Posted: Sunday 17 May 2015, 3:16PM by Camille Lardy
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!