Race Report, Fairbairns Cup, Alumni VIII.
A.P. Custard, sometime guest editor of Kiwi, sent us this report
“All eight sitting ready, this is it guys, we’re going to do it…”
In the crisp blue sky and golden sunshine of a Cambridge winter morning, the grizzled (sorry Penny & Clare) veterans of Selwyn’s Alumni VIII wound it to 30 once more, in aid of the Boat House appeal.
Form and fitness found for the Boston Marathon and honed over three outings since, they would now be tested not just against the ravages of time and un-reliability of memory but other invitational and, most worryingly, current college crews. A rolling start from Jesus flagpole may not provoke in Boaties of any age the pavlovian, pulse-quickening reaction of hearing the Bumps’ one minute canon, but, by then, the realisation had dawned on even the most gung-ho of them that 4300m was quite a long way and might be quite hard work…
Any hope they would be an endearing novelty was not to be; there is already a growing body of other alumni crews: Black Prince (First & Third), Lord Protector (Sidney Sussex), Cross Keys (Peterhouse), Crustaceans (Christ’s), to name a few –they were a lone mixed crew in a sea (well, river) of MAMILs and EMILs (elderly men in lycra)…
Unsparingly coxed by current SCBC overall captain, Teresa Baron, who steered a fine racing line, the stern pair of youth and experience in Robin Hellen and Huw Champion, middle four of Alex Goold, Hugh Wood, Richard Ingram and immediate past SCBC captain, Nick Jones, in the ejector seat, and the bow pair of Clare Heppenstall and Penelope Jarrett, had what can only be described as a very solid, very gutsy and very committed race, from start to finish. Ably supported by the all ginger bank party of John Pritchard and Jeremy Broadis, they powered 10 for Selwyn before winding again at the P&E, powered 10 at the Railway Bridge to “seriously gun it” along the Reach, before winding again at the Plough, giving it one more power 10 for First Post Corner and leaving it all out on the water by the Motorway Bridge –luckily, they also kept going for the finish at the Little Bridge!
15th out of 16 invitational crews tells only part of the story. With a time of 17 mins 44 (avg 2.03.7) and a very strong field, (fastest men’s VIII 13 mins 49, slowest women’s VIII at 19 mins 46), they can feel justifiably proud even to be mixing it in such elite company.
“A massive well done, you really kept it together; that was so impressive…”
I’m betting they’ll be back next year.
Here is our heroes’ crew list:
Huw Champion (SE 1966)
Robin Hellen (SE 2003)
Nick Jones (SE 2015 tbc)
Clare Heppenstall (SE 1984)
Penelope Jarrett(SE 1980)
Hugh Wood (SE 1988)
John Pritchard (SE 1988)
Jeremy Broadis (SE 1988) all photo credits to you! THANKS!