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Christmas Head

Saturday 8th December

Previous event: Fairbairns

Mixed XVI A

Bow: Dylan Braithwaite/Alistair Brown, 2: Lottie Thompson/Matt Simpson, 3: Ross Buckingham/Lucrezia Baldo, 4: Arya Theivendram/Akhil Shah, 5: Thomas EspĂ„s/Freddie Bird, 6: Tom Hilbourne/Abbie Currington, 7: Nick Bossons/Ellie Cross, Stroke: Jamie Fox/Bethany Mason, Cox: Tom Quarrell/Clement Chan

Winner (by default) of 16++ category

Clement Chan reports:

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In time-honoured tradition, Clare boat club gathers on a cold December morning for the highlight of the Michaelmas season: 16++ aka La Bomba. Under the diligent supervision of Gripper and serenaded by the umpteenth iteration of Mariah Carey, we marshalled all our manual dexterity and put together two boats. We even managed to improve upon previous generations by not only tying two boats together but also finding a way to keep them a set distance apart. The row up to marshalling was relatively uneventful with the only highlights being a broken footplate and a slightly loose connecting plank, both of which were repaired in short order with screwdrivers and copious amounts of tape. At marshalling, the crew was kept entertained with a selection of obscure Christmas songs, expertly DJ'ed by me, as well as a few close encounters with an assortment of singles and doubles. The excitement of the race, and perhaps a little bit too much pre-race drinks, started to get the better of one (or maybe more) rower, so I'm sure we're all quite glad when marshalling was over and the race finally started.

We set off at a blistering rate of 29 strokes a minute. In the first sprint to the Green Dragon corner, we learnt that like a catamaran, the boat stays very well sat despite our fantastically clean finishes, but perhaps unlike a catamaran, we could do a bit more to make the boat more efficient. Regardless, with a well-timed pressure call from Tom, we managed to go around the first corner without any incident, at which point many of the rowers probably realised that Christmas Head is still a rowing race and work still needed to be put down. Along the wall, Jamie and Beth worked valiantly to maintain rhythm and rate. Their efforts were probably not helped by the fact that many of Tom's calls were not very clear due to the music playing through the other cox box system (sorry!). That said, we still managed to catch up to a four racing ahead of us. In a sweeping move that certainly bodes well for City Sprints, we managed to squeeze past it outside of Downing. We have to be nonetheless thankful to the cox ahead, who managed to clear the river extremely quickly despite a 16++ barrelling towards them. A more stern test came in the form of a narrow boat cruising down the centre of the river, but luckily, the finish line came to our rescue.

The post-race spin and row home are normally not particularly exciting, but in this case, it was perhaps more eventful than the rest of the race put together. Firstly, in a testament to how much momentum the boat has, we managed to snap the bows off one of the shells as we drifted into a narrow boat. Subsequently, Arya finally heeded the call of nature, but in the process went for a small dip in the Cam. Lastly, my attempt to initiate a crew "Twelve Days of Christmas" singalong failed miserably when only three rowers joined in. While we could perhaps have done with a little more Christmas flair and tinsel, La Bomba and the three hour pub trip afterwards were an early highlight to my Christmas season, and I look forward to what we'll be able to conjure for next year.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Uploaded Monday 10th December, 8:12

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