Race Reports 2013-14
Lent bumps 2014 was an eventful week for NCBC. W2 got technically bumped on the first day, because of a hold up just in front of them, but they did not give up and managed to climb back up, getting an average of +1! W1 started in a difficult position, having very strong crews behind them; however they gave it everything they had on all 4 days and depsite going down 3 they fought very hard. We can't wait for Mays now!
After discussing our pre-racing nerves for about a week, the day started full of confidence. The sun was shining and we were fully planning on smashing Pembroke even though we knew we needed to keep clear from Caius. Rowing down to the start the crew had a calm, confident feel about it and we were focussed on looking tall and intimidating. To our dismay, we then arrived at our starting position, we realised we were right underneath the motorway bridge accompanied by a pair of cannons. After surviving the shock of the 4 minute cannon we quickly de-kitted leaving our bank party with about a man’s weight of clothes to carry on their back.
And suddenly, there it was, counting down from 10 in our first bumps race this week. The shell shock from the bang was incredible. For the first strokes Nicole was barely audible in the horror and confusion, but we had practised the hell out of this start and so we nailed it anyway. Three draws, five winds and we were off to a great strong start. Nicole was doing a great job steering us through all the ideal lines. After what seemed like both the longest and the shortest three minutes of my life we were gaining on Pembroke at what I understood later to be a crazily high stroke rate. Thanks to Nicole we were going straight for them. However, in our sights we also had Caius pulling up dangerously close to us and Clare was behind them in the distance. Suddenly Caius seemed to speed up and Nicole had to concede quickly after that.
Of course we all felt gutted, but a small source of amusement was supplied by Clare who heroically caught up with Pembroke and over-bumped. At least this left us with a feeling that justice had been served. We all seemed to be thinking the same when we got back to the boathouse: ‘Caius might have got the best of us on the first day, but it remains to be seen who will have the last laugh’.
By Charlotte van Coeverden
Day 1 of Bumps had given the majority of W1 their first ever taste of being bumped, an unfamiliar flavour which we were very determined would not be sampled again. Despite the fact that Pembroke would have been expected to put up a fight to spare their blushes somewhat after the embarrassment of being overbumped from 6th in the 1st Division, it became very clear very quickly on the row down that we would have very little to worry about from behind, Nicole keeping us right up close to their stern, whilst pausing every three strokes, eventually causing Pembroke to do an extra practice start just to get away from us. With that in mind, all our attention was squarely focused right where it should have been, that bright yellow boat one in front of us. We knew that having bumped us on Day 1, Caius would not be expecting a challenge from behind. We also knew from Day 1 that our starts were much faster than theirs. Our race plan was a simple one: bomb it right from the start and scare the living daylights out of an unsuspecting Caius.
And so we did. With everyone in the boat now having at least one day of Bumps experience under their belt, the start was even better than the day before. When the call to stride came, we even managed to take the rate down to a marginally less unsustainable 38 than the previous day’s 42 (apparently the over-excitable Labrador at 6 is to blame...oops...). Before we knew it, we had the first whistle from the bank. Then two. Then as we rounded First Post Corner, three whistles, and that unmistakable Irish voice: “Half a length Newnham!”. Going into Grassy: “Third of a length!”. Unfortunately, as we exited Grassy, Caius found an extra gear, and started to draw away, so that was the closest we got to them. However, given that as we went through Grassy on Day 1 we were being bumped by Caius, and as we went through Grassy on Day 2 we were just a third of a length away from bumping them back, if we extrapolate that improvement we are on for a very good day tomorrow. More importantly, we proved that we are a crew with determination, that can fight back from a disappointing first day with what was the gutsiest row I have ever been involved in, and give a crew that bumped us one heck of a fright. Let’s go in tomorrow with even more of that fighting spirit, find that extra “Alan length”, and smash Caius back right where it will hurt them most!
By Hayley McDermott
Yeah, so remember how we had set out to “find that extra “Alan length”, and smash Caius back right where it will hurt them most” (a.k.a. kick them in the cox )? Well, that didn’t quite happen as planned. Here’s what did happen.
We all arrived to the boathouse already thoroughly soaked from cycling in the rain. You could just read off our faces how happy we were at the prospect of wet slippery handles and sticky cold leggings that feel like wetsuits. I’d pretty much say that this point was the highlight of the day, when we cheekily listened to the Cam FM live coverage of our very own W2 bumping Jesus W2 – hiding on the balcony to avoid inappropriate displays of joy in front of the rest of JCBC. Soon it was time to push off! We rather uneventfully rowed up to the marshaling point and sat there in the rain/mud good bumps customs require. Nonetheless, we did brighten up everyone’s day by delighting our (possibly perplexed) audience with an extremely well-executed performance of a classic from our repertoire - “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”, dedicated from the bottom of our hearts to our lovely Claudia who couldn’t be here with us today. *** Claudia we miss you! NCBC loves you and thinks about you all the time! *** Also, in case people hadn’t realised, coxes wear microphones.
Anyway, soon enough it was time to row to the start. A few minutes and a practice start later we were all pulled in and de-kitting from the gazillion of layers we’d stacked onto ourselves (did I mention it was raining?). The cannons cannoned. Our start, which was the pillar of our strategy for today, was unfortunately not quite as good as yesterday’s. Catz didn’t seem like a threat at this point, but we were struggling to gain on Caius. Coming into the corners, we could vaguely hear a ‘Within station!!!’ from the bank, but no whistles. Corner after corner, still silence. Soon enough though and to our dismay, Catz’s whistles started sounding. I think it’s fair to say that we all really gave it all – you could feel everyone putting in the maximum effort for the boat (we did beast it massively on a ‘Claudia ten’ that we’d agreed on), trying as hard as possible not to undergo a second experience of getting bumped. As Catz were gaining on us Nicole used her magic powers to steer away from an overlap up until the bottom of the long reach, where we finally yielded. Though we were tired, damp and disappointed for getting bumped so far into the course, we were also really glad to feel that we had all been trying our best together as a crew, and had ultimately managed to hold off so well (really, Nicole did wonders with her steering).
Tomorrow is another (hopefully brighter) day, and NCBC W1 is resolved to end Lents 2014 on a high! So we’ll try to return the favour to Catz and hopefully stick a green smiley face on our line of the chart too!
By Francesca Benzi
We arrived at the boathouse enthused and excited for our first day of bumps; for all but our veteran Sophie Clarke, this was the first bumps race of our rowing careers. Naturally we were both thrilled and nervous, but we were ready to get going. Arriving at the starting position and hearing the first cannon was more exhilarating than terrifying, although our cox who had been afraid of remembering to drop the chain apparently no longer thought that would be a problem. With 20 seconds to go Sarah pushed us off the bank. We rolled to front-stops, buried our blades, breathed, focused, and then…
“Draw One!” We were off to a powerful start and rowing better than we may have ever rowed together as a crew. The boat felt powerful. The blade work was clean. We were set and rowing together. Our start sequence went off without a hitch, and we had a good race line in motion.
