In August, a brave group of intrepid alumni ventured to foreign waters to take part in Peterborough regatta. This was a 4-lane, side-by-side race over 500m. We had originally entered 5 boats, but sadly the regatta was over-subscribed and our mixed events were canceled. Nonetheless, everyone (except Harry ‘I’ll only row if there are women’ Robinson) got to row – in a women’s IV+, men’s IV+ and men’s plus Lizzy VIII+.
The most experienced explorers were there a night early for a camp-out and practice paddle. One of our group was tragically stranded on the German autobahn, and another two delayed ’til the morn by the complex workings of the eastern railways network. Though we were obviously devastated, it was perhaps a good thing that we didn’t have to fit 4 into Chris’s misleadingly named ‘4 man’ tent.
Once we had set up tent, we were straight out in the mixed IV+ for some serious training. Lizzy ‘4 points’ Johnstone insisted that she was the best choice for stroke, backed up by Chris ‘Casanova’ Cottingham, Chris ‘ARA member’ Vaquero, Harry ‘I’ll only row if there are women in the boat’ Robinson, and coxed by Emily ‘which way is it’ Hopkinson. Accompanied by tribal beats from the bank, we wound it up to 42 and quickly settled to 26. Several attempts and a mutiny later, we replaced the settle with a push and tricked Lizzy into maintaining a reasonable rate. Satisfied with our start, we headed back to dry land to be reunited with Emma ‘cowgirl’ Dalman and Peter ‘Putney’ Jones.
One terrifying car journey later, we were equipped with barbecues, burgers and buns.* Rigger jiggers and adjustable spanners proved ideal cooking utensils, and we only had one complaint from fellow campers about creating too much smoke. (At the time we blamed Asda’s cheapo barbecues, but looking back at the pictures it may have had something to do with the high charcoal content of our culinary delights.)
As an ideal end to the evening, Pete turned recruiter and got Super Sub Clemmie from Putney to replace Autobahn Moira in the women’s IV+. As a less ideal continuation of the evening, we were woken up at 2am by someone called Robbie weeing on our tents.
Our first race kicked off at 9.20am. The men’s IV+ was made up of Chris and Chris, joined by ‘Little Dave’ Barton, ‘Big Dave’ Lambert, and Will ‘thank god he’s not called Chris or Dave’ McDermott. To the shock of the crowds (and not least to me, who had told Nines that we’d only need to borrow their boat once), we achieved a comfortable victory. Chris and Chris looked wistfully at the 30 pints they’d bought the night before, working out they’d never sober up in time to drive home after the semi finals.
W-Pro was the second boat to race. Lizzy, Emma and Emily were joined by Super Sub Clemmie and Ellie ‘I hope she knows how good we are’ Healey. Discounting the boat that came first, we won our heat and got through to the reparchage.
Unfortunately, W-Pro had not had the foresight to ask Super Sub Clemmie if she was free for round 2. It turned out she might be in different race ten minutes later and so we went on the hunt for a reserve sub. Super Sub Stina from Clare agreed to be on stand-by. We were delighted to see that both our Super Subs got through to the singles reparchage as this would be an excellent test of their abilities. However, reality soon struck – this was the race that was ten minutes after our own. Eventually we found a reserve reserve sub in the form of Super Sub Julia from FaT and had some cake to celebrate.
By this time, it was the turn of AluminVIII. The Men’s IV were joined by Donal ‘alumni’ Gorman, Lizzy ‘4 points’ Johnstone, and the fashionably late Nick ‘Gucci’ Jones and Ali ‘Prada’ Philpott. Approaching the start line we noticed some of the other crews also had “men” in their two seats, but as ‘4 points’ Johnstone significantly out-gunned them in the bicep department we were feeling pretty confident (shush, I know she also out-gunned the rest of our crew). The heat was again successful, with AluminVIII coming home 2nd and qualifying for the final. She does have 4 points you know.
Despite legs now starting to ache quite badly and desire for burgers and ice cream overcoming any real will to win, the men’s IV rather stupidly came first in the semi-final, qualifying fastest for the final later in the afternoon. Chris ‘ARA membership’ Vaquero and Chris ‘Casanova’ Cottingham now had to accept that the only remaining use for their 30 beers was as a seat in wait of the next race.
W-Pro’s second race was less splashy and on the whole felt a lot more elite. We however came ‘4th of 4’. Looking at the finish times we were shocked to find out that the other crews had not got inexplicably faster, and despite being more elite, we were actually slower second time round. Though slightly disheartened that it was probably just Super Sub Clemmie dragging us down the course for our first race, we quickly consoled ourselves with smoothies, ice-creams and the happy thought that we’d no longer have to stay for the 6pm final.
