The Club's Results
May Term 2014
We went off hard, reaching the 15mile point in the 155th fastest time of day. After a quick bite at the first feed point we rolled on, quickly finding a big group, doing a few turns of the front, then settling into the middle of the peleton and blasting along at 36kph. We arrived at the foot of the big climb in the top 400 and I pootled to the top, 679th fastest on the day (08.38) - note to self - lose more weight and my redline will be faster than pootling.
We regrouped at the top and pushed onto the third feed station. Setting off down the descent I was a way ahead of the others, and they caught me at the foot of the descent. I was on the front, but struggling to maintain pace, until we were caught by a few others and we once again pushed along at 36-40kph on the relative flat.
Arriving at the base of the last kick to the finish line my legs were already cramping, but other slower riders made it more of an obstacle course than a power climb. Again we regrouped at the top and rolled onwards, feeling hopeful of a time under 4 hours, having made good use of drafting.
We finished as a group, with the variations in times due only to rolling across the start and finish line separated by a bike length.
When putting our boat on the water it felt pretty secure. When I got in it felt wobbly but on the whole quite solid. The other 3 crew members then also jumped in, and we tried to push off. As every novice rower is told, you must hold your blades, in their gates, our on the water in order to provide stability. Alas the jetty we were using was too high to do this on the bank and we were too slow to do it while pushing off and the first thing FTT 404 did on its maiden voyage was to capsize. In righting the craft a well-meaning spectator helped to tear off one rigger and half the sides, and the weight of water effectively tore off the other side, leaving us with, to most intents and purposes, a raft (and 2 punt poles). Having 2 people punting simultaneously was quite fast but very unstable, and when my punt pole got stuck in the mud, leading me to fall and the vessel to capsize again we decided to go with single pole propulsion combined with one pole for use as balance.
We continued on, at some points realising pulling ourselves along the bank would most likely be easier and more stable than punting, until we got significantly past the point where we expected we should turn back. Having seen nothing to collect and no markers we thought to hell with it Trinity here we come. At least itd make it easy to give back the punt poles. I gather from after the race that there were indeed half way people in a punt but things started off a little bit too confusingly for everyone to be in position.
We made our stately way along between the tourist punters, most of whom assumed we were about to sink and wanted a lift (the very idea!) until the stern and the nose began to bury themselves under water and progress became very slow. We realised how airtight the gaffa tape was when we flipped over the craft and sat on the air pocket held underneath it. Sadly the boat was making little to no progress and finally fell completely to pieces in the middle of the river near to Cripps Court Johns. Trying to get our cardboard to the bank was a bit of a catastrophe because every punt going past felt like stopping and avoiding 3 cold and bedraggled swimmers was too much to ask they were in a tremendous hurry, after all. Then we enjoyed getting out of the water, and then back in again to help lift about a tonne of wet cardboard out onto their lawn before a bemused porter wandered over and mentioned where the recycling bins lay. The one final twist to this tale was when I got hold of Georgia who told me that shed given our collective stuff to Steven who had made his way to the boathouse so sadly in lieu of getting warm and dry, Matt Crowe, Alasdair P-R and I made our miserable way to the boathouse looking as much like drowned rats as we possibly could, much to the amusement of the usual Cambridge tourists... Sadly a much less successful effort than last year, despite a much more solid construction and significantly better ideas. Well learn from our mistakes and ensure that next year works like a dream.