RUMSBC have once again proved themselves to be champions of the Thames, bringing home medals in four of the eight categories entered. Whilst no-one of certain of results and Sunday evening was filled with tension, the atmosphere soon lifted when Jerry called out the one word we were all anticipating..."RUMS!". Three more times we heard our club called out, each time followed with rapturous applause and chants of 'Middle! Middle! Middle!', with the Novice Men, Novice Women A, Men's Seconds and Women's Firsts being bestowed with United Hospitals' finest hand-crafted pendants. Falling just shy of this honour were the Women's Seconds, Men's Firsts and both Four's, whose stellar efforts earned them the distinction of second place against some stiff competition. This is a result we can all be proud of (massively), truly reflecting the hard-work and dedication put in throughout the year. However, we're not finished yet, with HoRR and WeHoRR just around the corner we have even more chances to show what we can do when given an oar and a boat to sit in.
Men’s Novice VIII
"We huddled together in a circle, arm around each others shoulder. In Zak's case, this was more to stop him from falling over than any sign of camaraderie. Hannah looked nervous; perhaps this was because it had dawned that her time being able to shout at and boss around the big-people in the world (i.e. everyone) was drawing to a close. Matt’s face was one of a man facing the impossible task of trying to appear solemn hours after exceeding his alcohol limit. It was a truly tense moment.
'The winners of the novice men's category is…'
* * *
We arrived at the boathouse at 8am. The knowledge that this was most likely our last time rowing together made me sad - even the 6:00am starts were going to be something to (almost) miss. Already there were nerves; BUCS hadn’t been ideal preparation. From the reports, enough crabs had been caught to stock a seafood restaurant, and throughout the race the boat was sat lower than Jamie’s 2k split. Still, there was reason for optimism. The silver lining - there always is one - is that from BUCS the team somehow emerged as the best novice boys medical school team in the country. And to claim otherwise is fake news. It meant that we weren’t just defending our pride at UH - we were defending our UK no 1 spot.
On the water, we cheered on the W1 and M1 team who raced before us. But all too quickly - despite wanting that little more time to prepare, just another second to go through the plan - our time to race had come. Even though we knew that the pain would come faster, we gave into the adrenaline and caffeine and kicked off from the start hard. The difference being that this time, unlike the other pistes, when the pain did hit, not one of us stopped committing. By the time we got to Kew Bridge the sound of heavy breathing was constant. Photos taken at that point show that even Joe wasn’t trying to look good for the cameras. Yet watching the George’s crew disappear from sight was like a mouthful of ibuprofen, and not once did we drop from the rate thirty that was set in the first minute. Having M2 cheering us on between the bridges helped too, meaning that with the aid of a couple of power tens we were speeding past the boathouse to the chant of ‘middle middle middle....’
The final sprint wasn’t pretty. But neither was it meant to be. If we had been able to execute a perfect final 750m then no one had been pushing hard enough previously. However it was effective, and even the catching of a very small crab only served to focus our minds. By the last ten strokes we had all emptied our metaphorical wells, with only Hannah’s countdown and Zak’s surprisingly effective shouts of ‘go faster’ having any sort of effect. And then - it was over. We were paralysed by the pain for a second - before immediately worrying about where we had come.
* * *
Back to the results: huddled in the circle, arms around each others shoulders, hoping…
‘ 'The winners of the novice men's category is…boat twenty…one! RUMS!'
