Posted: Tuesday 30 September 2014, 2:42PM by Charlotte Burns
Seen the boat race on TV? Heard about ‘bumps’ but don’t really understand what all the fuss is about? Keen to take up a new sport at uni? Join SSBC.
Every year SSBC trains approximately 50 new rowers (and coxes) during Michaelmas term, the majority of which have never rowed before they arrived in Cambridge but have competed several times before they leave for Christmas. Being a boatie is not all about the rowing, we also have numerous social events during the term culminating in the black tie Boat Club Dinner.
Look out for boaties in lycra/blazers during freshers’ week when SSBC will be hosting a squash (party) and tubbing (taster sessions) for all new Sidneyites. In the meantime, more information on novice rowing can be found in the following link –
Posted: Friday 26 September 2014, 2:05PM by Charlotte Burns
Rowers are well known for their early starts, and Sidney Sussex Boat Club’s 2014 trip to America was no exception. Gathering bleary-eyed at 5am with our luggage, we made our way onto the coach to Heathrow, aided by generous amounts of SSBC branded water bottles and t-shirts.
After surviving minor security issues in Heathrow and a bomb scare in JFK, we slowly made our way into New York via the subway, a trip which led to much discussion as we eventually took a somewhat circuitous route towards the hostel. Booked in and unpacked, we set out to explore New York, immediately landing in the middle of a Gay Pride festival. Having enjoyed this insight into the life of native New Yorkers, some of us decided to see the sights, including Times Square and, after 26 hours without sleep, the lengthy queue for the top of the Empire State Building, a decision which led to soul-searching on the part of a few.
Exhausted but excited, we woke up the next morning to two crises – one of our number had had his phone stolen, and another had found that the Transatlantic flight had exacerbated a swollen ankle, requiring crutches and a few worried phone calls home. Fuelled by some fantastic bagels from HI Hostel New York these problems were dealt with, however, and we split up to explore the tourist attractions of New York, some of us doing rather better at this than others (well done to Dan, Dave and Alex).
However, our time in New York had to come to an end – we had rowing to do. That evening we boarded the Megabus to Philadelphia, arriving late at our surprisingly rural hostel, Chamounix Mansions, via some very confused taxi drivers.
Training began the next morning, as we experimented with Philadelphia’s public transport system, finding that taxis were much more efficient (thank you George Cooper and Rob Beresford). Aided by the wonderful Mike “Shep” Shepherd, UPenn’s boatman, and Megan Cotter, the UPenn Women’s assistant coach, we soon settled into a routine, training on the Schuylkill River out of the University of Pennsylvania boathouse, an integral part of the famous Boathouse Row, throughout the day, and exploring the surrounding area in our sessions off. This included Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we enjoyed re-enacting the Rocky training montage up the steps, as well as seeing the fantastic collection of 19th and 20th Century art.
All too soon training came to an end; before racing in the Philadelphia Independence Day Regatta, however, it was time to experience the celebrations for Independence Day itself, an event of particular significance to the city due to its history as the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Philly threw a fantastic festival and open-air concert while we watched the fireworks from Vesper boathouse, where we were generously received as guests of honour by Vesper Rowing Club. However, as we made the slightly stressful journey back to the hostel, delayed by gridlocked traffic, we realised that we had arrived at the vital point in the trip: racing began tomorrow.
The first boat to compete was the top men’s four+, consisting of the most experienced rowers (and cox) on the trip. Our build-up had been encouraging but slightly unlucky: after getting comfortable in the four provided by our hosts, an unfortunate accident forced us to use one of the women’s boats instead. Still adjusting, we arrived at the start-line nervous. These nerves translated into one of the best starts of our SSBC experience: leading from the gun, we found ourselves in second at the halfway mark. Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite hold this pace, finishing a length of clear water behind the next nearest boat. We were pleased with our time in the circumstances, but a little disappointed too – at our best we could have been even faster.
Saturday’s racing also included our women’s 4+, who raced against a strong senior field in the heats, failing to qualify for the final. Training for the women had been somewhat disrupted too, the eight getting caught in an almost apocalyptic storm while on the water, forcing them to make an emergency landing and leaving them shaken. Special mention must go to Sarah Robinson, Jessie Beech and Becca Auster for heroism in steering the launch and swimming to shore. A bonding experience which will be looked back on fondly, although it was certainly stressful at the time!
