Posted: Wednesday 11 March 2015, 6:00PM by Camille Lardy
Report by James Moore.
A term of upward momentum. Starting in a chilly January morning where it slowly became clear our crew had one more bowsider than was strictly necessary, and proceeding with a steady stream of subs and scratched outings over the term, no one really knew what to expect from Sidney M3. Yet as eight weeks passed we rather unexpectedly became a crew.
As we learned the Cambridgeshire railway schedule by heart from David, and were haunted in fevered dreams by the wailing moans of Darren to “Sit the boooooat!” (or was that just me?), slowly we tried to learn the principles of rowing together, rowing in time, rowing at race pace, and finally even doing a race start - upon which, in shocked words our usually steadfast coach Nathan remarked, “I think we’ve actually found something this crew can do”. Balance was, and remains, a mystery, but no matter.
Eventually the getting on race was upon us. And we rowed. Well. With a time faster than a host of other M3 boats, and even a couple of M2s, it was just ten seconds, a couple of crabs, and the eternal wisdom of CUCBC which kept us out of bumps - ‘the best dressed crew not to get on’. So instead, we set our eyes on the Talbott, and eventually on the distant Mays.
Come the day, and we pulled in behind a Clare Hall M3 (which was, I understand, suspiciously similar to Clare Hall M2), decked out in fetching yellow and red lycra. After a nervous wait, we lined up on the Long Reach, and as Luke stared wistfully into the Cambridge countryside with one hand on his blade, the race started. It couldn’t have made less of a difference, Sidney owns the reach, and we knew it. Within fifteen strokes, David from his coxswain seat could stare only at their bowman, and a couple of strokes later, we had clear water between us. Unsure how long the race was, our M3 pushed until we could push no more, and after a Sookias reset we pushed some more. Clare Hall clung to our wake and we pulled away no further, but M3 aren’t greedy. Winning by a length and a half is fine by us.
After enjoying our victory, we waited for our next competition to be decided. Churchill M3 or First and Third M3? Both were strong, and we knew Sidney would be David to their Goliath no matter who won, but at least they’d tire each other out before we matched up against one of them. As we were marshalled for the race however, a fresh and spritely FaT M3 was sat next to us. Churchill had scratched! Having sparred with FaT M3 before, we knew the second highest M3 in both Lents and Mays would be tough competition, and facing them with a race already under our belts was far from ideal.
The whistle went, and once again our draws were strong. It may be the only thing we can do, but Sidney M3 can start, and so not only did we hold station, but from where I was sitting I think we moved a seat on FaT. Side by side down most of the Long Reach, eventually our fatigue and relative inexperience began to show, and when after the railway bridge a rogue whistle confused half our crew thinking we’d finished, the FaT advantage of half a length or so became a length or more, and the race was done.
Back at the boathouse, we celebrated as victors, and why not. In the space of eight weeks, Sidney M3 had gone from a collection of (sometimes as many as) nine people standing shivering on the side of the Cam to a competitive racing crew. Bring on May Bumps.