The biggest surprise of the year was the Head of the River Race actually happening; it was a close call with the weather making everyone tense in the two weeks in the run up to the race. Thankfully the winds and waves subsided enough on the 29th of March for the race to go ahead for the first time since 2012. We had all three men's crews entered and with weeks of training they all wanted to give strong performances in the longest and most prestigious race of the year and the last race until Bumps.
Cox: Kit Hunter
Stroke: Will McCaughran
7: Tom Morgan
6: Tom Duggan
5: Alex Cowan (C)
4: Ali Williamson
3: Aubrey Capern-Burgess
2: Neel Raja
Bow: Adam Pickard
With the day of Head of the River dawning and the weather man predicting the now anticipated 47mph gusts around the Hammersmith bend, all gathered anticipated a 3rd cancellation in as many years. However, the organisers determination to make sure that the race went ahead was not dulled by horrible rowing conditions. With the safety officer putting his concerns forward and annulling all responsibility the race was going ahead!!
After a rather long marshalling the men's first eight were the first out of the gate for RUMSBC. Settling into only their second piece as a set crew since UH head they established a strong rhythm and prepared for the less than ideal conditions that lay further up the course. With Coxswain Kit Hunter urging his men forward they hit the middle of the race and looked to make headway on the crew in front, only to be hit by some pretty gnarly winds. Once clear of Hammersmith and closing in on the finish the rate began to climb and they dug in to make use of the flatter water towards the finish, building to a crescendo as they crossed the line. Eights Head done and dusted for the first time in 3 years. All that remained was a very blustery row back and the less said about that the better.
- Alex Cowan (Men's Captain)
Cox: Lucinda Conder
Stroke: Mike Foxall-Smith
7: Sam Jackson
6: Abs Al-Kamil
5: Luke Martin
4: Jack Illingworth
3: Patrick Hanna
2: Tom Hughes
Bow: Rory Shadwell
With what is widely regarded as the biggest event in the rowing calendar (not by us though obviously) looking like it was going to be cancelled for a third year in a row due to high winds, you can imagine our surprise as we found ourselves building up to race pace underneath Chiswick bridge. This race was to be a wild one.
Before we’d even crossed the start line we found ourselves clashing blades with the crew chasing us who had for some reason started the race around Mortlake. With our jimmies slightly rustled, we re-sat, got our heads back in the boat and settled into our rhythm. Despite the water conditions not being as bad as expected in the first third of the race, the extremely powerful and gusty winds made for some tough rowing. However, cheers from Barnes Bridge drove us on and we powered through into increasingly choppy water.
As we passed underneath Hammersmith Bridge we were spurred on by more cheering from our dear friends in ICSM and the knowledge that we were over half way to the finish. The pain was blinding, the wind now stronger than ever and we were being pushed to our mental and physical limit. We were in the red zone, the final few minutes of the race when disaster struck! Patrick’s hat was blown off! Also Luke’s “seat got jammed” and it looked like we might have to stop completely, but the experienced oarsman and sea farer, got back into rhythm with just two strokes missed. With the final push valiant if not a little scrappy we eventually crossed the finish line.
Finishing the race however, was only the beginning of this nightmare. We were heavily fatigued, blisters were forming and the wind was getting stronger. The long row back against the stream was agonisingly slow, and under Barnes Bridge we were blown ashore and only avoided grounding completely, thanks to our cox, Lucy, who calmly guided us away from danger. With “I’m a believer” playing from the cox box and the crew having hallucinations of Shrek we finally made it back to the boathouse. Just when we thought it was all over and equipment was being put away, the wind caught us off guard once again and flipped our boat off the trestles onto the ground. What a disaster.
Results: with a time of 21:25.82 placing 291st we defeated St George’s but unfortunately were beaten by ICSM 2s, this was likely due to the less than ideal physical preparation in the week leading up to the race. Hopefully sports ball will be after HORR next year… RIP in peace Patrick’s hat. Lest we forget.
- Rory Shadwell – M2 Rower
Cox: Julia Negreskul
Stroke: Jack Maddicks
7: Callum Fields
6: Connor Price
5: Jamie Glenister
4: Rob Wescott
3: Ben Schapira
2: Jack Merritt
Bow: Matt Kinsella
Captain: Tom McLay
There was much anticipation and excitement amongst the crew for HORR, as it would be the first time we would have competed in such a big international competition and because it gave us a chance to compete with other novice crews from all over the country. Following our performance in UH Head, there was a lot of pressure on us to do well and prove that we are worthy of joining the big boys in the senior crews next year. As always we channelled this pressure into training hard on and off the water.
Unfortunately on the day the weather torrential. Witnessing even the most seasoned UL rower shudder at the thought of rowing in such dangerous and arduous conditions did not fill us with much confidence, nor did the talk from our captain on what to do in the event of a capsize. Despite the weather, we all completed our series of pre-race poos, put on our waterproofs, and prepared for our hardest race so far.
After a 2 hour wait on the water it was our time to set off. The long build up to the bridge allowed us to level off our excitement and anxieties, and settle into a strong rhythm. The start of the race was solid and well balanced, with power 10s off and between each bridge to maintain our power. Unfortunately about a third of the way through the race the sins of Tour followed us home, as we clashed blades with a Bristol senior team as they overtook us, resulting in traumatic flashbacks for both Jamie Glenister and Jack Maddicks causing them to miss a stroke.
Despite the overtaking we continued on as if nothing happened and continued to row a solid race until the end, resulting in a performance we were all proud off. Especially Connor Price, who was pulling so hard he broke his rigger. At first this was funny, until it clicked that we would now be rowing back as a six. This lead to an eventful row back, as in addition the cox box broke and we managed to run aground and break the rudder. The last third of the row back consisted of bow four rowing and steering the boat whilst the rest of the crew shouted instructions to them. This did spoil a good day to say the least, but we realised it could have been worse when we passed an Imperial launch venturing off to look for their lost or dead novice crew. We were greeted at the boathouse by the loving embrace of Tom and Simon, who told us we had done a good job and that they were very proud.
To summarise, it was a great end to a fantastic and memorable season where we have gone from beginners to champions. Bring on Bumps and bring on next year!
- Jack Merritt - MN rower
Full results of the race can be found here.
Now for a big massive RUMSBC congratulations to all our newly qualified doctors!! May your electives be warm and sunny.
And finally, good luck to all preclins in their exams #yougotthis #whenindoubtchooseb
Roll on Bumps!!