The Club's Results
Lent Term 2023
1st women's VIII
A thirteen and a half hour round trip for a race lasting under 22 minutes is quite the commitment; on the positive side an 08:15am meet time isn’t actually that early. Travelling to the university of London’s boathouse went without a hitch, although shouting after our beloved coach down a train station platform drew a few looks. I cannot imagine why.
After a bit of difficulty lifting our boat off the trailer, whilst two members of our crew spent time fussing a cat and the rest of us struggled because it’s really quite hard to lift an empacher two metres up, it was back together and the only thing left to do was what rowers do best: eat. Sometimes stereotypes are fair. I am pleased to report everyone in W1 has normal food preferences and we are not the reason why the whole club got sent an email about proper and appropriate nutrition.
Stepping into the Thames wearing flipflops was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life and I would like to implore anyone racing WEHORR or HORR in the future to just buy welly boots and do yourself a favour. It was absolutely freezing and my feet did not get warm until we had gotten back from the race and inside… almost five hours later. I also nearly lost a flip flop. 0/10 do not do it. Marshalling took an age and we were on the water for over two hours before we started to race, thankfully we did not actually have to row far, but general chaos and the stream led to a multiplicity of taps being taken. Watching the Cambridge Blue Boat, Leander A (and B and C), the GB Boat, Oxford Brookes and so many others row past as the began to race was incredible- as was watching some very early overtakes. It helped the time go much faster; it did not feel like two hours. Unfortunately the cold began to set in and I was very glad when we started to paddle up to the race start before spinning.
Once we spun there was all of a few strokes before we began to move and build the rate up before we heard ‘180… GO!’, and from there we were off, passing the start line about fifteen strokes later. As we crossed Emily shouted ‘splits 1:27’ which is something I don’t think I will ever hear again from a boat I’m in. We settled at 1:35 with the stream carrying us along, sharp catches and strong finishes propelling us at about rate 33-34 around the course as we overtook two other boats. Pushing off Hammersmith Bridge we drove our split back to 1:34-35 after it crept to 1:43. Towards the end a boat began to come up on us, but we held them off for several minutes and did not allow them to take any more ground, crossing the finish with several lengths still between us despite the fact they were much faster overall. The mentality and drive to keep them off will serve us well during bumps in the next few days, giving us confidence we can hold off anyone.
Just like that the race was over. 21:47 went incredibly quickly and we were winding it down ready to row a bit further and spin. The row home was long and cold, but the result of the race was very positive.
Getting the boat out and our four seat running off to go to the toilet with the boat still in the Thames was a lowlight.
So was bow getting cold shock (we think).
Bumped Christs’ W1 somewhere down the reach. It took about eight and a half minutes I think.
The first bump for W1 since 2019 was greeted with elation, and gave some members of the boat a sense of justice for Mays 2022 (I cannot comment given this was my first bumps race).
A strong start of rate 40.5, splits 1:40 allowed us to immediately pull away from Queens and begin gaining on Christs. I’m not entirely sure where the rate settled, but I think it was about rate 35-6 and we were going strong as we got our first whistle on Christs sometime after Newnham Bridge. The collective thought was ‘please let there be a second whistle’ and soon there was as we closed on the bow of Christs. Getting the third whistle took an age, it came at around the spinning zone on the reach and from there we knew we could do it, although the threat of rowing so hard to just row over was looming. Especially as Queens were nowhere close, I don’t remember seeing them at all at this point.
The continuous whistle came at about the railings, and I could see the bowball of Christs out of the corner of my eye; the only thing that I could think was ‘please just steer into them’ as there was significant overlap for several strokes before our two-seat blade collided with their stern and their cox conceded the bump.
It was a hard and exciting race, and nothing can compare to the feeling afterwards. (Thank you to our bank party for the leaves even if you did claim not to be our pet. Edit: he still claims not to be our pet). Tomorrow we go again and chase Clare, who were caught today by Churchill.
This was the most exciting race I’ve ever bank partied. There were four boats very close together with FaT at the back of the pack. I thought that Christs were going to bump before we got them however the women really dug in and kept pushing and managed to get the bump.
