The Club's Results

Mich Term 2014

1st men's novice VIII

Cambridge Winter Head (Student Beginner VIIIs)

1st in Category, 77th
Time: 9:56
Proud MLBC right here - rowed well with great intensity, and had a remark from a novice boat bank party that we were a senior crew. Still things to work on, but looking good in preparation for Clare Novices and Fairbairns!
(A. Strange)

A slightly belated race report (week 6 was hard and then I just procrastinated), but hopefully the memory is still fresh!

This was NM1s first ever race (except if you count Queens Ergs) and as such we had no idea what do expect. I was definitely excited, but also somewhat concerned about what would happen to our technique, given that we had been rating significantly lower in all of our outings. Catarina's race plan was to stay at rate 28 throughout, give it as much as we could and just hope that everything stayed together. (Patrick's race plan was not to catch a crab - we all have different goals in life).

The marshalling before hand was hilarious, with Catarina repeatedly commenting on the incompetence of the marshals and the other crews - one crew was told to spin (or just spun, I dont know) between us and another crew moored up alongside the towpath, which resulted in an ominous sound and a scratch on the Black Prince we were rowing in as their stern scraped the side of our boat. I remember Catarina letting off a sort of pained yelp at that point (you must start to feel at one with the boat as a cox, I guess). We also witnessed a squad of about 20 Johns novices (all in red lycra) trying to fit into an eight - quite entertaining.

After all of the crews had marshalled, however, things went pretty fast (albeit half an hour behind schedule - as a Natsci it just seems that you have to choose between rowing and lectures anyway). We stored all of our kit into a remarkably dry hold (that all of the novice boats seem to lack for some reason), wished NM2 good luck, and paddled off towards the start line under the motorway bridge.

We accelerated up to race rate a few strokes before the start line, and then things start to get blurred. I remember the first few hundred metres being quite wobbly as we were trying to find our rhythm, but then I felt it improve significantly and we had an amazing 1000 metres of racing (although the video of the race which shows bow six out of time with stern pair would seem to indicate otherwise, I think that we all agreed that it felt good and the speed was quite exhilarating - I found myself smiling maniacally throughout that whole time - maybe I wasn't quite pushing hard enough :P ). We were told by our bank party before and during the race that we could and would overtake the crew in front of us, so I think that that really gave us a constant incentive throughout that first part of the race.

Things started to get significantly messier around Ditton (the corner didn't help to sit the boat, which I think left both sides significantly more winded - all credits to Catarina's racing line though, which was great throughout the whole course, although by the sounds of it most of M1 would beg to differ). Anyway I think I caught a couple of mini mini crabs (dont know how to qualify these in any other way - the oar is still in front but momentarily drags in the water - and overall the technique was not quite as good down the reach.

Just before the kink in the reach, I spotted the stern of the Christs boat which had had at least a 30 second lead on us at the start, and I shouted 'Come on boys, we can do this', which in hindsight probably didn't help the rowing, but might have given us more will to go on. We overtook them fairly quickly, although I believe that we were slowed down a bit by a blade clash on stroke side. And then we were sailing past them, and then we were under the railway bridge, all of us elated and pushing hard once again. We almost dropped the speed down before the finish line because we had no idea where the finish line was but held it until the end and then slumped, exhausted and intensely happy, into our seats. I think that the first person to talk after that was Patrick, who hadn't caught a crab and must have justified Jesus dying on the cross for the first time in Catarina's eyes. I remember basically not being able to hold on to my oar handle and just being glad to sit the boat for a few strokes.

Regardless of what the result might have been, I think that we were all extremely happy about the race - overtaking that boat was the highest point of my novice term so far. And then, when we found out the results (we would receive engraved hip-flasks, NM2 beat most of the NM1s, even NM3 - with a jammed seat - came ahead of Robinson NM1, and of course Maggie was far behind - crabs every five strokes or so does tend to slow down a crew-), some of us tried as hard as they could to forget that we had even raced that day.

(Neil I.)
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Clare Novice Regatta (Cup)

