Following a summer of graduations and, for some, the entry into the final year of their PhD, the women’s side lost quite a few members. As such, we trained for the most part in a IV with a few additional women committing to some of the training. Given that IVs are harder to row in than VIIIs, we have benefited a lot from our training this term. We also introduced a weekday lunchtime water session where we made the most of an empty river with no queues in sight. It was a great bonus to have continuous rowing time and we enjoyed using these sessions to go out in the newly-named quad, the Finch.
We got off to a good start in Autumn Head, coming second, although we unashamedly claim that we would have come first in our category, had the weather conditions in our division been as calm as they were for the winning crew which raced earlier in the day. What is clear from W1 crew this term is our ability to set a chunky rhythm and maintain it throughout the race, even in adverse conditions. It is also apparent that our race performance is generally better than our paddling: the boat has a clear penchant for bowside at rate 19 and this is something that we will continue to work on.
We entered Uni IVs but an injury in one of our rowers meant we raced as a scratch crew, and the stiff competition against Maggie in our first race knocked us out of the semi-final.
The rest of term involved quite severe illness and injury in two members of W1, meaning that we were often rowing with one or more subs. While this made it challenging to see progress in our rowing as a crew, it gave our subs the opportunity to maintain their rowing and benefit from the instruction of our coach, Kate Hurst, who brought great insight into the boat from the bank.
Later in November, we raced in Winter Head, coming sixth in our category, with our bow girl displaying admirable determination in racing through illness, and our sub, Elisavet, announcing that she would no doubt return to full-time rowing in Lent term. Winter Head revealed that we need to be quicker in applying pressure off the front in order to maximise the drive in the water, and we need to smooth out our finishes. It also reminded us of that characteristic rowing determination and stoicism that takes us so far.
The term ended on a high with Fairbairns. Due to a clash between the race and the Christ’s Scholars Awards Ceremony, we had to race without our most constant member of the crew, Liz; a week before the race, I (Emily) sprained my feathering hand and had to switch sides for the race; our bow-girl, Alex, was suffering from a back injury which had limited her training this term; and our stroke-seat, Manaka, was emerging from illness. Nevertheless we raced the most satisfying race of term with a wonderful sub, Miriam, and finished 4th out of 14 W1 IVs. This result makes me very confident for next term when we should have more consistent training and the opportunity to build upon our rowing from week 1 through to week 8.
We started the term with enough men for two eights, with all but two from M1 and all of M2 returning from last Mays. Having 18 senior men in Michaelmas term is rare and bodes well for the future of the men’s club.
M2 made a strong start to the term. They quickly refound the determination and crew spirit that they developed together last year. This showed with a win at Autumn head early in the term. Coached by Stephen Mathew, they continued to progress through the term, even rivalling M1 in speed at our training day at Peterborough rowing lake. M2 finished the term with an impressive 6th place finish in their category at Fairbairns. The crew are well positioned for an ambitious lents campaign.
Kate Hurst returned to being M1s head coach this term. She brought a renewed technical focus to the crew, and it showed in the quality of the outings. M1 finished 3rd out of college crews and Autumn head. After losing two key athletes from last years Mays campaign, this result showed that the crew had great potential and built our confidence. We continued to improve in the run up to Fairbairns and produced some impressive 5km erg tests, with most of the crew getting PBs. Whilst the we could have attacked the middle section of the Fairbairns course more, M1 produced some of their best rowing of the term, with some of their cleanest bladework. The crew was proud of their 8th place finish.
The results of M1 and M2 highlight the potential for the men’s squad in next term’s bumps, and with a number of hungry novices looking to break into the top senior crews, I look forward to the excitement that the races will bring.
This term’s novices have been the first to learn to row at the new boathouse and benefit from sessions at the Downing Rowing Tank. This term, we had two men’s boats, one women’s boat, and one mixed boat.
The women instantly bonded as a crew and spurred each other on in their enthusiasm. They clearly enjoyed coming to the boathouse and getting out onto the water. There was high standard among them, which their coach, Tara Slade, was able to build upon. The only thing that seemed to hold them back was a significant power imbalance between bow side and stroke side, which made steering incredibly challenging for their cox, Will. However, Will coped well with the steering and demonstrated ever-growing confidence in his calls.
Although fewer than usual, the men are committed and keen to continue. They demonstrated consistent development throughout the term and achieved great results in Fairbairns. The men’s novice coxes proved to be very competent and developed more and more initiative as term progressed. NM1 came 12th in Fairbairns, while NM2 was the 2nd fastest NM2 crew, even beating our NM1.
With our training camp in Aiguebelette fast approaching, we look forward to seeing our rowers make vast improvements and develop into true senior rowers.