MARCUS HUGHES-HALLETT BOAT NAMING CEREMONY
At the start of Michaelmas, we held a boat naming ceremony for our new men’s 1st boat – a Filippi coxed eight, purchased under the 2020-2021 committee. The previous boat, named for Marcus Hughes-Hallett (2011), honoured Marcus’ life and time at Queens’ for seven years. We are honoured to carry forward this name to the new boat, so that Marcus can continue to be remembered at QCBC for many years to come.
The ceremony began with several speeches, before the boat was blessed by Rev. Max Bayliss, then ceremonially rowed by a crew of current students and recent graduates. Marcus’ friends and family, QCBC alumni, and the previous/current committee all attended the ceremony, which was followed by a drink’s reception and dinner in Old Hall. It was a delight to welcome so many QCBC alumni back to Queens’ – we look forward to, hopefully, seeing many of those who attended at our annual May Bumps Garden Party this summer. QCBC remains incredibly grateful to the Hughes-Hallett’s for their generous donation. M1 are impatient to row in the Filippi next term and we’re equally excited to see how well they perform!
Following the disruption caused by COVID-19 last year, the committee was concerned about how well the club would fare in Michaelmas. We needn’t have worried! The Lower Boats Captains signed up a record number of novices in Freshers’ Week: 120 rowers and 20 coxes, split evenly across the two sides. It was a challenge to schedule tubbing sessions for all the new recruits, but our LBCs did a fantastic job. As a result of this excellent recruitment drive, QCBC is proud to remain the largest club on the river – we had the greatest number of crews entered in The Fairbairn Cup of any college!
COVID-19 meant that we were unable to run our annual QErgs competition last year. So, we wanted to come back in style. The competition was held in a slightly altered format this year: we used a new software called ErgRace, which meant that the changeover time was included in the overall team total, and it took place outside (under a marquee on Erasmus Lawn). Nonetheless, the atmosphere was as electric as ever! We had 98 crews compete across the course of the day, including our “Protein Loving Teens” mixed Queens’ senior crew, who placed 1st in their division.
A huge ‘thank you’ must go to our fantastic QErgs Presidents (Anna Feest, Tatiana Sedelnikov and Charlotte Smith) who worked incredibly hard to put on the event and overcome the multiple challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions.
We are also very grateful to Dominic Jephcott (1988), Toby King (1989), Paul Schreier (1987), Simon Hartley (1988) and Jim Millen (1988), who competed in the first ever QERgs competition, organised by Toby King in 1989. These alumni generously agreed to match our profits for this year. We’re proud to announce that, because of this donation, we have raised over £7,000 for the club! This value more than makes up for our loss due to the event’s cancellation last year, and we hope to use a portion of the money to heavily subsidise our training camp at Reading in Easter.
THE SOCIAL SIDE
Attendance at this term’s socials has been through the roof because everyone was keen to socialise in-person after a year of online Zoom events! We kicked-off the term with Boatie Mahal, followed by a swap with Clare, a ‘Noah’s ark’ themed swap with Jesus, and a classy ‘Wine and Cheese’ event in Old Hall with Magdalene Boat Club. Our social secs have done a great job navigating COVID-19 restrictions both outside and within college, so we’re looking forward to seeing what they can organise next term.
Michaelmas has been a successful term of racing for QCBC. We entered multiple events: Small Boats Head, Autumn Head, Emma Sprints, Winter Head, and The Fairbairn Cup. Of the 14 boats entered in Fairbairns, two were alumni crews: WAlumni completed the course in 18:02.5 and MAlumni, rowing in the new Marcus, posted a fantastic time of 15:47.8. Fairbairn’s Cocktails took place that evening, albeit in a slightly altered format due to capacity restrictions. Current students spent the evening in Old Hall, with speeches livestreamed to our alumni crews in the Angevin Room.
If you are an alumnus who is keen to come back to QCBC to row/compete, please get in contact with our Alumni Officer, Abi Smith (email@example.com) – we’d love to welcome you back to QCBC!
We ended the term by entering six crews into Christmas Head, which took place the day after The Fairbairn Cup. The crews were mixed across the men’s/women’s side and by experience level. It was a great opportunity to dress-up, row with different people, and celebrate making it through another Cambridge term!
