After Tideway we turned our concentration to strengthening and expanding our squad. Four new rowers did our Learn to Row sessions with two following on to join our main squad outings. In April we run our annual coxing school outings where all our squad are encouraged to give coxing a go which has expanded our pool of coxes. And as the Spring Head races and regatta started some of our more Novice rowers had the opportunity to race with our more experienced rowers in the Radegund Mile and Champs head to give them good quality race experience. Our first crew supported by the rest of the squad won the Women’s Novice VIII in the Spring Head to Head and Champs Head some winning their first On-Cam pots. It was pleasing to have two VIIIs enter the City Sprints and for many of the second crew it was their first regatta. The first crew won their heat and semi-final but missed out on winning by a canvas to Champs Junior Girls in the final. At the Nines Spring regatta a crew representing the whole squad won their heat and went straight through to the Final against the Cantabs IM3 Dev Squad this time missing out by half a length but a very pleasing result given the mixed experience of the crew.
The Off-Cam crew started training for the National Masters and the Peterborough Regatta. Unfortunately we didn’t secure a place at The National Masters as the event was over-subscribed.
On the Saturday we raced on the Women’s Novice VIII. We won our heat confidently and so secured a place in the final. In the final we were up against Warwick Uni, 99s and City. The times in the heat had between within a couple of seconds so we thought we were in with a chance. However, in the final Warwick Uni got it together and won. We came second ahead of 99s and City so a good result although mixed with disappointment of missing out on the elusive Novice pot.
On Sunday we entered a Women’s Novice IV . There was a large field of 10 other crews from all over the country so we had no idea how we’d do. We won our heat and were 11 seconds faster than all the other crews so we entered the final with nervous expectation. It was good solid row and we led the field from the beginning and finished comfortable winners 8 seconds ahead of our nearest rivals 99s. Winning our Novice pots and two points due to the size of the entry.
So as we turn our attention to Bumps Chesterton Women enter the dark and scary world of IM3…
We went to Peterborough Spring Regatta. You may talk of your "Met" or your "Henley" but for us, Peterborough is the Big Time. Adding spice to the mix this year, our ladies were an VIII on the first day and a IV on the second, whilst we men had an VIII in the second day and two renegades rowing with City on the Saturday.
Dun good. They put a spirited performance on the Saturday, winning their heat (beating Nines, City and U Coll London) but coming second to Warwick U in the final.
More excitingly, on the Sunday they won their heat easily, and put in clearly the fastest time; the final was no different and they won by 8 seconds over their nearest rivals, Nines. Since it was a large field, they even got two points apiece for this feat and the long dearth of points in the ladies club is now over. The only rather minor irritation was that, had they entered the Saturday VIII, they'd have likely won that too.
Here's most of us, relaxing on the Saturday:
Its a hard life at regattas: 5% wild excitement mixed with 95% relaxation. Fortunately the weather was kind.
Well, we were heroic, obviously. On Saturday Paul Holland and I (responding to an anguished mid-week email from Tom) joined the Nahorski City boyz for an IM3 VIII. We got there bright and early - 8 - towing our trailer and ready for a paddle on the Nene to settle us into the crew. Which was just as well; they're big and powerful but perhaps a fraction rougher, or perhaps just different, to our style; and anyway its ages since I've not stroked a boat; so we settled.
For the race, we came second in our heat our heat in 3:13.4, a fairly comfortable 3 seconds ahead of number 3, one of the Putney eights. The semi, alas, did not go so well: we dropped down to 3:16 and came third to Broxbourne (3:05, the winners) and Warwick U (3:12). And we'd have come fifth in the final, had we got into it.
Here we are with them. I'm rubbish at faces and names, but I think Nahorski is on the right. Strangely, this pic makes us look smaller than them; how odd.
Started well: we beat De Monfort, Champs and a Putney crew to win our heat in 3:15, thus avoiding the Rep, and giving us nothing to do except lounge around in the sunshine all day, which was not burdensome, and watching the ladies, which was fun.
Some of us had come well prepared for lounging:
But I'll spare you the Great White Whale. Alas, the final was not to be ours: indeed, we came last in 3:17. Such is life. We consoled ourselves with the thought that we'd get better and come back for the Summer Regatta.
Oh, and who were we? Me / Ian / Andy S / Chris W / Paul H / Dave R / Will W / Dave I; ably coxed by Mr Tidy.
