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W1: Bedford Head 2013 (Race Report)By Paddy Alton - cox
“Why are you lot racing it twice!?”
Indeed. It was a cold, wet, overcast morning in Bedford, and Peterhouse Boat Club had once again descended in numbers on the town for a day of racing. Last year a frozen river had denied us our Lent pre-Bumps off-Cam experience, and W1 were making up for it by racing in two different divisions. Despite the weather, the usual spirit of camaraderie prospered and Callie, Natasha, and Sir John were swiftly removed from the trailer and re-assembled.
The row up to the top of the course gave us a chance to establish a good rhythm, and our practice starts were encouraging. Just as well: with many boats all trying not to drift about in the wind lined up on two sides of the river, the marshals were keen to get us moving as soon as possible. A strong start led on to a quick, relaxed rhythm which saw us tick off bridge after bridge in good time.
From the cox’s seat, I made full use of the echo-y properties of the town bridge’s arch to call a big push as we moved into the second half of the race; the echoing roar of the word ‘go’ appeared to have the desired effect, and the crew drove the boat along hard. We crossed the line in a respectable time of 7:25, which sadly was 14 seconds short of the fastest crew in the IM3 division and put us into fourth place.
A period of recuperation - involving lots of pasta, hot chocolate, coffee, and cake - followed, during which we made our way to the suspension bridge a few hundred metres from the finish line to cheer on the second boats, who were both racing in the division before our next race. Encouraged by their strong appearance, we made our way back to the boat to race for the second time.
Though we had undoubtedly pushed our limits on the first race, we were determined to go out just as hard on the second, and an even stronger start was the best way to begin. Once again we flew through the bridges on the first half of the course, not discernibly slower than we had done an hour before.
Exiting the town bridge and coming to the halfway mark, we found ourselves in range of an VIII from Balliol College, Oxford, albeit with a men’s IV similarly closing behind us. Perhaps some memory of Bumps racing was stirred, because the crew’s spirits seemed to lift as I started calling distances. Every stroke took Balliol’s lead away, until overlap - as we crossed the line. Our time of 7:33 - another fourth place, in the IM2 division this time - showed clearly that we had stepped up to the challenge of doing two good races in quick succession and done the club proud.
There followed, after some machinations involving de-rigging boats and putting them back on the trailer, a well deserved trip to the pub (and industrial quantities of cake), before Peterhouse Boat Club boarded the coach back to Cambridge - wet, cold, and tired, but happy.
A IV: Fairbairns 2012 (Race Report)By Charlotte Coles
On a cold, yet not wet Friday afternoon, the A4 M1 arrived bright and sprightly at the boathouse only to find that the women’s division hadn’t actually left, and so had to loiter with intent before we could get into the boat. Having (what we think) is a royal approval of having an awesome race because at the previous outing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had watched us put the boat in whilst they had their tea in the pub across the road, we paddled up to the start line. Rosie the dog gave us a fond farewell from the bank, and we set off.
We had a good start, building steadily to our race pace of 35 and a half and not hitting any swans which were on the river. The cox was quite worried that the corners would be too tight, having never actually driven round them at full race pace, but our Coach Bomber said that they were actually quite good lines, something which pleased the boat greatly. After reaching the Green Dragon Bridge where the river straightened out it was all down to the four to put all the pressure. Having worked so hard over the term, the boat ploughed through the water with the cox screaming down the mic knowing that it was going to be a quick time, and Bomber shouting at the Avengers from the bank party (which had included the Master but at this point in the race, which we found out later, he had got lost and gone the wrong way) to give it all they had got. Down the Long Reach it was a bit gusty, but nothing that we hadn’t rowed in before, and a straight line to the finish at the Post next to the Plough Pub past Ditton Corner.
Exhausted and tired we finished in a time of 11:01, which placed us second to Jesus in the IVs. So close to winning, and therefore a bit gutted, but we raced well, and this puts us in good stead for a good Lent Bumps.
Cox- Charlotte “Black Widow” Coles
Bow -Andrei “Iron Man” Lebed
2 - Simon “Captain America” Kirk
3 - Karel “Hawkeye” Kabelik
Stroke - Bob “Thor” Evans
Coach- Bomber “Director Nick Fury”
B IV: Fairbairns 2012 (Race Report)By John Harris. Note that while writing he suffered a temporary(?) loss of identity and mistook the Peterhouse B IV for the Australian coxless four. Still, no harm done.
Following Winter Head the talk around the B IV was that we hadn't put in the performance we were capable of. We certainly hadn't been planning to lose forty seconds to the A4 over a 2.5km course, and while we felt we were moving well as a unit at low rate perhaps the two weeks we missed at the start of term had left us short of time to perfect our higher speed work.
Still, with a race under our belts and just under two weeks to get ready for Fairbairns there would be no excuse for a second poor performance. Our pre-race talk with Bomber left us with two simple facts; the A4 was now moving very quickly and if we could get within half a minute of them we certainly wouldn't be slow; and if we got it right we should be claiming the scalps of some first fours. Revised marshalling instructions allowed us to keep our shell at the Peterhouse hard for a prolonged period instead of paddling off to freeze somewhere near Jesus Lock. Bowman William Lockwood spent this time wondering which of the many layers he might want to wear he should attach his race number to, while the calm demeanour of the most experienced crew member - Drew Ginn - was a welcome presence. Strokeman Joshua Dunkley-Smith had to be called away from the hot water pipes in the changing room several times before he actually agreed to get into the boat.
