Posted: Sunday 17 May 2015, 5:26PM by Camille Lardy
Report by Philipp Hirsch:
With the term halfway through and its grand finale, May Bumps, drawing closer, M1 today competed in its second race since training resumed – Champs’ Eight Heads. For our crew it was an opportunity to see where we stand after a difficult start into the term. After all, a curse on all bowsiders had forced a number of rowers to drop out of our boat. In addition to that, injuries kept coming in over the past weeks, leading to repeated changes in the crews and a lack of continuity. Consequently, training had rather focused on getting the new crew to row together, stressing the basics rather than providing much race-related fine-tuning. Also, we were once again unable to compete with the full crew, as our stroke was unavailable for the weekend. Yet, things were brightening up recently. Over our last few outings, we felt continuous improvements as a crew, an impression which had been confirmed by our coaches. Also, our emergency stroke Chad “The Lad” Stacey had proven that he could be relied on for doing a class job. Finally, we had been able to get hold of James Houston as today’s sub, winning the skills of what is arguably the boat club’s most legendary rower to never had competed for the boat club in a race before. Thus, having lowered the boat on the water, we rowed on a wave of careful optimism to our starting position.
Champs’ Eight Heads requires a standing start right before Ditton corner. An unusual position that requires the crew to pick up speed quickly but then to immediately readjust our pace so that stroke side can get the boat around the corner, for which bow side must ease off its pressure. Despite a good start, this odd situation did not help us to hit the beginning of our race on the head, and it took us a while to get the right feel for the corner. Once around Ditton, a second stride-call by our cox Amy was necessary to get the timing together for good. After this, however, our performance clearly improved and a rather powerful row down the Reach followed. But under the railway bridge, exhaustion took its toll and concentration dropped slightly. This resulted in our boat rocking around a bit, making it difficult for everyone to continue clean and technical rowing. But with the emotional support of our bank party and clear coxing instructions, these defects were soon corrected and the boat gained in stability and speed. Unfortunately, a little confusion ensued towards the end of the race, when the exact timing for our final strokes was not clear to everyone in the boat. This possibly cost us one or two seconds on the finish.
Yet, M1 can be happy with this result. We showed that despite a novel crew and continuous changes we can perform well in a race, getting a similar time to the much more experienced crew last year. Also, our performance today was a clear improvement to our first race. Overall, we probably went around half a minute faster than three weeks ago in the Head of the Cam race. Thus, the curve clearly shows upward, and this trend gives us reason to look forward to May Bumps.
Posted: Sunday 17 May 2015, 3:16PM by Camille Lardy
W1 took to the water this Sunday without having rowed as a full crew since Wednesday, and having lost their cox Elliot to an unstoppable nosebleed two hours before the race. Nevertheless, the generous step-in of W2’s cox Anna and the crew’s usual concentration allowed us to put in a good show, notably finishing ahead of the Newnham crew whom we will be chasing on the first day of Mays.
Champs’ Eights Head is a 1450m long race ‘from pub to pub’, between the Plough and the ex-P&E. In deference to the crews’ Bumps training, the start is a standing one, called a little before the start line, rather than rolling as in usual head races. Our start was neat: after controlled draws, we hit the start line and built our rating up to 34 with more confidence than in our practices starts on the way to marshalling. Anna called for a stride to settle at 30 right before we entered Ditton Corner. The wind had picked up during our 40 minutes’ marshalling, and we got scrappy around the corner due to the combination of unexpected headwind, the difference in pressure between both sides to get around Ditton, and the fact that we hadn’t quite settled into the stride yet. However, this scrapiness was ‘limited’ to a slight rush on the recovery: aware of the downward spiral rushing can bring, we were focused enough to remain long in the water and balanced.
Mid-Reach, Anna called for a lengthening in the stroke while navigating us closer to the bank and out of the stream: things picked up as she told us to ‘do it for Elliot and his bloody nose’. Rolling out our pair pushes, we took an excellent line in the last third of the Reach and approached the inside edge of the Railway Bridge with a middle-four burst. A power 10 after the Bridge showed our best rowing so far, the strong finishes and balance that we had kept throughout now being complemented with a longer recovery. We maintained these technical points all the way to the line at the P&E, clocking out at 6 minutes and 24s.
