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Christmas Head 2017

Saturday 9th December

Previous event: Fairbairns - Following event: Cambridge Winter Head to Head

Tommy Gale / Tom Hilbourne (Men's Double Scull A)


Tom Hilbourne reports:


c. 5BC, the biblical magi set out on a quest, the ending of which was unclear to them at the time. As it was then so it was at the start of Michaelmas when Tommy and Tom decided to set out on the quest of learning to row a double scull (or to be more precise, Tommy to teach Tom how to row a double scull). The outings were of varied intensity, skill and stability but, by the end, we were fairly happy with how things were going and keen to enter the biggest race of the term, Christmas head.

We took over the boat from Gabriel and Olivia outside Tit Hall boat house and found it adorned with tinsel. We spun it around and rowed up to the start line. Tommy’s parents had arrived to watch the c̶a̶r̶n̶a̶g̶e̶ race and we were fairly confident of a good time (both in the chronometric sense and in the hedonistic sense).

After watching some hilarious outfits being displayed (a personal favourite was two men in tuxedos who were planning on doing the whole course in a double by backing it down the whole way), we were set. The problem was, however, neither of us had any gloves and our hands went numb (cf. Raynaud’s syndrome). This vastly affected o̶u̶r̶ Tom’s already questionable feathering.

Nevertheless, and with Pointless’ Richard Osman watching on, we set off. By the Green Dragon bridge, we were already on the overtake of another crew which spurred us on. In total we overtook three crews and smashed across the line in just over 8 minutes (and 4 seconds longer than Gabriel and Olivia which, given both of our severe lack of fitness, we were quite pleased with ;) ).

We pulled over by the bank and both spent 5 minutes nearly crying as the blood flowed back into our hands before carrying the boat back to the boathouse and watching the 16++ come back. It’s definitely been a fun term of rowing (despite the constant abuse from Gripper). Expect us back next term for City sprints!

Uploaded Thursday 14th December, 16:30


Video of the Men's Double Scull A: click to watch the video.


Christmas Head 2017

Tommy and Tom rowing leisurely during Christmas Head 2017.

Gabriel Bliard / Olivia Brett (Mixed Double Scull A)

1st novice mixed double (7th/39 overall)

Gabriel Bliard reports:


As a 4th outing in this crew, this was quite an experience. We entered as BR novices as we had only had a few outings together (and obviously don't have points) so we got stuck behind a LOT of slow crews... but somehow just in front a Caius men's double ? We let them skip ahead a few crews and managed to get ahead a few ourselves. It apparently wasn't enough...

After our magnificent start (about 50m too early, we were keen), we settled in a steady but solid rhythm, probably around r28-30. I was getting ready for an amazing line around green dragon bridge, but a men's crew had just crashed in the inside of the corner. I steered wide and avoided collision. As the crew recovered, they made push on us for about 15 strokes during which our own rowing became a bit questionable, but we recovered well around Cantabs and pulled away from them. Calling an emphasis on rhythm, the boat gained stability until the distraction of a photographer, halfway through that stretch.

But things were only starting to get interesting, our second overtake happened just before the combined boathouses on the corner. There was a lot of shouting: "Left!, Right!, stick to your side double!!" but with minimal blade clash, we were through. This gave us a boost in confidence and we were ready for a third overtake.

This one proved to be a little more of a challenge, we were still overtaking at the corner under the bridge when the double decided to cut the corner and crash into us. We had to back off and try again... Second attempt was more successful and we pulled away from them easily. As we arrived at CBC, the crew building the 16++ cheered us on and we finished the race quite exhausted, but happy.

The results were good (no hard feelings Tom and Tommy) and can definitely be improved on for our next races!

Uploaded Tuesday 12th December, 14:09