out of car park on way home – a breeze compared to Ascot Races, Henley Regatta, Wembley Arena, Carrow Road...  It was quite a walk from the drop-off area to the venue but even that was pleasant, through Windsor Race Course and by / over the Thames.  All in all, the part of the process I was dreading was actually enjoyable.  A huge well done to everyone involved in the Transport and Logistics area, for that venue at least. THE GOLD MEDAL PERFORMANCE! 10/10

 Catering

Other than the weather, the only disappointment. Expensive - £5 for a pretty good but not outstanding Cornish Pasty – but that was to be expected. But the main problem was a lack of capacity. Someone missed a commercial opportunity here. Huge queues from first thing, throughout the whole morning (but if you are there early, head down the course – got better away from the entrance).  I would have bought at least a beer and probably fish and chips if there hadn’t been queues of at least 10 minutes at the stands – which were also a little bit unexciting and surprisingly non-cosmopolitan in food option terms (compared to Reading Festival for instance).  Poor and badly thought out.  4/10

 Overall

A very good experience, not sure it was a “live in my memory forever” morning (might have been if we’d seen finals), but other than the catering, a great job done by everyone involved. I don’t think I’ll live to see another Olympics in the UK, so very pleased to have experienced this one!

Voices (4)

  1. Matt:

    Great blog entry! I’m heading to Eton on Satruday but only in the General Admission Standing Area.
    Any indication as to the best place to stand along the course, or if there is anywhere in the GA area where we could see the medal ceremonies?

    1. Peter Smith:

      The Standing Area starts at about 1600 metres (i.e. you are 400 metres or just over a minutes rowing from the end). I would get as near to the finishing line as possible within the standing area. You should get a decent view down the course towards the start as well, and the big screen is pretty good. I don’t know where the medal area is – I’ll try and find out – but I suspect its a fair way even from the seated stands (over the other side of the lake I think). You may be able to see some distant figures.. and will be on the screen I’m sure. Winners may row down the course a little way with their medals perhaps? Anyway, I’m jealous, should be a great day – I predict two golds and a silver for GB!

      1. Matt:

        Thanks very much for the insight! I’ll make sure to get there early to secure a good spot. I’m hoping my 250mm lens will be long enough to capture some of the action! The weather’s not looking great at the moment, but nevertheless I can’t wait! Let’s hope your predictions are accurate!
        Go Team GB!

      2. irene Clarke:

        How do you get general admission tickets to eton Dorney please?

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