They say that history is written by the victors. While it might be a little presumptuous to claim that we made history (Sunday 4th March, Chiswick, London, 10:00, if any historians are interested), it is true that I can write whatever I want about this race and you’d have no choice but to believe it. Luckily, the actual facts are all that’s needed for great reading; finishing almost a minute ahead of the next best UH team, beating KCL, beating UCL B, and being just beaten by UCL A - a team of individuals whose degrees require about as little time as the margin they beat us by: 6 seconds. Well done to Hannah, Luca, Alex, Joe, Zak, Will, Chris and Swopnil. We absolutely dicked them." - Sam Wray, Seat 6
Top: (back, left to right) Matt Kinsella, Chris Anetekhai, Joe Catling, Will Shorrocks, Zak Mansell, Sam Wray, Alex Bloom, Swopnil Gurung, Luca Richards, (front) Hannah Hickingbotham / Bottom: (back, left to right) Alex Bloom, Sam Wray, Swopnil Gurung, Joe Catling, Will Shorrocks, Zak Masell, (front, left to right) Beth Jones, Chris Anetekhai, Hannah Hickingbotham, Luca Richards, Finn Norris, Matt Kinsella
Women's Novice VIII Boat A
"This was it; the final race of the spring term and the last chance to for the NWA (Novices Wit Attitudes) to show off how far we’d come this year. Time for all those outings, ergs and inspirational videos watched during crew meals to be put to good use! After a week of being off the water due to unexpectedly cold weather, we were keen to get back in our boats and show RUMSBC and the other UH teams that not even the ‘beast from the East’ could have stopped us from complete Tideway domination.
We started our morning with a gentle vocal warm-up cheering the Senior Men and Women and Novice Men from Kew road bridge, before making our way back to the boathouse for the final battle paddle up to Pink Lodge. A marshalling mix-up provided some tension at the start line, but we didn’t let that faze us as we began our first power 10 and set off down the race course. We only had one thing on our minds now - medals, medals, medals!
The race itself was actually one of our least eventful ones - we’d rowed in rougher weather conditions, no gates popped open, no seats or footplates came off and there was not a crab in sight! Our technique, power, and motivation all blended harmoniously together as Kelly called out power 10's to boost us along the river. We pushed off our opponents in the distance and sailed slickly down the Tideway past spectators on the bridge and at the boathouse. Not letting the adrenaline get to us, and with Nicola’s chants of ‘fire in the legs, ice in the mind’ in our thoughts, we reached the last sprint section of the race; before we knew it, we were already emptying our tanks during one final push towards the finish line.
After an intense and exciting morning, it was great to end the day at the UH dinner, where we were able to celebrate the success of all the RUMSBC crews and bask in the glory of being the fastest Novice Women UH team! Now bring on BUMPS in the summer!" - Laura Dan, Seat 5
Women's Novice VIII Boat B
"Coming off a fantastic weekend both on and off the water for the Novice Women’s B team in Newcastle, we went into this weekend with a sense of confidence that we could cause a few upsets in our category. Unfortunately, those pesky Russians hacked our weather and March snowstorms meant no outings were possible for our 8 eager rowers in the run up to the racing event of the year.
Come race day, the weather was looking kind and our girls stepped into a kindly donated Bart’s boat clutching onto their Men’s Novice blades with a real sense of hope and expectation. Unfortunately, the lack of practice during week before showed itself in a scratch 8 as an unforeseen power imbalance dominated both our paddle up and the race (shoutout to our spanking of the Harbour Master buoy after an exuberant strokeside push after the bridge!) Disappointingly, the result didn’t reflect our ability, but every team has those days and the girls know to leave with the heads held high, having coped admirably with the tough hand they were dealt.
Regardless of the race, this Novice B team has rowed fantastically well this year and have proved themselves to be some of the technically cleanest novice rowers I’ve had the pleasure of coxing in my four years. Bring on Bumps, and the chance to get some revenge to finish off the year strong!" - Greg Gibson, Cox
Top: (back, left to right) Laura Dan, Serena Lu, Annalise Munro, Radhika Kumar, Gracie Sutton, Kelly Wyatt, Nicola Skajaa, Greg Gibson, Fiona Chegwidden, Yemi Talabi, Federica Ezzenia, Melissa Nelson, (front, left to right) Riya Gosrani, Sophie McWilliam, Alisa Rasch, Maddie Sanz, Alex Robinson, Ceyda Oral, Hannah Roberts
Men’s Second VIII
"Solid. Solid. MASSIVELY." - Jack Illingworth, Seat 6
Men’s First VIII
"Race day, 5am. The men of the 1st 8+ arose from their beds to do battle with public transport. As the rangers approached the boathouse, Captain Jamie Glenister could be seen standing on a ledge by the riverside, exactly where he had been left by the crew five days previous. Staring directly into the rising sun his jaw was set, a steely glint was in his eyes, and a species of beetle had taken residence in his hair. He was ready.
