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The Club's Results

Head of the River Race, Lent Term 2018

1st men's VIII (Academic)

Coxed by: Sophie Maclean

166th, 74th in academic, 59th in university
Time: 20:17.6
The day started with a tragic paddle down to marshaling at Barnes bridge. However, the 2 hours of sitting around (or for me at bow, taking taps) under Barnes bridge while marshaling watching amazing crews row past(including the eventual winners, Oxford Brookes and Leander A), turned out to be an incredible educational experience as our paddling afterwards was suddenly the best we've done all term.

I think we hit 36 off the start and settled to a chunky rhythm at 33, immediately gaining on Imperial "E" in front us. The imperial cox turned out to be particularly stubborn and refused to give up the stream, which resulted in a set of prolonged and rather unpleasant blade clashes as we rowed through them. To be honest, the rest of the race from there until the mile post is a bit of a blur - apparently we ended up overtaking 3 more crews but for me that number could be anything between 1 and 5. I vaguely remember thinking "Oh this is actually the boat race course" as we came under Hammersmith bridge and then quickly being disheartened again as I remember how long it takes the blue boats to get to there.

We start winding it up as we come around the mile post and I think we took the rate back up to 35 in the final few hundred meters, ending the race in a committed fashion. The result might be slightly disappointing but it was undoubtedly affected by the blade clash and the slower stream, and leaves us hungry to return next year to redeem ourselves.

(D. Lee)

Bumps over and all focus shifts to HoRR. As seems to be a recurring theme with these races, the drama started well before we boated. With only two days to go, we found ourselves without a full crew, or a means of transporting the boats. There was a very real possibility we wouldnt make it to London at all. A frantic flurry of phone calls and messages thankfully resolved both issues (Ed is a hero!) so we were set. There could be no more problems, right?

Most of the crew elected to travel to London on Saturday, so we wouldnt have to get up early on Sunday. We enjoyed a lovely meal cooked by Joshs Mum, then went to bed, ready for what lay in store the next day. Well all of us except Pete, who was in Oxford having done Varsity fencing. This would have been fine, had he not overslept and remained in Oxford. We all woke up to a string of slightly panicked messages, trying to calculate whether or not a taxi would arrive on time. Much to our relief, it did.

Finally, we were ready to boat. The paddle up to marshalling wasnt our best, but was by no means our worst, especially considering it was *technically* a scratch crew. And its always satisfying to overtake crews rowing sixes full-slide, whilst youre doing legs only in fours. Being crew number 200 meant we marshalled by Chiswick Bridge, pretty much on the start line. Getting to watch the top division crews start racing was an exciting experience (Pete was practically bouncing off his seat when Brookes rowed past) and we took what we had seen in to our rowing the next bit of paddling was some of the best wed done all term.

At last, after a two or so hour wait, it was our turn to race. Coming under Chiswick Bridge, we built up to a solid rate 36 as we carried out our start. Before long, wed settled to a strong 33, and were moving Imperial E, the crew in front of us. Approaching Barnes Bridge, we shouted Imperial, move to your right. They didnt. Shortly following Barnes, the blade clashes ensued. Unfortunately, Imperial still refused to concede the racing line, but we pushed past them and soon they were well behind us.

From the Bandstand to Chiswick Pier, there werent too many other crews close, or so I thought. I knew KCL B were 3 or 4 lengths ahead and we made it our aim to catch them by Hammersmith Bridge. I hadnt yet spotted Royal Holloway though, who were maybe only 1 length ahead, but several to my right. It appeared nobody had told them that the best line is in the middle of the river, not tight round corners. What resulted was a sickening crunch as they ploughed head first into UL who, having finished racing, were returning to their boat house.

After a quick re-focus, we continued to chase down KCL, achieving overlap even before Dove Pier. Kings were the strongest crew we overtook, and hence we were still battling them going under Hammersmith Bridge. A shout of bow-ball from Jon spurred the crew on though, and by the time we past Harrods Depository, we had not only got decent clear water between us and KCL, we had also overtaken St Georges Medics.

From then on, it was a case of following our race plan through to the end. By the time we past the Mile Post, our focus was to take it up to the finish. A lift past Barn Elms was followed by another at Imperial College Boat Club. We tried to take it up every 100 or so metres to the finish and at this point, we potentially ran out of legs. We kept pushing as much as we could though, across the line.

The time overall wasnt as fast as we might have hoped, but we managed to finish faster than M1s of multiple other Cambridge colleges, and given that our training hasnt been focussed on this race, I think we can all be proud what we achieved. We all committed from the first stroke, and it was some of our best rowing, so a good race to end the term on.

(S.L.C. Maclean)

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