Despite continued uncertainty due to COVID-19, we’re positive that next term will be just as exciting for QCBC. Both the men’s and women’s side plan to race off-Cam and, of course, we’re anxiously awaiting the return of Lent Bumps following its cancellation last year. We’re hopeful that QCBC will go from strength-to-strength in 2022! To keep up to date with QCBC, follow us on Instagram @queensboatclub and like us on Facebook @QueensCollegeBoatClub.
THE WOMEN’S SIDE
The women’s side started off strong, keen, and above all, huge! Returning seniors, rowers who learnt to row last term, and a few new members with rowing experience from elsewhere gave us four full VIIIs, as well as a strong pool of subs. Our W1 was made up of more experienced rowers, but all our W3 and W4 rowers, alongside half of W2, were rowers who had noviced during Easter Term amidst COVID-19 and exams. They have integrated brilliantly into the senior squad and have all improved immensely across Michaelmas Term. Having four full crews makes us one of, if not the, largest women’s squad on the river, which bodes well for the future!
2nd VIII – 3rd in their category (Women’s Student 2nd VIII)
Autumn Head took place on 16th October, just a week after crews were formally set. Unfortunately, the 1st VIII had to pull out of the competition due to illness, but the race was a good benchmark for the 2nd VIII. The crew had just a couple of outings together in the lead-up to the race, and the plan was to go into it and see what they could pull off. Even with a surprise sub on the day, they rowed a gutsy race that showed a lot of promise. With only one member of the crew having ever competed in a senior division on the Cam before (two members had joined with rowing experience elsewhere, and the rest joined from novice boats last term) the race was an impressive show of their determination and many good things to come!
1st VIII – 12th in their category
2nd VIII – 4th in their category (Women’s Student 2nd VIII)
3rd VIII – 18th in their category (Women’s Student 2nd VIII), fastest 3rd VIII
Several weeks of training later, all three crews were itching for a race to show off their training. The two-boat rule had been introduced to calm traffic on the river in the early mornings, which meant that this race was a chance to finally get a long piece in! The 1st VIII rowed an impressive race, catching up to the boat ahead, with some gritty determination showing after a few weeks of inconsistent coaching, illness, and injury in the boat. Similarly, the 2nd VIII showed off their smooth and gutsy rowing – perhaps fuelled by the sweets they were trying to throw across the river to the 1st VIII whilst marshalling! For all the rowers, including the cox, in the 3rd VIII, this was their first ever race. Everyone stepped up to the challenge well, finishing as the fastest 3rd VIII – a feat to be proud of.
THE FAIRBAIRN CUP
1st VIII – 12th in their category
2nd VIII – 3rd in their category
3rd VIII – one of only two 3rd VIIIs to enter!
Encouraged by the outcome of the races at Winter Head, the entire squad showed real determination in training for The Fairbairn Cup. End of term erg tests showed an improvement from the start of term from absolutely everyone, which means that our training is doing the job! The 1st VIII rowed a smooth and powerful race, cheered on by many of the men’s side, and even overtook Darwin at First Post Corner before pulling away from them down Long Reach. This was despite a sub in the boat, who had not rowed all term and had just finished her own race with the Alumni crew! The 2nd and 3rd VIIIs, also cheered on by alumni, both showed how much they had improved across the term with some strong rowing and smiles on their faces as they finished! The 3rd VIII was one of only two to enter. To be able to enter three full crews at the end of Michaelmas Term is impressive, and their commitment has really shone through. Everyone’s spirits were high at the end of the race amidst the chaos of marshalling boats, having finished a term of rowing to be proud of.
After recruiting so many novices at the start of term, our 3 women’s side LBCs (Lucy, Beanie and Susanna) had their work cut out for them, starting off with 4 crews. They coped with the challenge incredibly well. Other seniors kindly gave up their time to make sure that everyone would get the outings they wanted. Three novice women’s crews entered QErgs, with NW1 coming 4th and NW2 coming 3rd in their respective divisions. Two boats entered Emma Sprints, with one reaching the semi-finals in the NW2 division and the other reaching the quarter finals in the NW1 division. A third crew was unsuccessful in the draw and was entered for Clare Novice Regatta the week after, which was unfortunately cancelled due to bad weather. At Fairbairns, we had four novice women’s crews entered – only two other colleges entered three, and none entered four! – with NW1 placing 4th, NW2 3rd and NW3 6th in their divisions, and NW4 even beat a few first crews. Our novices showed a lot of keenness and potential, and we are very much looking forward to rowing with them next term!
