The Club's Results

Fairbairn Cup 2015

1st men's VIII (Senior VIIIs)

Coxed by: Zoe Wible
Coached by: I. Law, Tom Rose,

5th Cambridge College, 11th overall
Time: 14:37.5
We kept the Winter Head crew unchanged for Fairbairns after another few fours outings. Once the crew was finalised, we had an eventful Earith weekend which we thought would enable us to improve significantly while the other college crews were unable to row on the Cam: we battled high waves on the Saturday and posted quite a good 5k time in calm conditions on the Sunday. This prompted Tom to propose to rig the Empacher, a proposition that we welcomed unanimously as a crew, as rowing in the Wintech had been rather tricky despite the good technical improvements that we made while rowing in it. Unfortunately, we didn't quite find the sit and relaxation that had characterised some of our earlier rowing this term in the pre-race outings, with a bit of nerves linked with the boat and possibly the upcoming race leading to slight twitchiness and difficulties in rocking over quite as well as we had practised in the other boats.

We woke up early for a pre-race paddle (allowed exceptionally by the Fairbairns secretary due to heated discussions with his own mens' captain) which was marginally better than some of the previous days' outings but still lacked proper balance and relaxation. We tried to ignore the excitement of the novice races to focus properly on the upcoming race. The mood was one of determination and the erg warm-up with bursts allowed us to settle in to the race mentality that we needed.

The race plan was simple; given three equal sections of the race, we had three respective focuses: from the start to Chesterton corner: PLATFORM; from there to the end of the Reach: POWER; from Ditton to the finish: TECHNIQUE. This meant, more specifically, that we shouldn't go nuts during the first five minutes, and build up a proper platform for the power application afterwards. The middle part was self-evident, and the last focus would be necessary to keep the boat moving well through the pain and the technical corners.

The general consensus was that we executed the race plan, but that a little more power and rate would have been required to make up the 3.5 seconds to a more positive 3rd place finish (I'm excluding the Oxford colleges, who really shouldn't be competing for time, and CULRC, who were rowing time only). We started strong and a little less frantic than in some of the practise pieces, then strode down to rate 32, but it took at least a minute, until we had cleared the wash under the Elizabeth Way road bridge, to actually find a proper platform. We worked to improve this platform during the next 3-4 minutes, but lost time to Maggie and most other crews who had a more front-loaded race plan during this period. The push off Chesterton footbridge was quite strong, but the power sagged significantly from the P&E to the railway bridge. We had an awesome lift in power and commitment at the railway bridge, and we finally found our race form. The last half of the race is a bit of a blur in my memory, but we kept the power high and had awesome corners. The push down first post reach took the power even higher, and we wound to the finish at high rate, albeit losing a little cohesion at the very end.

The row-back was quite fun indeed: we experimented with Dutch rowing with pausing at the finish in the crucifix position, rocking over stupidly far so that the Zoe could see between bow pair, and had to stop often due to Queen's being blocked by slow crews in front.

People were understandably somewhat disheartened by the 5th place finish as we thought that the training that we did during the last few weeks would have given us a significant edge, but the result should not overshadow a great term of rowing with great people in a great crew. Despite the odd outing where things did not quite go our way, and the difficulties related to work, rowing, LBCing, etc., I am definitely glad to have been able to row with this crew this term and to have achieved a really nice result that shows our improvement throughout the term and suggests that much speed is still to be found.
(Neil I.)

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