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Small Boats Regatta 2012 (Race Report)

Posted by Rebecca Tsao on Sunday 29th April 2012
Maiden Sculls: Zoë Watson
Going into the race, I had some confidence in myself, I hadn’t yet fallen in (an important quality for success in the novice sculling) and when I rowed properly, I could go quite fast (or at least I thought so!). I was up against a girl from Christ’s in the semi-finals.

The race started well, we were both level for a while, and then after some dodgy strokes, she pulled in front by about half a length. As I went for a final sprint finish and starting making ground very quickly, she caught a mini-crab and ended up on my side of the river, almost directly in front of me. Having nowhere to go, she won the race by half a length. In hindsight, I should have appealed on the finish line, but it was a really good, well fought race.

(WON) Lowe Double Sculls (Men): Matt White and Emanuel Malek
With pressing deadlines we were apprehensive to enter this event as we feared we may not get enough practice in before race day. Thankfully Manners forced me to enter and I’m now glad we did. We set off very aggressively into a slight headwind down first post reach rating around 42 keen to open up some margin on our competition which we did, we then settled into a race rhythm of 33 ready to take on the corners.

Thanks to some brilliantly aggressive bank steering from Annie we opened up some more distance on them around First Post Corner and I was actually worried at one point when I couldn’t see them coming around the corner. As we came out of First Post we hit a storming rhythm that just saw the boat lift out of the water and we were clocked as taking 7-8s out of them in the middle 500m thanks to this increase in speed. Annie again took us in aggressively for Grassy Corner, but Manners got scared and called it straight meaning that we missed the corner and took a wide line around the bend.

Once we got onto Plough Reach, it was business as usual and we set about churning out a stonking rhythm which again saw our boat speed jump out of the corner. We had discussed before the race the importance of getting Ditton Corner right as going wide can mean the wind gets hold of you and makes it tough to steer. We took Ditton nicely and by now our opponents looked well out of harm’s way - I remember thinking “right all we have to do now is not crash”.

Manners took us straight down the middle of the Long Reach where there was a cross-tail wind, our coach John pointing out that we were right against the stream at that point, despite this we still moved away and tried winding it for the finish. This was frantic and was a very useful exercise as it made us aware that we need to practice our finish wind for BUCS in two weeks’ time.

We set a time of 7:20 - the fastest time recorded in the SBR and won by a margin of 20s. We knew we got a lot of things wrong in the race but there were also a lot of positives to take from it; the race left us excited for our semi-final and final. Unfortunately due to illness (Christ’s) and timetable clashes (LMBC) we were unable to race our finals so won by default. All in all, it was a good experience resulting in a medal despite the frustrations of not being able to row our finals and show our true speed. We’ve had some great pieces in training now - just bring on BUCS!

Lowe Double Sculls (Mixed): Simon Kirk and Reanna Maier (of Murray Edwards)
Small Boats Regatta took place during a stretch of the most miserable weather I've seen since living in Cambridge. I woke to find Wednesday morning much the same as it had been the past two weeks - windy, rainy and cold. Not exactly ideal conditions for my first race in a scull. When I arrived at the boathouse, Simon Kirk (Captain Kirk to me, because it's cooler) my Peterhouse mixed double partner, seemed completely unfazed by the crosswind, rain and chilly temperatures, telling me that it would work to our advantage since we're actually a bit overweighted for our boat. We'd be more stable. Though I could see the logic of this, I wasn't really convinced. You see, I've never steered the whole course at race pace before. The corners were slightly terrifying me, partly because I knew that if I crashed or capsized us, Captain Kirk would likely never scull with me again. Just kidding. But not really.

The row up to marshal felt surprisingly good, together and strong, despite getting increasingly soaked the closer we came to the starting stations, and a few Power 10s helped to settle my nerves a little. We marshalled near the Motorway Bridge, waiting for the other entrants in the event to arrive. For some reason, the mixed doubles was hugely popular this year. I asked Simon if he was nervous. No. Of course not. Captain Kirk does not get nervous.

The umpires told us to take our places, and we attempted to align ourselves next to the upstream station. The crosswind was heavy, though, and it was obvious that we'd have to fight to keep from being pushed into the towpath bank. After a decent start, we were off, settling into a racing rhythm as we came out from under the Motorway Bridge on our way to First Post Corner. My hands were cold, and the blades were slippery from backsplash and rain, making it a little difficult to keep a good grip, but the rowing felt fairly strong. In between checking our line, maintaining the rhythm and trying not to crab, I couldn't help but notice that something felt strange, though I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I suddenly realised that it was oddly quiet - there was no cox. However, I didn't have time to really ponder the weirdness of not being shouted at during a race.

