Freezer Ep 46: Final Practice

Each morning for the last month Dean had driven his daughter Jane to rowing practice, arriving at the sheds on the bank of the river just before dawn. And each morning, Abraham Goldsmith had been doing the same for his daughter Ruth, Jane’s partner in the double-sculls. While the sun came up and the girls trained out on the water, their fathers would walk and talk, sharing news and drinking the strong coffee, which Abraham always brought in a thermos.

Ruth was the State Junior Women’s Single Sculls champion when she first met Jane at the beginning of the year. Jane on the hand had not been interested in any sporting activity, but this changed when Ruth coaxed her into a rowing shell one morning. Here was a sport Jane felt she might be able to enjoy and, who knows, may even become quite good at.

As rowers and friends Jane and Ruth clicked. They decided to go for the double-sculls in this year’s State Rowing Titles, and were given permission to use the school rowing facilities for training every morning and afternoon. A few weeks into training, the school Principal was altered to an unsupervised training session and the permission was withdrawn.

When Peter and Marty, two rowers from another club, heard that Jane and Ruth had been banned from rowing at school, they talked their coach into allowing the girls to use one of the sculling pairs at their club. Jane and Ruth trained hard at the club with help from the two boys and Steve, the coach. Jane’s technical skills had improved greatly, but she had never been in a rowing race and no one knew how she would stand up to the pressure. For the last two weeks of training, Steve had arranged for the girls to be joined in their early morning sessions by two other double-sculls; Peter and Marty were in one and a couple of their mates in the other.

It was now Friday and the State Rowing Championships were just two days away. It was the last day or training, and as Ruth and Jane practiced their starts in the middle of the river, their fathers were deep in conversation on the bank. The previous week, Dean had told Abraham about the Regal Mortgage depositors meeting and the proposed rescue bid for the company. Abraham had been sceptical, doubting whether the government would have anything to do with the failed company, but promised to see what he could find out.

Out on the water the practice race starts weren’t going well. The girls were slow getting away and when Ruth tried to increase the rating, Jane was not able to keep up with her. After another slow start, which saw Ruth and Jane loose nearly a boat length in the first 50 metres, coach Steve stopped the tinny beside the girl’s shell.

“You’ve got to lift the rating sooner,” Steve told the girls.

Ruth knew this was the case, but said nothing as she busied herself adjusting a foot strap.

“I know,” Jane replied apologetically. “But I need more time, just a few strokes.”

“You don’t have more time!” Steve snapped. He turned to address Ruth directly. “You know what’s needed. Give me five three-quarter draws and then a high ten.”

Ruth agreed and the crews manoeuvred the three racing shells into a straight line. Steve raised the starters flag, checked to see if everyone was ready and then dropped the flag as he shouted go!

The three shells pulled away smoothly, but as Ruth moved into the 10 high rating strokes, Jane lost it and slapped the water with an oar as she screamed, “Shit, shit, shit!”

Jane’s shout caught the attention of both fathers and they turned to look at the girls. “Looks like they are still having trouble,” Dean said, a worried expression on his face.

“They’ll work it out,” Abraham replied confidently and both men continued walking down the path. Abraham outlined what he had discovered about the rescue bid for Regal Mortgage and the news wasn’t good.

“So you don’t think the rescue’s going to come off?” Dean asked.

“Can’t see it,” was Abraham’s blunt reply. “Most of the major financial institutions have rejected the idea. And if they’re not in it, I can’t see the Government getting involved.”

“I’ve probably done my dough then,” Dean said despondently.

Abraham put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, Dean.”

“Oh we’ll be right,” Dean replied. “We’re still in business and the shopping centre’s going ahead. Regal’s dropped out, but Purvis has got a Japanese backer.”

“That is good to hear,” Abraham said with more hope than confidence that everything would work out well for Dean Thomas and his family.

In the next episode, “Going Sailing”, Purvis is unable to get a signed contract from Sky Crystal before he has to leave for the Ocean Classic and Ralph has the day off. The contract will have to wait until Monday morning.

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