The Club's Results

Fairbairn Cup 2001

BPBC 2nd men's VIII (Lower VIIIs)

Coxed by: Bronwen Evans

22nd overall, beating all college 2nd VIIIs
Time: 14:43
Not to be outdone by the Boar's Head-beating of the BPBC 1st VIII, the BPBC 2nd Fairbairn VIII produced its own implausibly effective and victorious - if inelegant - performance.

The whole process of getting 18 oarspeople in the same place at the same time faced all manner of constraints. Your narrator was still sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow Terminal 4 at 8am that morning, dreaming of pineapples and giant kingfishers. Getting Leakey anywhere these days is no small task. Moreover, the rotting Homerton Aylings - previously used as a punishment craft for naughty 2nd FaT VIIIs (in the manner of Steve McQueee's "cooler" in the Great Escape) - was required to provide a viable floating craft. Whilst I ran up the Marylebone Rd, I am informed that the assembling crew attended to said vessel to ensure that it was
- stripped of its geological encrustation
- beaten about with heavy objects to iron out a few rigging flaws
- inspected for plumbing irregularities
- finally launched with some trepidation.

The crew had an ecletic look to it. Down in the stern, the rhythm section was provided by Messrs Micklethwaite and Ponsonby. Neither appeared - at this stage - to be smarting too visibily from their non-selection for the 1st VIII. The engine room - worthy in scale of the great battleships of Admiral Yamamoto's 1943 campaign in the Pacific - comprised the massed bulk of Messrs Blackburn, Leake, Bevan and Hogley. Up in the bows, equipped with coffee mugs, soft cushions and copies of "Home and Garden", one could find the unlikely duo of Messrs Fisher, G and Crawford. The day marked a return to racing for both Leakey and me - it was with some horror that I stepped back into a boat in anger for the first time since 1993.... The fair Bronwen was given the onerous responsibility of ensuring that this unlikely collection reached Baitsbite in safety.

We buggered about for ages getting to the start. Opinion varies, but estimates of the number of full strokes taken as a crew before the start range from 5 to 7 (although this figure does include air-shots and crabs). One way or another, we found ourselves departing second-last among the massed muppets and talentless tosspots, and left an optimistic gap to a decidely lacklustre Magdalene crew ahead.

And then we were away.

I shall not dwell upon the techical details - or lack thereof - of the 15 or so minutes that followed. It all felt pretty fast to me, but I am reliably informed that this was no super-polished performance. The Homerton Aylings, we also discovered, is also fitted with some sort of speed-limiting, rating-damping system. You can try as hard as you like, but that boat simply won't allow you to rate above 32. No wonder Homerton have never been a force to reckon with. Boat rhythm, though, was very fine - even Leakey was unable to attenuate it to any substantial extent. Before I realised it, we were at the Gunsheds being shouted out by BPBC 1 in their socks. One even had the temerity to tell us that it was "looking good". I see a future in coaching, sir.

The surprise came in the results. The first ever BPBC 2nd VIII had finished 22nd in a time of 14:43.

You can see this in a a number of ways. True, we were 57 seconds adrift of BPBC 1 and finished behind the Crabtree 50-plus-year olds. We were even beaten by crews from Poxford and nearly suffered the ingominy of defeat by Wolfson.

However, Dan's painstaking resource deployment attempts had clearly paid off. He'd had the good grace to drop a number of his better oarsmen into the 2nd VIII to ensure a better balancing of results and no unnecessarily-large margins of victory: a 1-second victory over Boar's Head for BPBC 1 and a 1-second win over Downing II and Caius II for BPBC 2. And whilst we all accepted that 2nd VIII victory shields should only be given to College crews, I noticed a marked reluctance to take our shiny new trophy* round to Downing or Caius during our dinner at Bangkok City....

Roll on Fairbairns 2002. (Mark Crawford)

1. Building up momentum...
2. Past Emma BH, and th...
3. At the catch(es)
[more...]


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