Provisional result: 33rd on the river, 6th College M2
M2 and M3 had trained as one squad for the first 6 weeks of term, before splitting down into two separate boats. We spent this time working on a strong technical base. Most of this didn't really show for the first phase of the race, as we pushed the rate high with the result of a spirited but comparatively scrappy start. However, as we had our first push out of Green Dragon corner, we finally settled into a nice rhythm and began to make sustainable progress along the course. James, in only his first term of coxing, steered some beautiful lines, and we definitely emptied the tank as we came under the railway bridge, to the raucous cheers of M1 from the bank, with a time of 17:07. Thank you to all the coaches, coxes and subs who have helped out this term - bring on Lents!
Provisional result: 42nd on the river, 5th College M3
For only the second time in recent years (that is, since online records began in the late 1990's), SCCBC were fortunate enough to enter 3 Men's eights into the Fairbairn cup. M2 and M3 had trained as one squad for the first 6 weeks of term, before splitting down into two separate boats. The strong technical base we have worked on showed, and M3 produced a solid but relaxed row, finishing in 17:47. Thank you to all the coaches, coxes and subs who have helped out, and I look forward to seeing how we build and improve for bumps next term. FTW!
Sunday, November 13th arrived. Every other college crew was tucked up in bed, enjoying a relaxing break from their undemanding training regimes. However, the Men of St Catharine's were not among them, as we arrived, decked out in the finest stash Powerhouse and Godfrey have to offer, at the University of London Boathouse, 6am sharp.
Jon, having been up since 3am the previous day stretching in readiness for this outing, mumbled something that sounded a bit like "where's my Pro Plus," then proceeded to jolt awake as a certain Chris Quarton wandered into the changing room. Despite not having rowed for a year, Chris played a crucial role in what was to follow (even if he was sitting at three). Thank you very much to Chris for subbing in last minute! Other Chris (Eddy), as self-appointed food, rest and warmth officer (my role is slowly dissolving into merely writing race reports) arrived wearing his normal 9234329012 layers and slightly indignant expression at being roped into another of my schemes. On this occasion, this may have proved to be wise as today we were sparring with UCL.
Wading out into the tideway with our borrowed Stampfli shell and wheel-less oars, we couldn't help but stare at the scale of the river, with virtually unlimited room for activities. Rowing up towards Richmond we were feeling remarkably at home as Sid had us rowing square blades with pauses. It took us a little while to realise we weren't stuck behind a novice crew on a river about 10cm wide, at which point Sid explained we kept catching up... a promising start.
As dawn broke, we spun and lined up along aside the Men from UCL. Over the next 45 minutes we battle-paddled with a crew that not all that long ago made the final day of HRR, and incredibly found ourselves taking down seat after seat. Yet it was never going to be that simple, as Sid's intuitive Cam coxing led to us taking a wonderful racing line round the corners. Unfortunately, as those readers who did GCSE geography will know, this is not the best option on a river that wide, and the rather smug UCL cox sailed past. After shouts of "isn't it a bit shallow here (#!?)" from the bows, something clicked and Sid began to bully the other crew out of the stream, allowing us to come back and claim victory for the day.
The true toll of a 20km+ battle paddle showed as we headed back to the boathouse, but that's a few extra miles on the clock and Fairbairns is fast approaching. Also we're all now back to full fitness thanks to super-sized malt loaves (what a time to be alive).
Having been awarded the only "easily" victory margin from quarter-finals day, we were feeling good for day 2. It was business as normal as Basile sprinted in half way through the warm up apologising profusely about his skittish relationship with his small collection of proteins. Paddling down to the lock we were feeling good, the sun was out and yesterday's wind had found more important people to annoy.
Our semi-final was against an unknown FaT crew who had narrowly beaten Queens' the day before. Starting off upstream station we struggled to find the strong rhythm from yesterday, and watched as the crew behind drew to well within station by First Post. However, after another 3823 rhythm calls and shouts from Basile to "decompose the stroke," we found new purpose and slowly but surely drew away in the glassy waters of Plough Reach. Like Will towards an organic salt and pepper cracker, we sprinted for the line. We were in the final for the second year running.
Going into the final we were definitely the underdogs. We sprinted hard off the start, rating like a GB eight that had accidentally taken sculling blades to the Olympics. However, the crew that had bladed to head of the river in Mays soon started to show their class, and it took a colossal effort to hold them level on the reach. Like the defenestration of Prague, history had repeated itself and we were runners up again.
It's a bitter-sweet goodbye to our half-boat, half-submarine as we start in the eight next week. Next stop - Fairbairn's.