We had settled into a high and strong rate after our starts and were going strong. Unfortunately, that is when the race took a turn for the worse. The Hughes Hall/Lucy Cavendish W1 hybrid that we were chasing managed to bump a sluggish Jesus W2 before we could catch up to them. This resulted in Jesus sitting stationary in the middle of the river and Hughes/Lucy drifting across with their hands in the air in celebration over their bumping victory. We were approaching at full speed, and neither of the boats made any effort to clear the river. Asia was left with two decisions: crash into the two crews or take drastic evasive action. Due to the extreme but necessary maneuver, the rudder wire on our boat snapped. Asia made the wise decision to concede as we were forced into the tree on the bank, despite Robinson’s W1 still rowing about half a length behind.
After detaching ourselves from the tree, we limped across the river to hear the verdict. We hoped that we would at least be awarded a technical row-over due to the impedance.In a contentious decision, Robinson was given the bump. We went to appeal the decision. Regretfully, our appeal was unsuccessful. We were frustrated and heartbroken at the idea of losing our chance at blades. Despite all that had happened, we maintained our poise and gave Robinson W1 a congratulatory cheer. We were still proud of our strong performance on the water and headed home with our heads held high, although we were greeted with a very mood-appropriate torrent of rain after putting the boat away.
While our first bumps race was disappointing, we are content in the knowledge that our performance was solid. There are 3 more days of bumps, and we will be back to fight! We know what to expect, and we know the crews that we will challenge. We are thirsty to show what we can do. We have confidence in our skill and strength on the water. We rowed as a team, and we rowed with fire.
By Gabrielle Peterson
"OH MY GOD! Does stroke really think we can maintain this pace over the course?" That thought is a milestone in every college rowers career. A milestone, usually followed about 8-9 minutes later by a second series of mini milestones, the realizations that 1) Yes, Stroke did think that, and 2) Stroke was right, and 3) Stroke is gonna do that race after race after race, or they're probably not gonna be stroke anymore. To that end, the stroke seat of Newnham W2 Lent 2014, Leanne Young, fits the bill to a T, and a good thing too, because lining up in our new "favorite" spot at 13th in the second division of lent bumps, it was time to regain some lost honor after a dubious and less than glorious start to most of our Bumps Careers. With Pembroke behind and Robinson in our sights, we nervously settled into waiting for our start on the second day of Lents Bumps, a little more confident (knowing now what cannons sound like) and prepared to row as hard as we could after Robinson's blue jackets, and when the cannon did fire, our coaches had us artfully maneuvered out, and we were off without a seconds hesitation, following stroke at what always seems like an insane pace, before settling into the sound of our first whistle and our cox screaming into the box. In the end, Robinson caught Jesus before we caught Robinson, (a seat came off the tracks according to locker room conversations with Jesus), but not before we got two solid whistles on Robinson's boat.
Coming around Grassy we got the now-famous Newnham call of "Glutes 10!" featured on CamFM's live coverage of lent bumps. A row-over, although not as glorious as bumping Robinson might have been, did give Newnham Lents W2 a chance to show our stamina, strength and simple bull-headed doggedness over the course of a race. Maintaining a stroke rate of 32/33, the boat settled into a steady rhythm. Oar locks clicking as we watched Pembroke slowly disappear behind us, until they could barely be seen, and our coach Sarah called for a "wind it down" 1/2 way down the reach, turning our racing speed into a high-ish rate steady-state row under the bridge, and then past the men's crews lining up for their division, and hence (as Newnham is mysteriously popular with the boys :p ) a series of cheers from every boat we passed. Despite weather forecasts for rain and misery, we're looking forward to coming back Friday and chasing Jesus down.
By Callie Vandewiele
So we all knew today was going to be awkward when arriving at the Boathouse that we share with the crew we are chasing. Unlike on Day 2 there was no friendly banter or tactics talk, there was a very distinct us and them feeling in the air. This was not helped by the fact that our face paints had mysteriously disappeared and their boat just happened to have been left in our way. After getting the blades half-out (leaving the handles in the boathouse to keep dry in the torrential rain) we had a team talk, basically consisting of “You can do it, Pembroke are never going to catch you”. After a casual row down and smashing our practice start, having to pause at hands-away after catching Pembroke solidified this idea. So now we’re sat there in the pouring rain, thinking of nothing but the people in the Jesus boat in front of us. The 4 minute cannon goes and we consider de-kitting, leaving it to the last minute in an attempt to stay as warm and dry as possible. The 1 minute cannon goes and this is it, Sarah starts to push us out and we’re ready, the exact same line as day 2 we can do this! And we’re off!
The start goes perfectly, draws, winds, legs, and rhythm (with Asia managing to keep the count right) and we’re settled and that’s when we hear it, our first whistle, we’re gaining, we knew this would happen. Asia pulls our focus back with a power 10 but that double whistle is nowhere to be heard, we keep going. At this point I see Pembroke bump out, I know no one is chasing us but we can’t let up, we have to do this. A few more legs calls and I can see Asia is getting excited, there it is, 2 whistles!! We keep going, the calls from the bank party can’t be heard over Asia’s constant instructions to “keep going”, “on the legs”, “you’re catching”, “power through”. Asia is practically bouncing in her seat, 3 whistles are apparently going somewhere but most of us don’t hear them over Asia yelling at us, we focus on our cox and keep going, trusting her to take the perfect racing line (as usual) then it happens “HOLD IT UP!” comes over the cox mic and we’ve done it, most of us can barely contain our excitement and I try to hug Asia forgetting there is an oar handle in the way.
We are rowing home with our greenery and our heads held high and proud when Asia tells us we were stroking at 37, about 5 strokes per minute faster than normal but none of us care. We achieved what is, for 8 out of 9 of us, our first bump and we cannot be happier, and we dedicate our bump to Claudia on her birthday and Sarah for being an amazing coach. Bring on tomorrow.
NCBC disclaimer : Jesus probably didn’t steal our facepaint.
By Leanne Young
Despite getting an overall average of 0, NCBC had very exciting May Bumps 2014:
- W1 had a slightly dodgy start, getting bumped by FaT on the first day, but then had 3 very gutsy row-overs, especially on the last day, when they were chased by Lady Margaret, who were having a very good year. Although Maggy had closed the gap to 1/2 a boat length by first post corner and had overlap for the whole reach, W1 never gave up and somehow managed to avoid the bump (despite CamFM announcing an 'imminent bump' several times), giving it absolutely everything they had until the finish line. "The most epic race I have ever had, there is no way to describe it other than gutsy"
- W2 were in a difficult starting position, but then showed how strong they could be as a crew on the last two days, when they simply destroyed Pembroke II and Sidney Sussex.
