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Women's Eights Head of the River Race 2016

Saturday 5th March

Previous event: Lent Bumps - Following event: Clare Relics' Regatta

1st Women's VIII

Bow: Charlotte McGarry, 2: Edith Ross, 3: Rosie Boxall, 4: Robyn Hamer, 5: Rozalie Ryclova, 6: Anna Peel, 7: Anna O'Brien, Stroke: Lydia Price, Cox: Julia Kelsoe

159th/296 crews in 22 minutes 15.9 seconds.

Anna O'Brien reports:

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So after an intense week of bumps and a couple of half-marathons, most of the crew was ready for a chill final week. Psh. That is not how we do things in CBC.

Fresh-faced and coffee-fuelled, we left the Cambridge bubble behind and set out into the real world, obnoxious boatie leggings and all, for our first go at the Thames. As a few people later put it, “it was an experience.”

After marshalling for 48 hours (and enduring a sleet/hailstorm that left the crew questioning our life choices), we were soggy and ready to go. Julia kicked Lydia out of the cox seat, Roz climbed out of the river and back into the boat, and we reluctantly de-kitted and waved goodbye to our new alum friends on the bank. Sweet. Racetime.

Our start was a little less punchy than usual, given the choppier waters. We took off at r34/5 and eventually settled at around r31, which became our baseline for the rest of the race. Within the first few minutes, something beautiful happened – our first racing overtake! (Turns out the Thames is wider than the Cam. Go figure). We followed it up with a second, leaving two crews literally in our wake. (Overbump?)

Julia kept us on the fast stream, coaching us through the headwind that hit between Barnes Bridge and Chiswick Eyot. After struggling to sit the boat, and an apparently entertaining crab from one of the crew, we wound up the rate and reset. Good call – we relaxed and lengthened out of Hammersmith into the second half. Although we were finding it harder to maintain our connection on the faster water, we responded well and called builds into and out of the bridges to maintain speed.

The rest was a bit of a blur. Strokes were taken, things were shouted, and backsplash took on a whole new meaning. We held it together and pushed through, and after a strong final burst we were winding it down. Then, suddenly, post-race chaos: the marshals and our cox were shouting at each other; the boat ahead almost crashed into us as it drifted with its cox splayed superman-style across stroke’s lap; two crews managed to beach themselves on what turned out to be a deceptively shallow spot of river. We narrowly avoided the same fate, and rowed on past the angry marshals to bank up stressed, soaked and freezing.

Conclusions: 14th out of the 75 novice boats, 9th out of the academic novices, the Thames is cold, and we got to row the freaking tideway course. Totally worth it. #rowinggoals.

Uploaded Monday 7th March, 15:32

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