The Club's Results
Clare Novice Regatta, Mich Term 2014
A side-by-side knock out regatta for Cambridge College novice (beginner) VIIIs
Fri 28th - Sat 29th November
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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.
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.
Beat Jesus (~ 3 lengths)
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.
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.
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!!!!!
Beat St Edmund's
As we pulled up the start line, on the bank I heard two young children accompanied by their father shouting encouragement to one of the Eddie's rowers (obviously their mum). Only after we won the race did I think it was probably a bit sad for the kids to see their mother get beaten so well...
This was the first race of the day and really set the tone for the day of racing. From the start, our women pulled ahead and by the end of the start sequence there was open water between the two boats. The girls kept the strength up and the gap only widened throughout the rest of the race.
This race was certainly a satisfying one.
We moved quickly and cleanly off the start, and pulled away after about 20 strokes. At this point I think Newnham proceeded to crash into the bank for the first time. The race continued with strides down to a nice and relaxed pace of about 26, all the while watching Newnham move further and further away from us. Newnham, I believe, crashed into the bank two more times. At one point I heard Matt shout to us to enjoy the view (it was a good one). We crossed the finish as they passed under the railway bridge, and wound down to wait for them. It was definitely the easiest won race of the day.
Easiest race of the day, without doubt: no opposition from Newnham, who crashed into the bank several times. At least it gave us the opportunity to practice without getting too tired!
Beat Lady Margaret
By far our technically best race of the day, we began well but the Maggie boat had a strong start and pulled out 3 seats ahead. At this point I lost sight of the boat in my peripheral vision and the words "shit, shit shit" were reverberating in my head. Thankfully Liv kept us calm and we moved together and strong, sustaining our rhythm. After not too long, we were moving up on their boat and began to pull away. Maggie fell apart soon after and clear water opened up between the boats.
The only reason we won this race was that we kept our cool, and stayed together, and I'm so glad we did!
Without doubt the most exiting race of the day for me! Maggie managed to get about three seats ahead of us at the start (according to our bank party), but we didn't panic, and gained on them, little by little, until we were level. They did not react so well to pressure though, and they soon fell apart, leaving us with a clear river to play on until the finish line. The most gratifying feeling ever!
At first, I started this report by thanking "every person without whom it would not have been possible bla bla bla" but deleted it. I usually find this kind of stuff contrived, just like you find love songs cheesy... until you fall in love.
Anyway, as a true French person, I love cheese, so here we go: a million thank-yous to my wonderful rowing partners (the seven aligned heads I follow), our amazing, amazing cox (our favourite Hermia, little but fierce), and of course, the loudest, fiercest, (and, overall, best) bank party, who helped us crush our opponents' dreams (and their children's in the bargain, yep).
Now, about the race itself: it was the second time NW1 made it to finals this term. After our disappointing defeat against Jesus (during Emma Sprints) we were all determined to prove that we were a boat to be reckoned with. We knew composure was key: we couldn't get too exited, enthusiastic, or worse, panicked. Overall a pretty simple race: we had a few bad strokes, but we kept it together, and managed to gain about a length and a half! Slow and steady wins the race, and the cup!
The morning was beautiful - clear and bright. As we paddled towards Chesterton the mood in the boat was quite different to the previous Sunday when we had raced in Emma Sprints, probably something to do with not having face paint dripping down our faces. Everybody seemed ready to race and come away with the result we knew we were capable of (winning!).
In our first race we came up against Eddies and although we didnt do our cleanest rowing of the day we pulled away pretty early on. Liv called for a few strides and we settled in to a more relaxed rhythm at lower rate, until Matt decided it would be a wonderful idea to practice sprinting for the line - the rate built and the boat crossed the finish, our competitors following behind. We were in to the quarter finals.
With an hour until our next race we were able to get out of the boat, warm up and eat - when it was time we were ready to go. On our way down the reach we practised a start and a burst to race pace concentrating on keeping our composure and moving together.
Pulling away from Newnham off the start we maintained our rate, until they crashed in to the bank. And then crashed again. We lowered the rate and finished not long after Newnham rowed out from under the railway bridge. Seeing so much clear water between the boats certainly gave us confidence for our next race, where we would be up against Maggie in the semi-final.
As soon as we had paddled back to Chesterton from the finish it was time to spin and head back to the start. This race was the most daunting of the day so far - we knew that it would be tough. Liv managed to keep us calm while the wait for the start dragged on and the afternoon sun shone over the Cam. We knew NM1 and the other FaT crews were doing well, we needed to show everyone what NW1 were made of!
Maggie were faster off the start and began to pull away. After our experience in Emma Sprints we didnt let that disrupt our rhythm and continued rowing as a team, pushing hard. Gradually we crept back alongside the other boat and while we stayed together they fell apart. Once we were past them that was it, they fell away and we continued in to the final. This was our best race of the day - it was awesome! The feeling as we moved ahead was just incredible. (And the bank party was pretty excited too.)
