The Club's Results
Fairbairn Cup 2011
A 4300m timed head race on the Cam for VIIIs
Fri 2nd December
At the bottom of this page there is a link to Cambridge weather. Club members, please go here to add (or correct) results, crews or race reports.
2nd invitational VIII, 11th overall
Some members of the crew felt that there had been "good patches", but these did not extend as far as the bow seat. More practice required.
This was, by a distance, the messiest Fairbairn eight I've rowed in since my novice eight. There was plenty of power going down, but a complete lack of cohesion meant that this didn't translate into boat speed. 2/10.
10th in College VIIIs
M1 aimed to go into this race putting in a performance that reflected all that they had been working on this term, which I believe was done successfully. After a shaky start we were able to establish a strong rate 33 with a good rhythm that sustained us for the rest of the course. We had some very good pushes coming under the Green Dragon Bridge, the railway bridge and out of the ditton corner. Whilst only placing 10th we were not far off many of the other crews with only a few second separating us. Following a good performance that showed what our potential could be I am very much looking forward to training camp and what we can do in Lent's next term!
32nd, top invitational 2nd VIII
With 3 warm up strokes we were ready to race, the first third was pretty reasonable, but along the reach we remembered that fairbairns is a long way and committed hard to quiching to ensure our sprint past the finish line had the appearance of a crew looking to have done well.
BPBC crews require fitness or cohesive rowing. Both were in short supply at times. We did beat M2 by 0.2 seconds though, so everything is fine.
This wasn't bad at all. Some joker put me at stroke so I retaliated by forgetting to wind when Emma said 'go' and then taking an air stroke, but after that things settled onto a reasonable rhythm at rate 30 (as ordered by Dewire, of whom I'm still far too scared to even consider disobeying). We experienced a blow-up around Ditton (and apparently an earlier one on the Reach, although I didn't notice that so it was probably me) but lifted for the finish and heroically held off the chasing crew, the gender of which shall remain unidentified.
Most important conclusion: my forearms were in a right mess after the day's first race (with Crokers) and absolutely fine after this one (with Ultralights). If my crew gets Crokers next year I'm stealing the Ultralight spare.
7th overall, 2nd in Invitational
Being a rather random line-up with half of the crew not having been in a boat for at least a year, the expectations (and ambitions) were mixed and ranged from "we should be fairly competitive" to "can we just race past the boathouses and then paddle it home?". Bow four got about 3-5 practice strokes before the start while stern four just "visualised" how to row, and then we were set off. Maybe it was this lack of time to actually get worried about the race, or the fact that everybody had a fairly relaxed approach to this... anyways, I think we were all surprised by how smooth and efficient and together the row felt from the very first strokes! Thanks to this and some absolutely excellent coxing from Jenny the race felt surprisingly short and the boat never felt heavy or unbalanced for more than a stroke or two. Definitely one of the most enjoyable Fairbairns experiences I remember!
Loosing out on the Invitational shield by a mere 10s agreedly was a bit annoying, especially as we could've easily worked that little bit harder (quoting Neill: "You definitely deserved a price for rowing pretty but you looked a bit too comfortable throughout the race") to make up those 10s over the course. We comforted ourselves with the fact that coming 7th overall is a *very* respectable result for a scratch crew, and that Murray Edwards probably had had a wee bit more practice beforehand than we did.
Well done ladies! It was a real pleasure to race with you and I would be pleased to do it again, whether for Fairbairns or for any of the other races around the year!
8th in College VIIIs
On the Reach our race turned into a full length bumps race, rarely seen in women's divisions. We can really be proud of how we pushed off Christ's, rating 33-34 (?!)
However, this shows that we didn't have to get ourselves into that position in the first place and to do well in Lents, we'll have to push hard without having a boat at our stern. That second half is something to build upon!
Why would you not be at 33-34?
The second half (which I saw from the plough onwards) looked cohesive and committed; to translate this into boatspeed and results, you need to find the power to match your competitors.
If you had asked me early on in term what would make Fairbairns a success for me, I would have said to have eight girls turn up, on time and uninjured for the race. By the end of term, my expectations were much higher.