After a transfer to a nearby Hilton Hotel for Saturday night, we returned to the Schuylkill for the final time for the last of our races on Sunday, which included the men’s scratch four and eight, and the women’s eight. Gutsy performances by all were unfortunately not enough for qualification into the finals, and it was an emotional row home for some, realising that this would be their last experience rowing as a member of SSBC. Returning to the hostel, however, the mood was happy, realising that the hard work of the trip was over.
A much-needed rest day on Monday allowed us to recover in Philly and catch up on the many sights, including the famous (and impressive) Liberty Bell, a must-see. The next day, however, was another early start, with a trip to Washington DC scheduled. A Megabus break-down notwithstanding, we made it to Washington in good time, allowing the dedicated to tick off all the major tourist attractions, finishing just as the clouds opened.
Back to Philadelphia for the night, we had to pack quickly upon arrival, ready for travelling home. A third Megabus in two days dropped us in New York, and, now seasoned travellers, we made our way sadly but swiftly to JFK, saying emotional goodbyes to those staying longer in the US. Ensconced in the departure lounge, we reflected on the trip and watched the World Cup, before boarding the overnight flight to Heathrow. Arriving exhausted and saddened to leave, but with happy memories, we said goodbye as we went our separate ways.
There are many people to thank for the success of the trip. First of all, thanks to Nick Allen, Kirsten Dickers, and Max Beber, whose careful management, pointed questions, and granting of significant college subsidy allowed this trip to go ahead. The committee would also like to thank David Graves particularly for his tireless help, patience and availability in all aspects of the trip, from months-long budgeting and planning to crises an ocean away. All of us would like to thank Megan Cotter, and Shep at UPenn Boat Club, whose patience and willingness to help were invaluable – particularly to Megan for boat adaptation and coaching the men’s four, and Shep for helping us with rigging, repairs, and showing us where to get ice. Thank you too to Mike Lane, whose help and hospitality allowed us to come to America to train and race with wonderful equipment and facilities, and to Clete Graham, for waiving the race fees for the Independence Day Regatta and encouraging us to return to Philadelphia. Thanks also to Vesper boat club for their hospitality in hosting us on July 4th, despite some unfortunate no-shows (sorry). As leader I would also like to thank my committee: Sarah Robinson, Charlotte Burns, Becca Auster, Chris Radoux and Lois Overvoorde for their dedication, hard work and determination to make the trip as good as it possibly could be.
Finally I’d like to thank everyone who came on the trip: for their enthusiasm, commitment to the trip and for putting up with my mistakes and sleep-deprived stress. I hope you all enjoyed the trip as much as I did!
Posted: Saturday 28 June 2014, 10:26PM by David Woods
Early tomorrow morning, 25 members of SSBC are setting off to race in Philadelphia at the Independence Day Regatta.
Aided by a generous donation from the college, we are flying to New York on the 29th June before travelling to Philadelphia on the evening of Monday 30th.
As racing in Philly begins on the 4th, we will be training on the Schuykill river before competing in 4+'s and 8+'s. Before we fly back on the 9th we also hope to visit Washington DC and Atlantic City.
If you're in America, come and support us! It promises to be a great trip.
Posted: Saturday 14 June 2014, 5:10PM by C M Stacey
The final day of what had already been a spectacular Bumps campaign for Sidney M2 finally arrived. We were chasing Christ's M3 who had held on the deny FaT M4 yesterday, which in turn had allowed us to gain the over-bump. Behind us was none other than our rivals from day one, Magdalene M3 who had already bumped three times and, like ourselves, secured promotion to Division 4. The stage was set for a fitting showdown.
Having - until today - been behind Magdalene in the Bumps order all we had to go on was the speed with which they'd made their bumps, which meant that we arrived our station fully focussed and resolved to row as well as we had all week. The end was in sight.
As we expected Magdalene made a fast start, but we were able to hold them out of whistle range as we settled into a strong rhythm approaching first post corner. Christ's M3 had also got a strong start, but to our delight we heard whistles from the bank as we came up to the corner. With Magdalene fading behind us we powered around the corner moving within a canvas as we did so.