Back at the boathouse, we discussed how to be more effective in controlling the ratio for future races, yet also congratulated ourselves on having successfully brought our technique up to scratch in the second part—having shown that we do not ‘accept’ the mishaps that may happen at the start of a race, we must now work on engaging this improvement earlier on.
Many thanks to Anna for her gutsy coxing, which can be credited for galvanizing us into strengthening the second half! Thank you as well to Lois’s family for the support on the Reach, the post-race brownies, and the video which we will dissect for technical points. And of course, well done again to the ladies of W1!
Posted: Sunday 03 May 2015, 4:47PM by Camille Lardy
W1 started the morning in less-than-ideal conditions, having to decide at 10am whether to warm up before the race—but get drenched in the rain—or forego the warmup altogether. We chose the latter, and met at the boat house at 11am, knowing that our lack of pre-race prep would mean being absolutely focused as soon as we sat in the boat.
City Sprints is a side-by-side regatta from the white bridge at the far end of Midsummer Commons, to City Boathouse, 400m upstream. Our first race was against Clare W1, fourth from the top of the Mays charts, in the semi-finals of the student women’s VIII category. Our new cox, Elliot, had only coxed us once before, but was absolutely in control of the boat and of the crew when the start was given, the umpire’s fast “attentiongo” taking us slightly by surprise before we’d squared our blades. We still started better than Clare, whose stakeboat was slightly behind ours due to the curving nature of the course around the bend of the boathouses. There isn’t anything much to say about the race: we were in time, we were technical, Elliot called for strokeside to take us ‘round the bend and before we knew it, we were past Goldie and into the ‘last 10 strokes’. Having never let up on the power, we beat Clare by ¾ of a length.
We learned shortly afterwards that we would be facing Christ’s II in the finals—having bumped that particular crew last Lents gave us extra motivation, as well as the news that we would again be racing on the Commons side, which puts us on the outside of the bend but gives us the advantage of starting with our opponents slightly behind, in our sights. The wait at marshalling was much longer this time, but thankfully the rain had stopped. It was, however, replaced by a very strong headwind. We started off strong, more steadily than in the first race, but the wind made us veer very slightly and the strokeside blades clipped the banks. W1’s experience and focus were proven when all of bowside carried on rowing, and strokeside joined back without missing more than a couple strokes as Elliot skillfully steered us clear. Christ’s, on the inside of the bend, had gained on us to the point of almost overlapping—from the stroke seat, I believe I was level with their six woman. They still had the advantage of the bend, but we were determined not to let them get what we considered to be ‘our’ win. Elliot reminded us that we were still in the lead, however slightly, and the W1 Power Machine was engaged: rowing more smoothly that we had so far in the day, we lengthened our strokes as we rowed past Goldie for the second time. In less than a hundred meters, we ate up Christ’s and won the finals by an entire length.
Having won City Sprints, we collected our pots and celebrated with a pint of cider! Thank you to all our supporters, especially Pete, Tash, and Jaason. Very well done again to all: this was a first win for most of us, and a fitting welcome for Elliot into the crew! Now on to more races every weekend, and Bumps at the start of June, after the most solid start of term the crew could have hoped for.
Posted: Wednesday 11 March 2015, 6:00PM by Camille Lardy
Report by James Moore.
A term of upward momentum. Starting in a chilly January morning where it slowly became clear our crew had one more bowsider than was strictly necessary, and proceeding with a steady stream of subs and scratched outings over the term, no one really knew what to expect from Sidney M3. Yet as eight weeks passed we rather unexpectedly became a crew.
