The Club's Results
Pembroke Regatta, Lent Term 2012
3rd men's VIII (3rd division)
Coxed by: Yining Nie
Beat Clare III by 3 lengths
One look at the 3rd division draw and one could see that either we are very unlucky or the designer of the draw must be trying hard to make us fail. There was only one race in Round 1 and we (and Clare III) had to go through it, while every other crew in the division started fresh from round 2. We had to race Clare in Round 1, and Pembroke in Round 2, and these are very powerful crews and our 2 (quite close) runner ups in Robinson head.
The wind that morning was insane. The waves were half a foot high or more which is something I have never seen on the Cam before. The waves were so massive that during the race when we leaned towards bow side for a second, this massive wave shows up and *splash* the wave is inside the boat and lands as is on Jason's lower back. This was not a good experience for Jason because that water was freezing cold.
Also to make rowing as hard as possible in this wind, the racing course is perfectly aligned so that we were rowing head opposite to the wind.
Compared to the races we had in Clare novices last term, this first race was not easy. We had a horrible start which I first attributed to our incompetence but Simon thought that the start was as good as it can be in such windy conditions.
After the start we were 1/3 of a length ahead of the other crew, this was gradually extended to 3 boat lengths by the middle of the race coarse after which they started gaining back on us again. However when they got alarmingly close, our men put the commitment back again and we got back the 3 lengths lead by the finish line. We were notified by the coaches that this was not supposed to happen and that no one in the crew should push any lighter when the opponents are few lengths behind.
After the finish, Clare III wished us luck and one of their rowers said that he hopes they had only lost to the eventual winners. I thought that was a nice thing to say from people who just lost the race to us. And frankly I kind of feel bad for Clare III, as they are quite good and yet they never even made it to Round 2, when every other crew in the division did.
We parked underneath the railway bridge waiting for the next round and watching other boats in the division racing the finish. At this time, we were soaked in Cam water, and the wind was very cold and fast which meant that most of us who did not bring enough dry kit were FREEZING to death. Special thanks to Neil for providing some of his own dry kit to keep us warm, it was great help.
One final note: While waiting, we watched and cheered for our M4 racing against some other crew, they were holding them by a hair (metaphorically speaking) almost all the way to the finish before the other crew overtook M4. It was so intense that just watching this race warmed me up for a minute or two.
Brought back memories of drowning in the cox's seat at Clare Novices as well as Ahmad's 1000-word race reports.
I have never rowed in such terrible conditions. The wind churned the water to give the sensation of perpetual washing down, and it was so choppy that on occasions one would take an air stroke, despite the oar being at a height where one would expect to find water. Similarly, on the recovery one could push the oar through the crest of a wave, soaking those in front of one in the boat. Rowing is generally more efficient if one leaves the water in the Cam.
While we were parked under the railway bridge waiting for the previous division to race, some of us had a chuckle at the expense of the weaker crews who were barely moving in the massive headwind. Little did I know how frustrating it would be to row in such weather. All I could concentrate on was trying to keep my blade up on the recovery to avoid it crashing against the water. I was not very successful, and managed to waterlog Tim's shirt only seconds into the race. Never again will I undervalue tapping down.
I think most of us were confident we would win after beating Clare M3 by 9 seconds in the Robinson Head race. After we gained a length off them at the start we slacked off and didn't pull away again until the finish. We shouldn't have to be cocky to be confident.
In order to keep these reports coming, I shall endeavour to pretend I haven't actually read everyone else's accounts.
The luck of the draw ensured that we had one more race than anyone else in the competition (true only if we got the final, of course. Coincidence?).
This was felt very bitterly and personally by yours truly, and seemed a deliberate attempt to discredit our race attempt against teams already one-love down to a remarkably FaT M3. Furthermore, the weather was beyond abominable, and in many exciting years of rowing experience (read 5 months) I have never been concerned that our taking onboard of errant river would be more down to the oscillations of the water than the splashing of overly enthusiastic catches.
