First and Third Trinity Boat Club
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Cambridge Winter Head, Mich Term 2022

A timed head race over 2500m, from the Motorway bridge to the (no longer extant) Penny Ferry pub.
Sat 12th November

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M1 (b), Student First VIIIs

9th Overall
Time: 8:42.5
After our first race (in div 1), we were back at the boathouse and inside by 9am. A quick crew shower, and only Csongi and I remained, while everyone else left to do work. Csongi ate food and napped on the changing room benches. I ate food. Six bananas, a block of halloumi and a packet of crumpets (Warburtons, not Sainsburys' own as they had run out when I went for supplies). Looking over the stats from div 1 was fairly nice - showing progress from Autumn Head (beaten by City M1 by 40 seconds, rather than by over a minute) and also beating other M1s (Christ's and Robinson aren't massively big names, but after spooning in Mays and losing stern pair, a win is a win).

I then proceeded to do one question of my example sheet before W1 came back, not quite in jubilant mood, but fairly well-content with their race. While I was 'helping' them with great philosophical conundra: "Do I shower now, with 30 minutes until I need to warm up again? What lard should I consume?", M1 coalesced into existence once more, cleverly avoiding M2, NM1 and NW1, who'd also now arrived at the boathouse. It was (very minorly) cramped, with 5 crews departing at once, but Bomber's scheduling won the day. I dealt with a little tardiness from NM1, but once it was time to stretch, it was time to stretch.

Our warm-up was not awful. Our getting-the-boat-out was awful. We spent so long at shoulders waiting for other boats on the region outside the boathouse (the "hard", so I am told) to move that we ended up reracking 805 to save our shoulders - at least, all bar Krisztian's. Paddling down was slow and smoother than I had expected, with the highlight being overtaking a Jesus IV. By Tesco bridge (the white wingéd bridge) we hit a queue. Such joy! As we drifted along, we chatted to the Jesus IV about the evening's swap (turns out their bowman was headed to a Jesus x Clare MCR swap instead, and we didn't realise this for way too long). My suggestion of karaoke was, as usual, voted down, and instead we passed the short time on the water by hearing a certain 3-seat express his need to pass water in a short time. A mere 30 minutes of queueing later and we were off. 

A practice start underneath the railway bridge was delayed by "severely unprofessional behaviour" (in the words of our beloved cox, Connor) from Xander and Isaac. Though their complaints did stop, so I suppose that's a win. The practice start was acceptable, though limited in stroke number after Connor acceded to demands of the marshals by getting us to move on. We catch up with Bomber on Plough Reach, and make it to marshalling without disaster, nor further unprofessionalism. While waiting in the boat, we observe Peterhouse M1 slinking off into the bushes, and appropriate jokes are made.

We're in fairly good humour at this point, having raced well earlier, and aren't expecting much beyond racing hard.

Off our start, we barely hit rate 37, and have already taken 10 strokes at rate 36 before we cross the start line. We settle into rate 33 before we hit the end of First Post Reach (one lower than the first race), but the boat speed still feels just as good. Observing the crew behind crash into the outside of First Post corner is interesting, as I only really process it when we're on Plough Reach, which still feels like good boat speed, even if we're a little slow. Connor calls "1:43" here (thanks to the fancy coxboxes with splits shown on them), and I feel surprised, knowing that our average for the first race was 1:45.5, and that we were at 1:51 here (oops) earlier in the day.  We make it around Ditton, with a good line (as ever - thank you Connor) and are a third of the way up the Reach when we really start digging in, thanks to Connor's stunning - and minorly original - call (not to be repeated here, as it would have resulted in fines in a Bumps race, but it was a step up from "swan mentality, boys"). We push, and push, and push. Ten strokes on from the Railway Bridge, Connor calls once more for power, and I see Csongi go for broke. In the first race of the day, I followed Csongi when he went for more because I wanted to, and had more left in the tank that I could use. Now I follow because I must, as I cannot slow the boat down. We reach rate 34.5 again, and it's a slog through to the end, at which there's clear water as far as we can see behind us. 

In the boat, we're not particularly jubilant after the first ten seconds of exhausted celebration (apart from Connor, Connor was very happy and lifted our spirits), just shattered. George (current Overall Captain) looks particularly out of it, while Matthew and I are competing to see who can spasm their diaphragm the most powerfully. We row back, and even the call of "don't let M2 catch up to us" fails to wring more power from the boat. They're rowing all eight while we row in sixes, and we do pull away in the end. Getting back to the boathouse is a more difficult task than I'd like to admit, with div 5 boats impeding us, and we're not responding with any kind of alacrity to Connor's calls. We make it, we don't crash, and we put the boat away. Bomber left us on Plough Reach, and the debrief is about how gutsy the rowing was that he saw, and that he can hypothesise from the time. High praise from that man. Csongi has a somewhat different take on what changed: "This race I actually finished my strokes." A reminder of how we are all truly at the mercy of stroke seat.

