Lent Bumps 2016 – Thursday – W1

W1 started off the day determined to draw on the positives from our previous race rather than dwell on the unfortunate result.

We started off our race with a fast start with the aim of pushing up on Emma W2 who had bumped us on Tuesday. Sadly it was not to be, as we were bumped by Jesus W2 before we could get to Emma, but as the photo shows we kept our technique and power all the way to the bump, and we don’t feel too ashamed to go down to one of the fastest women’s crews on the river.

In today’s race we will be at the top of a three-boat sandwich with Darwin W1 chasing us and Pembroke W2 chasing them. We’re hoping to bring the focus again and push off Darwin, then hopefully have another try at bumping Emma on Saturday. Come down to the river to shout for us if you can!

Lent Bumps 2016 – Thursday – M1

Another day, another row over. This one was more frustrating than the first. We started today hoping to catch Queens’ M2 off guard. We had a whistle on them soon after the motorway bridge, at which point Alex alerted us to “a sandwich situation” up ahead as Queens M2′ were gaining on FaT M2.

We pushed hard, were rewarded with calls that we were gaining and then… “Hold it up!” Crews ahead had failed to clear and blocked up the river. A re-row for Queens’ M2 and FaT M2, with Sidney not invited to the party, possibly because Alex had once again managed to fit through an impossibly small gap and take us away from the carnage. We were awarded a technical row over/there were no crews racing behind us so we took it home at a calm rate 18.

Special commendation to Lucian for rowing past the whole W1 division without trying to organise a swap with any of them


Lent Bumps 2016 – Tuesday – M1

M1 love bumps so much, they just had to row the whole course. With little pressure from Pembroke M2 behind, we had to settle in to our race plan and try to push up onto Queens’ M2. Sidney certainly didn’t let them have an easy race, and held them until the finish.

Special commendations to Alex Bathurst for masterfully navigating poorly clearing crews, and Jimmy Lei for the loudest kit on the Cam

Lent Bumps 2016 – Tuesday – W1

W1 would prefer to describe the race they thought they had rowed…

W1 were chasing Fitz W1 and chased by Emma W2, who were themselves chased by a very fast Jesus W2. Off the start we found ourselves in a double-decker sandwich situation: Jesus closing on Emma, Emma closing on us and us closing on Fitz. Although Emma came close to bumping, W1 put in an almighty effort, pulling away from Emma twice thanks to some beautifully tight corners and an excellent reset call. Emma were bumped by Jesus and conceded on Grassy Corner after steering for a bump on us and missing. After the massive effort evading Emma we dropped back a little and were unable to keep up with Fitz, taking off a little pressure towards the end of the race to save our strength for the next race. We arrived back at the boathouse elated and proud of the determination we had shown as a crew in holding off Emma.

Stop reading here if you don’t like sad endings…

Unfortunately, just as we were about to take a traditional post-race photo, a member of the Jesus bank party cycled up and informed us that we had in fact been bumped by Emma on First Post corner. The crew had not felt or seen this, and it had not been communicated to us or Emma, and hence we kept rowing through the course.

Whilst we are, of course, saddened that we were not awarded the result we felt we had earned, W1 have a lot to be proud about from this race. We put in a huge amount of effort for each other and kept our heads in a stressful situation. We hope to continue this into our next race on Thursday, where we seek our revenge on Emma.

Special commendations go to cox, 2 and 4 (Corin, Martina and Fola), who gave us an excellent Grassy Corner, allowing us to evade a (second?) bump from Emma.

Lent Bumps 2016 – Tuesday – M2

M2 started off SSBC’s bumps campaign in style with a bump on LMBC M4! They have their sights set on FaT M4 tomorrow, who failed to bump Queens’ M3 today.

Special commendations/commiserations go to Chris Radoux for cycling back to the boathouse on a flat tyre to fetch a forgotten life jacket, not quite getting back in time, and hence missing the first bump of his protégés. Luckily M2 procured one just in time at marshalling, and were allowed to race.

Fairbairns 2015 – Homer

Report by Zach Lande:

The infamous Fairbairn cup is shrouded in myth and legend. The courageous rowers of Homer had heard the stories of this race recounted to them by their coaches Chad and Rob, seasoned veterans of this grueling 2.7 km challenge. As our final race of term, we intended to continue our success from Emma Sprints and bring further glory to SSBC (by far the greatest boat club the world has ever seen etc.)

The transition from sprint training to endurance training was not an easy one. Leo “bleeding heart” Penrose learnt the hard way that it is not in fact possible to do Fairbairns at rate 40, his preferred tactic for Queen’s Ergs. Nonetheless, the Homies quickly learnt to embrace the “mileage makes champions” philosophy of the renowned Steve Fairbairns. We grit our teeth and developed an unusual love for the extended periods of time we spent together in the gym preparing for the big day, whilst making some serious #gainz along the way. One of these sessions included a guest appearance from the illustrious Emma Flint of Woods, who found herself coaching the 5 freshers of Homer. This was an enviable position to be in, which we are sure she very much enjoyed.