We won, by the way.
Beat Pembroke III by 1 Length
Yimin was keen that we beat Pembroke III that day for revenge purposes. There you go Yimin, sweet, sweet revenge!
The main problem here is that we were exhausted from the first race with Clare III and the chilled break after that, while Pembroke III just arrived and were starting fresh.
The wind was even worse than how it was in the first race. And therefore the start was again miserable. I can't remember how many air strokes and crabs occurred during that start. But still we were 1/2 a length ahead of the other crew after that.
Near the railway bridge we were a good 2 lengths ahead of them when the effect of the first race started to creep into our arms and legs. The effect was bad. Very, very bad. Pembroke III started to gain on us and we simply had nothing left in the tank to push them away. My legs became paralysed and I had to take some strokes at arms only. John's hands were bleeding quite badly. It was frightening when they came so close that Adam at stroke could not make a full slide any more without hitting their boat. But then something mysterious happened (perhaps the fear adrenalin?) when our crew suddenly found the energy to push them away slightly (to 1 length distance) so that Adam is able to row properly again and we actually held them at 1 length distance all the way to the finish line.
Winning was nice, but everyone was in utter agony at the end of this race. And I couldn't help but scream my heart out at the end.
I was told later something interesting, every crew in the race is given one side of the river and it is against the rules for a crew to leave their side to the other side. Any crew that deliberately do that get disqualified because it is unfair to their opponents.
During our race with Pembroke III, after the railway bridge there was a Maggie women boat sitting right in the middle of our way. Hence obstructing our side of the river but not the side of our opponents. Yining (the cox) took a fast and excellent decision to go around the Maggie boat by moving to the river side of Pembroke III. We were not disqualified later for doing this because of the obstruction. Yining practically saved our race by acting quickly and not panicking.
This of course explains why Adam's blade almost hit their boat when they gained on us. We were actually on their side of the river trying to avoid that Maggie boat.
A race in terrible conditions. In fact so terrible that some crews - like Maggie W3 - pretty much went backwards. The marhsals left almost 5 minutes between their race and ours, nevertheless it was clear halfway through the race that we were going to catch them before the finish line. Lacking any attempt from the marshals to clear this wind-blown red octopus whose opposition have badgered off into the far distance long ago out of the way, Yining was forced to initiate a spectacular overtaking manoeuvre shortly after Morley's holt. Pembroke were less than a length down at this point so had the pleasure of a free bumps practice into Adam's blade while we were sandwiched between them and said red octopus. Only then did Maggie start to move to the towpath, generously leaving us a clear last 10 strokes for the finish line.
A hard but very well-fought race by both crews. Pembroke were almost a length down very early into the race but pushed back to half a length several times. Many crews would have given up long before that, kudos!
Highly imaginative steering. The Cam could not fit a boat marshalled against the bank, a slow Maggie Women's crew, us and Pembroke racing flat out, and a barge on the other side of the river. Rowing certainly has a stochastic side.
Our race was scheduled to be the first in the division, but as we rowed down to the start we passed Lady Margaret W3 and the marshal informed us that they would be racing first since they had marshalled too early and "been waiting for a long time." Then, while we were lining up at the start line, the marshal informed us, "I'm going to hold you here for a while to give this race some more time." Nonetheless, he set us off only 10 seconds later.
While we had been lining up I saw that Pembroke's 3, 4, and 5-men were wearing "Pembroke College Rugby Club" jackets. That is to say, they were bigger than us. Simon predicted that for this reason they might pull ahead at the start, but we prevailed in the beginning and were a length ahead early in the race. Down the reach they made up a couple of seats on us, but we made them back up and were a length ahead again going into the final corner. Then I heard Simon screaming, "MOVE OVER! MOVE OVER!" Suddenly we veered in front of Pembroke, who were only a length behind us, and I heard Matt behind me yell, "What the fuck, Maggie!?" We passed Lady Margaret W3 who were paddling into the finish of their race. I noticed that Adam had to shorten his stroke to keep from knocking Pembroke's bow, but nonetheless we pulled ahead into the finish. Yining made a great decision in a difficult situation which ensured our victory and kept our boat intact.
