The Club's Results

Cambridge 99's Regatta, May Term 2012

4th men's VIII (4th division)

Coxed by: Alex Manion

Quarter finals
Beat Corpus M4 Easily
Champs Head was the most recent indicator of likely performance, and having beaten Corpus M2 in that, we were not expecting a very difficult race against their M4, but we tried not to be too complacent.

We moved ahead off the start and quickly got clear water between us. Once we were a few lengths ahead, we gradually wound it down for a relaxed row to the finish line.

One thing that did become apparent during this race is that we were rushing off the start and had difficulty settling into a decent rhythm: when the first "Down 2" was called as part of our winding down, we actually started moving away faster from the other boat. (Chris E.)
We watched Corpus M4 spinning after we'd parked. This shouldn't be enough to instil a profound sense of confidence immediately before a race, but when Yining stepped over to instruct their bow pair and stern pair in the art of avoiding the bank and rescuing bow balls we felt this race probably wouldn't be as competitive as some of the others. This feeling was marred somewhat when we attempted to move our own boat down, and did so in a very professional, calm and thought out manner which didn't involve an angry lady in a houseboat hurling base accusations at some noted members of our crew. Big thanks to Yining for managing to carry my rucksack which on cooler days she might have used as a tent.
The race was interesting; we went off rapidly and wildly off the start in an effective but untidy and inefficient manner. Soon we settled down to rate twenty four paddling or thereabouts. Now might be a good place to mention three key disadvantages in using Richard Church: the velcro on the footplates keeps coming out, so Matt rows feet out pretty regularly, the cox box doesn't display ratings, and the wires connecting the speaker in the bow to the cox box have come loose, leaving bow pair completely deaf to the instructions and encouragements Alex was using to motivate us; the surge timing especially suffered because of this. Yining acted as a sort of relay, conveying orders from stern to bow. They had a very loud and feminine bank party on meadow side, cheering them on and videoing. We were unsure if we managed to feature in any of the video... Jon gave us a lecture afterwards on the art of remaining calm and in control during races; something which we tried to take to heart on the later two, but precision during racing is definitely still a work in progress. The hurriedness and scrappiness could easily have lost us the race against Clare. (John)
Ah, Corpus. Eight novice rowers with rainbow and mesh wifebeaters, one novicer cox and a novicer-er coach just didn't make for the best combination.

As for the race itself, there was little doubt that we would win after gaining almost two lengths in the first minute. However, there could have been a lot more control and separation. This is especially crucial if the coxbox or speakers aren't working, so that changes can be made together down the boat. Cleaner rowing was seen in the next race and would have made beating Clare simpler. (Yining)
Semi finals
Beat Christ's M3 by 3/4 of a length
This was the race that we were expecting to be most challenging: it seemed that we were facing the Christ's Rugby boat, which had marginally beaten us in Champs Head, and we had also been beaten quite convincingly by Christ's M3 in Cambridge Head-2-Head.

Initially, we got ahead by about half a length. However, we again had difficulty establishing a good rhythm, and they gradually moved back up on us for a while. Fortunately, when we eventually found our rhythm, we started moving ahead again, finishing about three quarters of a length up. (Chris E.)
Christ's were clearly a rugby boat. The rugby tops and lightweight rower in the bows (according to Barrel) gave it away. But the first thing of note before this race was that we got to watch Corpus spin again! Didtheymakeitdidtheymakeit*crash*awh no they hit the bank again.
I can't remember it but judging by our usual performance our start wasn't great but could have been a lot worse. We held them with 3/4 of a length lead down the whole course; they began to push before the bridge and almost drew level before we pushed off the bridge in excellent style; they had no more energy and fell back again, granting us another victory. Jelly baby refuelment time. (John)
Final
Beat Clare M3 by 1/4 of a length
This was a good example of the importance of never giving up in a race.

Having beaten Clare M3 by several seconds in Champs Head, we were expecting this race to be easier than the previous one, though much closer than the first one.

We remained about level with them off the start, but once again we were rushing and they soon began to get noticeably ahead. Then it seems that we suffered a couple of mini-crabs (fortunately each resolved within a stroke), each of which cost us a lot in speed and caused us to fall further behind. And then they put in a push and moved even further ahead. For a while we seemed to react by panicking and rowing shorter and with worse rhythm, which unsurprisingly did not help.

However, when Alex called for a push through the railway bridge, the rhythm suddenly came together and we were rowing more calmly. We saw that we were gaining on the other boat, and realised that there was a good chance that we could catch them, but that there was not very much distance left on the course. With this motivation, we began really putting down power and gaining on them more rapidly, while they seemed shocked and unable to find a response. We had a wind for the finish, which came with effective power and took us to about a quarter of a length ahead by the finish line.

This was our last race, winning the "MenD" event of the competition. This is definitely a result that we can be pleased with, and bow pair deserve a special mention for coping without being able to hear the cox properly, but we need to work on more reliably finding a good rhythm even under race conditions, as it was a theme throughout this event that we were initially rushing in each race but then gained a significant increase in boat speed when we finally settled. (Chris E.)
Clare M3 were good; they'd had an easy first couple of races (sorry M5) and were feeling confident. We started, pushed, held them and fell out of time during the surge; we need the coordination provided by the cox. Things became scrappy and pulled back together. Clare pulled ahead gradually over the length of the reach. At bow it was demoralising to watch them edging further and further ahead, and a couple of crabs leading to rowing not at all together lost us yet more distance. Luckily we didn't panic and held it together under the railway bridge where it was astonishing to note that we were gaining. This gave us such adrenaline; from the despair of certain defeat (again!) we felt hopeful and buoyant, and the sudden energy allowed us to take it back even faster. We kept pushing and every stroke felt like it gave us 6 inches on them, and the wind for the last few metres destroyed they faint hopes of retaking the lead; certainly from how it appeared and how much of their boat I could see as we crossed the line, unbelievably ahead it felt like a much more convincing victory snatched from the jaws of defeat than the actual quarter length lead we had, but I guess that's how elation skews perception. I now have a delightful tankard on my shelf. (John)
A massive push 10 strokes before the railway bridge instilled some much-needed confidence into the crew as they started to gain back that 1/2 length Clare had on them. Alex did a great job of staying cool while the Clare cox took a remarkably aggressive line under the railway bridge; for once we came out of a blade clash for the better. Clare took a bad stroke and crashed down onto one side, and I suddenly morphed into a heavy-burdened, high-pitched screeching lunatic on wheels. Apparently only those on the bank noticed my transformation, but the boys found enough motivation and strength from themselves and Alex to pull ahead by 1/4 length. Fantastic!

Fewer crabs and more deliberate catches would have been helpful though admittedly a lot less dramatic. (Yining)

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