THOUGHTS AND OUTLOOK
The women’s side’s strength is in its depth – we are a large squad with a wide range of experience and skills, and everyone is keen to share this experience with each other to learn and improve. We have seen successes in races, but the real success comes from the determination everyone has shown in their training throughout the term – I am very lucky to have such a friendly, enthusiastic, and committed squad. I am really looking forward to taking this further and combining the senior and novice crews into a strong and exciting squad for a successful Lent Term!
THE MEN’S SIDE
A short training camp was run at the start of term; many of our rowers had done a good amount of training over the summer, so were reasonably fit. We picked up a few grads who had rowed before and a schoolboy rower in the first week, which bolstered our numbers to twenty oarsmen and two coxes. We had 50 novice men sign-up to tub, many of whom posted promising 500m times.
SMALL BOATS HEAD
We entered Rob Roy Small Boats Head on 9th October. We entered three crews: MLeggings, MBucket, and Brett Taylor in his single. MLeggings was a quad, rowing in the Pugh. It was so named because every member of the crew wore boar leggings – an item of stash that is becoming commonplace in the men’s side. Heading into the race, we didn’t have much competition, with a boat of J14 being the only other coxed quad. We finished in a time of 11:19.0 which was, fortunately, still enough to beat the J14s by some way! MBucket was a bucket-rigged four, rowing in the Browne, and named for the rig. The crew finished in a time of 11:10.4 – the fastest coxed four on the river. Finally, Brett raced in his single and, unsurprisingly, beat both other QCBC crews! Unfortunately, he didn’t win, but placed a very respectable second in a time of 10:50.0. Considering that the person who beat him took part in the Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley this year, this was a brilliant result.
The next race was Rob Roy Autumn Head. We entered an M1 IV and an M2 VIII. The IV, named MBucket for now, rowed in the Pugh with a bucket rig. It was coxed by Rachel Ibbott. Despite only having a week of preparation with this crew combination, M1 finished 1st of the college IV’s in a time of 10:17.4, beating Downing by 7s in 2nd place. The VIII, named MSpade, rowed in the Walker. The boat was coxed by Susie Tucker, a rower-turned-coxed this term. They were up against strong competition and, ultimately, finished in last place in a time of 11:45.6. The crew were in good spirits once they’d finished, nonetheless!
For the subsequent weeks, the squad was plagued with illness. This massively disrupted our training, with MBucket only getting out in sculls, and MSpade getting out only once a week or so. This was very frustrating as it felt like the momentum we had gained so far completely halted. As the illnesses began to subside, we reset the crews. We had enough crew for three boats, an M1 IV, an M2 VIII and an M3 IV. It was initially assumed that M3 would be composed of guys who didn’t want to fully commit to the sport, but it turned out that they were among the most willing to train! They massively improved over the rest of the term.
With the squad now over illness and having had a couple of weeks to prepare for the last two races of the season, there was a lot of anticipation for Winter Head. M1 were looking to prove themselves against tougher opposition than at the start of the season, while M2 were to race for the first time in their set crew. Crew dinners were had before the races in traditional fashion, with both crews coming together to watch old race videos. This race was the debut of using Rob’s GoPro to film races from the cox’s perspective, which made for some great footage.
M1 were unlucky with the start order, being sent off behind a women’s junior VIII. They were able to pass them on Plough Reach, but this disrupted the rhythm of the boat because they didn’t concede the racing line until very late. Large parts of the race felt good – having had issues with the sit in the week leading up to the race, things came together quite nicely on the day. We knew there was more speed to come, and we were still yet to row the full course without disruption, but the result was good. We placed second, with a large gap to Magdalene who finished first.
M2 rowed a good race considering the lack of time the crew had to prepare. They went off behind First and Third, and held them, or gained, for most of the race. It was an impressive performance from cox Susie, who has settled into the role very quickly. They were able to mostly avoid mishaps and ended in 13th place – the middle of the pack for M2’s. This was a huge improvement on their performance at Autumn Head.