There were a couple of factors differing between the first race and our second, with Pembroke. One was that they had blue blades. Another is that their boat said 'PEM' on the side. An element with slightly more influence might be that Pembroke didn't give up after we pulled ahead (and weren't so easy-going as the polite Clare crew, who said that they 'only wanted to lose to the eventual winners'. Which was fortunate).
The weather remained singularly awful and taking strokes was an exercise more in luck and guesswork than our carefully choreographed (I think the term is, ah) rowing. Squaring blades became a thing of the past, as did warmth, dryness and a sat boat. Appalling weather. Luckily, forwards remained the prevailing direction for our vessel, but it was a close run thing. The race itself was quite tough but we took an early lead which we maintained despite Pembroke's rallying; they were never too serious a threat.
The most entertaining portion of the charge had to be its finale. Through the red haze of competitive racing (by which I mean any call made by Yining went completely unheeded) when Pembroke were but a half length or so behind us, a single shout from Simon made itself distinguished: "MAGGIE GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!" (I'm including this section purely for the excuse to use the caps lock key), followed hot on the heels by Neil's "Eyes forward, boys, do NOT look round". Race fervour ensured that, for the first time in my life, I followed instructions to the letter and it was only following our winning of the race that we could spare the time to gawp at the incompetent John's crew who had been set off in the race before ours and were yet to complete the course. It also explained some fantastic and amusing manoeuvring by Yining who used the blood-red boat as an excuse to pull directly in front of Pembroke, stymying any attempt to overtake until the good Lady Margaret had pulled into the side. Euphoric.
This was a hard race. We took about a length out of Pembroke early on but were unable to push ahead further. Shortly after the railway bridge, Pembroke found some extra energy and started taking back a significant margin every stroke. The crew realised this, took a lift and we pushed back off them. As we neared the end of the race, it became apparent that Maggie W3 from the previous race were not going to cross the finish before we did. Yining was forced take evasive action which meant cutting straight across Pembroke. Sitting in the stroke seat, I was unaware of the situation developing ahead and so I began to doubt Yining's line when my blade eventually hit Pembroke's bow. For the next five strokes I got some early bumps practice but the crew managed to push on, get around Maggie and crossed the line with a well-earned victory.
Beat Queen's IV Easily
This was the only easy race of the day, despite a very bad start
We were on the meadow side of the river, and preparing to start the race. The marshals called "attention", Yining raised her voice to tell the marshals on the bank to wait because our boat is still not aligned properly. But they ignored her and called for "go" while she was shouting on the microphone. Hence we did not hear the "go". All we knew is that Queen's IV had set off while we were still sitting there at front stops. It is easy to see why our panicky start that followed looked absolutely awful and took a large number of strokes before we were back together.
However we very quickly got back all the distance we lost and quickly pushed them away. After the railway bridge we were so far ahead that Yining called for a surge and a down 4. Everyone got our point and there was no reason to waste any more energy on this crew.
Sometimes you wonder what marshals have megaphones for. Neither Yining nor any of the rowers heard the "go", Queen's were halfway through their second drive before people realised that the race has started. Nevertheless we went into a comfortable lead after 10 strokes and clear water after another 10.
This race was a reminder that regattas can have bizarre draws. Both of our previous races were much closer than this. It was reminiscent of racing against Jesus NM2 in our first race of Clare Novices. Nevertheless, it is imperative to keep going, even when ahead. The hare and the tortoise...
Before our third race Yimin gave us a pep talk, and warned us that because of the bad weather, the marshals could start the race unexpectedly. This is exactly what happened, as the marshal started the race while we were two seats behind Pembroke and facing into the middle of the river, while Yining was saying, "Marshal, we're not straight!" This could have been crippling if we were racing a faster boat, and we must be more alert during Bumps.
