The mixed double scull dream team of Vicky and Dave

Mixed double scull dream team of Vicky and Dave

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.

Dave eating
Dave ‘Fatty’ 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.

The view from 'Tall One' Vicky's eyes
The world from the Tall One’s eyes

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”.

the bearded man
‘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


Shiny new things

We’ve hired 6 shiny new ergs for Mays so all our crews can do off-water sessions together in VIIIs. The plan is to store them in the Lent room and bring them out into bays for training.

Shiny new things 🙂
Danny gives all six ergs an inaugural 2k test.
Dave sees if the stupid rowing face works on the new ergs. It does. Excellent…
All the shiny things crammed into the May room

The old ones are still the best

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.

James 'Silver Fox' Hugall
James ‘Silver Fox’ Hugall

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.

A quick pre-race snack

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…

‘W-Pro’ alumni brave the Bumps

Bow: Lizzy Johnstone (SE 2007)
2: Ellie Healey (SE 2007)
3: Moira Kelly (SE 2008)
Stroke: Emma Dalman (SE 2008)
Cox: Emily Hopkinson (SE 2008)

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.)

W-Pro trestles
Proof that the W-Pro trestles could actually hold a boat up.

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’.

Brute strength
‘Brute strength’

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.

Ethereal grace
‘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.