It’s barely a week into the term, and MECBC is already back racing on the Cam. Yesterday was City of Cambridge Rowing Club’s annual Winter Head 2 Head event, a 2x2km timed race from the railway bridge to the motorway bridge and back. While we’re always excited for a race, there was a little extra anticipation this time – it was our first race in our brand new, and as yet unnamed, boat. Set to race in the first division of the day, we arrived at the boathouse bright and early to find a very windswept river awaiting us.
Georgie called for our rolling start just before the railway bridge, and as soon as we were onto the reach, it became obvious that we were in for a real fight. Though the wind was in our favour in the first leg, it made the water on the reach, where there’s no protection from the wind, extremely choppy. Our blades hit the crests of the waves as we squared, making the boat difficult to balance and giving us all the kind of epic backsplash normally only seen from Marina, our Captain of Boats. We were soaked within a minute. Once off the reach, however, and into a bit more shelter, we managed to level things out a little and get some decent lift going, though still not up to the level of finesse and power that we had accomplished by the end of last term.
After completing the first leg, we spun and marshalled again, glad of the rest, but not wanting to wait too long before heading off on the second leg – the wind was chilly, and our damp kit wasn’t helping. Mark warned that, with the wind against us, we’d really have to push hard and push together on the way back, especially once we got back onto the reach. The mood in the boat was focused and determined as we rowed up to the starting line.
The rolling start to begin the second leg was more stable, and it quickly became clear that we were moving the boat along with more power and control than we’d had in the first leg. Counterintuitive though it may be, we almost always row better in a headwind. In between her usual calls, Georgie gave us the added incentive of closing the gap on the King’s boat in front of us. As we rounded Ditton corner, we all sat up in preparation for rowing the reach, knowing the wind would be strongest there. The combination of the headwind and the narrowing gap between us and King’s brought out a palpable fighting spirit in the boat, and we pushed hard toward the railway bridge. As we drew near the finish line, from behind me, I heard Ola shout, “I can hear them!”, meaning that she could hear the King’s boat’s catches. We were really close now. A last set of ten power strokes brought us under the bridge and across the finish line, less than two lengths behind King’s. Our first race of term and our first race in the new boat was finished.
The results posted later that afternoon showed that we had completed the first leg of the race with a time of 7:48 and the second leg with a time of 8:49, for a combined time of 16:37, placing us 1st in Mays Division 2 (a full 40 seconds faster than any other Division 2 women’s boat) and 6th of the college W1’s. We also managed to beat half a dozen Mays Division 1 boats. A respectable result, though, as always, we have much to improve upon before our next fight on the Cam. The prize for topping our division turned out to be glass tankards which we happily used to hold our celebratory drinks later that night.
Lower Boats Captain 2011-2012