Christ’s sent two crews to race at Nottingham on Saturday 11th May. Nottingham City Regatta is a British Rowing six-lane 2000 m race. The women finished fourth in their category with a time of 08:21.5 and the men finished fourth with a time of 06:49.5.
Excited for our first off-Cam race of the year after the unfortunate cancellation of WEHoRR in March, W1 braved a not-so-early morning (I set my alarm for a luxurious 06:20) and made for Nottingham. We were going to race as a IV in the bow-loader, Mary Munroe. We arrived at the Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre in glorious sunshine and calm air, a contrast to the usual challenging winds at Nottingham. After rigging our boat, we convened with our guest cox, alumnus Stephen Hubner to talk about our battle plan and get top tips from our coach Kate Hurst, who is an old hand at British Rowing races.
It is at events like these that you discover that the Rowing World is very different outside of the Cambridge bubble. We learned that it is only on the River Cam that coaches cycle along and coach their crew during a race – it is understandably seen as cheating by British Rowing; that there exists a traffic light system for the start of British Rowing races (except when a flag is used); that you can warm up in a race lane on the way to the start as long as you get out of the way of a racing boats in good time (we received a bit of a shock to see racing boats advancing on us at speed, although perhaps we should not have let them get so close to us!).
Hyped by seeing rowers from clubs from all over the UK from Cardiff to Edinburgh, we carried our boat down to the water, dodging trailers, vehicles and boats on the way. Our warm-up began slightly shakily as we adjusted to the crew and the boat – it was the first time we were rowing as this particular crew and the second time most of had rowed in the IV, Mary Munroe! Over the 2 km row towards the start, we settled into our rhythm. As we neared the start line, we backed it down towards the stakeboat to be held there until the start signal. Our competitors were Fitzwilliam W1, LMBC W1 and Becket – we hadn’t quite escaped the clutches of Cambridge rowing!
As the light turned green, we set off, winding hard to get the boat moving. We could see the other boats level with us and it stayed that way for the first 1000 m. It was not our best rowing yet we sustained a good pace for the first half of the race. However, the other crews began pulling away during the second half and in spite of a good push as our cox called the final 500 m, we never closed the gap. We finished fourth with a time of 08:21.5, perhaps not very satisfied with how we rowed but nevertheless delighted at the opportunity to race in this kind of event.
Following on from spirited performances over the last couple of weeks at the Head of the Cam and the Spring Head to Head, on the 11th May a Christ’s M1-M2 contingent continued their newfound routine of getting up early on Saturdays to compete in the Nottingham City Regatta. An exciting and novel chance at off-Cam racing for much of the crew, the representatives of the Men’s side of the club put in an enthusiastic performance with a solid time – especially given the limited opportunity to row with the allotted mixed-boat crew beforehand. Entered into the Band 2 Men’s Eight Final, we were up against Gloucester, Royal Chester, Fitzwilliam College M1 and Derby. After some friendly from assistance from the drivers of City, mercifully the unhappy death by overheating of Kate’s truck towing John Milton and the Women’s four proved no obstacle to our racing, and everything ran to schedule as we rigged on the crowded banks of the National Watersports Centre at Holme Pierrepont. Marvelling at the amount of water and the times going up on the results board for the top schools eights who were racing, the clouds cleared and tech tops were off as we pushed out onto the lake. Despite an uncertain start (in part due to the unfamiliarity of racing from a stakeboat), we soon found our rhythm and maintained it consistently for the duration of the 2K course. With Fitz, Chester and Gloucester surging ahead from the off, our battle for fourth place with Derby lasted most of the race. Matching each of their pushes, Christ’s maintained discipline and kept ahead, and with some obdurate coxing and emphatic calls from Holly finished in fourth place with a respectable time of 06:49.5. Faced with some challenging competition our result was not sensational, but given the crew a decent time, a valuable experience, and – above all – an enjoyable day racing.