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Head of the River Race 2015

Sunday 29th March

Previous event: Cardinals Regatta - Following event: Radegund Mile

1st Men's VIII

Bow: Richard Gunning, 2: Ollie Rusk, 3: Quentin Gouil, 4: Robin Elliott, 5: Anders Kjemtrup, 6: Stephen Kindness, 7: Callum McKenzie, Stroke: Jon Swain, Cox: Tom Watson

159th overall, 35th in In3A category. Completed in a time of 19:42.52

Callum McKenzie reports:


// With Lent bumps finished our next focus was HoRR. We tried to send two eights to race however entries only meant that we could take one eight... which turns out was probably all we could take with a fair majority of the boat club living it up in luxury back at home. Prior to HoRR we had around 2/3 weeks training as a crew. The crew was a mixture between M1 and M2, however because of various subs and what not, I think we only mustered together 4 maybe 5 training sessions as our set crew. Regardless, when we weren't spacking about, we managed to pull together some pretty good pieces up and down the Cam.

// A cheeky look ahead at the weather forecast, doubt was setting in whether HoRR would even run at all (for the third consecutive year!?). This made for some tactical gambling the night before on how many libations one could consume in the event of the race running or not. The race went ahead, and I think I (along with Stroke) lost the gamble... just what you need at stern pair. Awaking on the Sunday, in my somewhat alcohol-induced lethargic state, I went for the 'turn up as late as possible so that the boat will already be rigged' approach. However, when I did arrive, with every other crew rigged and ready to go, I realised that I was the first to arrive at the Sons of the Thames boat club and that our boat was still separated and tied to the trailer. Yeah Clare. After a bit of a frantic rigging session, we were up and ready to go.

// We quickly got onto the water and went straight into eights rowing to become accustomed to the tideway. The row up (against wind and tide) was actually feeling pretty good, not crashing down too much and at steady state paddling where overtaking a few crews on the way up. Marshalling was hysterical though. There was at one point an absolute cluster f*ck where one crew managed to go perpendicular to the rest of the fleet and this caused about a 10 boat pile up, all crushed against each other and the bank. Mega lolz. Once we got to the top of the course, we spun round and waited to go. The start was good, and just tapped it along at a nice sustainable rate (rowing with the wind was certainly a lot easier than against it!). We went past various landmarks that I have no recollection of now. I believe the bandstand was around 3/4 minutes in. We kept on rowing and before we knew it the first 10 minutes had gone by! (* thinks to myself... wow, better start pushing now *) But overall the boat was feeling good and Tom was making some nice lines to keep us in the stream. The boat behind us left a reasonable gap and they were slowly creeping up on us, but we largely were able to match their speed. About 12 ish minutes in we went past Sons of the Thames (where we boated from) and continued to tap it along up to Hammersmith bridge. As we turned the corner of Hammersmith things started to get a bit untidy... the tailwind which we had on the first half of the race turned into a headwind which resulted in our technique faultering slightly (fatigue may have impacted this as well). This was when the crew behind us made a big move and started to eat into us. We slogged it out for a few more minutes before we went past the black buoy, signalling 500 metres to go. We upped the rate a pip or two and got back into a better rhythm... at this point we had entered into a bit more of a sparring situation with the crew behind us (about half a boat length off our stern) as they were threatening to overtake us. This sparked a bit more punch into the boat, matching their speed. As we crossed the finish line we were actually able to open up a slight gap on them with our mini-sprint finish. Overall, we had a good row. Looking back at it, we could have attacked the race a bit harder with more intensity, but with a moderately hungover boat, with only a few training sessions under our belt we couldn't have asked for much more. We finished the day as we finished the day before, in the pub with a beer. Good job chaps, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Uploaded Thursday 2nd April, 10:31


Photos of the 1st Men's VIII: click to view full size.