Here are Race Reports from my own, personal favourite race of the year, Cambridge Head. After an early night, RUMSBC converged on Bloomsbury Theatre, boarding the coach for our annual sightseeing tour of the Cambridge Fens.
Read below for how we got on!
Cambridge head proved to be a fairly mixed bag of results for the men's senior squad. With the men's IV racing first, early in the morning we quickly discovered conditions were not as favourable as we'd expected. Freezing temperatures and a long marshalling time meant that the four was not as warm and loose as we'd hope to be rolling into the start of the race. Battling a strong headwind we struggled to maintain the dynamic rhythm we were aiming for and although there were sections of decent rowing, we were unable to sustain it down the whole course. As a result we did not post a time as good as we'd hoped compared to our competition- ICSM. However, considering the four had only one 20 minute outing together beforehand we had to be realistic with our expectations for the piece and we learnt a lot about our rowing and the course which proved useful for the races later in the day.
Next up were the men's 2nd VIII. With many rowers in this crew racing in the senior squad for the first time after stepping up from the novice squad, they set out to use Cambridge head as an opportunity to row a good clean race and cement the technical gains they'd made over the last few months. And that they did, all the rowers came off the water very pleased with their performance claiming it to be their best piece of the season, rising to the pressure and showing that they can pull it off on race day. Although none of their UH competition was there to compare times with, they can be confident that they are well in contention to maintain they're position as the fastest UH intermediate crew.
Last to race were the Men's 1st VIII, having learnt a lot about the conditions and mistakes made in the four, we were keen to go out and really attack the race. Knowing that we were chasing St George's 1sts down the course gave us even more motivation to put out a good performance. The rowing felt strong and together meaning we held them for most of the way down however after a big push from them in the last quarter they managed to pull away and put a few seconds on us with St Bart's and the London just ahead of them. So although not the winning result we were aiming for, it was a solid benchmark for the rest of the season. RUMS men's squad has a tradition of slow start to the season but always a strong show of form as we hit UH head so all the lads are more motivated than ever to smash the training over the next few months.
On a cold winter's morning, 8 hardy novice men had it revealed to them that I was straight up lying when I proudly announced 'you'll never need to get up early on a Saturday for rowing' at Fresher's Fayre. This could mean only one thing: Cambridge Head. Buoyed with excitement for their first race, the boys quickly assembled The Dilworth, their ever unreliable steed, and mentally prepared themselves for their first race of the season by standing in a cold field surrounded by cow droppings. The focus was immediate once they were on the water and began their row up to the start line, and those cold legs began to shake the cobwebs off as they started the race. After easily clearing the corners so feared by RUMSBC seniors of old, they mounted a final charge on the crew in front of them to overtake to the sound of RUMS support cheering them on in the final 500m. They climbed out of the boat exhausted, but proud of their efforts. Unfortunately, the race time was not quite what we hoped for, with the first half of the race being at an excellent pace before a last kilometre slump let down what had been an top effort until that point. The day as a whole was great fun, and all the boys shook off initial disappointment to belt out some classics at Karaoke (Singing MVP = Sean Donaghue), and as a learning experience this race really drove home the point that technical rowing can only get us so far, and they solemnly swore to renew their erging efforts so that we're more than ready for the other UH crews at Novice Sprints and beyond.
The senior women had an exceptional day of racing at Cantabs Winter Head in Cambridge. With an early start and a chilly morning on Stourbridge Common, the women were the first up to the start line. W1 set off strong and quickly overtook ICSM (2nd VIII) on the first corner, a tight squeeze that resulted in a blade clash; but this early overtake kept the whole crew going and motivated until the very end. W2 were the next up to overtake (the same) ICSM crew on the Reach, in front of RUMSBC spectators screaming ‘MIDDLE, MIDDLE, MIDDLE!’ and Georgie (cox) yelling ‘HUMILIATE THEM!!!’. Both crews smashed their races and came off the water absolutely delighted. W1 finished in 10:47 as the fastest UH crew and W2 in 11:44. A strong start for the first race of the year!
Our W4 consisting of Hannah Hickingbotham (Cox), Caitlin Healy (Stroke), Mattie Williams, Eimear McKavanagh and Gloria Smith were the last senior women’s crew to race and they came home CHAMPIONS, winning their category. Special mention goes to our hip-flask swigging W4, to Elizabeth Sinclair for subbing into W2 and to Georgie Lloyd, our excellent cox and boatwoman.