While it's true that we had already beaten any combination of competitors in our first three races at the Robinson Head, this race promised to be even easier than the first two. Darwin M1 are alas not fabulous this year, and Queen's M4 are almost surely a fourth boat, so it was with a reasonably carefree attitude that we pulled up to the starting line. This evaporated when the inaudible starting call was made which led to us being a stroke and a half down from the start as Yining was trying to adjust our boat position. They then lost all hope of catching us by the end of our start to such an extent that past the railway bridge we heard a call from the bank 'take the pressure off' (after our fifth surge or thereabouts) which was promptly heeded, resulting in a nice calm paddle at a rating around ten below race pace. The following 'not that much, we're not that cocky' was an irritant but led to slightly snappier rowing as we crossed the line for the third time.
We went out hard and got a big lead. We went hard some more and got a bigger lead. Then we won.
Beat Caius III Easily
An incredibly close race until Caius decided to organise a garden party 100m from the finish line. Lolcaius.
"Won easily" here is quite misleading, it was not easy at all.
We came back for this race after a ~3 hours break (break includes paddling to and from the boat house). By this time the wind had stopped and was replaced by rain which meant that all the dry clothes that I put on myself in the break became wet before the race had even begun.
I saw a lady who was bank partying for Caius III and she was in a state of happiness and pride, she told the guy next to her that she is so excited because Caius M3 are very fast and seem like they are going to actually win Pembroke Regatta, well mam, you didn't seem to have taken First and Third into account.
This race was very intense and very tight. The start was not bad and if I recall correctly we were level with the other crew after the start. But around the middle of the race they had overtaken us by 1/2 a length which was very frustrating and a feeling of hopelessness crept in when that 1/2 a length seemed like it was not going to get any shorter any soon.
Nevertheless it did get shorter soon. They soon got tired and started losing distance and we were level again after the railway bridge. It was very helpful when Yining pointed that out on the microphone: "they are level with us". Because some of us weren't aware of this yet, when Yining said that, all the feeling of hopelessness went away and we found energy to put down massive strokes and quickly take a lead ourselves of 1/4 length. At this point we were around 70 meters away from the finish and it was very unlikely that they could get the 1/4 length back so quickly. Just then, one of their rowers caught a nasty overhead crab taking their boat off its coarse. They had to stop quickly before crashing into the bank. This explains why we won "easily", even though we had to spend absolutely every bit of effort to hold Caius III till near the end. It would have been a lot more convenient for us if they caught their crab much earlier in the race.
Despite all the pain after the race, a good feeling of joy was shared between us, as we made it to the final race. M3 did not look dead after spending a long day racing tough crews, they just looked very happy and excited.
A couple of nice people offered their cars for us to sit inside and stay warm until the final race. They also offered us food and drink, it was great.
Edit: I remember the 10 seconds roar from Steven, it was impressive he could do that when on the other hand I could barely whisper at this stage.
Caius was good. Steven's 10-second roar was better (and likely contributed to the opposition's crab and possible boat/barge repair costs).
After losing to Maggie NM1 in Clare Novices, I greatly desired racing them again. They were in the other semifinal, racing Girton M3. So, in order to have the chance to race Maggie, we had to beat Caius. As other reports have eloquently elucidated, the race was extremely tight. Initially it appeared as if Caius were pulling away, but I decided that, if we were going to lose, I wished to ensure that I went down fighting. At one point I looked to my right and it was if us and Caius were stationary and level, and the bank was moving beside us. (Technically, this is a legitimate statement by special relativity, though we were not exactly an inertial reference frame.)
Although they crabbed and ran into a barge, we had a very challenging race. Some of us caught miniature crabs, but managed to rescue the situation. They did not. If anything this race serves as a reminder to persevere until the bitter end.