Congratulations to Caius men (8:49), who have now won for five years in a row; and to Downing women (10:59).
And congratulations to all other winners; if you weren't around for the prizegiving (shame!) please contact me to arrange collection.
We apologise for not having the HoC shield available on the day; this was due to a foul-up. In compensation, we / the CRA will be arranging to get the recent winners added to the engraving.
I should also extend my thanks to various other folk, apart from the competitors, without whom the regatta could not have been held:
* our Umpires, Bill Keys, Eric Smith and Jess Upton,
* all the fine marshalls, start and finish timers from our club,
* and the backroom staff.
The regatta was inspected by Andrew Tayler from the Eastern Region Umpiring Committee (ERUC) to check that all was running well. This was pleasingly unbureaucratic, and Andrew was very happy with the running of the regatta.
This year, we did not neglect the fine tradition of having at least one mismatch between the crews that started, and the ones that finished. This year, it was Darwin M2 / Robinson M2: according to our sheets, Robinson had finished but not started, whereas Darwin had started but not finished (you wouldn't believe how long it took to link those two). Then we realised that they have similarish blades, if you squint, and finally we realised that Robinson M2 hadn't rowed; so that all fitted.
A new "dispute" arose, but quietly, of the issue of whether some college M/W2 crews were really M/W1, or at least had some rowers from their higher crews; especially when the higher crew wasn't rowing, or had scratched late. As a townie - and more especially as a townie running the race from Queens' boathouse where I don't see any of the crews - I really can't tell. We rely on an honour system for people entering the right category. I did - afterwards - wonder if I should enforce a "bumping up" rule: if your first crew doesn't enter, then your second crew gets to be your first crew. it would happen in bumps. But I don't really think this would be fair either. The issue gets discussed on the Cambridge rowing messageboards.
Bill Keys inspected some of the crews for safety: items such as heel restraints. most were fine; some were not. Please make sure your heel restraints are in order! If you won't do it for the life-saving effects in the unlikely event of a capsize, do it to save yourself trouble during regattas.
I haven't actually looked carefully, but entries were down on last year. Total rowing seats was 709, compared to 830 last year. I think we had more from the Town, but many fewer from Gown - I suspect the timing interacted even more badly with the Easter holidays than it usually does. Anyone with any brilliant ideas on how to fix this (other than moving the event, which is not in my gift) do please let me know. My feeling is that mailing out to the colleges at the end of Lents is mostly a waste of time - no-one is organised enough at that point to think of their entries for next term, understandably.
Just for once, no-one really complained about the start order. But I have to admit that the system of asking for predicted times is not workable. Some people manage to submit beliveable times, but far too many don't. What I ended up doing was to award M1's 1 point; M2's 4 points; M3 and belows 7 points. And then good-quality town clubs got 2 points, and I could also adjust colleges for good/bad. And then I added the women at a suitable delta from the men. This worked pretty well, and I think would be more workable as a guess-your-class type system.
We had two goals for Winter training; The Winter League (three head races held on the Cam in January, February and March) and WEHoRR.
Our land training had consisted of weekly strength sessions at Core Cambridge, a usually gruesome Erg plus a water session often coached by Andrea Bosnyak. We’d been blessed with a mild winter so few outings had been cancelled and unlike the rest of the country not too much in the way of flooding.
After the first leg of the Winter League we were in joint first place in our Novice Women’s Eight category so we were game on! After the second leg we pulled away from the nearest opposition by 10 seconds so just had to keep it together for the third leg. Luckily we were placed just behind the Champs Vet Men who we were able to hunt down in the second and third races and they really helped give us something to aim for which helped our times. The second and third legs were slower on paper due to strong stream and head winds but overall we progressed up the field going from 101st up to 63rd and finishing as the ninth fastest women’s eight and Winner’s of the Novice Women’s Eight category.
With heavy persistent rain over most of the south part of the country all Winter there was a question mark over whether the race would go ahead or not. The Port of London issued a river flag system and this was Red (meaning no rowing on the Thames) due to the strong flow in the weeks leading up to WEHoRR. A week or so before this the flag changed to yellow but there was still uncertainty as to whether Novice crews would be able to enter. A final decision was made two days before the race, Novice crews could enter but had to prove there suitability and that their cox had Tideway experience. Our lovely cox Alison although incredibly experienced had only coxed Tideway once and not being able to assess the conditions herself took advise and made the decision that she didn’t feel she had the experience to cox the race in the unprecedented strong stream. This was a massive blow but fortunately James T the Men’s cox who has coxed Tideway many times before stepped into save the day.
