There were some funny sights on the Cam as Ariel, Murray Edwards’ NW1 boat, rowed up to the start line of Emma Sprints – many colleges had put as much effort into their fancy dress as their training. Cox Alicia Caunter was dressed as Santa and the 8 rowers as her reindeer. As we made our way amongst pirates, Crayola crayons and Dalmatians, we tried to remember the techniques which would give us extra speed required to win – squaring our blades early, sitting tall, and level hand heights to sit the boat.
The race begins from a stationary start, and we were told that many sprints are won and lost in the racing start. We knew we had to focus but nerves were high. As the race began, we were out of time but not looking too bad. Then, disaster struck and Darwin blades battered our bow-side blades and even Santa Claus herself. We managed to pull away from the other boat and set up a good race pace which re-focussed our crew as we crossed the finish line in first.
The next heat was against Christ’s College, and we knew it was going to be tough from the off. We had a good start but unfortunately it was not as strong as Christ’s, who quickly took the lead – by less than a boat length. We refused to let that dishearten us and kept pressure on the legs and focussing on techniques and timing. We could feel the other boat slipping away from us and unfortunately we crossed the line in close second with only a length between the two boats.
It was a different style of racing to what any of us had done before and we found it a lot of fun. Onwards and upwards to Fairbairns!
We arrived at Queens’ having no idea what to expect and were immediately struck by how busy and energised the place felt. We collected our number tags and t-shirts, quickly changing before a brief warm up amongst the other teams outside the hall. We were the last college to file in and our erg was right next to the door and speakers, the perfect space to zone out and focus on pushing as hard as we could. Once the race began, we got off to a really good start and proceeded to maintain a good pace, only dropping a few seconds off the split from each rower to the next. The atmosphere was amazing, with great music pulsing through the hall and loads of people up in the balconies cheering us all on. Although we didn’t manage to place well enough to get through to the finals, I think most people managed to secure a new PB on their split and we all pushed hard enough to be utterly jelly-legged by the end of our stint!
We arrived at the boat house in good time to have some pre-race banter, moan about the cold weather and finally get the boat out. We were quite far down in the division so got to the Lock in plenty of time to get out of the boat, stretch and devour two big bags of sugar-loaded sweets while subtly sizing up the competition. I have never discussed kit and technique in as much frantic detail as I did before Winter Head.
After the tense waiting, it was time to get back in the boat and the familiar, inevitable sense of adrenaline kicked in as the marshals tried to hectically organise the myriad of boats out on the river. Then before I knew it, we had started racing. Our cox asked us to individually put the power down for the rest of the crew and the rate shot up. We managed to have a surprisingly balanced and relaxed race; for the first time, I did not feel like I might die when we were finally asked us to wind it down.
If anything stood out, it was Reana’s heavenly race baking, which I completely forgot about until we got back to the boat house and rediscovered it patiently and lovingly waiting for us.
I’m probably going to regret this, but for the next race, I hope we are able to push the rate even higher and emerge slightly more exhausted than we did this time around. After all, we are supposed to be well hard.
Having been on the Cam since 10am, we waited until 11:40am to push off. We warmed up rowing up to the start line and set into a nice rhythm, nervously wondering how our first race, as a novice crew, would go.
Four minutes into the race, after building up our strokes, and after pushing a strong 10 power strokes, we started catching up with the boat in front of us. After overtaking, we realized we had actually gone past two boats! No words can express the amount of adrenaline and emotions filling us, although we still had more than half of the race to go. When Owen passed under the last bridge all we had to do is keep our rhythm and push it to the finish line.
It took us 12:08min, and more than 360 strokes. 360 opportunities to catch a ‘crab’, 360 opportunities for something to go wrong. We focused at one stroke at a time. With minor mistakes here and there – we conquered each new stroke with every push of the legs, looking at the girl in front, squaring up early, synchronizing each movement until the very end.
More work to come, but it already feels amazing to be part of a team that is eager to do its best in order to win!!!
