Cambridge Winter Head was both a fun-packed and drama-filled day, kicking this year’s competitive season off with a bang. Once again, RUMSBC was forced to set their alarms to an ungodly hour before making the arduous journey to Bloomsbury Fitness to catch the coach to Cambridge. However, misfortune met RUMSBC swiftly when we discovered an injury had claimed the bow-man of the Men's boat 2, Timo Rodi, forcing our Men's captain to (not-so-begrudgingly) step up to the plate and volunteer himself as tribute. Not only this, when boarding the bus we soon found it to be a tighter squeeze than expected and some members where given no other choice but to vacate Badger's den. Disruptions behind us, RUMSBC hit the road and made it to Stourbridge Common, ready to take on the competition and show them what RUMSBC is made of – to find out how the races went, check out the reports below. With the races out of the way, we took to the field to celebrate, enjoying games, songs and a more humane take on fox hunting involving freshers and Rory Shadwell. The journey back went a lot more smoothly, and soon we found ourselves back in London to face the second biggest challenge of the day - karaoke! After a evening of poorly-pitched songs and questionable dance moves, RUMSBC graced Mully's with a glorious rendition of Angels, bringing to an end yet another stellar day of racing. Here's hoping that Novice Sprints is just as fun!
Men’s Novice VIII
The first part of the race saw us face a few hiccups around the sharp bend and during an overtaking manoeuvre. However this was no matter and we quickly regained a smooth, strong rhythm; past the passionate spectators and all the way to the finish line. Finishing with a respectable time of 12:24 and edging out our UH rival, RVC, this was our best row thus far, giving us a strong foundation for future races. - Yousif Ali, Seat 2
Women's Novice Boat 1 (Matched VIII's)
"With just 6 weeks of rowing under our belts, the novice women were nervous but excited for our first race. This was an opportunity to put all our training into practice and have our first taste of competitive rowing. We started strong, successfully manoeuvring notoriously tight corners and built up to a good pace and rhythm. Despite a selection of pretty impressive crabs in the second half, we were unstoppable, powering through to make it to the finish line (before accidentally hitting the bank). With a solid start to the year, we’re looking forward to Novice Sprints!" - Radhika Kumar, Seat 2
Women's Novice Boat 2 (Matched VIII's)
"Cambridge head was our first on the water racing experience and I think it’s fair to say that there was a lot of nervous energy in the boat on the way up to the start! Despite this very wobbly and crab-filled pre-race paddle we put our game faces on and had a very strong first half of the race, recovering well from an inopportune double-overtake from UCL and RVC on a rather nasty corner. However, at about 6 minutes in, disaster struck as the steering broke and we came to a rather abrupt stop! Luckily, Greg was able to fix this and – although we were all very cold by this point – we pulled it together and finished what we started. Although it wasn’t exactly the smoothest racing debut, we’re all the more determined to smash it when we get back on the tideway. If we can power through that race we can do anything – bring on Novice Sprints!" - Gracie Sutton, Seat 2
Senior Men Boat 1 (Matched VIII's)
"Upon the start line we were raring to set off, both to keep warm in the chilly weather that greets us every year on the Cam and to show the competition what RUMSBC will be bringing to the table this year. Thinking back to what we had practiced over the previous few weeks – strong stable cores, consistent handle heights and lengthy big boy strokes – we steeled ourselves waiting for the start signal.
As we set off, we focused on getting into a rhythm and putting down power and soon found ourselves closing in on the RVC boat ahead of us. Despite a mishap with our 3 seat sliding off its rails, we were quickly able to recover and soon our continued efforts combined with excellent coxing from Chris Jackson saw us effortlessly glide around the bend and ahead of RVC.
Feeling the satisfaction of leaving a boat in our stream, we continued onward with just the finish in mind. As we neared the end, shortcomings in our fitness started to become apparent, however we maintained our resolve and, bolstered by the support from the bank, carried on pushing with all the power we had left within us until we were finally granted a reprieve as we crossed the finish line. Overjoyed with our debut race performance, we look forward to the races ahead and hope that this success is a sign of things to come, with many medals headed our way." - Adam Jones, Seat 2
Senior Men Boat 2 (Matched VIII’s)
"Our debut race of 2017/18 was Cambridge head. It’s always a good day out, but the senior men used it as an opportunity to induce some competition into the squad. Matched eights were drawn and, at the start line, less than a few seconds separated the crews.
The nervous energy was palpable in the boat as we rowed through the start line; we knew the tricky bit of the race would be navigating a large vessel through three tortuous turns before attacking the final straight. Unfortunately, due to the size of the boat we were using it was impossible to go through turn 2 without slowing to a complete halt to ensure a safe navigation.
But what a difference it made to the rowing! As soon as we restarted onto the final straight, the tense atmosphere dissipated, rushed slides became relaxed and easy, short strokes became long concerted strokes with real send. We let the boat run underneath us, allowing the speed to increase even more. The race finished with a great final burst and we knew at the finish line that something had clicked in the race and the kind of rowing we have been working towards came to fruition and we had a great second half to the race. We look forward to Novice Sprints with anticipation." - Jamie Glenister, Men’s Captain 17/18, Bow
"The RUMSBC senior women’s squad has set off to a strong start this year, led by our superb new women’s Captain Libi Hawkes. With a high level of competition for seats in crews, the women’s squad have been training hard both on and off the water, and there was universal excitement about competing for the first time at Cambridge Head in matched eights. Whilst entered into the intermediate category against many other crews, as far as our women were concerned there was only one race - Wintech vs Stampfli.
Both teams had a strong paddle up to the start line; heads focussed in, determined to prove they were the stronger crew. Team Wintech set off first, with Team Stampfli chasing behind. After a powerful wind up to the start line, Team Stampfli set off strong, quickly settling in to their well-practiced race rhythm. The first two minutes set the tone for what should have been an impressive first race of the year. Unfortunately, disaster struck at the first corner. Whilst embarking on the course’s first precarious corner, the Stampfli’s steering snapped, trapping the rudder and forcing the boat in the direction of the bank. A less competent cox may have given up at this point and accepted the fate of becoming implanted into the Cam’s shrubbery - not Preena however. Grabbing a firm hold onto whatever was left of our kamikaze steering, Preena remained calm and focussed, unnerved at the prospect of having to navigate the remaining treacherous course with a bent rudder. Bow side were sent into overdrive, whilst stroke side kept tight to the unassailable rhythm of the crew. The girls could not have asked for a better display of coxing to motivate them through the remaining length of the course. Aided by a coach cycling along the bank, who upon realising something was wrong had left his crew to shout continuous support at Team Stampfli, we embarked on the final straight. It was a testament to the crew that the supporters watching from the bank still complimented Team Stampfli’s cohesiveness as we rowed past. With an unrelenting stream of motivational calls from Preena, and bow side laying down the power, the crew held it together and crossed the finish line.
The disappointment amongst our women was tangible, particularly as it was promising to be a close call between the two crews. However, the crew took pride in the knowledge that our first 1000m matched the time of the other crew. Determined not to let the race’s events dampen the rest of the day, the crew returned to high spirits and Preena’s PTSD was managed successfully with a bottle of port. This year promises to be a rewarding one, with two strong women’s senior eights. Bring on sprints!!" – Claire Shadwell, Seat 7 of Senior Women Boat 2