When the times come through (8:42.5, with a 3:34.8 first 1K, compared to the first div 8:47.6, with a 3:33.5 first 1K), we're happy, but a little disappointed. Our TAS is faster than Peterhouse M1 (first race's first 1K, with second race's last 1.5K), but no individual race is, putting us third  by 1.2s behind them and Caius. Maggie didn't enter an M1 VIII. We beat Downing, Pembroke, Jesus and Clare. After Mays, this felt good. For stern three, this is over 2 minutes faster than last year in NM1, and a really good sign of just how far we've come.

George turned out actually to be ill in general, and not just with post-race exhaustion. Presumably with him in good shape we'd have shaved off 20 seconds to beat Caius. 

Luke obtained quite a lot of footage (that can be slowed down to 0.125x speed), and certain individuals have had great fun pointing out errors. I will leave you with but one optimisation that could have been made. Throughout all footage that we have of the race, Krisztian was squaring during his body rock. Taking his "squaring early is good" mentality to its logical conclusion, his next step will be to square as he finishes his previous stroke. 

I am looking forward to Fairbairns very much and hope to see many people at the dinner following.

(Thomas Frith)
So here we are, somehow found myself in four seat of M1. Something I was not expecting, and something that at firsts, I felt uneasy about. Leaving M2 was sad. I always thought of M2 as being my home, given a multitude of factors (let's not mention erg scores). Having thought I'd "peaked" in M2 (7 seat), I was plucked away from what I'd call a safe sanctuary. 

In the weeks leading up to Winter Head, things changed, but for the better. I felt like I was rowing in ways which I haven't before. I'd learnt how to move towards my rigger, something that wasn't really mentioned in M2. I somehow managed to gain a significant increase in my stroke length, as well as learning to push on every stroke, even whilst paddling. 

Unfortunately, a week and a half before Winter Head, my rib started acting up. This was coincidently at the end of the week where I had done two 2ks in near consecutive days. I was hoping it was not a stress fracture. It may have been due to the 'sudden' increase in volume that being part of M1 comes with. Who knows. What it did mean, was maximising the daily dosage of Ibuprofen and other Hungarian NSAIDs that I could find for around a week or so. I soon learnt that this was apparently bad, after having mis-read the back of the medicine box. A lesson learnt. 

Luckily, just before winter head, I learnt how to row properly - by relaxing my inner arm. The pain seemed to have massively decreased having done this, so who knows, maybe everyone needs this injury. After rowing properly, I deemed myself fit to race Winter Head and I didn't want to let the boys  down with a last minute sub. 

Going into the race, things were all about mentality (as they should be). This meant having crew pasta. My first M1 crew pasta. Things in M1 are slightly different to how we did things in M2. For starters, everyone turns up (okay, maybe Thomas didn't but he was with NM1 so that may be a valid excuse). Secondly, there's food, and there's lots of it. A full two-course set menu, specially curated by Xander, M1's sous-chef. There are also crew pickles. After a scrumptious meal of tomato, basil, chickpea and olive pasta, I depart for a long nights sleep before the race the next day. 

The mentality for the race was: we want to go fast, we will push. We warmed up, in time, in sync. Our paddle up was something we'd been practicing for the race. We had to make good use of the limited paddle time we had. The queue outside Cantabs was horrendous. We had been stationary for at least 10 minutes. This was an opportunity to make good friends with an Empacher Jesus IV+. We formed some sort of 'Pacher sandwich...banana sandwich? M2 drifted around in the distance in 804 behind Jesus. Once the previous division finally decided to end, we rowed on to the start. 

The beginning of the race felt good. We constantly heard 'good' splits coming through the cox box. Pushing away from the corners, and hearing the same splits you heard from the beginning was encouraging. I believe the greatest feeling/change during the race was up the reach and just past the railway bridge. We pushed up the reach, with splits still around the 1:41 range if I remember correctly, maybe lower? At this point, Connor gave an interesting call. Something along the lines of: "We're gaining on them, Peterhouse's cox is shit". This motivated us even more. 

Coming out of the railway bridge, we head towards our final push. Csonger ups the rate, and we once again hear reassuring splits. This was a peak 'empty the tank' moment. We knew that this was the final race thus we should give it all we can. We crossed the line knowing we gave it everything we had. It felt good to have this feeling.

Once back at the boathouse, we eagerly await the time. The results come in, and we are a couple seconds faster than our previous race! Less than a second slower than Peterhouse M1 which made me happy. Bring on Fairbairns. 