Whether a sign of old age or a sign that I should have really written this race report a lot earlier, at this point my memory gets rather blurry. Both AluminVIII and the men’s IV came within a canvas of the winning spot in their finals to finish in a safe second place. On reflection, it was very thoughtful of them to hold back at the end and avoid picking up points so that we could all enter again next year. After all, I’m not sure the world could cope with a Lizzy ‘5 points’ Johnstone!
Please do get in touch if you’d like to take part in the next alumni race. We’re hoping to do something on cam – perhaps Pembroke regatta or City Sprints. Maybe we could pick up some shiny shiny things to drink our beers from afterwards next time. Email Emily on email@example.com.
*Top tip: DO NOT get in a car with Chris Vaquero. Unless you think it’s ok to drive at 40 round a supermarket car park.
After a very difficult spinning maneuver in the Gut (with neither Marshalls nor cox seeming to realise the actual length of an VIII) W1 began Champs Head with a really strong start outside the Plough.
Our transition to rhythm was really solid as practiced and the crew held speed right round Ditton corner.
(no results on the best starts / best line round Ditton yet- always living in hope!)
The reach wasn’t anything bad, even in the wind the catches were going in and the pressure was there all the way through, but we just didn’t manage to take any real length out of Catz who started a minute ahead. Coming towards the Railway Bridge we hit a calm patch and really started to move, pushing every stroke to the finish.
With a time of 6:10 over the 1450m course our result wasn’t what we’d hoped for – but we now know that it’s aggression which is going to get us moving and taking the advantage of everything! An important lesson learnt.
***UPDATE – so, it turns out that we did end up with the best judged line overall around Ditton corner!!! Hope paying off!****
M1 4+, winners of IM3 4+ in 3:26 at Peterborough Regatta (note Will’s t-shirt…very accurate :))
M1 headed up to Peterborough last weekend to race in the 1k sprint regatta. We took an eight, four and pair to race in IM3 and I ended up subbing in for a Rob Roy novice double too.
Arriving just in time to bundle out of the van, rig up and jump on the water, the first race of the day in the eight perhaps didn’t go so well. With Churchill in our heat we thought we could lay down a marker, having set some pretty quick times over the course in training. However, for one reason or another we ended up rowing very short and sloppily as we settled out of the start and while we were level for the first 500m, they finished 3/4 length up. Still, that was just the heat and the final was yet to come.
In between the eight and the four a bit of inter-club swapping happened. Dave B-R subbed into the Churchill 4+ as one of their guys felt a bit off and I subbed into a Rob Roy double scull (my first sculling race since I parked on Grassy with Vicky!). As it was, the Churchill 4+ qualified for their final and in our race we moved easily away from the field to paddle home at rate 24. I was terrified that I’d cause the junior to lose a race he should easily win. Apparently, he was chuffed he didn’t come last!
The next Selwyn boat to race was the four. Lining up on the start line with a few technical problems (the seats jammed at 3/4 slide because the sliders were worn down) and having fumed and cursed our way to the start line we imagined we were about to get eaten in the heat. So it was surprising when twenty strokes into the race we had clear water! Rowing at 3/4 slide we held onto our lead despite a good push from Milton Keynes at the finish. We qualified fastest in 3:32 and with some quick repairs to Richard Budgett, felt confident about the final.
Meanwhile, the pair had gone out for a paddle of the main river to get used to rowing together. Unfortunately, Nick and Nigel found the pair difficult to steer straight due to the setup, and despite efforts to change it, we couldn’t get it just right. Perhaps Nick should have steered, given his fantastic efforts at the wheel of the CUSU minivan, and his natural homing beacon towards the nearest McDonald’s drive-through. In the heat the pair got away well but as expected, drifted across lanes and so wound it down to not affect the race.
Next up, Dave BR in the Churchill 4+ came third in the Novice 4+ finals. I can’t remember much of the race details. We’ll have to get him to debrief us on their tactics and capabilities before bumps!
Now, the big one…the IM3 8+ final. Well, its tough to know what happened really. We rowed up to the start with much more confidence than the heat, but the start was sloppy and we were down very quickly. Leicester and Churchill, two crews we were expecting to beat, got ahead and stayed ahead, as we came in a length down on Churchill. Congratulations to them, but we didn’t have time to moan. We had to jump straight into Budgett for the 4+ final.