After performing the rites necessary to rouse the captain, and rehousing the beetles in the women’s 1st 8+, preparations for the day were made. Any passer-by would have observed a rapid sequence of intensely erotic stretches and thrusting hip movements that left the crew in a light sweat and the hull of the Hudson covered in a fresh, water-resistant patina. The pre-race outing was a glorious affair, and the opportunity was finally taken to confirm that all members of the crew knew which end of the blade to hold and which direction to face. They returned from the outing confident in their ability to travel across water in a boat, and then performed their final rites. Captain Jamie delivered a rousing speech to the bow ball, stroke man Freddie Dewey downed his can of hummingbird blood, while at the back of the bay Rory Shadwell desperately attempted a GALS exam on the lifeless body of Luke Martin.
Then, the moment was nigh. During the row up the crew took the chance to practice flexing as they passed beneath Kew Bridge, and thought of the reasons they would eventually use to excuse their performance. Arriving at the start line, moving under the wise guidance of the naiad known as Jerry, they positioned themselves on the bank and girded their mighty loins. Suddenly, possibly accompanied by a blaring of trumpets and crashing of cymbals, they were off! All the limbs of the men of the crew could be seen to move in perfect unison, testament to the hours of practice they had put in at their interpretive dance class. Towards the middle of the race Yulia activated the experimental “Pair’s Calls” protocol, in which each pair in turn would stop rowing and sing their siren song to the other crews – attempting to entice their best rowers to betray their medical school. Unfortunately this song proved too powerful, and several RUMSBC freshers were seen leaping from Kew Road Bridge in an attempt to be closer to the mighty baritone Will Wilson.
The fury of the final stretch cannot be overstated, and the rules of reality themselves warped under the strain of the Tier system. Yulia was desperately attempting to inject Nitrous into Sam Gunning, Louis Robertson was singing a song in old Icelandic, while Connor and Alex Lane attempted to activate their jury rigged flux capacitor in an attempt to shave a few extra years off their time. It was likely a localised temporal anomaly caused by the Uranium injection systems that created the discrepancy in the finish times that were eventually recounted at UH dinner, but rest assured – a daring Mission Impossible style raid is already being planned to recover the medals that are rightfully theirs." - Louis Robertson, Seat 2
Women’s Second VIII
"Rise and shine, back to the grind. A hazy sun breaks the horizon, and a new day dawns on the Watt Farm. The final harvest.
Arriving at the river at 6:30, not another crew was in sight. A good sign, commented Anna - “the early bird catches the crab after all.” Down in the bay, we re-assembled the combine for one last heavy yield. The crew did the usual warm up paddle down to Putney and back, and left the river feeling confident that they had gained enough length to complete the race in roughly 45 strokes.
The pre-race routine began with a round of espresso shots on the captain, and a pack of yum-yums. Millie Walker swapped her broken paddle for a tungsten reinforced blade, whilst Georgie Lloyd stocked up on amiodarone, and applied a final layer of diprobase. Fernanda was crushing peanut shells underfoot as she surveyed the stream, whilst Asha Dave pondered where would be best to bury the other crews afterwards. The morning air was filled with the sweet sweet tones of Claire Shadwell’s rendition of ‘The one an only’, only now several octaves lower as a result of all the steroid injections. In the distance, Abigail Powell was practising swift arm and leg movements, an alternative interpretation of Rich’s power strokes that would later take form on the dance floor to the rhythmic call of whuubang, whuubang. Christopher was stood with his usual pensive look, sinking the remaining contents of a Heinz tin of beans.