As we learned the Cambridgeshire railway schedule by heart from David, and were haunted in fevered dreams by the wailing moans of Darren to “Sit the boooooat!” (or was that just me?), slowly we tried to learn the principles of rowing together, rowing in time, rowing at race pace, and finally even doing a race start - upon which, in shocked words our usually steadfast coach Nathan remarked, “I think we’ve actually found something this crew can do”. Balance was, and remains, a mystery, but no matter.
Eventually the getting on race was upon us. And we rowed. Well. With a time faster than a host of other M3 boats, and even a couple of M2s, it was just ten seconds, a couple of crabs, and the eternal wisdom of CUCBC which kept us out of bumps - ‘the best dressed crew not to get on’. So instead, we set our eyes on the Talbott, and eventually on the distant Mays.
Come the day, and we pulled in behind a Clare Hall M3 (which was, I understand, suspiciously similar to Clare Hall M2), decked out in fetching yellow and red lycra. After a nervous wait, we lined up on the Long Reach, and as Luke stared wistfully into the Cambridge countryside with one hand on his blade, the race started. It couldn’t have made less of a difference, Sidney owns the reach, and we knew it. Within fifteen strokes, David from his coxswain seat could stare only at their bowman, and a couple of strokes later, we had clear water between us. Unsure how long the race was, our M3 pushed until we could push no more, and after a Sookias reset we pushed some more. Clare Hall clung to our wake and we pulled away no further, but M3 aren’t greedy. Winning by a length and a half is fine by us.
After enjoying our victory, we waited for our next competition to be decided. Churchill M3 or First and Third M3? Both were strong, and we knew Sidney would be David to their Goliath no matter who won, but at least they’d tire each other out before we matched up against one of them. As we were marshalled for the race however, a fresh and spritely FaT M3 was sat next to us. Churchill had scratched! Having sparred with FaT M3 before, we knew the second highest M3 in both Lents and Mays would be tough competition, and facing them with a race already under our belts was far from ideal.
The whistle went, and once again our draws were strong. It may be the only thing we can do, but Sidney M3 can start, and so not only did we hold station, but from where I was sitting I think we moved a seat on FaT. Side by side down most of the Long Reach, eventually our fatigue and relative inexperience began to show, and when after the railway bridge a rogue whistle confused half our crew thinking we’d finished, the FaT advantage of half a length or so became a length or more, and the race was done.
Back at the boathouse, we celebrated as victors, and why not. In the space of eight weeks, Sidney M3 had gone from a collection of (sometimes as many as) nine people standing shivering on the side of the Cam to a competitive racing crew. Bring on May Bumps.
Posted: Wednesday 11 March 2015, 8:15AM by Camille Lardy
Report by Alex Bogomil
A most amazing Lent Term 2015 was coming to its end, and the epic adventures of the most unlucky and the least known of the Sidney Men's Boats, the fabulous M2B, were to reach their peak and be epitomised by the Talbott Cup 2015 Race.
Having missed the Lent Bumps which had taken place not long before the Talbott Cup, the M2B were enthusiastically anticipating their first race, which was expected to immortalise our names in the Boat Club history.
During the Term all of us have demonstrated an unprecedented degree of concentration, remaining invariably devoted and hard-working, reducing the number of training sessions with subs down to five and increasing the number of successful outings up to (maybe slightly over) five. The Crew was eager to bring all the necessary success components together, including finding the best boat for the race (and accidentally the oldest boat in the whole boat house): the legendary "Lord Protector". We all were fully determined to prove that M2B was actually a boat and not a concept. In that positive mood we approached the big day.
On the day of the race the Crew were highly motivated and focused. We knew that we had already made it into the semi-finals (having only four boats racing in the division), and there were only two boats which were to be taken over. However, the most unlucky boat simply was not allowed to have a boring ordinary race. So it started with… no keys for the boat house to unlock the cox box.
Now, technically this should not have happened in the first place if you are a normal boat, and secondly it would not have been a problem had it been a standard outing, but for a race a cox box is crucial as many of the more experienced readers of this report would probably know (Spoiler: it did not help.). Fortunately, our brave Vice-Captain Elliot Ford, who was kindly subbing for one of our crew members, got a brilliant idea how to save the situation and immediately set sail for the spare keys possessed by some of the higher administrative officers of SSBC who were at the other end of the river where the race was taking place.