Next up is UH Novice Sprints for W2 and Allom Cup for W1. Bring on the sprints…
I managed to get two crews together for Cambridge Head for the first time ever! They worked so hard in the outings before the race; the improvement from when they started is unbelievable. The girls were 4th and 6th in their division, which is amazing, but I’ll let them explain how they think the race went.
First boat to row, report from Abi Powell and Ellie Roderick. Needless to say, our crew were all nervous on the morning of Cambridge Winter Head; it was our first race, and we wanted to do RUMSBC proud. After a decidedly shaky row to the start line – in which we mistakenly thought we had got the propensity for crabs out of our system – we were off. After a jubilant overtake of a UCL boat, we were all in high spirits – perhaps too much so, as we took an unexpected break due to some spectacular simultaneous crabbing. Nevertheless, we regained our lead and finished the race ecstatic and exhausted. Bring on the sprints!
Second boat to row, report from Katie Lumb. After a slightly nervous and unbalanced row down to the starting line, it appeared that it would take time for all of us to get back into rowing and find our rhythm again. However, this was not the case, and after a promising (and in time) first stroke we were soon on our way to building up a respectable pace with good synchronization. With some fierce encouragement from our cox, Greg, to overtake the King’s Crew who started ten seconds ahead of us, we managed to give more power and gain ground, especially after our motivation was boosted by some very enthusiastic riverside RUMS supporters. We were able to finish with a time that we were all truly proud of, albeit due to some very impressive recoveries during the race after various crew members crabbed. Overall it was an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable first race, and it certainly made us all look forward to our future races even more!
With Cambridge Head out of the way, the Novice and Intermediate crews turn their attention to the first UH-organised sprints race of the year. Hosted on our boathouse's very doorstep the crews race over ~750m with the stream. Sprinting rewards the precision of a well-drilled crew and also the raw power that monster quads can put in the water.
Read below to find out how we got on.
The first novice sprints race of the season is always an exciting day for them (and often an amusing day for those on the bank watching the spectacular crabs unfold). UH Novice Sprints 2016 was no different.
RUMS WN1 - It was another freezing cold morning at the boat house as we arrived for novice sprints; after a preparatory circle (of the squat variety) we went on to race against - and much to our surprise, win against - both GKT and George’s. Then the time came for our ‘grudge match’ against RUMS B. Despite their tough competition, we managed to come out the victors, placing us in the final.
We were to race against Bart’s who had put in an intimidating performance throughout the day; however a good start gave us an early lead, and we crossed the finish line as the winners of the UH Novice Sprints 2016, giving us our first (and hopefully not last) medals of the season!
RUMS WN2 – UH Novice Sprints promised to be a very exciting day of races, particularly as it was our first experience of a sprint race, a faster paced and more exhilarating prospect than the Cambridge Head. Our first race, against KCL, ended in brilliant victory, which despite our respectable start and good commitment to the race, was somewhat due to some unfortunate circumstances on KCL’s part, with multiple crabs. Even so, our crew progressed safely into the semi-finals, and this first race proved a useful warm up and practice ready for our next tough competition, the RUMS Novice Ones. Our semi-final race had a unique atmosphere, as it was RUMS vs RUMS, and since we were against our first team counterparts, the pressure was certainly off for our crew. Despite this, we were still driven to improve on our previous race and show full dedication and commitment, as there was a very high chance of this being our final race of the day. Even though we were defeated by the other crew, we gave the race our all, and were incredibly proud of both our performance in the race, and of our first team, who went on to win the event. To have been knocked out of the competition by the eventual victors, and to have had the opportunity to race against our RUMS peers was a fantastic experience in itself, and overall it was an unforgettable day of which both crews will always be proud.
After some promising sprints training sessions, the novice men woke up raring to go for the first sprints race of the season, and the first head to head against other UH crews! Despite losing a key rower to the cruel clutches of Virgin Trains (Alex Lane, you are an idiot) and getting a last minute sub in the form of Adam Jones, the boys got onto the water with a renewed hunger to leave their mark on GKT. Or so it would have been, had KCL not rocked up at the start line after they 'accidentally' put that boat against us. An excellent start left them slightly up on KCL, but eventually the size of man and rigorous training regimes that KCL possessed were enough to bring it back halfway through the race and leave our boys feeling an injustice had been done to them. Their repechage race against RVC seemed winnable, but the boys struggled to regain their focus after the disappointment of the first race and put in a performance they knew wasn't representative of what they can really do. A disappointing day all round, but the novice men know now that they be competitive with bigger University crews and I hope that buoys their spirits going into the races ahead.