(Krisztian Hunter)
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1st men's VIII, Student First VIIIs

1. M1 going up the reach

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2nd men's VIII, Student Lower VIIIs

6th in Category (Peterhouse, Pembroke, Magdalene, Maggie, Emma)
Time: 9:43.1
Having originally planned to race twice, this did not happen due to Mihailo being sick just 4 hours before our atbh time. Whether this was due to illness or out of fear of Alex's splashing we do not know. Miraculously the rest of the crew all arrived by 7am, but were unable to find an awake sub in time.

For the second race we managed to get Sam Kittle as a sub and decided that, amongst our unfit and technically mediocre crew, a former Fairbairns winner would be best put in 3 seat. We started the race fairly well and closed in on RUMSBC ahead of us. However once we got to around a length behind, their cox decided to take up the entire river while leaving Grassy. Bomber shouted at them as Steph had no room to overtake, leaving us stuck in their dirty water. After the confusion we lost a bit of power before taking the rate and speed up in the last few hundred metres.

We finished in 9:43.1 which was the 6th fastest time out of the M2 boats. Overall, while we feel like there is still a lot of room for improvement, we are relatively happy with the result and can tell that we've improved since Autumn Head.
(Oscar Allen)
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1st women's VIII + M.F., Student First VIIIs

Time: 10:16.4
If you were watching W1's first Winter Head race, you may have been wondering who the strange bearded man was in the 2 seat. Due to some last minute illness, we had to draw on the depths of the First and Third's experience; our huge women's squad of one and a half boats yielded no one willing to sit behind Matilda's backsplash, so we were forced to call upon FaT veteran Máté Fehér - cox and rower supreme - to carry W1 to a sub 13 minute race, a difficult feat considering our previous effort at Autumn Head. Starting the race off at a steady rate 36, we were able to maintain a high rate throughout, finishing with a time of 10:16.4, beating our second race and truly justifying the moniker of 'W1(a)'. Despite losing to half of the river, we were happy to see that we finished 20 seconds before Christ's W1 - our nemesis during Bumps last year - putting us in good stead for our campaign next term. We were also glad to see that we beat our first novice men's eight, unlikely as a result of our technique, but rather because of their cox's line going around Ditton Corner. On a more serious note, if W1 can figure out how to catch in time, Bomber has predicted a top 5 finish for Fairbairns, so we look forward to seeing you all there to cheer on FaT's most technical crew.  (Sophie Harper)
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1st women's VIII, Student First VIIIs

13th in Category
Time: 10:20.3

The FaT W1 crew placed 13th in our category for Race 2, an impressive effort for a new crew with a last-minute substitute. We rated 36 off the start and held the rate around 34 over the course of the race, putting our hearts to the test after a month of steady state training. We maintained a consistent split throughout the race and performed a strong wind to the finish line with the help of our truly inspirational coxswain- if you were spectating and thought you heard “Release the kraken!”- yes, that really was a race call. We were serenaded back to the boat house by the sound of 3 seat coughing up a lung, but overall feeling very positive about our performance.


There is certainly more speed within reach for this boat with a few key improvements. First would be having our actual crew in the boat together, second would be having each of them in full health! On a technical note, we need to work on utilizing the legs to drive the boat and maintaining composure at high rates. This connection will come with more time on the water together, and we look forward to hearing more of Bomber’s happy humming as we continue to build speed as a crew. 

(Florence Layburn)
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1st men's novice VIII, Student Beginner VIIIs

5th in Category (UEA, Corpus, Pembroke, Downing)
Time: 11:06
  1. FaT NM1 completed the 2.5K course in 11:06. The split time for our first 1000 meters was comparable to our main competitors, that is Corpus, Pembroke, and Jesus; however, we were about half a minute slower than those three NM1 teams at the finish. Though we caught a few crabs, there were no significant incidents and we were able to recover from small mistakes during the race. It was an overall reasonable performance given that this is only the fourth time we rowed as a crew.
  1. The main purpose of this race was to expose our weaknesses in the situation of an actual race and identify ways to further improve in the next 2-3 weeks. It was shown that we should improve in the following areas: 1. synchronisation, 2. proper technique and form, 3. engaging core and balancing the boat.
  2. Synchronisation. The main reason that we were not able to put force into the water efficiently was that the rowers were not perfectly in time when catching, driving, finishing the stroke, and rolling-up. Instead of focusing on being in time, we were focusing too much on increasing rating. When asked for power, the rating typically increases instead of force on each drive. This means that the rowers were rushing through their strokes to catch up with others and not able to keep a proper form. Moreover, a high rating increased the chance of mistakes and left little time for us to catch up and correct mistakes. Hence, a call for more power or a mistake from one rower could start a vicious cycle. Indeed, during the race, there was a time when a call for more power was made and subsequently stern 4 and bow 4 were rowing alternatively for a few strokes due to a mistake/crab. As Bomber said, we were trying to run before learning how to walk. Bomber suggested that we should try some exercises in sixes to get the right feeling of pushing together as a crew at a calm and manageable rating.