Rowing down to the start line we had to get back into the underdog mentality that had worked in the heat – hard when you qualified quickest. Off the start we got another good getaway, striding to a long, punchy rhythm at 34. But we weren’t alone, De Montfort Leicester got away quicker and were 1/4 length up on us. Each push we did was matched and as it came to 750m it looked over. But Will screamed at us to finish it properly and in the following 200m we took a length out of them, finishing confidently ahead in 3:26. It was a great race and a good boost after the eight.
My final race in the double almost resulted in an unlikely win! The double from Deben RC appeared to have actually met each other before the race (surely unfair?) and sculled very well. This didn’t stop us taking a length lead into the 500m mark but as the mistakes started to creep in given my inexperience in a sculling boat they moved through us, winning by a length. Still, second place was not too shabby for a first row together and I think Callum was pleasantly surprised.
Overall it was a fantastic day of racing, and a good preparation for bumps. Short, sharp 1k pieces, and the amount of times you get to line up on that stake boat (six in total!) are great for confidence and experience before bumps. I’ve definitely felt the difference in the last couple of outings since. We’re now back with our full crew in the eight having had a couple of subs because of exams. Time to fine tune the little details before next week!
Hopefully Danny will give us a little piece on his racing at Met Regatta on Saturday and Sunday for the Dev squad, where he won the IM3 8+ in a very impressive field.
Peterborough also run a summer regatta in August, to which it would be great to get an alumni boat to. We could hop on the nines trailer on the Saturday, have a practice outing, camp overnight, then race on the Sunday. Its only 500m too so don’t worry if the legs aren’t quite what they were! Get in touch with the committee, or on the Facebook page if you’re interested in doing this!
At this year’s small boats regatta Selwyn entered with considerable force, with Lizzy “Guns” Johnstone in the single, and Danny and Tom “stern pair”/ “get a room”/ “does my bum look big in this” in the pair. Most importantly though, in the premier event of Lowe mixed double sculls, were the dream-team of Vicky “Blue Boat/Tall One/Burp-a-saur” Shaw and Dave “Fatty/Ergs don’t float/Back in my day” Barton.
With incredible skill and tenacity the mixed double scull dream team of Vicky and Dave (who we will now refer to as mdsdtovad) managed to enter the competition. Having never been in a double before (Vicky having never sculled, Dave never raced) it was clear some training was in order. However, given how hard training is mdsdtovad came up with a better idea in true sporting fashion. Deftly and gracefully we attempted to re-arrange the draw so that we would win the competition without ever getting into the boat. However, the guard dogs at CUCBC were too tenacious, and the foes in our division too numerous to be avoidable so we got to work.
Vicky went to the mysterious land of the eels, where she met JC, who imparted upon her the knowledge of feathering with both hands. Meanwhile in Cambridge, Dave went in search of the mysterious “bearded man”, who, rumour had it, could make doubles go faster than could be understood by the laws of physics*. A revolutionary, a wreck, he was found behind a bar, drinking his past glories away in a misery of sorrow. He had but one hint to impart: “to get round the corners, ease off on one side”. With that, he faded into thin air**.
And then the training began. It was clear that mdsdtovad had acquired such skill and capability in the three of four sessions of practice that nothing could stand in its way – apart from corners. Our start was so fast that at one point the river waters evaporated, forming a spirit that resembled the bearded man who proclaimed: “yeah, it looks alright”.
Our speed was to be our undoing. You see, so fast was the boat travelling that a space-time well collapsed the river’s corners into mere fractions of their normal size. Parking on the outside of Grassy corner to admire the flora and fauna turned out to be a silly idea and mdsdtovad lost the first round race by a few seconds. It was a shame indeed, but great fun in the end. Maybe mdsdtovad will return in the future, but for now… so long…
*Message board physics: Max speed = [speed of light]/[erg time*MattOfactor*water viscosity^(number of blues/(lock opening times*wind velocity))] ~ 3 m/s
**or collapsed under the table
Bow: Benedict ‘Comrade’ Gliniecki (SE 2009)
2: Sebastian ‘Spoons’ Palmer (SE 2007)
3: Richard ‘Chorizo’ Cartwright (SE 2009)
4: Christian ‘Shorts’ Vaquero-Stainer (SE 2009)
5: David ‘Flag Dave’ Lambert (SE 2009)
6: James ‘Textbook Boatie’ Robinson (SE 2008)
7: James ‘Silver Fox’ Hugall (SE 2008)
Stroke: Joshua ‘Museum Piece’ Pugh-Ginn (SE 2007)
Cox: Emily ‘Steering for the Bump’ Hopkinson (SE 2008)
Selwyn College Boat Club has, over the course of its 130 year history, produced many fine rowers who have gone on to great things in the sport. It has also produced the nine individuals who gathered from the farthest flung corners of the South-East to race in the alumni division of City Sprints.