2nd round
Beat Queen's (~3 to 4 lengths)
Coming out of the fairly catastrophic Emma Sprints race (during which we crashed into the bank after three strokes, caught a crab and still managed to beat Clare Hall by about three lengths), I think that we all wanted to have a cleaner race. Unfortunately, that was not to be as we started off rating too high, almost caught (or did catch) a few crabs, and generally did not find a smooth rhythm until we realised that Queens' were performing significantly worse than we were and were nearly 3 lengths behind. At that point (i.e. just before the railway bridge), we took the rate down and finally found the power, length and togetherness that we were so conspicuously lacking in the first 400-500 metres of the race - and that we would also struggle to find in the next race.
We were certainly happy to win this one, but I think that it mainly served as an alarm bell (albeit not a particularly effective one) to really focus on the technique that we had been developing throughout those long weeks of daily morning outings (I mean - why else torture ourselves if it isn't to be the best novices on the river?). It was a pity that those first two races didn't reflect the real potential of the crew.
(Neil I.)
Quarter finals
Beat Darwin (~ 1 1/2 lengths)
This was certainly the closest race before the final. We didn't really know what to expect from Darwin, and I think that Neil rightly warned us that this might be the best Darwin novice crew that there has ever been. I was probably most apprehensive about this particular race (having been thoroughly splashed before hand probably didn't help lessen minor shivers).
The start was at a ridiculously high rate for novices - Harry told us that we were around rate 40! We never really got down to a decent, sustainable rhythm as in the previous race because we always had less than a length of clear water and felt pressured. This meant that the rate stayed high and the strokes short, and altogether I think that we were quite happy for it to come to an end. The Long Reach definitely feels longer when you're taking shorter strokes - but I guess that this is self-evident.
Anyway, the conclusion from Neil was that we could and should have beaten Darwin by about 3 or 4 lengths had we taken the rate down, taken more length on the slide and applied more pressure in the water, and I think that there was a general consensus from the crew and the bank party that it was somewhat frantic.
We all agreed that there needed to be an urgent change of plan for the next race, and that the rate should drop a couple of notches after our typical fast starts. In hindsight, it is probably thanks to this that we won the regatta.
(Neil I.)
Semi finals
Beat Jesus (~ 3 lengths)
We were expecting this race to be a very tough one but we wound up winning comfortably and taking the rate down as we approached the railway bridge with several lengths of clear water behind us. As a crew we made a number of good changes after the quarterfinal round - most notably, longer and stronger strokes at a more controllable rate. The technical improvements we made in conjunction with the comfortable margin of victory gave us a good amount of confidence going into the final.   (Connor)
Our best row of the day. After learning from the previous two races, the crew felt much more composed, and worked together rather than panicking about the opposition (which in both cases they didn't need to do!). Moving up from a 1 1/2 length win to a 3 length win even when taking the rate down under the railway bridge is testament to what the crew can do when they think about it.   (Harry)
Beat LMBC (~ 3/4 length)
After a strong start, we managed to gain about a length on Maggie's crew. We maintained the momentum and rhythm all the way to the railway bridge. At the railway bridge, LMBC put in a burst and started to gain on us. We managed to hold them off and cross the finish line first, making us the winners of the Clare Novices Men's Cup 2014!!!!! (Shahid)

1. NW1 and NM1 + coache...

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Novice Fairbairn Cup (1st division)

2nd NM1 (lost to LMBC)
Time: 10:00.1
I'm writing this race report more than a year on, and I realise that some of the finer details of the race will be absent from it. This was probably the most disappointing race that myself and the rest of the crew had rowed in up until this stage, and probably since as well.

We were almost certain that we were going to win. We hadn't lost a single race all term. We had dominated Clare Novices, with our closest race being against LMBC in the final, whom we beat by ~1 length. The last week of term was hectic, with us not being able to get much quality training due to novice carnage on the river. LMBC, who rowed in the afternoon, were not impeded in their training. We got nervous at the prospect of making history by being the first 1st & 3rd novice eight to win Fairbairns in several decades. LMBC wanted the win badly and had their best row of all term. We wanted it badly but lost composure and lost to LMBC... less than 3 seconds.

There were many ways in which we could have taken the requisite 4 seconds off our time. We all blamed ourselves for the result, thinking about how extra focus, a few percent more power or additional cohesion would all have sufficed. Sadly, none of these things came to pass on the day. Despite the frustration, I think that that race was a crucial point in many of the crew members' rowing career. We realised how much pain we had to put ourselves through to win; we found out just how important relaxation and composure were in race circumstances; and we realised that even from the most upsetting moments, it was possible to bounce back and perform better than ever before. And in a way, all but the loss to LMBC was more than made up for with the row that we had on the next day in Senior Fairbairns.
(Neil I.)
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Fairbairn Cup (Lower VIIIs)

Fastest "M3"
Time: 16:21.3
I'm writing this race report more than a year on, and I realise that some of the finer details of the race will be absent from it.

After the frustration of the day before, we determined to have a great row to prove what we were capable of and what we had succeeded in developing all term as a crew. And unlike the previous day, our boat was sat, our rhythm was good and effective, the power was always there and everything was just as clean as it needed to be. We rated in the low 30s and gained on the crews in front of us. We even overtook an absolutely dire Sidney Sussex crew (starting four places in front of us) in the gut, and subsequently contributed to their entanglement with the bank after their cox refused to concede the racing line... ...oops.

We finished ahead of some M1s and many M2s and basically had the row that we knew that we could have had in Novice Fairbairns, except better, and returned, paddling at a really relaxed rate 14/15 to the boathouse, buoyed with high spirits at putting out a time which we knew finally reflected the quality of the crew.
(Neil I.)
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