A side-by-side knock out regatta for Cambridge College novice (beginner) VIIIs
Thu 23rd November
First and Third Dominate the Clare Novice Regatta!
The 1st men's novice crew cruised to a fine win in the Men's Cup. Furthermore, one of their closer races was against the 2nd men's novice crew, who performed brilliantly to meet them in the final!
The ladies 1st novices also reached their final, where they sadly lost to LMBC. The men's 3rd and 4th novice crews also performed superbly; overly aggressive coxing cost the 3rd VIII victory in the men's plate, whilst the 4th VIII performed extremely well against higher crews from other colleges.
Downing started powerfully and took a lead of about 1/4 of a length. The whole reach was an exciting side-by-side show down, in which First and Third, inch by inch, nosed in to the lead. Downing had clearly started hard, but flagged, and as the river turned to our advantage our ladies surged ahead to win convincingly.
A lengthy crab 'situation' shortly after the start looked very ominous, but good work by the remaining six operational oarsmen left us only about a length down by the time it was eventually recovered half a minute later! With all 8 back in action, the crew started to erode Caius' lead. By the railway bridge things were going very well and Caius fell apart utterly to give us a convincing win.
A good start came to nothing after a boat stopping incident, and yet again our ladies had ground to make up - this time about two lengths as they passed the railings. We were in familiar territory, and for every seat gained over Jesus, the opposition's coordination deteriorated. Even their cox began to feel the heat as we moved through to a third of a length down under the railway bridge and, steering tight round the bend to maintain the advantage, was warned back onto station by the marshal - only to steer away hard... into the bank. Another win!
About a length was conceded at the start with one or two small incidents, but thereafter, despite some determined gutsy rowing, it becamse clear the Maggie were a faster crew. It was disappointing not to win, but a good performance to have reached the final.
We were a bit more apprehensive about this race than against Fitz B. However, judging from comments from Tit Hall's bank party the feeling was mutual. With a four seat lead after four strokes the writing was on the wall - 'It was never really going to happen'. The boys cruised home from the railway bridge, satisfied with a good six length lead.
Selwyn were clearly the neatest crew from any other college on the river - and were the major obstacle in the way of an all First and Third final. The tow path station gave us the advantage along the reach, and we pushed hard to open a lead of just over 1 length by the railway bridge. As the river and current swung in to their favour, they came back strongly as expected, to within half a length. However, our crew remained in command and as the advantage of the corner faded so did Selwyn; we continued to push hard to regain a lead of about a length. (Bumping a crew from the previous race moments before the finish added a little extra excitement.) An awesome performance.
Whilst leading by 3/4 length approaching the railway bridge with an inside line under it approaching, we erred in to the path of Queens II, and the heavy blade clashing reasonably resulted in disqualification. This was a great shame, since our subsequent crossing of the finish line some two lengths ahead properly reflected our superior boat speed.
The first half of the race was disappointingly scrappy - perhaps partly on account of having to row with unfamiliar wooden blades. The rowing improved in the second half, but it proved impossible to regain very much ground and the win was conceded.
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