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Fairbairn Cup 2022

A 4300m timed head race on the Cam for VIIIs
Fri 2nd December

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BPBC 1st men's IV, Unknown category

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1st men's VIII, Senior VIIIs

6th in Category
Time: 15:13
Well, we went in hoping to be fast. 

We'd very recently seen a large increase in boat speed, and the general mood heading into the race was pretty jubilant. I recall being a little less upbeat, saying that I'd be happy with top 8 overall. A regrettable statement.

The crew pasta was good, even if it was spaghetti - which is never a favourite of mine - and we arrived at the boathouse pumped and ready to race (perhaps too ready). Our pre-paddle was quite disastrous, with enthusiasm abounding, but it calmed a little on the way back, as Bomber was at pains to tell us.

Into the race: We head off at what initially feels like a relaxed 42, and quickly becomes a not-very-relaxed 42 (my air stroke well before we'd even crossed the start line didn't help matters). Appreciative noises from the bank let us know that we'd started better than Oriel M1. We then attempt to settle into 37. This goes on for some time (read: past Eights Marina, or the big concrete bridge), until a "deep stroke" from somewhere in stern four (as described so generously by our captain) forces us to settle into 33.5 instead, which aligns significantly more strongly with our raceplan. 

The boat is then pushed pretty hard until the railway bridge, including a glorious line round Green Dragon which is on YouTube thanks to William Connolley. Around the railway bridge and down the long reach, the boat gets quite significantly heavier and slower. Oops. Not to an absurd degree (we were still faster at this point than we raced in Autumn Head earlier in the term), but not ideal. As we round Ditton corner, Csongi decides that what we need is to up the rate. A few brief strokes at 37 is enough to dissuade this notion, but it does settle into 34 afterwards, which is better. Again, in the gut, Csongi tries to up the rate a little, and this time it fails. 

Finally, we hit First Post Reach, and rate 38. We knew that it was coming, and that from there we could scramble to the finish. The rate did not stay high - I believe we even dipped to 32.5 at some point, but we kept trying to bring it up again, succeeding on several occasions. Our speed stayed at splits that would have comfortably won us the race had we maintained them the whole way.

We finish, Matthew vomits, and when bow 6 are paddling apparently I am testing what rate 4 feels like. I rather thought it was rate 18, but it was not. After we get out, in a not-quite-wonderful mood, as we all felt that we could have gone faster, though this is slightly ameliorated after being told that any faster would have resulted in us having to overtake Christ's M1. I eat and offer up my chocolate, carried by our wonderful bank parties (thank you again), wear an absurd amalgamation of clothing (special thanks to Jonny for the extra coat), and gradually warm up. After about 20 minutes, we fit way too many people on a bench, which is warm.

The row back went mostly without incident, apart from a double crab from 2 and 4, and some deliberate splashing from Csongi (four strokes just after Green Dragon straight onto Matthew and I, to "see if he still could"). 

Double main courses in hall finished off the morning for most of us, with exhaustion being the order of the day. I had previously been very enthusiastic for us to enter some scratch IVs. On that day, in that place, I am glad that we did not. 

We beat Downing, and lost to Jesus, which doesn't bode badly for Lents. Magdalene - who are chasing us - didn't enter an VIII. Joint 8th overall, with some alumni lightweights.

Training camp in Seville is going to be fun, and I can't wait to be back on the water.
(Thomas Frith)
In the interest of historical accuracy, the remainder of M1 wish to add a factual correction to Frith’s race report.

He did not, in fact, ”offer up” his post-race slab of chocolate. Bogdan somehow scored a piece, and Frith ate the rest.
(Matthew Yoko)

1. 2022 Fairbairns M1

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2nd men's VIII, Lower VIIIs

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1st women's VIII, Senior VIIIs

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Cambridge weather: text or graph

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