- W3 had a very good start, with the first bump of the season for NCBC, but then unfortunately happened to be in front of two very strong crews, including a W1 on for blades; however they remained very strong and had good races on all 4 days.
It is an accurate description to call us a colourful bunch. With a Cantabs rower on stroke followed by varying levels of experience in NCBC and a handful of CUW rowers we had some interesting first outings with very different body movements and some rhythm challenges. Like every good dance crew we did eventually get our act together and we were STRONG. So then bumps week arrived and with practise starts on varying degrees of goodness and some pieces fitting the same description, we were as prepared as we were going to be. However, as I learned later, nothing can truly prepare you for the first day of Mays.
We started just in front of Newnham bridge, which is a fitting place for us to start since the colourful NEWNHAM above is truly inspiring when rowing away from it. Caius, an absolute 2014 Mays favourite, was in front of us so we had hard work to do if we were going to bump them.
As always the cannon was loud and varying levels of panic ensued. I have to remember what Mat once said in one of our practises: "If you can't do it well, then at least do it hard". And that last thing is what we did. Our start was not the best we've ever done but it got us moving, there was a noticeable wobble in the boat over the entire course which could partially have been caused by a clump of weeds that had gotten caught in our rudder. Our poor nicole tried her best to steer through the corners but it was difficult to take the optimal line. FaT was getting closer and was cutting off large chunks of distance in the corners. We fought hard and we got to the reach at which time the rudder cord finally snapped under the pressure. we were straight now and still pushing but alas, FaT were faster and caught us. Cheers to FaT for a good race and to Nicole for coxing us so strongly in tough times. We will get another chance to show FaT what we can do tomorrow.
By Charlotte van Coeverden
Well what a race!!
So the first day of bumps didn't exactly go as planned, but we were all determined to keep it together today, and get FaT back. There we were under Newnham bridge, without the weeds, without the outflow and focussed in our own boat, ready to beast it, when the 'Defend your ears' - no we can't - canon went off. Although completely deafened by the canon, we knew exactly what we had to do and our start was significantly better than yesterday. Putting the power down together we started steadily gaining on FaT and whistles started to be blown. Confident that we could do this we kept calm but powerful, the rowing itself feeling much better than yesterday, getting closer and closer to FaT while seeing Christ off in the distance. By the top of the Plough reach we had 3 whistles on them - 1/4 of a length - and there the real fight began.
FaT decided not to give up and fought every single stroke; so close to revenge that we were, we did everything we could to close that 3 feet gap, pushing harder and harder all the way down the reach. Unfortunately we didn't manage to get them in the end, and having had given everything we had on the reach, the last 2 minutes from the railway bridge to the P&E felt absolutely endless. What a hell of a race that was though, well fought FaT! We then rowed home with our heads up, knowing that we had done our best and given it everything together. As our dear coach Alan said 'Between getting bumped on day 1 and nearly bumping FaT back on day 2 we improved by 3 lengths in 24 hours. Tomorrow we only have to improve by 3 feet'.
By Agnès de Varine
Days 3 & 4
Writing a race review is tricky when all you can remember of said race is a blur of pain, unintelligible shouting, and more pain. However, a review must be written, so here is my best attempt to explain Day 1 of W2’s Bumps campaign.
We turned up at the boathouse knowing we couldn’t be more prepared. Sarah had been driving us hard all term, with full course pieces and sparring with men. Erg PBs were being set all over the shop. And of course, we had our lovely grippy new blade handles ready and waiting for us. All that remained was to put the finishing touches to our freshly painted blades...which went well... (who needs the yellow anyway, the rustic look is where it’s at!) The row down felt good. The many many many backstops builds we’d done paid off when stuck in the queues behind Emma II. Casually pausing at arms away and backs over, with square blades, whilst sitting the boat perfectly. Intimidation phase one, complete! We did our practice start. Also felt good. I believe it was around here we concluded Robinson were nothing to worry about. Once we’d waited around for long enough to get very nervous the cannon finally went off. From this point I can’t really remember what happened. There was pain, and lots of shouting. We gained a whistle on Emma, then lost it, then got it back, then lost it again. Robinson behind were nowhere, and our epic battle with Emma continued right to the finish, where they got a sniff of a potential double overbump. So we rowed over in the end. We learnt three things: 1) we’re pretty decent at holding it together over the long haul, 2) it sucks to have the three fastest 2nd boats on the river (who are all fairly evenly matched) lined up one behind the other, and 3) there is a lot of driftwood in our division coming our way... So the plan for the rest of the week is a simple one. Go hard, and smash whatever gets in our way!
By Hayley McDermott
As we stood in the boathouse applying our facepaint (blue-yellow-white Hayley, NOT blue-white-yellow apparently!) we knew it was likely to be a long one today. The start was better than Wednesday's and the first couple of minutes felt great but, as expected, Emma and Pembroke bumped out ahead of us before long. With Homerton bumping Robinson behind we were left in a big gap with nothing much to push us on. Instead of writing the day off, we settled into the head race mentality to see how much ground we could take out of Sidney. This kept us unusually focused all the way down the reach without going into any of those bad patches that always crop up in training. We ran out of space to get the overbump but by the end the gap had closed from 6 1/2 to 3 lengths and we'd shown that we have the potential to do some damage later on in the week.
By Eleanor Ainscoe
Days 3 & 4
For NCBC Mays 2014 WIII, the start of May Bumps marked the first Mays Bumps for the majority in the boat (8 of 9) and the first ever bumps race for three of our rowers. We couldn't have asked for a more positive start to a May Bumps season, or an NCBC Bumps career. Sandwiched between FaT II and Pembroke III, we arrived at the boathouse happy, nervous and determined. With some solid exams-weeks outings under our belts to tighten up our start, and learn to settle into a stride, we collected our oars and then clambered into our boat. WIth a rower who'd arrived from a flight that landed literally an hour before, and a last minute sub because of exam stress, we'd been hoping to get some practice starts in on the way down, but had to settle for rolling starts as the race officials were trying to move the divisions back into order after a post carnage re-row in M5. Once at our starting position we were pushed out before we knew it, and listening to the countdown from 40, with barely enough time to have gotten settled, let alone more nervous. Launching off the start, Asia, our fabulous cox, pulling a solid line down the river, we were gaining on Pembroke III before Alan could find his whistle, so Matt stepped in (we are told) to alert us as we gained on the crew in front. By first post, we had our very first bump, as we nearly plowed into Pembroke III. We are looking forward to a longer, harder row tomorrow, as we take on Emma III.
By Callie Vandewiele
6 December 2013
As term began, Jenna and I were informed by our dear leader (normally known as Hele) that we had to be really on it with the recruiting and raising awareness of the boat club. And so we were, with posters, facebook propaganda, even a video (courtesy of our captain who had too much free time this summer). The pièce de résistance had to be our stall at the fresher’s fair however, which we covered with every piece of NCBC stash owned by Hele, Jenna and myself (being NCBC, this was quite a lot of stash...), and several trophies and plaques won by NCBC over the years. We even had a blade from 1925 on there. Needless to say, we comprehensively outdid every other college club or society with a presence in that room. It was only that evening, as we took stock of the 82 names that had been signed up, that we realised that we might have been a little too effective with our recruitment...