After some panicked starts in practice pieces, we started the race calmly, perhaps too much so. It was our intention to race our own race, without concern to those in front or behind us. The twisted course of the first half of Fairbairns allowed us to do this. We followed our plan of quick catches around the corners and a power 10 after each one, but the number and proximity of these meant that our power strokes started to run into each other and become worrying like race rhythm rather than a surge of speed. The ratio was 1-1 for most of the first half and I debated calling an up 1 down 1, concerned about how it would affect the pressure. I felt that things were starting to get out of hand after Chesterton and asked Alex to call it. Almost immediately afterwards, at the P&E, Iain started shouting for more pressure, confirming my suspicion that the call hadn't been the right one after all.
At the railway bridge we had a restart, and it was probably the single most important point in my cobbled-together race plan, as we would certainly need the change in mindset for what was coming next.
At the P&E I finally saw Christs coming around the corner, and struggled to remember where they had finished in Winter Head. I realized this was too much thinking and not enough pushing, so I put the blue blades out of my mind for the next few 100m. On the reach it became evident that Christs were moving on us, and our series of technical calls was abandoned in favour of Alex calling for us to push Christs away. I'm not sure how she knew how close they were getting, as I don't remember seeing her turn round, but perhaps it was just coxing instinct and Iain's suddenly more urgent calls for power and commitment.
After Ditton, I figured Christs were going to come by us and started worrying about where this was going to happen. I decided the safest place for this was First Post Reach, and so determined to hold them off till then.
In the second half of the race we found ourselves. Alex stubbornly held the racing line, forcing Christs wide around Ditton, Grassy and First Post, and gaining us valuable time. We stepped up the power and the rate to Iain's calls of 'FIGHT THEM! FIGHT THEM OFF!' and general clamour from the Christs bank party who obviously didn't read the 4 person limit rule. (I believe I fined them for that in Mays too...)
Christs gained on us quite quickly after the reach, but each time their bow ball crept closer we would find another power 10 to push them away again. The second half felt like a row over in bumps, complete with the heart-stopping (literally) panic of their bow overlapping your stern at 100m from the motorway bridge, when Alex finally responded to the calls for us to drift over. We did indeed fight them up to the finish line, and we held them. They didn't come by us. I think they were a bit annoyed not to have passed us, as the reply from the rowers to my congratulations on a good race was an order to move on.
I think the whole race was summed up well by what Iain said to me once I was back on land.
"I don't know whether to scream at you or cheer for you. You rowed like pants in the first half and fought like hell in the second!"
More of the second half next term, girls, please.
Thank you to everyone who coached us this term, to everyone who said it wasn't hopeless, who gave up their time and sleep to help us make sure it wasn't.
Thank you to the Christs men who helped us drag Valkyrie out of the water over the lock, to the Peterhouse guys who pulled us in and pushed us out in the post-Fairbairns marshaling. I hope the guy who looked like he should be taken away in an ambulance for hypothermia survived.
Most importantly, thank you to Christs W1. You pushed us, and shook us out of our complacency. You undoubtedly gave us a better time, while I'm sure we hindered yours. You were the faster crew by a large margin, but now that you've taught us to fight, I hope we can narrow it. See you in Lents.
The last paragraph of Julia's report reminded me of Phil Horler's thanks here
to Clare 1st Men, who were leading our men at the Railway Bridge in the quarter-final of the 2007 Pembroke Regatta, for "making us realise that every race is a fight". Learning to row is one thing, but learning to race is quite another.
Phil further states here
, in his race reports for that regatta, that this was when he "truly started to believe we could and should take the headship". It's no exaggeration to say that that quarter-final race against Clare was a seminal result in the history of this club. I hope that this race proves to be the same.
23rd in College VIIIs
With four subs, a new stroke and all of fifty meters to get used to each other before the starting line, this was always going to be an _interesting_ race. We settled early into a fairly chunky 28 and kept it together reasonably well until the railway bridge where an overtaking maneuver by a chasing crew led to some panic down the boat, our wonderfully calm and composed cox excluded. A restart might have been useful here but you live and learn and we did eventually manage to retrieve some semblance of a rhythm. The remainder of the race is a blur to me (I'd succumbed almost completely to death grip) but I believe we took the rate up to the low 30's for the final push to the long looked for finishing line. Congratulations to the novice girls in the crew on their baptism of fire into the women's senior squad and on all involved for their marvelous caroling during the row home - most enjoyable.
Full Mich Term 2011 results
Compare these times with all Fairbairn Cup times in the archive