‘Queens ergs’ is the best experience to introduce novices to the competitive environment filled with adrenaline that rowing provides. This year it must have been the combination of loud, deafening music plus the shouting, and the massive screen that helped us ‘push back’ and ‘stretch those legs’ faster and harder. We had a very promising start and managed to stay on the third position for most of the time, struggling to overcome Christ’s and Clare! We finished on the eighth place, but this was by all means a great victory as it made us all understand better the notion of team playing and seeded the desire to get better!! After the competition I could still feel the adrenaline and the excitement, and all this made me question once more: who needs anything else when you have rowing??
After a week of slightly disrupted outings, nerves were high as we pushed out from the boat house to make our way up to the marshalling point at the start line. Race conditions could not have been better, however, with relatively mild temperatures and barely any wind, and we soon relaxed into a solid row up, reassured by a strong practice push for ten through the corners.
Since we were racing in the first division of the day, marshalling time was surprisingly short, and we just had time to sample one of Holly’s interesting home-made protein balls, before we were told to row up to the lock and spin in preparation for the start of the race. Rowing down towards the start line at the motorway bridge, we established a strong platform, and when Christina called for us to take it up for the start, we pushed into a good powerful rhythm, and started the race with a power ten off the bridge.
Spurred on by Christina’s motivating calls, and pushing for Georgie whose back injury meant she had to watch from the bank, we made excellent progress through the corners in the first half of the race, and coming onto the reach we were catching up on the crew from Hertford College, Oxford, in front. Inspired by Mark’s calls for us to attempt an overtake, we tried to push on and close the gap between us.
We made progress at first, with Mark blowing his whistle in bumps style to indicate we were a length away, but we lost some of the control we had had in the first half of the race, and didn’t quite make it past them. We stayed close on their tail for the rest of the course, however, and as we came under the motorway bridge, Christina called for a mental restart and a final push into a sprint finish. We pushed on, but, pretty tired by now, we were unable to gain the same power we had at the start.
Still, we gave it all we could up to the finish, and ended up with a time of 10.18 minutes, which placed us third of all women’s crews behind FaT and Emma. Although not quite the winning result we were hoping for, we were happy with the race, and it has given us areas to focus on as we come into the last weeks of training. Bring on Fairbairns!
cox : Georgie Field
S Jess Manning
7 Sally-Anne Bennett
6 Emma Jones
5 Reana Maier
4 Laura Desert
3 Rowanne Willett
2 Henrike Schulte to Buehne
B Holly Smith
coach : Mark Jacobs
cox : Nadia Tsao and Christina Larkin
S Katie Miles
3 Katherine Pyne
2 Laurane Saliou
B Emma Heydon
coaches : John Beckett and Alex Massey
cox : Nadia Tsao
coaches : John Beckett, Alex Massey, Wing Ying Chow, Holly Ai-Smith, Thea Stratton and Reana Maier
cox : Christina Larkin
coaches : Laura Desert and Matthew Parker
cox : Alicia Caunter
Nicola Papastavrou Brooks
coaches : Katie Miles, Bob Evans, Thea Stratton
cox : Kate Prescott
coaches : Reana Maier, Rob Watson, Rowanne Willett, Georgie Field
cox : Charlotte Furniss-Roe
coaches : Rowanne Willett, Rob Watson
The Beast (NW5)
cox : Sally-Anne Bennett
coaches : Reana Maier, Rob Watson
After pushing off, W1 had a really solid row down on the way to the start of the race. Being the first race of term, we were all thoroughly excited and also nervous about what the competition may bring. After building the rate up over 5, we soon settled into a really nice sustainable rhythm. With a “push for 10″ off every corner and any landmark, we really felt that Octopussy flew down the river now and again! After a long 2.6km, we had finally finished. Coach Mark had timed us and we had come in at about 11:10 min, which we were all happy about as it beat our time from last year. When the official results were released later, we discovered our finishing time was in fact 11.07 min, even better! With this, we managed to beat all the other College W1′s and get our first tankard of the term. Well done W1!!!
Jess Manning, Stroke
Find out about our May Bumps campaign, alumna Fiona Stiedl’s experiences in the University’s Women’s Boat 1968-71, and where in Europe MECBC members have been rowing during the summer. Enjoy!