While Captain was desperately hunting for the keys, the Crew took the boat on the water and No. 3 happily started his usual pre-outing procedure of fixing his seat to prevent it from getting off the rails during rowing (an amazing activity which always provides an entertaining reminder to No. 3 that his choice of Engineering as a degree was right; besides, it is always good to have an Engineer on board). The peaceful serenity was disrupted by another surprise - we were lacking oars. To crown it all, once the key had been found and the cox box was released from its confinement, the latter became inexcusably ungrateful and refused to work despite all the efforts of our noble Coxswain. Needless to say, once we had fixed everything, we found ourselves far behind schedule and possibly late for the start.
Surprisingly, apart from being more of a race rather than a relaxed rowing to the starting point, the way forwards went without notable accidents. The poor old broken bow ball was put in its legal place with some highly efficient modern piece of technology commonly known as cello tape in time for the race and the first ever picture of M2B with its current crew was taken while waiting for the start in a pleasant company of the graceful Sidney W3. In a short period of time we were to face the evil Queen's M5, someone even lesser known than us and who were said to had had just two outings together.
The start for the M2B could best be described using the analogy of the drag race of a Ferrari F12berlinetta (as M2B) against Tesla P85D (as Queen's M5), with one important correction that unlike Ferrari, M2B never made it there. Queen's took a good powerful start and a moment later we realised we were lagging by a quarter of a length. Having always believed in "No retreat, no surrender", Sidney adopted a wise strategy and increased both the power and the speed of the strokes, which, coupled with our experience, gave us a notable advantage and we started to gain velocity and soon were racing on par with the competitors.
Unfortunately, winning the race would have been too mainstream for our hipster boat, and to comply with the CUBC 2014 standards, we crabbed. And crabbed. And kept crabbing until it was done properly. According to our telemetry, the crab must have happened somewhere between No.2 and No.4, and it proved to have been fatal for our race, as it led to a recovery delay. Inevitably too much time was lost and Queen's took the lead. We never gave up and rowed wildly till the end, reaching a very good speed and approaching Queen's who seemed to have lost their stamina completely. Alas, on a short distance we were doomed. Queen's M5 won the race, and Sidney had to go.
Still by the opinion of many M2B had the most fashionable coxswain, wearing the most fashionable life-jacket and the most fashionable sun-glasses. Whatever the results of the race are, the Lent Term has been an unforgettable time both for the crew of "Lord Protector" and for "Lord Protector" herself. Good job, M2B, well done!
Posted: Tuesday 10 March 2015, 8:21PM by Camille Lardy
Report by Evie Butcher:
W3 came together on 10th March at 14:45pm (well, half of W3 and five various subs - including a cox). We were a mismatched crew, a jumble of individuals that broke all boundaries between boats (with individuals *somewhat legally* subbing from W1 and W2), and we had only rowed one outing together - that fateful day had left one crew-mate with a juicy rowing war wound in the guise of a black eye. However we were still confident; the sun was shining and we felt like it was our time, Sidney rows best as the underdog and we were up first against Jesus W3 who had rowed in Bumps - but we knew we could take them.
After a generally successful row up we pulled in by the P&E to stretch our legs, no sooner doing so than we were told to hop back in - no time for sunbathing, shades pulled down, we got our heads in the game. For the first race we had prepared ourselves that Jesus’s start might be more spectacular than our own, since they had a few practice goes under their belt from bumps, but as the umpire called for attention, in the pause before ‘go’, I think the whole boat felt that despite our lack of continuity, we COULD row together. We powered through on the draws and the winds, settling into a strong and steady rhythm for the lengthens, and before you knew it we were edging slightly ahead. Though eyes were in the boat, as they are at all times, ever, I think we all felt the Tomminox surging beneath us and realised that we had this - as I said, this was our time. There was a slight glitch in the middle when after apparent divine inspiration Jesus caught up with us, but in true bulldozing, battle-paddle style, we put all the power down in the legs with some pair pushes and power tens, and once we had passed under the railway bridge we knew it was a power twenty to the finish. Basically. And Jesus were left in Sidney W3s wake.