We took a decent line around Grassy corner and made a good push past the Plough. The double chasing us, a Jesus/Downing team, didn't look like they were making any ground on us, but also didn't look like they were falling much behind. The line around Ditton Corner was a bit tight, which brought us onto the Long Reach closer to the bank than was ideal. Under normal conditions, this wouldn't have been a problem, but with the crosswind, we had to give a good bowside push more than once to keep our blades from hitting the bank. A final surge toward the railway bridge saw us across the finish line . . . just a second after the Jesus/Downing team crossed their finish line.

Though I was disappointed we didn't win, I was still quite happy with things - first race in a scull, no crashes, no capsizing, and a close finish, not to mention the prospect of being dry again soon. Captain Kirk wasn't too upset about our loss, either, perhaps due to the consoling effect of post-race chocolate chip cookies back at the boathouse. We live to scull another day.

Foster-Fairbairn Pairs (Men): Pete Wilkes and John Harris
First Round:
Despite the many (and not very varied) disparaging remarks we'd heard about our opposition ever since the draw, it would be fair to say that John and I weren't exactly brimming with confidence heading into the first round of the Foster-Fairbairn pairs against our Caius opposition. We had completed a fair few practice outings, and John had demonstrated his cornering prowess, which I like to imagine he took somewhat tighter than Watson's lycra, but the task at hand still seemed pretty daunting.

After John displayed severe boat envy on the paddle up, getting his humours all out of balance, a sense of determination had set in to do the best we could. Fortunately, it transpired that our opposition wasn't the Caius pair who had so resplendently rowed by in a Wintech- as John noticed- our foe had a wooden rudder. This immediately caused John to suffer existential angst. What if we weren't racing a Caius M1 pair? What if they were Caius M2? What did the wood mean? Although they looked less formidable than their Caius counterparts, they didn't exactly look like a pushover either. However, we had a goodly glimmer of confidence, and the starter didn't force us to tarry around for too long, which was lucky, as otherwise we'd probably have been blown into the bank. Note: as we lacked a stroke coach, I won't be able to provide you with specific rates over the racecourse, so I'll endeavour to describe them as well as I deem necessary.

We set off at a controlled yet powerful pace- imagine an antelope loping over the savannah, as yet unthreatened by any predators, and I was almost immediately heartened by the lion behind us taking a rather zig zag line over the first few strokes. We were applying power consistently, and hit the rhythm that would sustain us over the whole 2k course almost immediately. It was hard to judge distances accurately over the cut and thrust of the first 500m down to First Post Corner, but after the corner, we'd clearly pulled away.

It soon turned out that our opponents were somewhat cumbersome on the turn, and although John would be the last to say that his lines were spectacular, suffice to say, they were more than enough to gain us a free few seconds round both Grassy and Ditton, which accumulated to give us a fairly comfortable winning margin. This isn't to say that we weren't pulling away on the straights- because we were- albeit a bit slower than our fiery haired, snake-hipped social secretary manages in nightclubs. In summation, the first round was a well executed, reasonably technical row, during which we never came especially close to touching the upper echelons of our physicality.

Quarter Final:
The second day posed the additional challenge that neither of us had really expected to make it this far in the competition. We'd both had deadlines in the morning, and an outing in the morning, so weren't quite as fresh as we could have been, although I think this made scant difference to the final result.

Our opponents this time around were a burly looking First and Third pair, and buoyed up by our success, we felt as if we could give this one a good shot. After a productive session in the morning, we sprang from the blocks with far more aggression, looking to gain an edge from the first stroke. Despite our marked improvement, this wasn't quite how it turned out, with First and Third initially surging up on us. After John telling me to put my legs down (I felt slightly aggrieved, as I was), things stabilised, and our fight to stay in front of them was on. The rate was a couple of pips higher than yesterday, and each stroke comparably more powerful.

However, we didn't have quite the same cornering advantage- they could steer probably- and finding Stalin on the inside of Grassy didn't help matters. They were slowly eating into the distance between us as we plunged nobly down Plough Reach, Kate enthusiastically cheering us from the bank. At this point, I would make a comparison between Hector and Achilles. Although Hector was a mighty warrior- Achilles was a shade faster (perhaps aided by the fact that in their final combat, Achilles was mounted upon a chariot), and it doesn't take a master of analogy to work out which crew is which in this particular situation. By the time we'd reached Ditton, it was going to take something incredible to pull a victory out of the bag, and although we continued to row very credibly all the way to the line, they were simply a bit too strong for us, and we lost by 13 seconds, although our own time improved by over 20 seconds. Ultimately, I don't feel that we could have performed any better, and Small Boats Regatta was certainly a great rowing adventure.

