Posted: Sunday 03 May 2015, 4:47PM by Camille Lardy
W1 started the morning in less-than-ideal conditions, having to decide at 10am whether to warm up before the race—but get drenched in the rain—or forego the warmup altogether. We chose the latter, and met at the boat house at 11am, knowing that our lack of pre-race prep would mean being absolutely focused as soon as we sat in the boat.
City Sprints is a side-by-side regatta from the white bridge at the far end of Midsummer Commons, to City Boathouse, 400m upstream. Our first race was against Clare W1, fourth from the top of the Mays charts, in the semi-finals of the student women’s VIII category. Our new cox, Elliot, had only coxed us once before, but was absolutely in control of the boat and of the crew when the start was given, the umpire’s fast “attentiongo” taking us slightly by surprise before we’d squared our blades. We still started better than Clare, whose stakeboat was slightly behind ours due to the curving nature of the course around the bend of the boathouses. There isn’t anything much to say about the race: we were in time, we were technical, Elliot called for strokeside to take us ‘round the bend and before we knew it, we were past Goldie and into the ‘last 10 strokes’. Having never let up on the power, we beat Clare by ¾ of a length.
We learned shortly afterwards that we would be facing Christ’s II in the finals—having bumped that particular crew last Lents gave us extra motivation, as well as the news that we would again be racing on the Commons side, which puts us on the outside of the bend but gives us the advantage of starting with our opponents slightly behind, in our sights. The wait at marshalling was much longer this time, but thankfully the rain had stopped. It was, however, replaced by a very strong headwind. We started off strong, more steadily than in the first race, but the wind made us veer very slightly and the strokeside blades clipped the banks. W1’s experience and focus were proven when all of bowside carried on rowing, and strokeside joined back without missing more than a couple strokes as Elliot skillfully steered us clear. Christ’s, on the inside of the bend, had gained on us to the point of almost overlapping—from the stroke seat, I believe I was level with their six woman. They still had the advantage of the bend, but we were determined not to let them get what we considered to be ‘our’ win. Elliot reminded us that we were still in the lead, however slightly, and the W1 Power Machine was engaged: rowing more smoothly that we had so far in the day, we lengthened our strokes as we rowed past Goldie for the second time. In less than a hundred meters, we ate up Christ’s and won the finals by an entire length.
Having won City Sprints, we collected our pots and celebrated with a pint of cider! Thank you to all our supporters, especially Pete, Tash, and Jaason. Very well done again to all: this was a first win for most of us, and a fitting welcome for Elliot into the crew! Now on to more races every weekend, and Bumps at the start of June, after the most solid start of term the crew could have hoped for.