So to the final. We would be racing Downing and all we had to do was row like we had against Maggie to be in with a good chance of winning the regatta. This time we pulled away and the gap between the boats grew to a couple of boat lengths, our rowing wasn't as clean but all we needed to do was hold them off. They may have closed in slightly but it didnt matter - we won!
Beat Magdelene easily
Brilliant race all together. It was my first sprint in which I rowed more than 2 strokes and I have to say it was exhilarating. An unfortunate crab at the start was soon dropped back in the water and we pulled out in front. Magdalene seemingly decided that speed would not be their method of victory and so aimed to charge at us; to no avail. We finished in a solid position with Magdalene giving a good effort.
Lost to Lady Margaret
With a strong and confident slap of spoons on the waters we pulled up to the start line, we felt powerful and intimidating. Unfortunately this was the highlight of our race as Maggie pulled away by about half a boat fairly soon: We lost confidence and our chances of beating them in that moment. It was still a fun race against the red boat and we look forward to beating them next time.
This was among the easier races of the day. We kept our eyes in the boat and didn't even glance at the opposition. A decent start gave us a start's distance worth of lead, which was followed by a reasonable surge onto race rate. After a handful of strokes it became clear our opposition weren't going to catch us so we continually surged until towards the end we even introduced some pausing as a technical focus, demonstrating how far ahead we were by that stage.
Our first real race. A hurried but generally decent start (both for power and technique) put me on Christ's 3 girl (along with a handful of blade clashes which were probably shared responsibility - sorry...), and continued energetic and sharp rowing put me past their bows, where we stayed for the rest of the race. The effort stayed in the boat for the duration of the race, but as people got tired the technical aspect begin to depart and the boat speed came off slightly. We held it together enough that we continued to push off Christ's all the way to the finish line, demonstrating the work and focus we've tried to keep this term.
Our thanks to Olivia and Merodie for subbing in today!
Lost to Jesus
In my opinion we had one of our best starts of the day, putting us broadly level with Jesus (perhaps a seat or two down), followed by some excellent technical rowing at high rate. Sadly we caught an overhead crab shortly afterwards, giving Jesus a length or so of clear water but after we got the blades back in everyone in the crew showed what they were made of and promptly started pushing enough to claw back a bit of distance on Jesus. Sadly it wasn't quite enough and Jesus did a good job of responding to our push, ending with clear water. Despite that, it was a very brave race and I was impressed by the determination in the boat. Very encouraging for Fairbairns on Thursday!
Beat LMBC NM3 by 3 to 4 Lengths
A thoroughly encouraging win over good opposition. We moved well off the start with some of the best rowing that I have seen from this crew all term - they have come on leaps and bounds since Winter Head! Maggie held us firm off the start and, despite their best attempts to crash into us (Izzie was only hit twice by an oar for her troubles), once we settled onto race pace we rowed long and hard and pushed them away. A fantastic result!
Christ's NM2 by several boat lengths
With a good, clear win under out belts, we were confident going into the Second Round - confidence tempered by the fact that we knew our opponents were higher-ranked. Rowing to the Reach, we got in a good trial start and a few bursts. After a nervous wait, the race began. Christ's had a good start, and pulled away by at least half a boat length. Out of the corner of my eye I could see they were ahead, and showed no signs of flagging. We all knew they had the lead, but tried to Keep Calm and Row On (I can already see the t-shirts and coffee mugs). Kit Jenkins and Neil Talbott were shouting advice and encouragement from the bank: 'legs down', 'eyes forward', 'c'mon boys' (or maybe that last one was Michael Bryden from the boat?). We all tried to look more composed than we felt, and it worked. Before long, we were head to head. We had found our rhythm, and began to pull away. We took the lead. We held it. We increased it. For reasons that remain unclear, Christ's rowed into the bank, at full tilt. Bryden almost caught a crab in disbelief (though his language was somewhat more colourful). (Later, one of the marshals reported 'multiple collisions with the bank'so a bad day at the office for their cox and/or rudder lines.) From that point on, we eased off a bit, and crossed the finish line without the other boat in sight. To their credit, Christ's recovered their composure, and rowed to the finish at race pace. It was a shame that they were unlucky with their steering. We would still have won clearly, but it would have made for a more exciting finish. Overall, it felt like the best race so far, and one of the better outings we've had as a boat. The team really gelled; everything just clicked. Happily, that was reflected in the result. In the changing rooms afterwards, we all agreed that the highest compliment that could be paid to subs Chris Howarth and Ben Varghese was that we didn't even notice they were there! Great effort all round.
Lost to Clare NM2 (2-3 lengths??)
Rowed well but unfortunately caught a crab during the start sequence. Although we held Clare for the rest of the race, they were too fast to catch. We managed to get some excellent rowing in however, and there is a huge amount of positivity to take away. I hope the crew enjoyed being able to row their first regatta of term - I know they'll be looking forward to showing the Cam what they can do in Fairbairns!
Full Clare Novice Regatta results archive