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The Club's Results

Women's Head of the River Race, Lent Term 2009

1st women's VIII (Novice VIIIs)

Coxed by: Mark McKelvie

95th, 2nd in Nov(A), 2nd Oxbridge college
Time: 21:07.97
Well what a day it's been; very good fun was had - especially since none of the crew had rowed off-Cam before.
I can't believe we came second in our category by just 0.7seconds! But well done to Downing for putting in a good race!.
We seem to have a habit with coming second in races - Winter Head-to-Head, Bumps, WeHORR...

So I went down yesterday (Friday) evening for the coxes' pre-race chat and then returned after several Tube delays to Liz's just before 11pm.

We left Liz's this morning, and got to Imperial BC, our kind hosts, at about 10am at the same time our boat arrived thanks to Cantabs.

Building the boat on the side of the street with some cake and a cup of tea I decided to carry out my plan of taping up the first few inches or so of the area of the rigger triangle, just out from the saxboard, in order to prevent any splashes/waves from making too much of a mess in the boat. Despite two rolls of duck tape, I ran out by the 5th rigger and abandoned the plan, leaving the boat looking like half the riggers were kept on by tape.

The row up was a little splashy and rocky and fraught with incompetent crews and extremely hostile (Cambridge college!) coaches. But it wasn't too long until we had spun and approached Chiswick bridge.

Our rolling start was fine, albeit a little slow to get up to rate, and within the first minute we were preparing to overtake. Exeter Oxford were out of the way, yet a slow Durham Amateurs sat in the line and refused to move, despite advanced calls. I was forced to steer around to overtake, but as we did they decided to move into us, causing a blade clash, with Liz catching a semi-crab.

The rhythm was generally good, and later down the course we had really good pushes at 30/31 although they were really rushed when I called them. I didn't help with the fact that I didn't really cope with the river being so wide, especially later on, and Cambridge style "stay-to-the-right" lines meant that the scenic route was taken for chunks of the course - I certainly noticed the loss in speed approaching Hammersmith where I was much closer to the Surrey side than the Eyot (sorry Simon!). This meant that the pink boat of Churchill just ahead, battling Downing now and again, would move closer or further away depending where we were on the course.

The push for the finish after the black buoy was very strong and committed and was a great finish to a fun race. Let's see if FaT W1 can go one better next year... (Mark)
This was a great race to end the term with. A very exciting start to the day - 300 crews seemingly turning up all at once with endless trailers driving up and down the bank and blades being stacked everywhere, and a pretty manic rush to get the boat into the river and push off for the start. Didn't really compare with any of the Cam races I've experienced before! After a lot of waiting around and concentration from bow 4 to keep the boat in a vague queue we were able to row up to the beginning of the race, inspired by the 'elite' crews who were already racing. We seemed to get into a good rhythm from the start, and it was a nice encouragement to overtake Exeter from Oxford and a Durham crew fairly early on. Stroke side coped really well with a blade clash with Durham and we continued at a steady rate for the rest of the race, overtaking 2 more crews if I remember correctly... Seemed to go really quickly after the halfway point of Hammersmith Bridge - in fact most of us at the end were quite surprised how short the race felt!! Was great to hear Mark call that we were closing the gap on Churchill and Downing at times, even though ultimately we didn't catch up with them. But finished knowing we had rowed really well as a crew - it felt very much in time and balanced despite rougher water than we were used to - and was good to see how far the gap between us and the boat behind us stretched!

Praise God for such a great first off-Cam race, and for the opportunity I've had to row with such a lovely, enthusiastic crew! (Kimberley)
This was such a fun race to finish the term with. The opportunity to row on the Thames with hundreds of other crews was amazing and a bit different from being on the cam with only 17 other boats...

Pushing off was a bit stressful, especially as I was rowing in flip-flops for the first bit (before we could sort out kit away from the bank) and marshalling seemed to involve constant tapping from bow pair and bow four!

The actual race went really quickly. It definitely felt shorter than Fairbairns. The start went well and it was encouraging to overtake two other crews so early on. The blade clash with Durham could have been avoided if their cox had actually given way but we coped well and got straight back into rhythm. The rest of the race is a bit of a blur: overtaking another two crews, slowly closing on churchill and downing, mark calling 'length and pressure' and 'time over the knees'!

I just wish we could have got that extra 0.7seconds off the time to beat downing, and avoided another 2nd place. Having said that, it was still an amazing result. (Alex)
This was an awesome race and an excellent day. It was so nice to not feel like there was any pressure on us going into the race unlike with bumps, and I think this allowed us all to really enjoy our last row together as a crew.

The row up was long and I can imagine that it would have dampened my spirits had it not been so sunny. The constant tapping coupled with the fact that we seemed to be moving backwards made me feel a little sea sick! There were also some scary coaches around trying to take over the job of marshalling and screaming at other crews, so thanks to Mark for keeping us out of trouble there.

The start went well, Alex and I in particular were glad to be doing a rolling start as opposed to a racing one and we soon got into a good rhythm (though the rate build was very gradual) and started overtaking crews. The blade clash as we passed 272 added a bit of drama and a lot of wobble but we carried on and passed three more crews in quick succession. Hammersmith Bridge seemed a long time coming, though at one point I remember Mark calling for a push off the crews behind us and thinking that we'd pulled away so far I could barely see them any more, which was quite motivating! After the bridge it seemed no time at all before Fulham football club and then the black buoy followed by our final push to the finish. Overall I was pleased with how smooth the entire row felt, and I suppose, the result. It would have been really good to win something for once but, as Mark said as we rowed home on the last day of Bumps, we'll settle for 2nd.. it's better than 5th. (Hannah Roberts)
Nice one girls! Gutted for you about that 0.7 seconds. (Erica)

1. Frontstops
2. Posing with riggers
3. Posing with Valkyrie

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