Posted: Sunday 17 May 2015, 5:26PM by Camille Lardy
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.