It was a fine sunny afternoon when we gathered at the familiar edifice that is the Combined Boathouse. A motley collection of recent graduates and recent retirees from the rowing scene, we certainly had pedigree: 28 sets of Lents and Mays colours between us, and almost as many sets of spoons too. What could a crew of such calibre not achieve with a whole afternoon of training under their belt?
While the rest of us waited for Richard ‘Chorizo’ Cartwright (SE 2010) to finish his daily 2k, we spoke to Captain Matthias about which boat we should use. Offers to M1 of sparring (either with boats or fists) to decide which of us should get Eivind were sadly declined, and we made do with Laurie. We placed the sleek hull in the insalubrious waters of the Cam and then were faced with deciding the crew order. Miraculously, we discovered our crew consisted of four bowsiders, four strokesiders and a cox: from there it was simple. Emily ‘Steering for Bump’ Hopkinson (SE 2008) at the helm was reunited with her stern pair from M2 Mays 2009, Joshua ‘Museum Piece’ Pugh Ginn (SE 2007) and James ‘Silver Fox’ Hugall (SE 2008). Our intrepid and erstwhile captain, James ‘Textbook Boatie’ Robinson (SE 2008) took the six-seat, while David ‘Flag Dave’ Lambert, Christian ‘Shorts’ Vaquero-Stainer (both SE 2009) and Richard ‘Climbing?’ Cartwright comprised the rest of the powerhouse middle four. Bow pair saw Sebastian ‘Spoons’ Palmer (SE 2007) and Benedict ‘Comrade’ Gliniecki (SE 2009) return to their familiar seats.
A quick weigh-in session followed, which proved our decision not to enter the lightweight category the correct one. Thence, to the river, where a long intensive training session had been planned and cleared with CUCBC, ahead of our race at 6pm. In the event, after rowing to the P&E, stern pair voted against the rate pyramid and 6 x 1k pieces in favour of just practising a few starts. This we proceeded to do, with not entirely unpleasant results. True, seven sounded faintly asthmatic and our Captain kept shouting to relax the draw strokes (prompting Emily to demonstrate the coxing prowess that got her so far with CUL: “Do it more less rushed”), but we all agreed the rowing wasn’t as bad as we expected: we could wind to 47 quite happily and seemed to settle well on about 35.
We decided that actually doing 400m at race pace was probably a good idea (seven was dismayed to discover that our previous starts hadn’t got us that far). On spinning at the top of the Reach though, we discovered three Clare VIIIs in our way and, learning that they were about to piece, we decided to join in for a ‘bump or bridge’ piece, confidently anticipating the former. Our start gained us some ground on the hindmost Clare VIII, but we failed to capitalise from there and it was with some relief that we reached the bridge before anyone collapsed or pulled something.
We returned to the boathouse for refreshments and to collect the race numbers, confidently asserting that we had just held Clare M1 in a piece, until the Clare VIIIs rowed past and we saw the weedy oarsmen in the wooden VIII that we had raced behind. Chris was the first to realise what had happened: Clare had obviously swapped their crews around entirely at the P&E to save their embarrassment. While this prompted further discussion, including on the aerodynamics of afros, the two Jameses returned, one with the race numbers and doughnuts for later, the other with a satisfied grin, which we later discovered was due to a quick pre-race burger. At least they negotiated the cycle to and from City Boat House safely: Seb, popping home to stock up on performance energy gels, returned with a rather nasty cut on his palm from trying to dodge a parked car. Luckily it was his outside hand, and in any case, us old timers are made of sterner stuff than the current lot, so after the application of some antiseptic and the removal of some tarmac, he was good to row.
Thoughts now turned to our opponents, Magdalene Alumni: we confidently predicted that if they dated from an era when Magdalene were any good, they would also have to be pretty old. As we rowed down to marshal for our race, the centrepiece of the entire day’s racing, we got our first glimpse of our foe. They were doing pause-paddling. Our hearts dropped. Even James H’s optimism couldn’t come to our aid: on pointing out that their four-man looked quite old, Emily pointed out that Magdalene were probably saying the same of him. As we manoeuvred into position on the stake boats, we all mentally prepared ourselves for the coming contest. Our start was solid (though our draw strokes could have been calmer) and we used our lead into the corner to push off Magdalene, who had the advantage of the bend: there wasn’t much of a settle in evidence. The roar of the crowd spurred us on. Coming to the end of the corner, we still had a lead, Emily sitting level with their five man. She called for a push, but this was not a crew to leave anything in the tank for that sort of thing. Magdalene perhaps were, and crept back at us, drawing level and pushing a few seats ahead as we went over the line.
