Posted: Monday 17 November 2014, 2:21PM by C M Stacey
Last weekend M1 stepped up to our first true test of the year at the Winter Head. A tough race along the bumps course that required both speed and endurance to set a competitive time. As a crew we went into the race slightly apprehensive, with the new crew having a decidedly mixed amount of racing experience. We were also unlucky to not have two of our regular rowers available: Lucian Comandar and Chris Radoux our strokeman. Nevertheless we were determined to put in a good performance.
Having awoken early (6:30 for myself) for our divisions we paddled down to marshalling in good time to sit and watch the other crews row up the misty river. Racing conditions were good with the weather cool but dry, and the river calm.
We were the eighth boat to set a time, so under the eyes of numerous crews we managed to make a blistering start off only 5 strokes, and Amy - our cox - quickly called that we were gaining on the Selwyn crew in front of us. I'm sure I wasn't alone in feeling the memories of bumps early in the year come racing back!
Thus inspired we quickly lost sight of the crews behind us coming through the Gut and into Plough Reach, although the Selwyn crew in front pulled away. Coming through Ditton Corner our efforts were rewarded by the cheers of a number of Sidneyites who had braved the cold to come and watch. Summoning our strength we pushed on down the Reach to the finish at Green Dragon Footbridge.
The standard of rowing was very high considering the composite nature of the crew, and the race was one to be proud of. Although our final time of 9.46 placed us 21/23 in our category it was more than respectable in the context of the event as a whole.
Overall the Winter Head has left M1 both enthused and encouraged for Fairbairns later in the term. Particular congratulations should go to Jimmy Lei, Nathan Curry and Lionel Dufour for completing their first race with the senior rowers in a very solid debut.
Posted: Monday 17 November 2014, 10:15AM by Lois Overvoorde
W1 met their first milestone on their quest for Fairbairns glory this weekend in Winter Head. Our race preparation started on Wednesday morning with one of those outings where you're miraculously rowing much better than you have at any point before that in the term ("I'm on such a rowing high!!!" - Camille Lardy). We continued this with a solid outing on Thursday morning, followed by race day, meeting at the preposterously early time of 7 am on a Saturday. We set off in plenty of time, which gave us the opportunity to get in a practise piece down the reach and sit at marshalling critiquing the other crews as they rowed past.
The morning was cool and slightly misty, so that by the time our boat was called to set off we were raring to go just to warm ourselves up. We built up the rate before the start with a solid rhythm set by stern pair Camille and Kate and started off the race with a firm but relaxed power ten. Lead by some excellent coxing by Tom Hitchcock we kept our rush in check through the gut and pulled round the corner onto the reach where we pulled out our signature pair pushes. Tom's calls of "Do it for each other" spurred us on, and we could just about see our chasing crew trailing behind us as we got to the middle of the reach. Our gruelling weeks of 30@20 ergs paid off towards the end of the race, as we kept up the power right to the bunting. Racing was followed by crew photo, very welcome showers and the traditional pile of fried things at Sidney brunch.
W1 came 11th out of 15 in our category, a solid result considering we were racing a few visiting universities as well as Cambridge colleges. We came 31st out of 75 women's eights in total. This result is a promising practise for Fairbairns, just a few more 30@20s to go!
Special thanks go to Tom for coxing us for a practise outing and the race, and to Pete Langley and John Upton for getting us ready to perform in such a short space of time. Congratulations also to Rosie Morris for completing her first race as a senior, and to the whole crew, an excellent effort girls!
Posted: Saturday 15 November 2014, 3:55PM by Camille Lardy
Sidney entered six novice crews into Queens’ Ergs this Tuesday 11th November, and rowers, coxes and coaches alike were bursting with excitement - and not a little trepidation - as each group made its way to Queens’. We whiled away the compulsory 45+ minutes between registration and racing by admiring this year’s particularly artsy t-shirt and applying liberal amounts of face paint*.
Each crew’s weeks of training and huge motivation payed off! On the men’s side, Marsh pulled an awesome 1:35.3 average, Casey nailed a sharp 1:39.0, and Homer powered out a solid 1:47.9. On the women’s side, Meegan and Harrison both improved on their crew PB with a beautiful 2:04.7 and 2:12.9 respectively - incidentally, it is the first year that all of Sidney’s women’s novice crews have sub-2minutes rowers, you’re setting a strong precedent!
As for Snow... well, the ladies of Snow were in their usual high spirits when they strode into Queens’ sports hall for the 7pm W1 heat, and had resolved to give it everything. Spurred on by their cox Jeff, their coaches Nathan and myself, and their crewmates’ cheering, each girl showed us what they were made of! Starting with Gillian’s absolutely focused strength and Eleanor’s ruthlessly steady row, followed by Aleksandra’s headlong power and Graziella’s implacable technique, the girls finally went wild when Martina methodically demonstrated exactly what “empty out” means. In the whirlwind of adrenaline, Claire, whose back had healed since the weekend, picked up the power to new levels, and Snow’s boat on the blue screen inched its way up from the middle of the division. Phoebe’s split never once went above 1:50 as she built on the crew’s efforts and drew ever closer to the lead boats amidst the other girls’ delirious cheers. Finally, Evie sat down and, in a bubble of utter lucidity, proceeded to pull neck-to-neck with first Murray Edwards and then Churchill. In a three-boat race to the finish, she smashed down a sub-1:45 power 10 and hurtled through the last 100 meters in a series of huge drawn-out strokes, hitting the end line first. With an unbelievable average of 1:55.3, Snow had won their heat and exploded into raw celebration, prompting the Queens’ commentator to call out “Brace yourselves, Snow is coming!”
With the fourth best time in the W1 heats, Snow got into the finals, which were scheduled to start a couple hours later. Settling into a quiet corner of Queens’ Bar, we stretched, ate, relaxed, and dutifully did 10 squats every 5 minutes to keep the muscles loose. The other novice crews joined us for some banter, as did several seniors, coaches and friends from college - thank you all for your support! The race plan for the finals was “do the same again”, and indeed the girls pulled an average of 1:55.9, emptying out for the second time in the evening (in fact, Eleanor and Claire managed to do even better than in the heat, which had already seen each girl pull off a PB). Finishing twelfth in the toughest finals in recent years, Snow were incredibly pleased with their QuErgs campaign, and I was the proudest coach in town.
So again: massive well done to all of the Sidney men and women, by far the greatest novices the world has ever seen!
* It has been noticed that while the women made an effort with their war paint, the men’s crews chose to abstain - assuredly a ploy to whip up our expectations for their Emma Sprints costumes? Bring it on, then!
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.