Winter Head to Head – W1

Following a solid 2 outings, W1 took on their first race of Lent Term: Winter Head to Head. We are familiar with this race, having competed in Spring Head to Head in Easter Term last year. With this insider knowledge we managed to deduce, a bit earlier than last time, that Head to Head meant we had to race 2k away from the head of the river and then the 2k back again. 2x2k; we were in for some fun.

After meeting promptly at the boat house, we put our boat in the water and proudly carried out our shiny new blades with “blister proof” handles. We pushed off and started rowing all eight full slides having concluded that by this stage we should know to row with legs then backs then arms. As we pulled up to marshal we discovered that our head coach had 3 of her boats racing nicely in a line, good practice at least for Bumps. Katie later remarked that at least she can never be fully disappointed in Bumps. While waiting for the race to begin, we took the opportunity to mentally prepare for the test ahead. Stern 4 discussed calls and racing lines with Jess our cox, and the usual questions of how much to strip off before the race with Captain Timmy (a member of the SSBC fashion committee).  Bow 4 on the other hand prepared by admiring the mens crews rowing past. They concluded that they would only date someone from a boat that could complete the course in under 6:50.


With the whole boat now in the zone, we pushed off. After a few questions from Jess our cox about when to tell us to row, she told us to, and we did. Naturally in the first stroke of the build, my size 4 foot came out my shoe. Oh well I thought time to get some feet out rowing practice in. We completed the first 2k in 7:54 at rate 30. In awe of ourselves, we wound it down and queued to spin at the lock. Jess expertly managed to avoid any “fun bush time” despite the wind pushing us straight into the foliage. We all put our clothes back on and waited for the time race home again. Traditionally we snacked on starburst whilst we waited to keep up our energy for the task ahead. After getting a bit too friendly with Maggie W2 it was time to race home again.

This time we had the wind against us. We set off at a strong rate 28 being called to sit up and square late into the wind. This was not a problem for me at stroke who can’t seem to square before catching anyway. After some fantastic cornering from Jess, we were onto the reach. This is when we hit a wall of wind and started to wonder if our coach Tim was right. Had we had too many mince pies and too much Netflix and chill over Christmas? Determined to prove him wrong we pushed on down the reach determined to catch the men’s IV in front of us. During this a photographer kindly captured a beautiful photo of us all. Some members in particular look like they were definitely pushing something out, hopefully just that last bit of power from their legs. After a strong fight the IV beat us to the line by a foot. After giving them three cheers, they shouted back at us “Who are you?” and then gave three cheers for Sidney.

Back at the boat house, we celebrate a strong race with some traditional snacks from Sainsbury’s and then on to Tatties for some post race potatoes. Much rowing chat occurred and we all departed to do things that aren’t rowing. A strong first race for W1.

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