The 3rd December swiftly dawned upon us, and the unforgiving waters of the Cam glistened in the morning sunlight as we congregated at the boathouse. As we put on our bespoke Fairbairns T-shirts, our first proper piece of rowing stash, we knew that expectations were high, and that we would have to go hard or go Homer. We heaved the crumbling, rickety, finger-slicing, yet somewhat loveable relic that is the Lord Protector out onto the water, and prepared to do battle against the other 40 boats of the Men’s first division. As an NM3 boat, we weren’t really supposed to be there, but this was not to deter us from the task at hand. Homer was the second last boat to race, and after an excruciatingly long wait, we built up a rolling start and glided past the ominous flag of Jesus boathouse, sporting its 3 black cocks.

The race itself was a game of mind over matter. The Fairbairns burn started to gradually creep through our muscles as we powered on, eating up the meters. We settled into our rhythm, aided by the encouraging calls of Jess, the coxiest of coxy ladies. Tim, who was probably thinking about his Mom, was suddenly caught unawares by a crazy crab, which nearly caused us to swerve into the bank. Fortunately, a rapid response from the bold bowsiders re-aligned the boat, and set us forth on the home straight. As we began to pound towards the finish, the wise words of Chad “the Lad” Stacey echoed through our minds: “those power 10s will carry you home boys”. And they did just that. As Homer crossed the finish line, our first term of rowing came to a dramatic close. After the official times were released, we discovered that we had beaten Marsh crew, the notoriously powerful protégés of Captain Chris Radoux. Furthermore, our time placed us 5th out of all the NM3 crews, and a full 30 seconds ahead of last year’s novice crew, two achievements of which we are immensely proud.

The end of Fairbairns signified the final time which team Homer would row together as one. The row back to the boathouse was an emotional one, as we reminisced on all the boatie banter we had shared together. Boat Club Dinner was an unforgettable opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments of the term, but also to thank Rob and Chad for all their efforts and sheer dedication to the crew. We would also like to collectively thank the entirety of SSBC for making our first term as novice rowers so enjoyable and memorable!

Clare Novices

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

Casey inspect the damage

Emma Sprints 2015 – Homer

Report by Zach Lande:

The 22nd November 2015 was a big day for team Homer aka “the Homies”. On this bright, calm, but absolutely freezing morning we woke up to the news that Marcelo’s wife was going into labour. We are now extremely proud to welcome Helena “Homer” R. to the team. It was also Sergio’s birthday, but we were a little more excited about the baby. In order to replace Marcelo, we had to enlist the help of the brilliantly buff bowsider that is Tom “Big T-bone Steakison” from team Marsh. As we all congregated at the boathouse, we came to the realization that our costume idea hadn’t really worked out. Our theme was supposed to be “Sports” (except for rowing), but in our collective sports gear we just ended up looking like a bunch of rowers.

Our first race was against Hughes Hall. This was our first opportunity to put into practice our intense training; we had cut our fingers to pieces in The Lord Protector during our work on race starts, and hopefully wanted to avoid catching any unwanted crabs. Unfortunately, this was not the case. To quote Eazy-E, Tom caught “more crabs than a seafood platter”, but this was because his feet kept on slipping out of his boat shoes. However, we achieved a very convincing victory despite this setback, and confidently made our way into the quarter-finals. We had a short while to recover, during which we drank tea, ate Haribos, listened to Trinity 1st and 3rd playing “last Christmas” on their cox box, and even considering going to the pub for a cheeky pre-race pint.

After Lois had sacrificed the drawstrings of two of her bags in order to tie down Tom’s slippery feet to the boat, we lined up against Caius and gave them an intense stare down, still on a high from our previous victory. Caius had a very good start, and began to pull in front, but Jess’s motivational coxing carried us ahead of their boat. A surprise appearance from an unwanted crustacean in the Caius boat caused the last 50 meters to be neck and neck, as we clashed oars in a desperate thrust towards the finish line. As the two boats glided under the bridge together we hurriedly turned towards the marshals for a decision. Upon hearing “Sidney won”, the entire crew erupted into loud cheering and applause. To quote Rob, our inspirational coach, it was “the most epic race I ever watched”. Rob was also very keen to point out that he had matched with the Caius coach on tinder. Well done Rob.

The semi-finals were against Magdalene. This was a particularly tough race, which ended in a loss for the Homies. Nonetheless, we still had the 3rd and 4th playoffs to go against Wolfson, who looked particularly appeeling in their banana costumes (pardon the pun). The Homies were fatigued from their last race, and had to dig deep in order to rapidly spin the boat and line up for their final race of the day against the bunch of Wolfson rowers (yes, that was another banana-related pun). The Homies truly emptied out, but couldn’t quite catch up with Wolfson. Nevertheless, we placed 4th overall in the M2 division, which is an incredibly impressive result, of which we are all proud. We would like to thank our coaches Rob and Chad for all their time, dedication, wise words, and for putting up with our incessant demands for extra outings. Hopefully the Homies will see equal, if not more success in Fairbairns in December!

Edited on Sun, 22nd Nov 15 by Camille Lardy

Champs Eights 2015 – M1

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.

Champs Eights 2015 – W1

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!