It was time to face the music, and as W2 motored down to pink lodge, several crews capsized in the wake. A quick glance at the boat behind left us assured the competition were unfamiliar with lycra or creatine. On the sound of Jerry’s bellow, Chris Jackson stepped on the accelerator, ranking the beast up to rate 42 to cross the start line in a supersonic blur. The crew moved together as one, like the integrated parts of a well-oiled machine. At Brentford lock, George Lloyd pulled out her telescope to survey the crew behind. A mere speck they be. Approaching Kew Rail, it was time to pull out the aggressive card. At bow, the tiny-hands-man Georgie Stagg lead us on with fire and fury, whilst 7-seat completed her transformation into the incredible bulk. The crew steam-rolled under the bridge with the sort of strokes that Rich will assure you could only have belonged to some very, very big boys. But the race was not done yet - an overtake was in sight! The crew ahead crumbled and cowered in the blinding sight of the Watt Farm approaching. “Be thee angels?” they cried. “Nay, we are but men.” Left sobbing in our wake, cox Beans called to begin the final attack as we powered into the final straight. We must have come near to the speed of light, as in an impressive warp of time and space, we somehow managed to finish before the finish line. Unreal scenes.
Approximately 25 pints later that evening, the results were announced to reveal that the Watt Farm had narrowly lost to the neighbouring pig farm. The crew assembled in kidney bean formation and wept in synchrony. Passers by likened it to the final scene of a greek tragedy. Minus Asha Dave who had already fallen peril to 2 bottles of wine, and Anna Shadwell who was spooning vomit off of her chocolate brownie. But not to worry - Fernanda Guiseppe Fenn Torrente has sworn those pesky dog doctors won’t be around for much longer. Apparently her great grandfather once described revenge as ‘a dish best served cold’, or something like that..." - Claire Shadwell, Seat 7
*UPDATE* Following an error in time calculations, the Senior Women's Second VIII have been awarded medals!
Women’s First VIII
"After a disappointing week of cancelled outings courtesy of the ‘Beast from the East’, W1 were pumped and ready to take on UH Head. It was the last ever UH Head for half of this crew, and each and every one of them was ready to give it their all. After an early start and a determined pre-race paddle, W1 took to the water with cries of ‘Who am I? I am a champion!’. The opposition appeared suitably terrified.
We paddled up to the start line for the final time, adrenaline flowing. We span to take on the start, cool and collected. Taking it up to rate 32, we kept the rhythm loose and strong. We know this part of the river like the back of our hands, and stuck to our plan religiously. Preena’s shrieks of encouragement kept us neat and tidy as we came up to Brentford, bulletproof rhythm all the way. It was here that the TSS B crew started to gain on us. Despite being a much more experienced crew than us, we gave them a run for their money and really made them work for the overtake. Side by side as we went under Kew Road, spurred on by the supporters and our own battle cry, we did not let them pass until we were nearly at Kew Rail bridge (over 3/4 of the course). The gritty determination of this crew came to light in this crucial part of the race, and we would not be defeated.
Pulling into the final stretch, we didn’t let the exhaustion take hold and managed to take the rate up once more for the final sprints course. Having finally perfected her counting skills, Preena was able to accurately call in the power 10's whilst also giving us a detailed overview of all the white infrastructure we were passing (white crane? white house? white shed?). A final attack to the finish and we launched ourselves over the line, knowing we could have done nothing more.
I think I speak for many of the 5th years when I say that discovering we had beaten KCL was one of the highlights of our rowing careers at RUMSBC. It is a feat that has eluded W1 for years, and to finish on such a high, having had such a gutsy race with this fabulous crew, it could not have been more perfect. Thank you to all of these wonderful women for their determination and hard work in the run up to this well deserved win" - Libi Hawkes, Seat 2