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Fairbairn Cup 2015

BPBC 3rd men's VIII (Invitation VIIIs)

Coxed by: Emma Smith

Does it really matter?
Time: 15:53.7
Fairbairns is the longest race on the Cam, where the men are sorted from the boys, and, in the invitational category, the gentlemen from the brutes. I was proud to row with one of the most gentlemanly crews in the race. We had three aims:

  1. Find eight rowers and a cox
  2. Beat the novices
  3. Highlight the splendour of previous Black Prince crews
We achieved all three magnificently.

Some aspects of preparation began even before we got into the boat. Tom and I both felt that rowing at 3 was our natural calling, and after much discussion I rowed at 3b while Tom rowed at 3d. It turned out that the shoe sizes didn't allow for that crew order, but this year we had had the foresight to test every last detail (well, quite a few details) before the race even started and we were able to swap them before we pushed off.

Onto the race itself. I remembered that last year I'd set off a bit too hard, so I made sure I didn't repeat that. I recalled from my rowing days that the third quarter of a race is traditionally where you have to make it count, so I took the second one easy to make sure I had something in the tank. I didn't know precisely where the second quarter started or finished, so I took a conservative view. By the time the third quarter came round, I was preparing myself mentally for the wind for the finish, so it sort of came and went before I noticed. The finish line of Fairbairns is always a bit further past the A14 bridge than I expect, so I made sure I didn't set off too soon, and then really gave it my all. What a stroke that was. I had planned to row much harder for much longer, but unfortunately I couldn't get the tourniquet tight enough while rowing with one hand and scrabbling around in the footwell for the syringe with the other.

Over the first minute of the race I was reintroduced to the Byrne microclimate. I said something to the effect of 'I'm not going to lie to you, Matt - I'm already quite wet.' (I wasn't breathing particularly heavily.) AND HE STOPPED. Oh my. It was heaven. The rest of the race was stroke after stroke of sheer unbridled dryness. Why did no one think of just asking him a decade ago? After the race, while waiting for the final crews to float over the finish line, I was forced to share a pair of flip flops with Jon, which in some ways was one of the low points of my existence.

The final consensus was that this was more fun than last year, and if we're not going to win it then we might as well enjoy it. Syncopated rowing worked pretty well too.

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