On Saturday 18th March W2 competed in the second women's division of Pembroke Regatta.
We squared up against King's W2 in the first round (who Matt very kindly "backed us" against). Despite their start being at a higher rate than ours, we pulled away from the beginning of the race thanks to the power we'd developed in practice starts during the week's outings. We settled into a rhythm and continued to draw ahead throughout the race, comfortably finishing 2.5 lengths ahead.
The second round saw us up against Pembroke W2 who were a much more formiddable opposition, being 18 places ahead of us in the bumps starting order. Cheered on by W1, who were marshalling as we rowed past to the start, we prepared ourselves for a strong effort, eager to put the term's large number of high-rate ergs to good use. It was fairly close from the start, though we got our nose in front, and we continued to widen the gap as we settled into a steady pace. We once again had clear water between us by about half way through the race, and the final 500m were almost a victory parade past the cheering M1, as we continued to pull away to finish 2 lengths in front.
Now came the semi-final against Emma W2. 20 places ahead of us for bumps, we knew that they were a strong outfit and would be difficult to beat. Matt's arrival to bank party after his exploits with M1 (and some well-timed sweets provided by Kloe) gave us the motivation we needed as we lined up to start on the towpath side of the reach for the first time that day. It was neck and neck from the start and both crews were level for about the first half of the race. Not used to the pressure of a boat right alongside us, our stroke rate crept up and we got a bit messy with the catches, allowing them to pull ahead in the third minute. As we passed under the railway bridge, we had nothing to lose and regained our composure. Everyone dug deep and we gradually began to close the gap towards the end of the race, but were unable to do so before crossing the finish line a length behind.
Overall, it was a very successful day with signs of exciting things to come for this crew. Matt was "happy to admit you surprised me with your performance today" - it's always good to know you have your coach's unfailing backing. Thanks to Izzy Short and Laura Paterson for subbing, and to Joe Cooper for bank partying and fishing Laura's hoodie out the river. We now turn towards bumps, reenergised and excited for what will be the first bumps campaign most of this crew have experienced - watch this space...
W2 racing in the semi-final
Better late than never... Last weekend M1 took on Emma in the first round of the Pembroke Regatta. It's been several weeks since Winter H2H, so we knew it wouldn't be a walkover despite beating them comfortably there. The row down was too close to call between us, with Sam helpfully pointing out that "they're looking quite tidy." We spun on Plough Reach (after being shouted at by a boat owner for coming within the one nautical mile exclusion zone surrounding his slightly fading paintwork) and drew in to marshall.
The start of the race was a bit of a shambles... Emma with a canvas lead despite not having taken a stroke and the "attention, GO" being called with Sid's hand still in the air and half of our crew not even vaguely near front stops. Even so, we were well practiced in surprise starts, having to execute one a few days before to escape a race-pace Catz W2 who hadn't seen us until it was undoubtedly too late to avoid a messageboards-worthy collision. Even so Emma had half a length by the end of the start sequence and held that down the reach.
Coming under the railway bridge, it was clear all the grim 16 x 2 minutes and 4 x 8 minutes that Sam had been setting us on the ergs were doing their job. We could hear Emma struggling and we capitalized on it, bringing the margin back to canvas. However, following a couple of blade clashes it turned out to be too little, too late and Emma took the race by a nose.
On the upside, Emma went on to the semi-finals, so we're looking forward to bringing some of that form to the bumps campaign starting this Wednesday, following some sparring with Emma this afternoon.
It's 2017! In hindsight we were about as well-prepared for today's race as Donald Trump is to be President. Stuart kindly switched sides and Wagstaff subbed back into the five seat to fill Jon's still-over-100kg shoes. The term so far started with a training camp in Cambridge, complete with ergs, small boats (apologies to Lawrence whose capsize was almost certainly my fault), circuits, weights, socials and of course, outings. This week achieved two things; getting Basile involved in a return trip to Kuda, and setting the crews for the term.