The challenge had been set though, and aided by some natural attrition, our millions of baby boaties were soon sorted into five novice crews. Training commenced immediately, our novices joining the carnage on the Cam (though I’d like to think we didn’t contribute too much to that particular aspect of things...). We were even able to throw some novice coxes into the hot seat before too long, and faster than we thought possible, we headed towards the first competition of term, Queens’ Ergs. Queens’ Ergs was probably the event of the term that Jenna, as our resident erg maniac, had been most excited about. It was also the first chance for the novices to prove that they were committed to their task of bringing NCBC domination to a new generation. And it is fair to say they acquitted themselves well, even if their coaches had no voices left by the end. NW1 made the final, and came home as the 4th fastest crew overall, NW2 were the second fastest 2nd boat, beating several 1st boats in the process, and NW3 set personal bests all over the place. Several senior rowers were left quite worried by some of the times that were produced.
Following all that excitement, it was back to the river to get as much water time in as possible before the upcoming races. All was going well until disaster struck, a “bit of a bump” was had, and NW1 limped back to the boathouse with several cracks and a rather large hole in the bow of the novice boat. Things were looking a bit iffy, but then up stepped our amazing boat fairies (i.e. Alan and Sarah), who working their miracles with filler and paint late into the nights, somehow managed to produce a riverworthy boat less than five days after the crash happened.
Lessons learnt, it was back in the newly floating boat for Emma Sprints. NW2 or “Dwarf Domination”, coxed by Snow White and with the Evil Queen/Witch and her poisoned apple bank partying, were up first, against the Trinity Hall Dalmatians. A strong start was made and things were looking promising, up til the point when Bow’s blade popped out of its gate... An epic recovery was staged, coming from a length behind, but unfortunately it seemed that 500m was a bit too short. Keen to prove their worth, as well as their sportsmanship, in the race home against a rather wounded Hughes Hall boat, NW2 showed having to row in sixes did not dent their competitive spirit, clawing their way to a well deserved victory. NW1 (101 (8) Dalmatians + Cruella De Vil) took to the water that afternoon. Surely things would be much smoother this time round? Well... again things went extremely well against Emma, building up an early lead. But then, much to mine and Hele’s utter disbelief, another blade decided it didn’t want to stay in the gate, this time at 2. The loss against Emma was more than made up for by the crushing victory over Corpus though. It is easy to wonder “what could have been?”, but both crews did infact do very well indeed, and they can’t be faulted for continuing the noble NCBC tradition of messing up the first round in order to destroy their opposition in the losers’ race off home.
Then, it was the turn of NW3 and our composite NW4/5 crew in Clare Novice Regatta. NW3, who had been ably coached by Sophie and Maire, were up against LMBC A, and once their cox (who may or may not have been me...) finally dragged herself out of bed and made it to the boathouse, were raring to go. It is very unfortunate that they were up against LMBC first, but performing so well against the eventual overall winners of the regatta (and later Fairbairns) is nothing to be ashamed of. And then there was NW4/5, the classic underdog story that came so close to happening. From a scratch crew of which the majority had not even rowed all eights less than a week before the race, Agnès produced a boat that rowed with incredible composure to a victory over none less than Pembroke’s NW1. And then they kept winning, with an easy victory over Homerton. Indeed, the only thing that halted their progress was the appearance of Christ’s in the semi-final, and once again the only crew to beat a Newnham boat were the eventual winners of the division of the regatta.
Following their first taste of racing, our baby boaties decided they weren’t satisfied with breaking the boat, and so set about doing an excellent job of breaking themselves. We had everything from broken thumb ligaments, through strained backs and shoulders, finishing with a dislocated and fractured elbow. With impeccable timing, these all of course happened less than a week before Fairbairns... Many, many, many emails later (a boat’s worth of subs was needed in the end), we had three boats ready to go for Fairbairns. Well, almost. An extremely last minute crisis resulted in Sam Flint, who was supposed to be coxing NW1 and rowing in NW3, agreeing to row twice, subbing into NW2, while I had my rather unplanned graduation as a novice cox as I wound up filling that seat for NW1. In truly horrendous conditions (by the time we reached the Reach I was convinced we were rowing not on the Cam, but on the sea!), both crews did amazingly to keep it together and row with a composure beyond their eight weeks of rowing experience. This is even more true for the row home, in which they were faced with an extremely strong headwind in addition to having to dodge the various pockets of carnage caused by other crews who couldn’t cope with the weather. Final results had NW1 with the incredible result of 6th overall, and NW2 with the very strong position as 5th NW2. Sadly, by the time NW3 were lined up to race, the wind was too strong (it took three of us hanging on with our full weight just to keep the boat attached to the hard!), and the decision was made on safety grounds that they would not be racing. Shortly afterwards Jesus were finally forced to cancel the remainder of the division anyway, after a tree fell into the river... Even though NW3 did not get to race, they can be proud of the fact that it was the first time since 2004 that NCBC have had an NW3 entered and lined up ready to race Fairbairns.
On the whole, this term has been a great one. From my point of view, it really has been fantastic seeing how the novices have come on from nothing, to being ready to be unleashed on the Cam as senior rowers next term. There are a few people who deserve thanks, for without them this term would not have been as successful as it has been. Hele, for both being an incredibly supportive captain, and for not murdering us when the boat got broken. Alan and Sarah, our “boat fairies” who worked so hard to get the boat useable again. The amazing team of coaches; Jenna (NW1), Sophie and Maire (NW3), and Agnès (NW4/5), who gave up so much of their own time to make all this happen. And finally, to the novices themselves, whose constant keenness and eagerness made everything so much more enjoyable. I look forward to rowing with you next term!
By Hayley McDermott
12 November 2013
Decked out in our blue and yellow face paint, which we luckily remembered to apply AFTER putting on our white Queens’ Ergs t-shirts, we fuelled up on probably a few too many jelly babies (quite the novelty for our American team members) as the clock ticked towards 5pm. On a bit of a sugar high we started to warm up, which quickly transcended into us jumping around whilst blasting The Eye of the Tiger much to the bewilderment of the other teams. After what felt like forever – about half an hour in reality – we were called in for our first round. Cheered on by our teammates and other Newnham girls from the gallery we each then proceeded to row 500m on the ergometer. Cheering on our teammates we all had one eye on the screen at the back of the room – watching our ‘boat’ race against the others. After a total of 4km, some tears and a lot of sweat we were done and had come third in our heat.