The seemingly self-perpetuating queue of boats in front of us finally ran down, and we were called to start when ready. "Wait-wait-wait- wait-wait" said Dunkley-Smith, unwilling to go before his blade handle was at his preferred dampness. The start surprised everyone, crossing the timing mark at thirty-eight strokes to the minute and feeling well connected. Submarine-Stern Wheeldon's line tight to the bank saw James Chapman smash his way through a family of ducks before we settled, but with no loss of rhythm we continued to make the most of what was the best start we'd done all term. The second minute of the race had been mentioned several times in the previous weeks, partially because it was where the race would truly start to hurt, and partially because that was the point we collapsed in Winter Head. As adrenaline started to be replaced by lactate in our legs Submarine-Stern called us sixty seconds in - nice to know we were suffering on schedule.
The abundance of reference points along the course allowed us to tick off landmarks with pleasing frequency, and before we knew it we had reached the end of the wall and were heading down to Green Dragon Footbridge. The call was five minutes as our bow went under the bridge, so almost exactly the time we'd thought acceptable for the twisty section of the course. No pushes were required, unlike in Winter Head our boat speed was still good even with the rate just under thirty-four. The rate may have elevated a little as we came out from underneath the railway bridge, but the boat movement was still controlled to keep maximum distance per stroke.
Coming past the Railings the rate increased again, and while the rudder had to come on comparatively hard for the first half of Ditton Corner we started to hear cheers coming from the A4 and Cross Keys crews that had raced before us. As we straightened out the boat surged again, the last rate Submarine-Stern called being thirty-eight, before finally we heard "wind down" from the bank. Our final time of 11:26 put us twenty-five seconds behind the A4, and fourth of all crews entered (third of college crews). We were also thirty-seven seconds clear of the next second IV. Not the worst result we could have had.
C: Submarine-Stern Wheeldon (AKA Michael Wheeldon)
S: Joshua Dunkley-Smith (AKA John Harris)
3: Drew Ginn (AKA Craig Hendersen)
2: James Chapman (AKA Yohei Rosen)
B: William Lockwood. (AKA Simon Neville)
W2 Fairbairns 2012 (Race Report)By Rebecca Tsao
We were ready for Fairbairns. After a kick up the backside from Winter Head which was far from our best performance, we had packed a lot of work into the last two weeks before The Big One. With Zoe Watson subbing in for our regular 6-seat, Hannah Laidley, we were optimistic and determined for good results. Fuelled by a great crew pasta, cupcakes, and Secret Santa, we were raring to go, only to be forced to marshal a long time in front of the Boat House. This provided endless entertainment by observing the other boats attempt to marshal in an interesting stream, and also trying to force/convince our cox to do the Gangnam Style dance (he was sporting these totally garish yellow sunglasses, after all).
At the start, we wound the rate to mid-to-high 30s before settling at a strong 34. The collectedness of the boat was obvious, and we were In The Zone. Even pushing into the second, third and fourth minute we were strong and loose, making the rhythm really work for us. We powered through Chesterton Corner and the Railway Bridge, leaving Queens W1 far behind, putting a competitive halfway time down. I'm not sure where it really started to hurt, but it definitely happened somewhere on the Long Reach. This is where we saw Queens finally appear into view, closely pursued by their own alumna boat. We pushed away from them into Ditton and took a strong Grassy. When we got around First Post Corner we could sense the home straight and we powered through again, banishing Queens W1 from our view once again and half-remembering the promise that if we put a good time down, our cox would do the Gangnam Style dance on the tables of BCD. Blinded by pain somewhere under the Motorway Bridge, there are vague memories of the cox calling for pushing screams (confusing, but inspiring) and we stormed over the finish line to cheers from the Cross Keys crew who had gone on before us.
We rowed like a completely different crew to Winter Head, with all the strength and drive from Autumn Head, but with more poise and control than we had rowed with all term. We are, indeed, the Finely Poised Machines. Thanks especially to our coaches Simon Kirk, Paddy Alton and Lizzie Bennett, our "reasonably experienced" sub Zoe Watson, and a well done to the crew, particularly as we were admirably coxed by Erik Pickering, a novice cox. Now BRING ON BUMPS!
M2 Fairbairns 2012 (Race Report)by Henk-Jaap Wagenaar
We decided to forfeit our paddle to Jesus' Lock considering the traffic and pushed off with Sir John pointing downstream when the boat in front of us in the draw (Fitzwilliam M1) passed the Boat House. Paddling to Goldie Boathouse was good, especially considering we had a novice in his first outing in a senior boat, a 5 seat who had not rowed since Mays because of injury, and a cox who had coxed once this term. 7’s story is similar: he is not rowing this term but somehow managed to be subbed about once a week
Once given the go-ahead by the marshal, we wound the rate up to 34, building for ten until Jesus Boat House, where we settled in to a rhythm of 33 and a half where we would stay for the rest of the race. The row to Chesterton Bridge was uneventful but painful. As we passed Chesterton Corner, we realised that we were almost half way and pushed off the bridge, being cheered on by our bank party.
As we came up to the Railway Bridge, Balliol M1 was still nowhere to be seen, and we pushed off from the Bridge. As we were coming up to the Railings on the Long Reach, Balliol came ploughing through the Bridge, which all rowers could see. Ditton Corner was steered beautifully by Ollie and just as we were to enter Grassy Corner we could see Balliol closing on us, just coming around Ditton Corner. The same happened in First Post Corner, and as we came on the final straight to our finish, Balliol was getting closer and closer, turning the head race into a Bumps race. As we came under the Motorway Bridge, we had only a hundred yards to go and we pushed for a stylish finish with Balliol never getting past our cox. A strong end to a good term of rowing with 16:18.
C: Ollie Bond
S: Alex Lee
7: Jonny Page
6: Henk-Jaap Wagenaar
5: James Nygaard
4: David Walsh
3: Ben Martineau
2: Zsolt (Adam) Wagner
B: Milo Edwards