  3. Proper technique and form. The main problem with technique was that most rowers were very tense in their shoulders, which led to a waste of energy. The reasons for this included (i) bad personal habits, (ii) eagerness to put more power down, and (iii) the fact that the blades (especially on stroke side) were skidding on the water and the resistance required a lot of force from arms and shoulders to push the blade forward during recovery. Another problem was that the finishes were not strong, either because the rowers were rushing through their strokes to catch up or because the rowers were not consciously focusing this. Thirdly, the rowers were distracted by things outside the boat. There were some audiences cheering near the railway bridge and we were seriously distracted by them for a few strokes. In the coming weeks, we should of course continue to nail down individual techniques and hopefully, with the help of improved synchronization and balance, we would be able to maintain good technique in challenging situations. Discipline and consciousness during the race should be emphasized and our focus should be impeccable during Emma Sprint since we no longer have the excuse of “racing for the first time”. Furthermore, I personally think that the coach and the cox should be constantly emphasizing and reminding the crew about techniques, matureness, and composure during the race, rather than simply asking for power. Multiple rowers had reported after the race that they still had strength left but they were struggling to apply the strength in their legs into the water. I don’t think that the rowers need any reminder to push hard, but it seems that we do need to be constantly reminded to have a clear and calm mind and keep very good forms.
  4. Engaging core and balancing the boat. The cores were collapsing occasionally during the race, especially during the recovery or roll-ups. As far as I can see and remember, there were 2 instances where the boat jolted from one side to another at front stop, which led to crabs. Furthermore, though there were quite a few strokes where the boat was balanced, most of the times the boat was down on stroke side. Rowers on stroke side reported pain in inside arm. This is because the blades on stroke side was skidding on water and there were a lot of resistance when feathering or squaring. Possible reasons include weak finishes, handle heights, lack of concentration or awareness, and center of gravity while sitting. The problem of balance has been bothering us since our first outing and there were multiple complaints throughout this week. We should get better at balance once we nail down the technique mentioned above, but perhaps rearranging seats would also be a good idea.

  5. Overall, we have visibly improved over the past few days and performed according to expectations. More importantly, we have identified the problems that we need to work on. There is room for massive improvements. We need to get our heads down and put the work in.
- not Thomas, but a currently anonymous member of the crew.
(Thomas Frith)
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1st women's novice VIII, Student Beginner VIIIs

5th in Category (Westminster, Churchill, UEA, KCL)
Time: 12:50.4

It’s a good thing that NW1 is generally a high spirited crew seeing as our time spent in the boat prior to racing was nearly two hours. The extra time turned out to be a bonus as the crew had to relearn how to row on our way to the starting line, in the words of our coach ‘ the crew that rowed downstream wouldn't have had much fun racing at all’ but the good news is that the crew who raced upstream had a lot of fun. 

Our morning started strong with us learning to pick up the correct blade after pushing off and discovering that bow and stroke did not know which way round ‘1’ and ‘8’ are in a boat. Crisis averted and we did manage to push off in the end, with M2 not particularly pleased that they had to hold their boat above their heads as we got the correct blades. Unfortunately it did not turn out to be our ‘one mistake’ as it was so helpfully put. 

It was discovered on the way to the start that we did not know how to start a race, and there was no prospect of any real practice, but surprisingly enough we started (mostly) in time. This was after we had to spin and nearly crashed into the bank, resulting in us having to be pushed off to prevent us from crashing into the bank… dragging our coach into the Cam in the process. Somehow we made it to our position where we spent a considerable amount of time observing the sheer amount of detritus in the river as well as some wildlife, whilst trying not to drift too far. It kept our spirits up and we discovered that, as a crew, we have the ability to be disconcertingly cheerful at all times.

After all of this, and probably some things that I have blanked from my memory, we set off and were surprisingly in time and during the actual race, few mistakes were made. Turns out it is possible to get said mistakes out of your system and leave them behind the starting line. The fact we only had one previous outing as a full crew made our ability to put it together more impressive- that is if you ignore the rating which was a solid rate 20. Great on a Tuesday morning as it means you are actually moving rather than stuck in traffic, but less than ideal during a race. Still, lessons learnt and next time the boat is almost guaranteed to go faster as ‘race pace’ has entered our vocabulary.

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