We entered three senior crews into The Fairbairn Cup. M1 switched from the Pugh to the Hayter during term but had some problems with the boat – it ran very low in the water due to the heavy crew, which left essentially no margin for error on the set. Nonetheless, the boat ran fast when it was going well, and the cornering was much more responsive. The race itself started very well, with the crew hitting their fastest splits of the term off the start. It was, overall, a decent performance and the crew gave it their all. We were just pipped to second place by an IV from Jesus, who had won the eights race by a huge margin earlier in the day. A 3rd place performance at Fairbairns is the best a Queens’ M1 has done in 10 years, and I am very excited to see what this crew can do next term in the new boat.
M2 were, as had become a theme for the term, reliant on subs for Fairbairn’s, with a few of the crew having to rush off to London for job interviews on short notice. Despite this, they raced fantastically, putting in by far their best performance of the term. There was a real sense of crew spirit, evidenced by them putting in bursts for each of the pairs, and the cox, down the Reach. They were being chased by Churchill M1, who looked to overtake them from the Gut, but the crew kept their composure very well to stay ahead. At the end of the race, the stroke man, Josh, gave a heartfelt speech about how far the crew had come, and how appreciative he was of all of them. Many thanks to Nick Budenberg for coaching the crew throughout the term, and really bringing things together in the last couple of weeks. At the end of the division there was carnage on a level I’ve never seen before on the Cam – crews were pulled over to the bank four abreast, and it took well over an hour to clear everyone after the race.
Despite only having a single outing in this crew before the race, M3 performed fantastically. Both Susie, the cox, and Luis had already raced with M2 earlier, so were running on fumes by this point, but they still managed to beat both Magdalene and LMBC M3. The crew did a great job – if any boat deserved to do well, it was this one.
Two novice crews on the men’s side competed in QErgs 2021. As can be expected with any QErgs, there was an enormous amount of gusto and an enormous lack of technique from the novices. Some highlights include Reece Wilcock rating the entire race at 53, and Mirko de Pagter collapsing off the seat into the recovery position after his piece. MOrca placed 8th in their division, whilst MPlatypus placed an impressive 5th.
Emma Sprints was the day after Winter Head, and the novices were all very excited to race on the water, having got a taste for it at QErgs. We entered two crews, MOrca and MPlatypus, coached by Joe Penny and Tim Robson respectively. Both crews had some form of crew meal beforehand and were able to coordinate some level of fancy dress. Tim’s boat was impressive, with each member dressed as a character from Phineas & Ferb. Spirits were very high in both crews, and both perhaps suffered from a degree of overconfidence.
MOrca raced in the NM1 division and had some stiff competition. They raced Selwyn NM1 first, who they absolutely should have beaten. Unfortunately, they crashed into the bank three strokes into the race due to stroke side all missing the water, and it took them a long time to recover. The rest of the race was very well rowed, and they gained nearly ten lengths over the course. The second race was also very well rowed, and they beat Lucy Cavendish NM1, their first ever men’s crew, easily. It was an impressive performance, and other than for the crash, there were very few mishaps.
MPlatypus were racing in a mixed NM3/NW3 division, due to time restrictions. They were drawn against Selwyn NM2 in the first race, who they beat easily, rowing well together and not getting ahead of themselves. They faced Emmanuel NM2 in the next round but were also hindered by a crash off the start. This crash was much less disruptive, and they were neck and neck for most of the course. In the end they were beaten by just under a length, though I am sure they would’ve won if they had kept their heads in the boat…
At Fairbairns, NM1 rowed an overall good race – the first half had nice smooth rhythm with a good amount of send. Intriguingly the crew spent most of the race shouting at each other to try and hype each other up, which perhaps indicated there was not enough work being put down! Despite a crab 500m from the finish, it was an encouraging performance, with plenty of power in the boat.
NM2 rowed a ’relaxed’ race. They were told in the lead up to their race by Tim to not tire themselves out too quickly. Good advice as this was, the crew perhaps took it too far, rating at around 24, and generally looking like they were on a leisurely paddle, not a race. The row was otherwise clean and, in fairness, once the rate was called up near the end, the boat speed increased dramatically. For an NM2, the crew performed very well this term, and they worked well together as a squad. What is especially good to see is that most of the rowers were freshers, who will hopefully be around for a long time yet.