I returned their kit and got them leaves. Matilda lost hers so Zara asked me to get more, with Emma telling me I was a “good boy” to which I informed them I was not their pet – a fact they still seem to dispute.
Bumped Clare W1 on the corner to the reach. It took six and a half minutes and about two hundred strokes to bump Clare apparently- far quicker than yesterday.
Nerves were high as we knew Christs would not be happy after yesterday, and we were prepared to have a gruelling mental battle on our hands. Queens turned out to not be much of a threat yesterday and therefore the sense of being chased was not really present.
It wasn’t today either. Christs were nowhere to be seen.
Once again we started strong with a rating over 40, but were far more composed and together rather than rowing with raw aggression. It took slightly longer to get the first whistle, but once the second whistle came around Ditton we mentally locked in and rowed with our all. Sadly we were at two whistles for quite a while. Suddenly there was a third whistle, then continuous, then a bump just as we were turning towards the reach. Elation gave way to parking in the reeds on the meadow side. Oops.
The row home was some of the best and more excitable paddling we’ve ever done; a chat with our coach and we learnt that Clare were very close to bumping Churchill and he was afraid they’d get the bump before we did. Which only served to encourage us with the knowledge we have the ability to catch Churchill tomorrow. Overall our rowing was much more together and less frantic; a good sign that we can actually stay calm and use some technique.
Note on the conditions: Yesterday it snowed, today it rained all day and was absolutely freezing. I raced in three layers both days and at points was struggling to feather and square due to a lack of feeling in my hands. I really hope my coat dries before tomorrow.
Technical row over
With the river having bursts its banks and a club-wide scramble for kit, wellies, foil blankets and hats going on, today is going to be chaotic.
The above was written before racing was cancelled. Sad vibes and a BA room ‘study session’ followed.
Bumped Churchill after the plough.
A day filled with anxiety and uncertainty, waking up to the news that the water level was still higher than normal was highly unwelcome at crew photos at 07:20am. There was nothing we could do but wait, after stomp we went to Tatties and tried to ignore the sense of dread.
News at 11:30 that the M4/W4 division was cancelled added to the sense of gloom, and the M3/W3 division being cancelled as W2 were preparing to boat was heartbreaking. But we knew that our division was still going ahead, and we knew that we could not let the atmosphere change our mentality.
Boat club spirit allowed us to get our boat out, thank you so much to Rosie who spent so many hours wet at the boat house helping all the other crews boat and deboat. We truly could not have raced without you. The stream was so strong we had to paddle to Jesus loch to spin, getting caught behind a houseboat and having to spend even longer trying not to drift on a stream that was more like the Tideway than the Cam. Emily did a fantastic job of steering us to marshalling, where we ended up on the wrong side of the bank, but we had made it.
A special thank you to Downing shouting ‘FaT you’re getting fined’ as we tried to make sure every member of our crew was ok after a medical issue. Enjoy your technical spoons and ‘Downing W1 - Failure to row on upon being bumped - £30’ it looks like you were the ones getting fined.
Anticipation was high, nerves were all around. But we knew it was not beyond our capabilities, even if yesterday had made things feel so much more nerve wracking. We had beaten Churchill at WEHORR by thirty seconds the week before, and we knew we had the speed to catch them, even if they were not going to make it easy for us. They gave us an excruciating chase.
Off the start we could see Clare hotly pursuing us, but if Clare were close then Churchill were closer. I do not remember where the first or the second whistles came, just that we moved to three whistles quicker than previous days. We had overlap for over a minute, the whistle went from continuous back to three, back to continuous. Our bow skipped over their stern we think four times, and I swear I felt a bump significantly before we actually bumped. Churchill gave their all and their mentality was admirable. Pure elation followed the bump after the pure agony of getting it, and it has left us hungry for more.
Thank you again to Rosie for helping us boat and deboat, and thank you to our faithful bankparties for carrying our kit and providing the much-needed encouragement.
(And thank you to William Connolley for filming our bump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZtrNuOSuls&t=339s)