Congratulations!

Posted by Rebecca Tsao on Wednesday 11th April 2012
Congratulations to Paul Vardanega and Ellie Chilcott - two great members of PBC who are getting married today! PBC wishes you all the best, and lots of love. :D

CULRC Victory With Matt White

Posted by Rebecca Tsao on Sunday 25th March 2012
The Cambridge Lightweights beat Oxford on the 25th March at Henley by 3/4 length. At four was our own Matt White who learnt to row at PBC.

He and Manners will also be representing the university in BUCS 2012 as a double.

M1 Kingston Head 2012 (Race Report)

Posted by Rebecca Tsao on Thursday 22nd March 2012
Following Bumps the 1st Men’s VIII went to Kingston Head. After rigging up the boat and waiting to boat we got onto the river. We rowed down to Hampton Court and after a while we spun and went up to the start. We built up the rate as we went over the line and settled into a steady thirty-four and a half. We were in a good rhythm and were putting lots of power down. We were closing on Reading University II in front, but unfortunately we caught them up in the only part of the course where overtaking is not allowed and we had to wind it down. After we got past, we built it back up and got the boat moving again. As we passed under Kingston Bridge we caught up with another crew and this meant that we had to deviate from the racing line. We went through the wrong arch in the bridge to avoid the other crew, costing us more time. We got onto the final straight and began to build it up as we headed towards the finish. We crossed the line with a time of 17:24.5. Despite being held up by the other crews we put in a good row and the crew was really happy with the results.

Simon Kirk, Men’s Officer 2012-2013

W1 Lents 2012 (Race Report)

Posted by Rebecca Tsao on Thursday 22nd March 2012
Having only trained for about three out of six weeks in Lent term, due to ice, injuries and illness, none of us were really sure what to expect for bumps. After our strong performance in Fairbairns, we knew we were quite quick, but having no races and only some brief sparring to go on, we had little idea how we would match up to other crews around us.

Day one saw us comfortably rowing over in front of Girton at the top of W2 division. In the first division, Kings caught a crab early on, allowing Churchill to catch them, and so less than a minute into the race, we were attempting an overbump! Alas it was clear quite quickly that it wasn;t going to happen, so we wound it down and saved ourselves for tomorrow.

Day two saw us starting the second division with a strong Murray Edwards crew behind us. They had got blades the last four consecutive years, so we knew they were good, and not accustomed to having to work hard for their bumps. We started well with clear water, but they slowly started coming towards us. However the closest they got was about a quarter of a length off along some of Plough Reach and round Ditton Corner, but after that we pulled away strongly down the Reach. Division one also proved uneventful for us. King’s caught a clearly much slower Churchill, again leaving us nothing to chase.

Day three, and we were psyching ourselves up for a hard race, Murray Edwards (hence known as Mudwards) would be annoyed that we managed to avoid them yesterday, and would be out to get us. After another strong start, they had closed up to about 1-1/2 lengths off us by Grassy Corner. Coming round Ditton Corner, things got very close. From the stroke seat, there were times where their bows couldn’t be seen because of the wide saxboard of the boat. Have they bumped us?? But somehow we all pulled together and didn’t give up. After coming so close (about an inch between our bow and their stern I would estimate) they began to fall away, and continued to all the way down the Reach. On a massive high from another epic row-over, we went into the first division with high hopes of chasing Churchill. Sure enough, we caught them before First Post Corner, which we should have done two days ago if King’s hadn’t caught a crab!

Day four, and we prematurely celebrated only having to row once..... Mudwards caught Churchill, so they were chasing us as we were chasing Selwyn in the first division. Gun went, we rowed for about 3 minutes and then the confusion began. A klaxon-like noise was heard (believed to be King’s ridiculous hunting horn) which caused and umpire to tell Selwyn to stop rowing, so then we had to stop, as did Mudwards. Then Selwyn decided to carry on, once it was clear there was no reason to have stopped, so we continued to chase, as did Mudwards. We rapidly gained on them and caught them just by the Plough. Unfortunately after complaints about the umpires, it was decided that the three boats should re-row. So we threw away our greenery, and proceeded back up to the start. Gun went again, Selwyn held us for a bit, but we began to reel them in down Plough Reach and bumped them just after Ditton Corner.

So Peterhouse W1 ended up 16th on the river, higher than we have ever been before! And we managed this even after rowing 8 times, which just shows what a fantastic crew we have! This week we have clocked up nearly 70km on the Cam, and despite the confusions and often frustrations, it was worth every stroke.

Zoe Watson
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