Nardin had a plan to attack the Hornets at the middle 500 meters, but Metz, the F-M coxswain, kept them at bay at each power 10 stroke with F-M's own power 10 to maintain a comfortable lead, cruising to a five-second win, and a spot in the Grand Finals.
The girls were amazingly focused, and went about their business with a confidence and drive not often seen in sports. They were happy, but would not rest on their laurels, even if qualifying for the Grand Finals officially made them the highest placed national girls team in F-M history.
As parents, Anita and I found it hard to contain our emotions of pride, nervousness and joy as they made their way to Saturday afternoon's final. The wind kicked up, making for a more difficult course, but nothing close to what they had rowed through at Saratoga.
Their boat was the last F-M boat to row at the Regatta, and the entire F-M contingent - team and parents (more than 60 people in all) - stayed to support and watch them race.
Anita and I continued our pre-race rituals as we wished them luck at the launch and sat in the same seats we had all weekend, as not to change any luck - like we had anything to do with this amazing run. The girls were nervous, but a good nervous. Coach Bob Garofalo does a great job of keeping them focused, and they seemed ready.
Finals are much different than the heats and semis. Seasoned boats know that if they place top two in their heats they advance, so some of the faster boats perform at the minimum effort to simply qualify for the next level. The final would have each boat using their greatest effort to win.
The wait for their final heat was agonizingly long as I'm quite sure I was the most nervous person within 10 miles. The races before ours were all exciting, as boats would close in the final meters to beat others by very small margins.