Trinity College Annual Record 2001

Account of the year by Jon Glass, Captain 2000 - 2001

In common with other outdoor activities across the country, rowing in Cambridge has suffered huge disruptions this year for one reason or another, with much of the year's training affected and a number of the major senior races curtailed, postponed or cancelled. Despite these setbacks the club has posted strong results in many of the races that were run particularly during the Lent term, although the Mays saw a disappointing fall for the top crews. There has been a large intake of enthusiastic and able novices in both the men's and women's club, already filtering through to the upper boats, giving the club strength in depth that has been lacking for a couple of years and boding very well for the future.

When the Boston marathon, a 50 km rowing race including one lock along the way, was cancelled due to the petrol crisis in early autumn, one might have hoped that this would be the only time the outside world would intervene in the running of the club's activities, but prodigious rainfall throughout the following months soon saw water levels rising until first a yellow Flag (unsafe for novice crews) and then a red (unsafe for all crews) was displayed above Goldie boathouse. With water time at a premium, it is greatly to the credit of those trialling for the senior boats, as well as those learning to row for the first time, that training continued on land and the boathouse continued to be busy throughout the disruptions. This paid particular dividends for the novices, and at the Clare Novices regatta the First and Third 1st and 2nd Novice VIIIs met in the final of the cup (luckily for the selectors the 1stVIII won comfortably) and the 3rd VIII also won their division. Novices continue to be a big priority for the club, particularly in the Michaelmas term, and the purchase of a new VIII specifically designed for novice oarsmen has much improved the club's capacity to bring on the next generation of 1st VIII rowers.

With water at times sitting ankle deep in the boat bays, conditions began to improve with the approach of the University Fours competition. The club's top boats had prepared well given the limited opportunities to get afloat, and were hoping for success. Sadly things did not improve quickly enough; the Fours Head of the River was cancelled and, after delaying for a week, the Uni 4s Fours competition was put back until at least the Easter term as clubs began to focus on the Fairbairn races at the end of term. The novices again had success in the Fairbairns, with the 1stVIII coming a narrow 2nd to Jesus and the 2nd VIII clear winners in the 2nd boats category. The women's novices were similarly successful, with the 1st boat coming 2nd overall - the highest the crew has ever been placed. In the senior races the 1st VIII came in 7th, a disappointment, but losing only narrowly to the four crews directly ahead showed that the real competition in the Lent term would be Caius and Emma as the club looked to defend the Lents headship for the 2nd time in three years. The women, with an inexperienced crew that improved greatly over the term, came 18th.

Those hoping for a clean slate, weather-wise, in the Lent term were disappointed. With the ground saturated even the smallest showers were enough to bring the river level up, and both training and racing were again disrupted. Despite this, the number and quality of oarsmen trialling for places in the top boats meant that the club was set to field the strongest set of top boats for a number of years. In the Head to Head at the start of term, the embryonic 1st Lent crew was placed 3rd behind Caius and Emma, equal in speed with Caius and only a second slower than Emma in the 2nd leg. Peterborough Head, the traditional mid-term barometer of pre-Bumps form, was not well attended due to illness, which prevented both First and Third and our most serious rivals Emmanuel from attending. The club was represented by the 1st Women's and the 2nd Men's VIII, who both fought well in difficult conditions. Following Peterborough, water time was again at a premium and the 1st Men spent a weekend on the Tideway, gaining much needed practice and competitive experience against the Thames RC squad, who kindly hosted us. We finally got back on to the Cam in time for a weekend of racing at the Robinson Head and the Pembroke regatta, where the crew twice beat the old enemy Caius, the first time in three years that the club has proved itself faster than the Caius 1st VIII and an important psychological boost in the run-up to the real battle with Emmanuel for the top spot. The 2nd VIII were making similar progress and both top crews went into the Bumps with confidence high.

On day one, the Lent VIII moved steadily away from Caius off the start, despite Emmanuel pushing them hard, and Emma were judged not to be significantly inside distance on us when they bumped early in the Reach. Conditions were good as the 2nd VIII also bumped, and remained so for the following day. With the powerful Emma crew in sight of the headship for the 1st time in their long climb up the division, and the form book firmly in their favour, it was never going to be an easy race, but the Lent VIII kept cool and rowed to its potential, holding Emma of the start, working well through the corners and giving no ground as far as the Reach. From there Emma pushed hard, and a series of pushes and lifts brought them gradually closer, as our responding pushes could do no more than hold them and we never managed to move back away. A final push from Emma clear of the railway bridge saw them hit us at Morley's Holt after what had been a longer struggle than most had expected. It was a crushing blow to lose the Headship, but there was no shame in losing it to such a worthy crew. The battle was fought in splendid isolation and it seemed like an age before the following crews came by. The 2nd VIII meanwhile had what they described as a 'sustainable' row, bumping Christ's II at the railway bridge and setting themselves up for blades. The Gods had other ideas, however, as day three saw the closure of the towpath due to foot-and-mouth disease and the races were cancelled, left as 'not rowed out'. No blades were awarded, nor University medals, and no Headship crews were named. It was a blow to all those who had worked so hard throughout the term, but if the restrictions could be said to have prevented the spread of foot-and-mouth in Cambridge then they were justified.

Foot-and-mouth continued to cause problems into the Easter term, with a planned training camp in Dublin for the men's and women's senior squads having to be cancelled. Although the Cam towpath was still restricted at the beginning of the Easter term, it was quickly reopened and rowing got back to normal. Sadly, with no returning triallists and with exam pressure and injury weakening the squad from the top downward, the club fielded significantly weaker crews for the Mays than for the Lents, and with the crews around us gaining University colours it was always going to be a struggle. Aside from success with a scratch crew at Nottingham City Regatta, where a mixed First and Third VIII beat a field of University 2nd VIIIs to claim a welcome victory, the term was a lean one. Beginning with the small boats races and the postponed Uni Fours, First and Third fielded a number of boats, of which the 1st IV lost narrowly to eventual winners Emmanuel after two dead heats, while in the small boats a women's pair won the Forster Fairbairn Trial Pairs. The luck of the bumps draw put most of our crews in harm's way, and the 2nd and 3rd VIIIs were unlucky to fall heavily. The Men's and Women's 1st May crews both also went down four places, despite commendable spirit shown from two crews suffering from inexperience and mindful of the success of previous years. The positions of the top boats in the Mays is now an unkind reflection on the strength of the club, and we look forward to moving back up the order in next year's races. The women subsequently went to Women's Henley and lost narrowly to Churchill, while the men, having seep the entry in the Temple Cup reduced by 16 crews this year, making even qualifying a formidable challenge for all but the strongest college crews (and even for some University crews), sadly opted not to enter Henley Royal Regatta.

The club is sending a number of oarsmen to trial for the University in the coming year and wishes them the best of luck, whilst particularly wishing John Earl (Men's and Club Captain), Tom Rose (Women's Captain), Anna McCreadie (Secretary) and the rest of the incoming committee every success for the year.

Index of all Annual Records

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