To their credit, Christ's did not give up and held us off as we approached Grassy Corner. However, we were not to be denied on our final day and, aided as ever by Tom's excellent line coming into Grassy we bumped them just before they were able to take the corner.
Today was the perfect end to what has been an excellent week for M2. The commitment shown by the crew in training shone through in both our speed and endurance. We ended the week undefeated with an aggregate of +6. An outstanding achievement that not only secured us promotion to Division 4 but also Blades!
We would like to thank everyone who has helped and encouraged us to achieve this term, whether it was by turning out to cheer us on or subbing in for someone on a cold, early morning outing. In particular we would like to thank our coaches Nick Porter and David Winch for training us, supporting us and bank partying for us this week.
Posted: Friday 13 June 2014, 11:50PM by C M Stacey
Our bumps campaign had started about as well as could be expected with a row-over on Wednesday and a bump yesterday. However we all knew that today would possibly be the biggest day of our campaign. Second place in our division gave us a chance to go for sandwiching into Division 4 providing we could catch the Jesus crew ahead of us.
No loose horses today, so when the third cannon sounded it really was crunch-time. Our start was probably our best of the week and we'd barely finished our lengthens before we were in whistle range. Once again Tom managed to outmanoeuvre our rivals, taking the outside though the gut and coming tight into Grassy Corner to pin Jesus against the bank. A few powerful strokes later and we bumped them, almost a mirror of our bump the previous day!
Yet our work was only half done, as we were now head of Division 5, meaning we would be have to race again at the bottom of Division 4. Our early bump on Jesus meant that we were able to spin and row up to the lock with time to spare. We knew that the Magdalene crew in front of us were likely to bump quickly so our prospects looked slim for this race. Nevertheless we resolved to give it our best shot and enjoy not being chased for once.
Our predictions about Magdalene bumping soon proved to be correct, and we rowed up towards first post corner seeing more and more boats parked on the bank behind us. To our delight they cheered us on, and we maintained a strong pace. Amazingly we heard whistles approaching Ditton Corner: First and Third M4 (who started 3 places ahead of us) had not only failed to catch Corpus but were tiring! Galvanised by this knowledge we increased our pace. The whistles came again and again as we chased them down the Reach until we practically overtook them just short of the railway bridge. It'd gone down to the wire but we had an over-bump!
Achieving an over-bump rounded off a perfect day on the river for Sidney M2. A fantastic show of determination, endurance and skill from the crew!
Posted: Friday 13 June 2014, 2:35PM by C Radoux
Day 2 of bumps, Hughes hall ahead, Darwin behind and another gorgeous day for racing. We had a strong paddle down to marshalling, and discussion about the race ahead turned to more pressing matters such as dealing with your onsie tan and the fact that Hughes Hall had missed marshalling. Could the race be over as soon as we pass their station?
Tash brought us back down to Earth and made us focus on the race we had ahead of us, and we set off for the start. A strong start past the plough gave us a pre-race boost. Unfortunately the Hughes Hall divas spoilt our fun by turning up fashionably late to the start, looks like the race is going to be longer than a few boat lengths.
Despite Houston’s rigger becoming submerged during the start, we put some distance between us and Darwin, and we soon had a whistle on Hughes hall. We pressed on under the motorway bridge, but Tash had to take a wide line around first post corner to avoid some clearing crews. Our whistle fell silent, replaced by Darwin’s rather strange horn.
The row remained gutsy, but with a hint of scrappiness, leading to a couple of minor crabs as we headed towards grassy and Darwin started to reel us in. They managed to get a slightly tighter line, so Tash took us wide to make them have to put down every last stroke to get that bump. Sadly we eventually fell victim to another crew on for blades.
Day 3 puts us ahead of Wolfson, our boat house mates. We have unfinished business with Darwin, and would love a shot at Queens’ M2 on the final day of bumps, so have plenty of incentive to leave Wolfson behind!
Posted: Thursday 12 June 2014, 11:25PM by C M Stacey
Following a row-over in which we left the rest of Division 5 for dead morale was high as we assembled at the boathouse for the second day. Queen's were firmly in our sights.
