Report by Dennis Jussen
Saturday the 28th of November 2015 was cold, rainy and windy. On any other day the flag would have been yellow, but not today. Today was the day on which Casey was going to write history. Today was the day on which Casey was going to make SSBC proud. Making it to the finals of Clare Novices, today was almost that day. Unfortunately, luck was not on our side.
Casey’s long day of rowing started at 7.30 a.m. As the combined crew of Worral and Woods had taken our beloved ‘Reverend Wallace’, we lifted the ‘Lord Protector 400’ from its racks instead. Trying to get comfortable in the shoes of the boat, we set sail (hold on!) for the Reach, where a crew of eight Eddies were waiting for us. The first race was tense, especially at the start. For the first couple of meters, it seemed as if St. Edmunds was going to get away from us.
However, even though I caught what appeared to be a crab, we soon overtook them. By the time we passed under the railway bridge, we were at least a boat length ahead. Not sure whether we had passed the finish or not, we kept on going. The whistle was like music to our ears.
After some well-deserved apple-cinnamon pancakes, we made our way back to the boathouse. As Ollie’s feet were not really made for the shoes in the boat, our wonderful coach Lois sacrificed her own socks. (Apparently, that is how committed she is.)
Reaching the marshalling zone, we heard that Wolfson was going to be our opponent for the second race. The bit of luck we had was probably spilled at that very moment. Wolfson did not show up; Casey’s journey into the semi-finals turned out to be an easy one.
Since we had some time to kill and did not want to wait in the cold, we did what rowers do, and had some scrambled egg. With our stomachs once more filled, we set off for the third time that day. The wait at the bank was long and cold, but seemed like the perfect opportunity to crack some puns about our opponent. (Jesus puns are always great, especially when our coach Elliot is on the loose.) By the time both boats were lining up for the start, the wind had gone crazy. With marshals screaming from the bank, it took some while before both boats were finally lined up. Basically, the only thing I can remember from that race is that we were beasts. Not only in terms of rowing, but also in terms of sound. With Cassiano and Kit grunting behind me like bears, we did some strong rowing against the winds. Immediately supplementing our draw starts with a power ten and racing on in pair pushes, we finished first. In turned out Jesus should have kept to walking on water, instead of rowing. (Yes, Elliot, I can do it too!)
Chattering teeth at the bank, but getting warm by singing the YMCA, we prepared for the climax of the day. Just before our final race against Fitzwilliam, however, our cox-box ran out of battery. This seemed not to bother anyone though, because we completely smashed Fitzwilliam. At some point, we were leading by an incredible four boat lengths. Passing under the railway bridge, it looked as if Fitzwilliam was going to give up. The win seemed to be in the pocket, especially when Corin called out for another power ten.
Unfortunately, it was in the last hundreds of meters that bad luck hit us like in Greek tragedy. Close to the finish, we suddenly found ourselves crashing into the bank. Thinking bow-side had messed up in some impossible way, we recovered ourselves, getting back on to the river as quick as we could. Although Fitzwilliam had started to believe in themselves again, we were still miles ahead. Even when we crashed into the bank for the second time and Fitzwilliam overtook us, we did not give up. With Philip taking the stroke-rate over a nine thousand, Casey initiated an impressive chase. Once more, however, we crashed into the bank.
By then it was pretty clear that the impossible had happened: our rudder had broken somewhere during the race. Rowing back to the boathouse in yellow flag conditions with no rudder was impressive. If there is an award for this (HINT, HINT!), it would definitely go to our cox. Rowing in fours and using stroke and seven as her rudder, Corin brought us back home safely. Special thanks goes to Ollie, Franz, Sergio and Gerard, the bow-four that did all the work.
In the end, Casey did write history. Improving every single race, they made the impossible possible. Sadly, you can read that in two ways.
PS: In Casey (YEAH!) you still do not believe it, the attached photo will make you cry!
Edited on Sun, 29th Nov 15 by Lois Overvoorde
The Clare Novices