Since the regatta was running an hour late, our long lunch break turned into only one hour, during which I barely had time to come home, eat, and change into dry clothes. We met back at the boathouse at 2pm. Tim brought up a weather forecast on the boathouse computer which showed a large storm front moving into Cambridge from the northwest, which would reach its peak at 3pm, precisely when we were getting the boat out. Fortunately, the wind had died down and I, for one, much preferred rain to wind.
While were coming around the final corner, Caius's stroke-man caught an overhead crab and fell off his seat. They panicked, dropped out one by one -- and then crashed into a houseboat. We wound down into what should have been a thrilling finish. For the most part our crew was happy to move on to the finals, but I would have preferred to have raced them to the end. As soon as we passed the finish line Neil and Lianne made the second-best decision of the day as they told us to pull into the bank beside the P&E parking lot behind M1, and jump out of the boat into their cars, where we warmed up for the final.
Caius did quite well at Fairbairns, really. They beat the University Lights and their M2 beat our M1. So were we brimming with confidence after our three late morning races, compared to their two early morning ones? In a fruitful effort to instil some doubt into the strong opposition, Steven let loose a mighty bellow at the beginning of the race, the echoes of which triggered some subconscious primal reaction in the stroke man of Caius M3 significantly further on down the course. We were incredibly evenly matched, with Caius having a slight edge through the whole course but our boat never giving a single inch. Surely we weren't just going to stand by and let Caius get a clean sweep of the regatta? Surely they weren't greedy enough to want four trophies? The wind had died down completely and so this was a race able to display our flagging and jaded technique rather better than the previous three, and so it came as even more of a surprise when one of these factors contributed to one of the well-known, dangerous and little-seen Cambridge River Crabs fastening itself onto the blade of the opposition's stroke. This seemed to be the prearranged signal for all seven other rowers to instantly halt, on the final stretch before the finish line, perfectly timed so they could collide with a houseboat, lending us an incredibly hard fought easy victory, which was followed by warmth and recuperation and jelly babies and being generally pampered by Neil.
Lost to Lady Margaret III by 1/2 Length
The consensus was that if we want to take our revenge from Maggie for what they did to us last term. This is our chance. I was able to recognize some of their rowers as the same NM1 rowers who did wonders last term and cost us many victories. I can especially recognize that same monster still sitting in the 3-seat. It was expected therefore that this race was going to be the most difficult of all. Because we did one race more than Maggie III did, and because our opponents throughout the day were much tougher on average than Maggie's opponents.
One nice thing was that after a long day of miserable weather conditions, shortly before this race, the weather changed very quickly from "miserable" to "perfect for rowing".
I was not particularly impressed by our start (Even though we began the first draw at exactly the same time with remarkable accuracy, when the marshal said "go", I just heard one massive clunk from the oar gates when all 8 of us started pushing simultaneously). After the start, Maggie III were about 1/4 length ahead of us. And even though we pushed during that race like we've never pushed before, we never got back that cursed 1/4 length. We put down every thing we got, Adam was going at rate 37. Steven and Tim were completely furious. Yining tried every call and every combination of calls to find more energy in us somewhere. But that 1/4 length was so stubborn. Until...
Somewhere in the last quarter of the race we started to die. The effort we spent during all the races that day was taking its toll. Maggie III extended their lead to about 1/2 length (Edit: I learned later that this was because they took a short cut around the corner through our side and had blade collisions with us which sent our much lighter crew unstable and cost us some distance, it wasn't because we were dying) when one of Maggie's rowers caught an overhead crab! However, 3 strokes later, he had pulled his blade out of the water, over his head and everything was back to normal.
I did not even know that you can recover from an overhead crab so quickly.
Their fast recovery from the crab meant that we only gained back 1/2 a length and we were merely level with them. But because we were out of power and because we had a few small crabs ourselves at the same time as well as a big crab from me :-(, they managed to push us again 1/2 a length before we reached the finish line.
We were close to winning our division. We felt slightly miserable for losing until the marshal told us to come to Pembroke BC later to be awarded runner up glass trophies. This piece of news cheered us up significantly. Since it means that we will get at least something after all this work.