The waiting game then began as we returned to college to await the outcome of the other heats. Instructed to eat sensibly, not just biscuits and jelly babies, we all went about our evenings as normal although the slightly smudged face paint did raise some eyebrows from the other girls on my floor. After a couple of hours we knew that we were definitely through to the finals for our division and had to go through it all again. Returning to Queens full of determination – and more jelly babies – we once again warmed up and focused on the task before us. Despite our slightly hoarse voices from our earlier heat we all cheered and attempted to motivate – generally shouting “legs” – as one by one we took our turn on the ergometer. After some amazing splits, with most of the team pulling personal bests at some point that evening, we finished a respectable fourth and all felt very proud of what we had achieved as a team.
By Charlotte Slaven
16 November 2013
Winter Head was the first chance to race together as a crew, although sadly Sophie couldn’t join us as she was in Paris – and it was also the first time to get stash for those of us who had noviced last term!
Complete with our new tops (featuring the fabulous slogan of ‘Th-under-estimated’), we rowed up to the start, and then spent some time judging the various blades, onesies and bizarre spinning techniques of the other clubs. Despite a slightly stressful start, in which our marshall told us not to worry and then suddenly panicked and starting shouting ‘Go NOW, Newnham, stop trying to crash into the bank!’ we managed to get off with some strong wind-ups to start.
The rate was a bit out of control at the beginning, but we soon settled into a more manageable rate, while watching the crew behind us disappear away (and then get overtaken by the crew behind them...). Nicole’s power-tens and shouts of ‘NCBC AND PROUD’ got us through the tough middle section, supported by our cheerleading bank party of Alan, Abbie and Gemma. The push off the bridge got us close to the end, with a final ‘power ten’ to fly under the bunting, and we were done! The row home was fairly uneventful, and we were all pretty happy with how we had rowed.
The results were perhaps the most eventful part of the entire experience – when they came out, Thunder appeared to be over a minute behind the Lightning crew which was a bit of a disappointment, and according to Alan’s time-stamped photography, it must have taken us 1:33 to cover about 50m over water at one point! The confusion was exacerbated by the fact that the results stated that the crew behind us (who had been considerably slower) apparently beat us by 45 seconds! Alan sent a suitably angry and confused e-mail to Cantabs, and it was eventually sorted out, with a much more reasonable time of 11:10, and many happy (and relieved) rowers.
Thunder ended up in 9th position out of the 19 Cambridge women's crews in Winter Head, and 19th out of all 42 women's crews overall in the race - a fantastic result, with lots of potential for this year!
Three of our crew had noviced last term, so this was our first experience of a racing situation, which was very exciting. On the whole, it was a great opportunity for Nicole to try out some racing lines without being stuck behind incompetent novice crews, and for us to really put the power down for an extended period of time. Despite the confusion over results, we ended up with a highly respectable time, and are hoping to work on the rating and balance in preparation for Fairbairns!
By Hilary Samuels
16 November 2013
NCBC was split into an uncommon rivalry between two boats – Thunder and Lightning – each competing to be top boat in Winter Head results, since the pairing had matched more senior boatees with newer boatees in hopes of a delightful, somewhat wobbly, learning experience for all. As Team Lightning sat at the traffic lights at the bottom of Newnham hill, we saw Team Thunder biking back to Newnham, having done the race we were just about to do. We put the Baroness back into the water that she’d just come from, marvelling at the miracle of her lightness, which was really only the comparative consequence of training on Andy Silk for a month.
We marshalled for a good hour, maybe hour and a half, passing up Jelly babies up and down the boat, giggling at the Trinity novices and relishing the hot Kings coach in a purple jacket who told the boat next to us in a sexy, dignified way that ‘pain lasts for a moment, but glory lasts for a lifetime’. We took it straight to heart and paraded our way up the river, backs straight, our awesome new team shirts on cocky display. We hit the bank when we parked in station before the race, screwed up the lineup for spinning with number 528 and when the marshalls eventually said, ‘screw it, just go before them’ we took off under the bridge and highlined our way down the race strip.
We went so fast that we couldn’t see people, trees or bridges. In the middle we got a bit wobbly with a few crabs on the less experienced bow end of the boat but we recovered quickly, and pushed on all the way until the end, with Liz doing a fantastic job screaming ‘PRESSURE ONE. PRESSURE TWO’ and kindly counting all of our pressures for us. Towards the end of the race people on the bank tried to relieve our fatigue by yelling, ‘you’re nearly there’ but they probably should have waited until the actual finish. But we crossed that line, collapsed in our positions, and although we ended up being faster than Thunder, and finished 8th out of the 19 Cambridge Women's crews, much more importantly we carried Newnham colors proud for 2.5 kilometers and we had good, solid training for Fairbairns.
By Suvi Joensuu
24 November 2013
Our first race on the river as the mighty NW2... also known as Dwarf Domination! As we plastered on the newnham colours across our cheeks in paint, we were filled with both nerves and excitement. This was our first proper race - a 500m sprint; what we had practiced at erg sessions for weeks. Team spirit was high, just as it had been at Queens’ Ergs, and we were all buzzing to get in the boat.
Emma sprints is fancy dress and we had chosen to be Snow White and the eight dwarfs (hence our brilliant team name thought up by Rosa). Asia, our fab cox, was dressed in a Snow White outfit and we were Doc (Stroke Sarah), Grumpy ( 7 Oana), Sleepy (6 Elspeth), Happy (5 myself), Bashful (4 Katharine), Dopey (3 Tessa), Sneezy (2 Leyla) and finally Dwarfie (Bow Rosa). Beards were worn for the ocassion as well as hats and our coach Hayley was the wicked witch; wearing a cape that blew in the wind dramatically as she cycled along! The fun continued with Agnes dressing up as the poisonous apple in an amazing red outfit.
Our first race was against Trinity Hall. We had a great start and despite an early crab and an oar coming loose we managed to shoot back up the river; sadly though not catching the opposition. Our second race was against Hughes hall. Their boat was broken so we agreed to row in sixes and despite not having our full power we rowed strongly. Both boats were side by side for the first 250m, but we managed to keep going and stayed strong until the end with a great final power 10, beating Hughes hall by a boat length. A great finish and row back home in high spirits singing the dwarfs song "hi ho, hi ho, it's up the cam we row". We were certain our hearty singing was enjoyed by many strolling along the river banks.
A huge thanks to Hayley our coach and to everyone who helped us have a great first race on the cam... Followed by a delicious team brunch of course!
By Lucy Pickworth
Day 1 - 29 November 2013
Following some hectic emails in an attempt to get a full boat, the team was finally set and ready to go. Arriving at the boat house and doing some practice starts with moans of “it’s too fast” and short replies of “it should be” you could tell that there was excitement in the air for the race. Face paint was roughly applied with many girls ending up with green stripes and we were ready to go. On the water the excitement of having a cox-box quickly dissipated as it broke (as usual), and then lots of relay shouts of cox orders in an attempt to get us to the start in one piece. After a minor hiccough and a rower needing to get the all clear and some quick strapping from the lovely young men from St John Ambulance we were there and the pressure was on.