Following on from training camp, M1 have been again emphasizing the steady state to set a platform before we hit the high-rate work closer to bumps. Rolling into the first leg of H2H we therefore had not much idea of what to expect, and unsurprisingly span the wheels off the start, rowing about as gracefully as a herd of elephants marauding down the 2k course. Bow-side's finishes were somewhere between the bottom of the shell and the river bed, and our much loved pause at the finish had somehow migrated to the front-stops region. Despite a shaky reach, we found some rhythm through the corners and finished off with a push to 34.
During the interval, a few decisions were made. Firstly we decided to rate-cap the next piece to try and find some efficiency, length and rhythm, and secondly we decided we were all a bit cold (somewhat unsurprisingly, given that our Friday outing was called off due to a frozen river). Doing our best to ignore the latter point, we lined up for the return leg. Despite holding a rate that was 2-3 pips lower that the downstream piece, we finished in a comparable time.
Overall we finished 9th out of the college boats, not breaking any records but definitely still in the pack. The next race is Pembroke Regatta in three weeks after a solid training block. Congratulations to W1 on a strong performance.
As ever the BCD post-Fairbairns was somewhat more eventful than the racing earlier in the day. However, seeing as my memory of the former is rather hazy I'll stick to writing about the latter. Having decided that bumps (and Henley?) is our ultimate goal, we gave high rate work little attention before deciding we wanted a top 5 finish in Fairbairns. Nevertheless the first half of the race went about as well as we could have hoped, cutting through town like a hot Empacher through butter. This was mainly thanks to Sid's Grand-Turismo approach to the corners and our less-lazy-than-normal approach to the catches. However, by the time we reached The Plough (coincidentally where Basile thought the race ended), our rowing had deteriorated in the way that the rowing of eight people who have been breathing a bit too hard for a bit too long tends to do. In the end we finished 7th out of the Cambridge College crews, and rather satisfyingly beat the second Oxford Lightweight boat who we hosted that morning. The best result of the day was that we were all just a bit disappointed, there's certainly lots left in the tank. Bring on Lent term.
For the first time in SCCBC history, 4 women's novice crews were entered to race in Fairbairns 2016. The only college to have 4 crews racing, we were prepared to storm THE novice event of Michaelmas. Looking slick in matching T shirts, hours of training behind them and 4 very keen LBCs on the bank, they were ready to race.
NW1 started strongly. Responding well to power calls, they soared round the corners, gaining on Christ’s ahead with every stroke. At the P&E they took no prisoners, driving straight past Downing and Christ’s. The final stretch after the railway bridge saw James call a final power 10, and every girl gave their all. The girls finished in an outstanding 5th place just short of 12 minutes, behind Jesus and FaT. A calm, collected and powerful row- you should all be proud.
NW2 had a shaky start but refocussed and got their heads back into the race straight away. Putting the start behind them they had powerful row which saw them pick up the pace quickly. The power 10 call pushing off railway bridge was incredible, and you could see the girls were giving absolutely everything they had left. NW2 beat a number of 1st novice crews in their division, commendable to a very strong technical row and commitment to the race.
NW3 quickly caught Darwin from the start, being forced to wind down before the Green dragon bridge. After the post, they strode past Darwin and then another boat. There was no stopping them down the reach! After the railway bridge, thinks started to spiral out of sync but due to the strength of the first row with added time due to winding down, the girls finished with an incredible time of 13 minutes 40 seconds.
NW4 caught up Sidney Sussex NW3 quickly, gaining 5 seconds from impeding. Overtaking them on the P&E reach, the girls pushed into the final stretch of the race with determination. A few bumps and crabs along the wary didn’t phase them, and they kept their heads in the boat and focused on all the technical points from the ergs. A great chunky row throughout the race and a final push to the finish left them placing ahead of second and third boats.
Congratulations girls and thank you all so much for such a great term. We hope you have loved every minute as much as we have and that this term has set you up for a long and successful career in Catz rowing!
Novice Women and Women's LBCS, Michaelmas 2016