Later, I was quite amused with the presentation ceremony. As there wasn't any! They just handed Tim a box of glasses, and he met the rest of us in a poorly lit corner under the Pembroke boat house, and gave each person his glass.
I have to especially thank all of Neil, Yimin, Simon, Alex Barrell, James Dixon and Matt Crowe for helping us survive throughout the day, by carrying our kit and cheering for us during races. This was definitely a memorable day for me. Good work M3.
LMBC recovered amazingly quickly from their stroke's crab and never let up. "Neil for 10" before the Railway Bridge seemed to hold them for a bit and we had a great lift off of the White House, but Maggie just kept putting the power down. There were multiple blade clashes which could/should/would have resulted in LMBC's disqualification (hmm... sounds like Clare Novices again), but props to Matt for repeatedly taking chunks out of the Maggie 7's blade. We stubbornly inched forward on LMBC in the last 10 strokes, finishing only half a length behind.
A great end to a great day of racing, and one to be proud of.
Again this race was tight, but both crews were tired occasioning a concomitant deterioration in technique. Nevertheless, I felt that we rowed well and hard. The boats appeared to coalesce after the railway bridge, such that at one point I seemed to be in a fencing match with the 7 in the Maggie boat, via our clashing oars. Although we lost, I believe we can be proud of our achievement that day, but there is still much work to do before Lent Bumps.
Note that we lost to LMBC by a smaller margin than in Clare Novices, and over a longer course.
I was part of the 2/9 of the crew that had not lost to Lady Margaret NM1 at Clare Novices, and in fact this was my first race against their club. Fortunately, I have been successfully indoctrinated by First and Third's propaganda and found myself burning with rage upon seeing them and their red kit. We all rowed full tilt, and were a few seats behind coming into the final corner, through which we stood to gain since we were on the inside. However, Lady Margaret decided to take a shortcut through the middle of the river, causing the marshal to blow her whistle several times. Though our boat was only a couple of blade-lengths from the bank, we clashed blades with Lady Margaret. For the second time that day Matt yelled, "What the fuck, Maggie!?" as he hit three of their four stroke-side blades and caught two crabs. This sent our boat rocking and took off a great deal of speed. We recovered quickly, but the few remaining strokes were not enough to catch Lady Margaret. Again I felt denied a proper finish to an exciting race.
Despite repeated whistle-blows indicating the contrary, the marshals determined that Lady Margaret had not crossed the line, and they were not disqualified. This regatta taught me that the only people you can rely on are your crewmates. It's true that we had an unusually difficult schedule and some questionable marshalling calls, but the only way to combat adverse conditions is to push harder.
With fifteen strokes to go we were three seats down and moving up, and I thought this was going to be a dead heat, but Maggie just did enough. Nonetheless this was a fantastic day's racing off the back of an incredibly tough draw. Boys, keep up the hard work - your day will come.
Oh and wasn't this one fun? Here follows an utterly unbiased and accurate account of events as they unfolded:
It was close and hard fought and difficult and intense and everything you could possibly want from a final to such a competition, including the plucky underdogs greatly desiring their revenge for some unfairness or other that there must have been previously when we didn't beat them at Clare Novices, which included a nail biting crab caught by their stroke man in the very mirror of the previous race allowing us to regain our deficit and perhaps even pull ahead; their comeback was incredibly strong, revoking our temporary reprieve. This bit lasted until the very final stretch when slightly worse than dubious steering from Maggie pushed our boat hard up against the bank, and in a sneaky and underhand move deliberately (hear that? Deliberately!) clashed blades with us, resulting in caught crabs and loss of way and general inconvenience; the distance we lost was irrecoverable and victory rather than disqualification was handed to our old rivals (old in a traditional sense rather than actually rivals we have had much to do with; having raced them but once before they already feel like timeless enemies). I call conspiracy.
Full Lent Term 2012 Pembroke Regatta results
3rd men's VIII Pembroke Regatta results archive