However, even as we came up to the starting positions at the 4 minute gun M5 Division once again proved equal to the challenge of holding up proceedings. Yesterday it was a pile-up which caused the re-row and today it was an escaped horse thundering down the tow-path!
However, once the equine obstacle had been removed we continued our run of strong starts to move within whistle range of Queens on first post corner. A little over-excitement amongst the crew meant that we failed to close the race out before Grassy Corner. However, our dependable cox Tom took an excellent line coming into Plough Reach to gain an extra half-length and before the onlooking crowds we made our first bump of the week!
An excellent effort by all that moves us up to second place in our division for tomorrow.
Posted: Thursday 12 June 2014, 10:12AM by C Radoux
For the majority of the boat, today marked the start of either their first or last May bumps. We knew today was going to be tough, with a fast Jesus M2 ahead and Hughes Hall M1 behind. We had set faster times than Hughes hall in previous races this term, but there was a lot of speculation before the race as to whether they would have some blues joining them for bumps. We set out to row our best and give everything we could give regardless of the boats around us.
The nerves of day one showed with a slightly scrappy start, but we recovered well and built up a solid pace. We managed to maintain our distance from Hughes Hall initially, but shortly after the motorway bridge they had a whistle on us. A push out of first post corner meant we were able to hold them off a little longer, but they soon reeled us back in and bumped us just before grassy.
To add insult to injury (or more accurately injury to insult), the Hughes Hall bow ran into Houston’s blade, causing our stroke to crab and sending his blade handle straight into his chest, adding further heartache to the day.
We rowed home with our heads held high, as we knew we had given it our all. Day 2 puts us ahead of Darwin, who we rowed over ahead of in Lent bumps, despite my best efforts with two crabs on the reach!
Posted: Wednesday 11 June 2014, 6:44PM by C M Stacey
Following our win at the Champs Eights Head earlier on in the term we felt confident going into what for some of us was our first bumps. We were chasing a strong Magdalen boat who had had given us a run for our money at Champs. We made a decent start and quickly pulled away from our Kings pursuers to get within whistle range of Magdalene. Sadly we were not given a chance to consolidate this as Magdalene caught the hapless division leaders on first post corner.
Immediately following this the entire division was halted due to a collision further back. The verdict was that the entire division would have to row again, minus boats who had bumped or had been bumped, leaving us at the front.
Unfortunately this meant that the best result we could achieve would be a row-over but we were determined to make the best of it which we certainly did. We opened up the gap with Kings to three lengths by first post corner which was extended to eight by the Plough Reach. A fantastic effort from the crew despite the disappointment of not catching Magdalene, and we will approach Day 2 with exactly the same attitude!
Posted: Saturday 31 May 2014, 3:27PM by C M Stacey
The Champs Eights Head was the first time that M2 had raced together as a crew, and for some of our rowers it was also their first race since novice term. With this in mind, we approached the race with both nerves and excitement in equal measure. We were also acutely aware that our immediate rivals for Bumps had also entered, so the race would prove an important test of our progress.
Despite the fierce heat our confidence was boosted by two excellent practice starts on our way to marshal and some calm words of encouragement from our coach Nick. When the start finally came and Tom, our cox, called for the draw strokes we continued the example we had set earlier that morning by making a terrific start in front of the on-looking crowd at The Plough. A fantastic push from stroke side combined with Tom’s excellent line around Ditton saw us onto the Long Reach in a flash.
We maintained momentum down to the railway bridge, but despite Tom’s calls for a final push we faded slightly. Concentration and pace dropped, and we suffered a crab (guilty!). Despite these setbacks we quickly rallied ourselves to Nick’s encouragement from the bank and managed to make a final surge to cross the finishing line.
We rowed back to the boathouse utterly exhausted, happy for having made it through our first real test as a crew but wondering whether we could have possibly done any more. Despite what misgivings we may have had we were delighted to see we had set a very competitive time of 05:22.41. One very tense wait for the final results to come in later and it was revealed that we had won our division by a comfortable margin, not only beating our rivals for Bumps but also several boats in the division above us! An amazing achievement that reflects the commitment and resolve shown by the crew in training over the past few weeks, and sets us up perfectly for our Bumps campaign to come.