Attempting to line up was a fun affair with the random shouts of “bow take a stroke” and the marshal getting visibly irritated at our already late start due to the slight first-aid issue we hear “GO” before the teams are lined up properly as the marshal has given up. Upon hearing GO that’s exactly what we do, the start might not have been the cleanest but we were flying. The race was tight as both boats battled to get a rhythm and then came our stroke of luck. Following the events of Emma we’d made sure our blades were in the gates properly, they were tight and not going anywhere, Pembroke on the other hand had not, so when a blade came out the gate it wasn’t ours and we took full advantage. Pulling away we could see them getting further and further away before they finally managed to sort themselves out but we were also tiring, with multiple shouts to keep us going and a few hairy moments we crossed the line first, maintaining a healthy lead, and then had the realization that NW4/5 had beaten an NW1!
A slow row home singing Hakuna Matata, getting weird looks from the men lining up to race, but we didn’t care; then a few renditions of Pineapple Crunch and we were home, taking pictures and celebrating our win.
By Leanne Young
Day 2 - 30 November 2013
After our success the previous day, we were keen to prove we could do it again, even without the help of gates breaking. Knowing what was expected of us from the day before, the excitement had reached new levels (making going to morning lectures pointless for some of us). After a bit of magic being worked on the cox-box and mild hysteria when the face paint was missing, it was time to get back on the river and focus. The row up was completed with a forced calm, some pineapple crunches thrown in to aid the concentration. A short marshal later, we were ready to line up against an intimidating Homerton team; easier said than done apparently. Quite a while later, after some interesting parking, the call came for frontstops and then we were off.
Keeping heads focused in the boat, our draws and winds gave us the advantage that we wanted. As Homerton were left further behind, we could row with less tension, in turn giving us the smooth and together strokes we wanted and fewer crabs than the previous day. We couldn’t let up though, as earlier novice races had taught us just how quickly things could go wrong. Thankfully we crossed the finish with an intact boat and rowers, and, happily, first. Any celebrations had to be postponed though, as we were not done yet. Just how far could we go in this regatta? Another short marshal and we lined up against Christ’s. This time our start was less effective and matched by the opponents. Unable to make an immediate break, tension set in. We slightly lost our rhythm, panicked and soon were left behind. After some shouting to get it back together, we did eventually start working as a team again. Alicia did an incredible job as our cox calling some power 10’s but, despite encouraging shouting from our bank party that we were closing on Christ’s, it was too little too late. Christ went on to win that division - we all agreed to say that loosing to the overall winner was fairly acceptable.
No matter the result, we can be proud that we had had reached the semi-finals - not bad for learning to row as an eight in only our previous outing - but most importantly we had given it our all. A huge thank you must go to the awesome subs, whose keenness allowed us to race, and especially to our coach Agnès, who did a spectacular job of getting us race-ready in such a short time.
By Hannah Cairns
30 November 2013
Inspired by NW4/5’s victory over Pembroke the day before, NW3 showed up on the Saturday determined to make their own mark in their first race on the Cam. That is, once their cox had resolved her slight alarm clock mishap and finally made it to the boathouse (yeah, that may have been me, oops...) Happily, in my absence, Maire had been really on it with getting the mighty Andy Silk onto the water, so as soon as I got there, threw a lifejacket on and jumped in the boat, we were off on our merry way down the river to marshal, making it with what I would like to call perfect timing (others might say that we left it until the last possible minute to arrive in the marshalling area...) Mad rush over, we settled down to the staple of racing on the Cam, the ever-present long wait for the race to actually get started. There were some benefits to this however, as it gave Maire some much needed opportunity to learn how to actually use a camera.
Before we knew it, it was our turn to row down to the end of the Reach, throwing in a couple of practice starts on the way, to face our opposition, LMBC A. A strong start was made, and we soon settled down into a nice rhythm. However, it transpired that LMBC were just that little bit faster, and moved into the lead. NW3 refused to give up, gritted their teeth, and grimly battled to hang on. Sadly, it was not to be, but given that the rowers of NW3 performed so well against a crew that not only won Clare Novices, but later went on to win Fairbairns, I think you can all hold your heads high and be very proud of how you did.
By Hayley McDermott
5 December 2013
Wednesday, December 4th, NW 1 met for a short outing. Just one last practice outing as NW1 before Fairbairns and the end of our existence as a set crew. The weather was perfect. Sunny, not too cool. The water was pristine. Flat, even. Empty. The most perfect rowing conditions the Cam has to offer. Basically everything that Thursday, December 5th--race day--was not. Thursday, December 5th, was so windy that several of the girls decided to walk from Newnham to the boathouse because they figured it might not be totally safe to cycle. The flatwater of the Cam stirred up about as nicely as the atmosphere in the locker room when NW2 (racing in the same division as NW1) realized they were short of a rower as a lovely morning surprise. Jenna screaming “Call ANYONE who has ever held a blade NOW!” was how we started out our race prep. Sarah Adams, our stroke, saved the day (it seemed) when she talked a friend who had rowed in college to join us---until that friend called back after puking. Messages were left, hair was pulled out, madness occurred and in the end NW1’s cox, Sam Flint, threw in her sweater and donned her lycra to row for NW2, and NW2’s coach, Hayley, nabbed said sweater and pinned on a boat number as NW1’s new cox. Already down a rower (Leanne did GOOD on breaking basically everything in her thumb except the bone) Gabby ended up being swapped sides to Bow side (for the first time), and the footplate on seat 6--a constant culprit for needed boat repair--got re-inserted literally minutes before push off.
Marshaling 50+ boats on a river barely wider than an 8 is long, was everything anyone whose rowed the Cam could ever dream it might be. Beautiful chaos. All that was missing was an orchestra to provide a soundtrack. Angry swans, screaming coaches, cox and near collisions galore. NW1 happily pulled off our first ever rolling start as a crew (in our last row as a crew) and off we went for 2.7 kilometers of Cam, wind, rain and then sleet down the river, under the bridge and onto the reach, with our coach Jenna, and injured teammate Leanne, cycling along. Hayley took every opportunity to power 10 us up through the fabulous new cox box (somehow breaking the boat earlier in the season meant it reappeared not only fixed, but updated). With a final time of 12:01.1, NW1 came 6th in our division, and even better than that, we managed to spin and row home without getting blown into the bank. Not something either the boat ahead of us, or behind us, were able to manage. By the time the afternoon races rolled around the rain had turned to solid sleet, a tree fell over and blew into the river, and hence races were cancelled. Overall, a very good day for Newnham novices. We’re officially ready to keep rowing and as seniors now :) Oh yeah, it was basically the best time ever.