It was an honourable loss, and when we eventually regained our breath we gave Magdalene three cheers (theirs was worryingly soon after they crossed the line – had they perhaps been training?). James H later admitted to having a mini-stroke (the cardiac type, not an confession of inadequacy in the boat). We rowed home with heads held high, blisters forming and lungs burning: we may not have won the pots we so coveted, but there’s always Champs Head next weekend? Who knows, with a bit of training…
A boat of recent alumni and hangers-on faced the treacherous waters of the Isis on Saturday to represent the mighty Selwyn in Oxford City bumps. Only the keenest of the keen need apply for an entire bumps week in a single day, with our IV+ including women’s captains from 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, and Tom Page award winner 2011.
We managed to scrounge a boat from ex-Henley Fund Liaison Officer ‘Big Matt’, who’s now the president of Christ Church Boat Club, and were lucky enough to have bank party support from die-hard Selwyn fan James Robinson and (less die-hard Selwyn fan) Emma’s boyfriend Nick (from Robinson).
Preparation for our bumps campaign largely* consisted of making some trestles to leave the boat on between races. This was a major achievement in itself as a) they worked, and b) they had ‘Selwyn W-Pro, Oxford Bumps 2013’ printed on the side. (They did say ‘Oxford Bumps 2012’ until James helpfully pointed out that was the wrong year.)
We expected to start at the foot of the river, but from the start order it appeared that several of the other crews had asked to be put lower down, and we somehow ended up going off sixth in the first division.
Part One – The practice round – Down 3
As with board games, we figure the first bumps race is a ‘practice’ for the real thing. We pushed off from Christ Church and had a 1k paddle up to the start to get used to the boat – and to each other (after 2 years apart!). It wasn’t as bad as might be expected, but felt pretty nervous, with Moira saying ‘normally I’m worried we’ll get bumped, but right now I’m worried we’ll fall in’.
We lined up at the start and got ready to go. As the klaxon went off we tentatively broke into our ‘start’ and were promptly bumped by City of Oxford behind. With torpids rules, only the bumping crew gets to stop, and we had to carry on to row the course out. So we were bumped again. And again. But as the race went on, we started to gel as a crew and, more confident, pushed into the boat in front. Over the last 500 metres we reeled in Oxford Academicals (who had themselves already been bumped twice), bringing them from 4 lengths to a canvas at the finish.
Part Two – Brute strength and Ethereal grace – Up 2
The slight fear that my up 15 bumps record would be annihilated in a single day was quickly overcome by the thought of racing once more for the mighty Selwyn College Boat Club. We pulled into Oxford City boathouse and were reunited with our homemade ‘Selwyn W-Pro, Oxford Bumps 2013’ trestles. Uplifted, Ellie came up with a new aim for the day – to row with ‘Brute strength and Ethereal grace’.
This was all the motivation we needed, and the second race was much better. We pushed off the start with at least some degree of brute strength and settled into a more comfortable race rhythm. We out-graced University College behind and were quickly outside station and free to focus on the crew in front. Again we were chasing down Oxford Academicals, the three boats immediately in front having bumped out within the first 600 metres. We reeled them in over the course of the race, but catching up on four stations proved a little too much, and we eventually finished with about a length and a half between us.
We were feeling confident into our third race, as we had Oxford Academicals immediately in front, and were being chased by University, the crew that had been a long way off us the race before. Even with our somewhat ropey start we were moving in on the bump rapidly. A lift off Donnington Bridge finished it off within the first 200 metres, sadly not leaving us quite enough time to demonstrate true brute strength and ethereal grace. Nonetheless, we pulled in conveniently close to Oxford City boathouse to enjoy an extended cake-break before our final race.
The plan for the final race was to row over and try and keep up with the boats that had bumped us earlier in the day (to see how much we had improved!). On the start line however, we realised that the boat in front, Lincoln College, wasn’t actually one of the ones that bumped us. We had hope for another win, and were fired up when we heard ahead ‘we can’t get got by the Tabs’. It was another quick one, and we got GDBO around ten strokes on from Donnington Bridge. Despite the brevity, rumour has it we still managed to squeeze in some signature brute strength and ethereal grace.
All in all it was a great day. It was brilliant to catch up with everyone, and we were pretty chuffed to finish 7th on the river. Oxford bumps is one of the best organised and chilled-out races I’ve been to, so if you’re around in Oxford next April, why not try to boost Selwyn W-Pro further up the leaderboard, or perhaps get Selwyn M-Pro in the running.
*Largely = entirely, except for Emma’s carb-loading on a Burger King Big Whopper meal the night before.