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Cambridge Winter Head 2016

Saturday 19th November

Previous event: Emma Sprints - Following event: Clare Novices' Regatta

1st Men's VIII

Bow: Ben Leitch, 2: Adam Harrison, 3: Matt Simpson, 4: Rory Fairhead, 5: James Henderson, 6: Gabriel Bliard, 7: Euan Beck, Stroke: Jordan Ward‑Williams, Cox: Julia Kelsoe

Winners of Men's Student Novices, 9th crew overall (5th fastest college crew) with a time of 8:55

Gabriel Bliard reports:


After some very mixed feelings about the beginning of term for the men's first 8, this race was not only a preparation for fairbairns but also a test to whether all of our experimenting had brought us anything at all. The week and a half preceding the race, we had boldly bow double bucket rigged Joel in a frantic search for a fitting stroke. Despite some successful outings, that idea was abandonned for the race and we succumbed to traditional rigging.

The row up to the start was powerful but the choppy water did seem to throw us off a bit. As gripper had told us before the race, we seriously needed to stick some fucks into it . He also somehow managed to convince one of the marshalls to move us up 4 places in the division so as not to be behind too weak a crew ( notably one of the strokes had responded to a cox asking him to bring the rate to race pace "this is race pace!"). We also saw some amazing leopard unisuits and blades.

The start was very solid, the rate was efficiently brought up to 36, and then powered down to 34 until first post. After this pleasant surprise, a slight drop in power was noticeable around first post corner, which had already been a problem in more than one outing. This time however, the entire crew responded very well and gave that extra push as soon as the boat started feeling heavy. After this gain in commitement and confidence, the boat flew past grassy corner into the plough. As the rate had dropped down to 32, julia made some technical calls and brought us back to an even more powerful row. At the peak of our speed (and our pain), we encountered two boats that, despite early warning and a sizeable advance, were blocking our way. While stubbornly staying in the middle of the river, the corner before the spinning zone had to be taken (very) wide, to the extent that a 'no pressure bowside' was called for about 5 strokes. This minor setback (probably costing us at least that extra second to beat caius) was quickly forgotten and the crew found some new energy in rowing past two other boats. The 3*20 stroke calls allowed us to counter our exhaustion and push down the reach. The final stretch started off quite scrappy as the rate attempted a shy 36 with a few lurches and air shots, but with the finish line in mind, everyone concentrated and gave everything they had. The finish was solid and we could finally feel the cold and the pain from the race, with the satisfaction that we had left everything in the water (and Ben's lungs).

"M1 A balls out row, top ending and literally pulling the rabbit out of the hat/fire. In the mix!" Andrew Watson

Uploaded Monday 21st November, 23:52


1st Women's VIII

Bow: Katie Irwin, 2: Philippa Slay, 3: Tamsin Bell, 4: Hermione Burn, 5: Edith Ross, 6: Robyn Hamer, 7: Ariane Dupas, Stroke: Anna Peel, Cox: Harry Ellison‑Wright

Winners of Women's Student Novices, 1st women's crew overall (all women's divisions) with a time of 09:49

Anna Peel reports:


Tami Bell reports:

It was a pretty slow row down to the marshal point; no thanks to a novice crew that decided one of the narrowest parts of the river would be an ideal place to spin. Even with this traffic we managed to fit in a few high rate bursts on the way down, which felt strong and controlled. Marshalling was a bit manic as there were so many boats in the division and insufficient bank space. Finally after waiting for a while, we were signalled to row up to the motorway bridge. We tried to conserve our energy in these strokes before the start mark. Under the bridge we put in three strong strokes leading up to the start and we were off! Pretty quickly Andy shouted that we were 1.5 lengths from Downing, which soon became half a length and before we realised what was happening, we overtook them on the inside of grassy corner. Overtaking a crew so early on gave us a massive confidence boost to keep pushing with every stroke. Coming up to the beginning of the reach, Harry called our first power 20 which took us past another crew! Our race plan was 3 x power 20 on the reach and splitting the seemingly never ending reach into small segments helped to make the distance manageable. Under the railway bridge the pain was real but it was time to completely empty the tanks for the last part of the race. The bunting marking the end seemed to be miles away but eventually the horn sounded as we glided through the finish line.

A combination of fantastic calls by Harry (“let’s get angry”), a motivational screaming bank party (Andy and Tim) and utter determination of the whole crew culminated in a fantastic win! We finished as the fastest women’s crew (total time 9mins49s) in the whole competition, including all other categories and city clubs, by 12 seconds! An unbelievable achievement… in fact I still can’t quite believe it!

Thank you to the race organisers and for everyone’s support!


Uploaded Saturday 19th November, 21:21


2nd Men's VIII

Bow: Ollie Dutton, 2: Matthew Coates, 3: Harry Perkin, 4: Tom Nixon, 5: Will Broadbelt, 6: Vikram Thakur, 7: Alistair Brown, Stroke: Jason Delp, Cox: Clement Chan

3rd of Mens Student Novices, 15th crew overall (8th fastest college crew, fastest M2) with a time of 9:14

Clement Chan reports:


The row down to marshaling was possibly the best rowing we have done all term, and despite the long waits in the cold weather, the crew remained focused through the multitudes of pauses. Thus, as Gripper unveils our new race plan, we were quietly confident we could challenge some of the M1s in the race. With this confidence, we were able to start the race nice and crisply, accelerating out of the bridge at a steady 34. As we approached First Post Corner, our technique started to suffer a bit and our boat speed began to wane. Luckily, on the Corner, the crew responded excellently to sharpening calls and we were able to significantly gain on the crew ahead, who crashed on the outside of Grassy, once we pushed out of the corner. Unfortunately, Grassy Corner and the start of Plough Reach was not as composed as it could be as I should probably have been a bit more judicious with the rudder. The rough timing impacted the power we were able to apply and the rate dipped a tiny bit to 32. The crew ahead, who consisted mainly of teenagers, were pulling ahead. However, once I informed the crew of this alarming news, the response was fantastic. We had a major surge and were able to take two boat lengths off that crew within half of Plough Reach. Credit to them, the boat in front of us were quick to go wide on Ditton and allow us to take the inside line onto the Reach. On the Reach, we were able to set in motion Gripper's 3 by 20 strokes plan and it, especially the first set, worked a treat. Middle four seems to be particularly keen on it and once I started counting the middle 10 strokes, we quickly powered down the reach. The second set seems to have less of an effect, but the third set into the Railway Bridge was fantastic. Following a lift call as we pass the bridge, the intensity picked up and we held the rate steady until we reached around the P&E. I thought the finish position would be on the other side of the river, so the intensities of my calls dropped off slightly and the pace faltered, allowing the crew behind to make a surge on us as we passed the finish. As such, it was a bit disappointing on my part to end a fantastic race like that. However, the race was great. In previous outings, we have only been able to sustain long pieces at around 30 and the racing plan was designed with this in mind, so it was a pleasant surprise and relief for me that the rate remained at 32-34 for the entire race as I decided not to control the rate at the beginning of the race. The elevated rate and the consistent pressure applied shows the commitment of the crew and how far we have come from the beginning of the term. Compared to the previous years (we clocked 10:23 in this race last year), I feel like we are set up for a strong run at Fairbairns.

Uploaded Thursday 24th November, 19:27


2nd Women's VIII

Bow: Josie Newman, 2: Hermione Burn, 3: Elly Cockman, 4: Ran Huo, 5: Vashti Davies, 6: Rachael Young, 7: Rosie Vince, Stroke: Katie Wilkinson, Cox: Alex Horne

3rd in Women's Student Novice division with a time of 10 mins 42 secs; fastest college 2nd women's VIII, 9th college women's boat overall

Josie Newman reports:


We set off in good spirits, and had a good row down (even if a bit interrupted by the huge numbers of boats also on the river). We had a slight footplate panic, but it was quickly resolved and we finally made it to marshalling, spinning in what Alex described as ‘the spiciest of manoeuvres’. After a bit longer in the cold (and the addition of some strawberry laces) the division began. We quickly set into a solid rate 34 under the railway bridge, with a good platform to capitalise on all the training we’d been doing. On the first corner we were forced to overtake Sidney, with a slight scraping on the bank but we recovered quickly. This gave us the motivation and confidence to completely go for it. As it began to hurt we maintained the rate (still not sure how), around grassy and past The Plough. We reset on the reach and continued to push, now gaining on the next boat in front of us and being encouraged by shouts from the bank. By the railway bridge we were all exhausted, but Alex’s focus calls kept us going until the very end. All of us had given it everything but it had paid off and we had a time to be very proud of - fastest college W2! Bring on Fairburns, it’s not that much longer, right?

Uploaded Sunday 20th November, 18:59


3rd Women's VIII

Bow: Megan Jones, 2: Nina Cooper, 3: Danielle Saunders, 4: Abbie Currington, 5: Bethany Mason, 6: Amelia Fitch, 7: Enlli Lewis, Stroke: Alexandra Ridley, Cox: Ben Williams

15th in Women's Student Novice division with a time of 12:26

Ben Williams reports:


With a new stroke, two subs and a novice cox, no one was quite sure what to expect for W3's first race of the year. Training had been going well and for many it was the first race ever - the anticipation was building. Being the last division of the day we were part of an incredible number of boats heading up to the lock to marshall, resulting in a few interesting manoeuvres in the gridlock that was the queue (a few involving W2 - sorry Alex...). Once we had clear water in our sights though the sit returned and the pressure felt good. All that was left was to wait. To keep warm our new stroke Alex R led some aerobic exercises on the bank, working perfectly until we realised we were the only crew not in the boat and facing the wrong way. Quickly rectifying this, the cox's excellent steering skills proceeded to completely desert him despite a magnificent flying dive from Tim to prevent us brushing the bank (250 boaties audibly wincing simultaneously). But I digress.

The race itself began strongly, building under the motorway bridge and bursting out down the first stretch of the course. Not even being filmed by some keen Clare spectators could shake the focus, and at first post we were looking great. The corner was taken cleanly and expertly by strokeside. Here the technical pointers Chrysa had instilled became vital - 10 strokes on this, 5 on that, and everything was holding together. Perhaps the greatest surprise was reaching grassy to discover a crashed crew ahead. No matter however, bowside more than matched the tighter space we had left. Full steam ahead at a sensationally consistent rate led us onto the reach at a blistering pace, keeping in touch with the crews ahead. A small upset meant we were headed for the bank, but this gave us the perfect opportunity to practise the standing start we hadn't got to try. Get us straight, reset, frontstops and within 10 seconds we were flying (seriously, given that the last time we did that was in May that was awesome!). The small break the pause had afforded resulted in fresh legs awaiting, and we stormed down the reach with the finish almost in sight. The final part of the course felt by far the longest ("One more stroke...and one more again" etc etc), but W3 finished with a very respectable time and a feeling of doing the crew justice. Shout-outs to Tim for his support, Chrysa for putting up with us, Alex for jumping in at stroke on the day and our fab supersubs Abbie and Amelia.

Bossed it.

Uploaded Monday 21st November, 15:58