2014 turned out to be an epic race, the fast flow and quick NW wind helped the course records to tumble. We were racing alongside Olympians (Katherine Grainer, Helen Glover, Heather Stanning and Anna Watkins). We boated from beautiful Furnival gardens under the cherry-blossom trees and were blessed with blue skies and calm conditions. We started hard and kept the rate (32/33) and splits (sub 2:00) seemingly consistently throughout the race. Lea overtook us in the first third of the race and there a bit of clashing of blades as we jostled for the steam. As we came under Hammersmith bridge the massive cheer from our bank party spurred us on to overtake the crew in front. The long ergs paid dividends as we slowly took each seat until James was on their bow and we had clear water. The finish didn’t come a moment too soon we’d given it our all.
We came 154th out of 239 (a reduced entry due to the conditions) and 4th out of the 13 in the Novice Club category in a time of 21:17.7. Our best result by some margin. Last year we’d finished 247th in a time of 22:20. Even more satisfying was that we were faster than three of our Cambridge rivals all of whom were IM3 crews.
A fantastic result to the end of a good seasons training.
Course of 2,600m upstream on the river Cam. 4 divisions, VIII's, IV's, smaller boats. BR, CRA, College classes.
NOTE: the "works" on the bank by the finish are over, and we are planning to run the race over the full course.
Deadline for entries: Tuesday, April the 22nd. This is now in the past, and therefore entries are CLOSED unless you're desperate.
The FINAL draw is now available. Please address questions or comments to the usual email. Note that most of the VIII's need to be grouped together.
Prizes of tastefully engraved shot glasses for category winners. Winners will be announced and prizes handed out at 4 pm at Queens' Boathouse.
Enquiries and entries: please contact the Race Secretary, William Connolley, at firstname.lastname@example.org / 07985 935400.
For entries, please state your crew details:
* club, boat type (VIII, 4+, 4-, 4x, 2, 2x, 1x, etc),
* crew status (CRA / BR / College 1st Mays, 2nd, etc.),
* preferred division,
* and any constraints with crews in other divisions.
There are 4 divisions, times:
It would be greatly appreciated if you would provide an estimate of your expected time, to be used for seeding purposes. If you don't provide one, I'll guess. Please attempt to be accurate rather than optimistic or pessimistic. An accurate estimate is most important for crews hoping to race without overtaking or being overtaking, either of which can slow you down. If you've got no idea of your time (new crew, visiting crew, whatever) then don't worry.
Divisions tend to fill up for the VIII's, for which we have a rough limit of 25 per division. But (within reason) we can accommodate as many sculls and small boats as you like.
Entry: £7.00 per rowing seat. Cheques, payable to CRA, should be sent to W M Connolley, 28 Silverdale Avenue, Coton, CB23 7PP (or direct transfer, details on request). Put your crew name(s) clearly on the back or on an enclosure.
Race control is at Queens boathouse, upstairs. We're open from 7:45 for numbers.
To help marshalling and ensure a prompt start, it will help if the VIII's can make some attempt to come up the reach in reverse order.
The overtaking rule is, as is previous years, "cede the racing line to the faster crew".
The start marshall will endeavour to be flexible about the start order, particularly at the tail of the divisions, either at crews requests or as seems suitable to them.
Entry deadline: everyone wants to know what the entry deadline is, so that they can submit their entry 5 minutes before it, or more likely a day afterwards. Don't make me come and kill you. The deadline is the Tuesday before the race, or thereabouts, but I'll do my best to fit you in.
The course is 2,600 m. Click on the map for a larger version, or explore via google maps.
Visiting crews: boating facilities are available at various places along the Cam; you may be able to make arrangements with local clubs. Failing that, facilities are available from Combined Boathouse, by prior agreement. Please get in touch with me by email.
Um well there you go. Superheroes all. My vote for best fancy dress went to Dr Manhattan, who bent over to show us that he'd drawn a tiny arsehole in the right place. The giant cock he'd drawn on the front was easy to see. However the true winner - as decided by official judge Luca - was Jon for his hand-stitched Superman costume.