By Callie Vandewiele
5 December 2013
Well, what a day Fairbairns was. Weather wise you would not be exaggerating to say that conditions were not ideal. 28mph winds swept across the Cam turning it into something more resembling the English Channel than a river (sorry about the hyperbole, it is sometimes needed) - needless to say we were not overly enthusiastic about rowing our first ever 2.7k on the Cam in such conditions.
But that wasn't the end of our problems. NW2 were a man (well, woman) down unexpectedly and had to find a sub urgently at 11am for the race at 11.30. Tensions rose in the Boathouse as on finally finding a sub, they had the misfortune to throw up ten minutes later. But the amazing Sam Flint was to the rescue! She bravely volunteered to row as part of my bow pair, giving up the opportunity to cox for NW1. Unfortunately the replacement cox was our very own Hayley so NW2 had to row without their coach (and mummy) during the race. However Agnès was at hand to bank party for us and we were all happy to say she did an amazing job!
After the inevitable delay, both boats were finally out on the water and (after another delay) the race proceeded. As a crew, (and I'm only a little biased) NW2 did really well, the boat was sat and, though there was much splashing and we all had another shower, we finished 5th in the NW2 division and 28th overall (YES!) Agnes cheered us on and Asia did a brilliant job coxing, calling 'power 10' whenever we slacked and generally cheering us on - plus the cox box was working so we could all hear her loud and clear. The wind was generally with us during the race and we made the most of it.
The row home however was another story entirely. After marshalling for what felt like ages (though the supply of jelly babies helped) we span (also catching our first glimpse of Newnham Bridge) and proceeded to row home. However as mentioned, the wind was now not with us and you could say that we noticed that tiny detail. The Reach was definitely the worst part with crews being blown everywhere and the poor coxes struggling to keep control of their boats (though the Newnham coxes dealt with the situation very well, again showing that NCBC is the best boat club on the river). It is fair to say that we were all exhausted when we arrived back to the boathouse after the inevitable traffic jams and having to battle such gales.
Both crews were very happy with their results (NW1 coming 6th overall) so the event was a success! Sadly NW3 couldn't row as their division was cancelled due to a tree in the river (although the weather had got worse by then as it was raining too) despite Sam's enthusiasm to go and race again!
By Rosa Jenks
6 December 2013
After the chaos that had been novice Fairbairns the day before and the tree that was supposedly blocking the river, we were a bit nervous about how it was all going to work out. However our great crew getting together on Thursday night, watching plenty of inspirational videos got us mentally ready to face these long 4300m and fortunately by Friday morning the ouragan was over and the tree 'out of the way'.
Once at the boat house, face paint was put on and there we were, taking the mighty Lady G out and warming up on the bank, as the start was Jesus (aka Newnham) boat house. With Thunder and the Gryphens who had raced in the previous division, the pressure was on for us to do as well as they both did. But before we had time to think we were backing it down away from the boat house to get space for our rolling start and after some powerful draws and winds we were off, crossing the start line.
Pressure was down in the water and our rythm was strong, and thanks to Liz's amazing calls of every single body part she could think of, we reached the P&E before we knew it. However this was not it and we still had a long way to go... the reach felt endless but some power 10s thrown in at strategic times got us through it and then we were only 'a few corners away from the finish'. Giving it everything once Newnham bridge was in sight, we managed to (somehow?) cross the finish line alive.
With a time of 18:31 we finished fastest W2 on the river! This was an amazing way to finish this great term of training with the Lightning crew; which we made the most of celebrating at BCD.... that we had been waiting for for a long time, and I think we can say we deserved it! Bring it on next term!
By Agnès de Varine
6 December 2013
Gryphens make a splash at the Fairbairn’s Cup races
It had been somewhat quiet in the Gryphens group on Facebook but suddenly a notification popped up. “Who's keen for a Gryphens entry for Fairbairn's?” This is how Gemma-Claire Ali, former NCBC captain and cox extraordinaire, got the ball rolling. The old girls had been summoned!
On the 6th of December 2013, three NCBC boats raced in the senior women’s event of the Fairbairn’s Cup, one of them filled with illustrious Gryphens. This is the first appearance of a Gryphens boat since 2009, when they demolished several old boys boats in the since abandoned Cambridge alumni regatta.
The crew line-up was a follows:
Cox: Gemma Claire-Ali (NC 2009)
Str: Sarah Faull (NC 2011)
7: Claudia Catacchio (NC 2004)
6: Chloe Squires (NC 2003)
5: Becky Scholes (NC 2002)
4: Emma Fairbrother (NC 2002)
3: Patricia Rosewell (NC 1975)
2: Katt Preston (NC 2003)
Bow: Louise Gale (NC 2009)
Being true sportswomen, we stuck to the credo that training constitutes cheating and limited ourselves to a 20-minute warm-up paddle on the morning of the race. We then set off in the first division of the day, chasing the current first boat down to the Little Bridge, a course of 4300m. Five draw strokes to race pace, casually going over at rate 30, taking no prisoners.
While perhaps not the most powerful boat on the river on that particular day, it certainly felt like a very steady and well- balanced row. There may have been some deep fuchsia faces in the boat, but the results were respectable. With a total time of 18:41.5, we were about 22 seconds slower than the first boat and 10 seconds slower than the second boat. However, we actually managed to beat some current college VIIIs such as Pembroke, Girton and Selwyn (to name just a few) as well as the Sidney Sussex alumnae crew.
Enthusiastic encouragement from the bank was provided by trusty head coach Alan Hendrick as well as honorary Gryphen M.J. Gifford, who somehow got roped into doing a bit of marshalling. At the finish line we were greeted with some revitalising mulled wine, cava and sweets.
Some of the Gryphens rowers could even be persuaded to attend Boat Club Dinner that night, which was great to see. Personally, I was particularly pleased to welcome back a Gryphen from the 1970s in the fearless and beastly Patricia Rosewell. She had some fantastic stories and plenty of leg power to offer. I hope her example will encourage many other Gryphens from previous decades to come out of the woodwork and give it a go. NCBC hopes to offer some more opportunities for alumnae rowing in the future. Keep your eyes peeled!
By Claudia Catacchio
25 January 2014
Lents crews have been set and once again NCBC are set to dominate the river Cam. We kicked of the term with City’s Head to Head, with two legs of 2km along the river. This may have been a daunting prospect for those of us who thoroughly enjoyed their Christmas Turkey but W1 were ready to start the term in style! The boathouse was buzzing when we all arrived, with W2 also racing in the same division. We managed to persuade the wonderful Hilary to come back and sub for Charlotte so we were raring to go. Our wise coaches were ready for an afternoon of cheer-leading and Nicole had a super race-plan ready. Lady G was carefully taken out and put into the over-flowing Cam. The forecast was good for the race, but we had an added incentive to row faster to avoid an incoming hailstorm. Claudia snapped a pre-race photo We had a decent row up to marshal, with the crew already setting the balance of the boat quite nicely. In the marshalling chaos we inadvertently scraped passed Cauis W1 but no matter – as long as that's the only time our boats bump this term!