After this ecstasy we realised we would have to row again, but after a brief team talk, basking in the light of the approaching evening, we restored our spirits and our energies and rowed back up to the start once more. It was a mentally tough race against FaT W3; we knew they were fresh from the row up, without the extra 800 on their legs, but at the same time our confidence in each other as a crew had grown tenfold after that powerful win, and we were going to give everything we had. We kept up with FaT pretty well off the start, and successfully recovered after a crab, giving them hardly any slack, however a few malfunctions throughout the boat slowed us down, and getting back up to their speed, though we did it with surprising efficiency and great determination, was just a little bit too much to ask, and we lost the grip we had on FaT W3. But all in all we powered through to the end (not an easy thing to do in that situation), and we could hold our heads high after a physically then a mentally strong race.
The makeshift crew that was Sidney W3 this day went away winners in the end, and what better way to bask in the glory of a Spring evening?
Posted: Monday 02 March 2015, 12:23PM by Camille Lardy
Report by Anna Lawrence:
W2 went into the last day of bumps with open minds; with one bump, a defeat and a row over under our belts the pressure was off and we joked that we should go for the overbump in order to complete our set.
Chasing a strong Queens crew we made a good start and settled into a rhythm prepared for a long row. Coming up to the Gut we saw Queens had bumped out First and Third and there were several boats clearing on all sides around the corner. Expecting a row over, we continued until we saw our bank party began yelling at us to pull in. Turns out we had got an overbump on Wolfson who had unfortunately crashed on First Post Corner.
A jubilant if disbelieving W2 pulled in on Grassy corner, displacing a few unsuspecting spectators from the bank and running into a commentator from Cam FM who swiftly caught us for an interview. After collecting some well-earned foliage from the bank, we pushed off for the row home, subjecting the crowd outside the Plough to our rendition of ‘One Row More’ in preparation for our BCD speech. The celebrations continued at the Boathouse with Ant’s kindly provided cider and a quick dip in the Cam for me.
Ending the week on +3, we have steadily improved day on day. I can honestly say it has been a joy and privilege to cox this boat; a fantastic crew spirit exists and our strength truly lies in each other. It is our determination to do our best for the team which has seen our hard work rewarded at the end of the day.
Posted: Saturday 28 February 2015, 12:09AM by Camille Lardy
Report by Anna Lawrence:
After an early bump from Queens on Day 1 and an impressively strong row over on Day 2, W2 met with excitement and anticipation in the beautiful sun on Day 3.
Confident that we would not be caught, we faced Medwards 2 in front of us; a foe we could have caught on Day 1 had it not been for Queens’ impressive start. Not letting the pressure get to us on the row down and suitably inspired by Flo’s inspirational speech, we focused as the one minute cannon sounded.
Getting a fantastic start, we powered down to the Motorway Bridge. From the beginning Medwards were not much more than a length away and after we had scared them into catching a crab, we swiftly moved up. Not more than five strokes after the stride call and we caught them just beyond the bridge, touching their stern with our bow blade three times before their cox conceded the bump.
Claiming our well-earned foliage from the bank, we began a beautifully controlled row home, replete with vocal accompaniment ranging from the Sound of Music through Disney to the classic S-Club. Many thanks go to our fantastic and dedicated bank party – James Moore, Nick Porter, the injured Eleanor and of course our coach John – and massive thanks to everyone who has subbed for us over the last few days – Rebecca, Imogen, Jessie and Emma. Onwards and upwards to tomorrow when we’ll be going for the revenge bump on Queens!
Posted: Friday 27 February 2015, 7:33PM by Camille Lardy
W1 were a little jittery when they met at the boathouse today: we knew Fitz W1 would be our greatest challenge so far, as they had had similar race results throughout the term. We resolved to row as technically as we’d done yesterday, and to pursue Fitz all the way to the finish if need be.