After some sunbathing along the bank and some confusion about what start sequence to go for, we set off to beast our first leg. And beast it we did! With Nicole coxing us the whole way, we powered through our first kilometre at a high rate. We then punished ourselves for the last half and emptied the tanks for the first time as we passed under Newnham Bridge. After a quick break and some sweets we got ourselves prepped for the next race. Once we detangled ourselves from other boats we set off to do the other 2k. This time we were determined to settle the balance and focus on the drive. We got off to a great start and gave a spirited performance the whole way down the river. Nicole’s coxing was fabulous and her calls to each pair as we raced really got the boat moving. The second leg was harder and we dug deep to find the strength we need but we managed to complete it admirably. We finished the day off with a team bonding meal at the Fort – our post-race carb reward and never were we so motivated to do a power 10 with Nicole’s carbs and food call! After an evening’s agonising session of refreshing the City webpage, results came out and we got a total time of 16:56, having completed the first leg in 7mins25s and the second in 9:31, which put us 10th of the W1 crews. It was our first outing as W1 and we were all feeling a little bit nervous. But after such a great race we’re feeling mighty, confident and ready to train hard for Lent Bumps!
By Maire McHugh
25 January 2014
As a great way to start term we entered the Winter Head to Head, our first race as W2. Having had only two outings as a crew before and needing two subs we were slightly nervous but obviously also exited to get racing! After adjusting a couple of footplates we were ready to go.
It is fair to say that we’re not the neatest crew on the river (yet!) but we’re really strong and beasted it all the way through. So much that after the first few strokes of the first leg 5’s seat came off, resulting in a massive crab and the first couple of hundred metres being rowed in sixes. Probably not an ideal start but we recovered really well and pushed as hard as we could for the rest of the head. Thanks to Liz’ amazing coxing and a steady stroke we stayed in time got the feeling of rowing as a proper crew.
After reaching Newnham Bridge there was some waiting before the second head where we got to wish W1 good luck before they were off for their second part. Although tired we were in good spirits and ready for the last 2k. This time we got off to a nice start and pushed down hard together. Sometime during those last 2k a footplate also managed to get loose but we managed to keep it together nonetheless.
We finished with a total time of 18:07, 8:01 for the first leg and 10:07 for the second leg. With the first race as W2 done we are all looking very much forward to all the races to come this term. We’re ready for many more crew outings and are counting at smashing everybody in the following races. Practicing as much as possible so we can beast it at bumps!
The next race we race we won’t compete in since it’s the Newnham Shortcourse. With Unilever sponsoring we are super excited and are sure the whole boat club will pull off an amazing event. Go NCBC!
By Julie Jorgensen
15 March 2014
WEHoRR is a very special race for a college crew. As we prepared for it, we knew it would be the biggest race some of us would ever get involved in, and of course, we weren’t exactly planning on “winning WEHoRR”, although we did joke about it, especially since we were entered in the Elite category!
The challenge was to make sure we just killed ourselves trying to be as good as we could. I believe we did quite a good job of doing that. It did feel very good to overtake two crews fairly quickly while gaining on a third one and see that the visibly fast crew three boats behind us, despite having overtaken two crews itself, did not come close to us and even slipped back towards the end. It did also feel good that the boat did not split open and that no riggers fell in the water, because although the boat had been checked fully by (almost) experts, I personally thought dismantling a boat and putting it back together ourselves was pretty scary.
The race we were all most terrified for took place in the best imaginable conditions: the sun was shining and the water on the tideway was as flat as it gets –I must admit that I was somewhat excited for waves, but I shall not complain. We had lots of supporters considering this was an off-Cam race: Mat came to London with us especially to help us out, Hayley stayed with us all along even though her tragic pinkie injury didn’t allow her to row (Jenna kindly accepted to sub in) and we heard cheers from other boats and bridges. Even Anna Watkins -London 2012 gold medalist who noviced at Newnham- told Hayley she would ‘look out for crew 235’!
The marshalling, which took over two hours, went down much better than I thought it would, thanks to our (almost) official sponsor Jelly Babies and approximately 10 trips to the lavatories each just before pushing off. As for the race itself, I’m not sure any of us would be able to produce anything very detailed: the rowers were too busy blacking out while our delightfully aggressive and loud cox was steering a boat (which she was officially entirely responsible for) on the tideway for the first time. I will however just say that the two highlights of these painful 21:03.86 minutes were some of Nicole’s calls, when she screamed a few minutes into the race: ‘233 MOVE TO STROKESIDE’ as we were about to overtake, which gave us this extra will-power to surpass ourselves. For the last minute of the race we were motivated by her very emotional call: ‘and most importantly don’t let down the seven other people killing themselves in this boat’.
I think it’s fair to say none of us were disappointed. This race was truly amazing and I would do these painful 6.8 kilometres again anytime if I had the occasion.
By Emma Karslake
22 April 2014
A week after returning to rowing from the Easter holidays, the St Radegund Mile was a good opportunity for the crew of Lady G to take advantage of a free stretch of river for a practice piece. We had never rowed together before so we used the warm up to get a feel for the boat with a couple of practice starts as we went up to marshalling. We were the fourth boat to start so after a very short wait we were off. We started off a little rocky but picked up a good rhythm as we came onto the reach. We had aimed to do the race at a slightly lower rate as it was a scratch crew, however the boat felt really racy and the rate came up higher easily. As we came towards the finish, we held it together pretty well and did a few sets of power tens to take us to the line. After a long wait for the results, we were pleased to win both our division and fastest women of the day, bringing home pots and a trophy for Hele’s stash. Even more importantly, we gained confidence in the strength of our rowers, and identified key areas for improvement. Indications suggest we will have some speedy crews come May Bumps!
By Tamsin Samuels
22 April 2014
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Mainly the worst, because we were overtaken by Darwin WI - a most unnatural state of affairs. Needless to say, no one expected this, it took us all by surprise. Despite a promising start, those monstrous Darwin women were just too strong and managed to sneak past us on the reach. Well, I say sneak, but it was fairly obvious that they were gaining on us. We were racing on an open river after all. However, as a scratch crew (including people who hadn't rowed since last Mays - naming no names), who had not even had one outing together (who made the Rowing Week timetable anyway?), we put up a good fight and kept them off until the very end. We had a fabulous one-woman bank party in the form of Gemma, who kept our spirits up in spite of our impending doom. Gemma said the main thing was that we had a great attitude and tried our best, but everyone knows that the main thing is actually winning.
Fortunately, the Lady G boat won the highly prestigious title of fastest women's crew, and the honour of NCBC remains firmly intact. Even more importantly, St Radegund Boat Club generously provided all crew members with a free pint, so all was not lost. And if any Darwin rower is reading this, BEWARE! Revenge will be sweet!
By Alice Buckley