After a particularly clean Peterborough Paddle (like battle paddle, but better) down to our station, we spun and pulled in right under the Motorway Bridge, next to the cannons.
Our start sequence was controlled and slightly faster than Fitz’s. Unfortunately, carnage ahead denied Lucy Cavendish/Hughes Hall their predicted quick bump, and they thus had to row the whole course ahead of Fitz. Fitz, having someone to chase, never let the power down. We’d known they’d be a tough nut to crack, so we stayed extra lucid and unrolled our race plan, doing pair pushes up the Gut and gaining on Fitz inch by inch. Tom took a flawless line around Grassy, where we hovered a length away from Fitz through a powerful middle-four push.
Sitting up tall against the wind after Ditton, motivated by SSBC alumnus Tom Ash’s very loud and coxly cheering, we sank our teeth into Fitz and refused to let the gap widen. The crews behind us had bumped out, but we never relaxed the pressure, alternating between power 10’s and up 2’s all the way up the Reach. We pushed our way past the Railway Bridge, cheered on by the entirety of the marshalling M2 division, and gave everything we had on every stroke to Peter’s Post, where we finished within station of Fitz.
A glance at Lucy Cav, whose dream of blades had been shot by sheer bad luck, made us take conscience that our own row-over had at least been the most honest, gutsy row we could have given — we never allowed Fitz to pull away from us. Back at the boathouse and past our first moment of disappointment, we built our confidence anew by reminding each other that W1 are currently +2 in the charts, and that we are über-prepared for whatever happens tomorrow. The word ‘stubborn’ having been thrown around during the crew meal last weekend (although I prefer ‘tenacious’ when it is applied to yours truly), we concluded that Sidney W1 has a wealth of determination to pour into tomorrow’s race — we’ll grip Fitz, and we’ll grip them tight.
Many thanks as ever to Silvia for her bank-partying and unfailing support in our daily mental preparation, to Tim for pushing us out and Pete for counting down, and to Oli for being there for us again with smiley motivation. See you all tomorrow !
Posted: Thursday 26 February 2015, 7:36PM by Camille Lardy
W1 started Day 2 buoyed by yesterday’s bump and the knowledge that Christ’s II, whom we were chasing, were on their way down. A pesky cold rain kept us from getting too excited though, and we settled into quiet determination on our way up to marshalling. The wait at the P&E was longer than expected due to the previous division having to be re-rowed, but by the time we finally made it up to station 8 we were fully focused again.
Our start was good: the winds were a bit scrappy, but we lengthened out together and by the end of the sequence, we were Striding Beauty. Moving as one to settle into our strong race pace, we steadily gained on Christ’s II, getting our first whistle by the Ditch. We rolled out our signature pair pushes, getting inside a length around First Post Corner, and then two whistles by the end of the Gut. Tom took an incredibly good line around Grassy, aided by Phoebe at 2 and Charlotte at 4, before calling for a push from middle four as we came out of the corner. The boat surged, and it is with our best combo of technique and strength than we got three whistles and the bump immediately afterwards, a dozen meters before the Plough!
Of course from the stern I had no idea what was going on, but Claire, at bow, later explained that we overlapped, she stared down Christ’s II’s cox, and we hit their stroke’s rigger.
Now at the 7th place in Div 2, W1 have overtaken all the second women’s boats on the river, and will be chasing first crews from now on. We will be picking up the challenge behind Fitz W1 tomorrow, with the past two days’ knowledge that not only can we bump, we can do it in style, with technique and focus throughout.
Many thanks to Silvia who met us at the boat house, kept us calm through marshalling, and bank-partied the race, to Tim who pushed us out and whistled us to victory, to Pete who counted down the last minute and kept us company on the row home, and finally to Oli, who braved the rain and carried on this term’s tradition of motivating us through hard exercizes by his presence :) Congrats again to the entire crew, and see you all tomorrow at 14:40!