NW Clare Novices

On Saturday, 25 November 2017, Queens‘ Women’s Novices boat “Jellies” set out for what was to be the first proper race for many crew members: Clare Novices’ Regatta. After a short night’s rest, our crew boated from QCBC boathouse at around 7:20 and headed towards the marshalling area at Plough Reach. Morale was high on the row-up despite the chilling cold as we warmed up and practised several race starts to prepare for the competition. None of us had ever been this far up the Cam, so we enjoyed watching the sun rise over the river and the misty fields. Our cox Leah stirred us safely through the uncharted waters, except for that odd time when we – totally unexpectedly, of course – bumped into the bank bow-forward and got us a nice chunk of bank as a souvenir. We arrived for marshalling well in time, skipped – which proved difficult, as the river was busy with other boats – and made ourselves comfortable to wait for our start. Or not so comfortable, that is, since the temperature was still freezing! Billie, our coach, advised us to keep moving in order to stay warm – although she forgot to explain just exactly how we were supposed to move while sitting in a narrow boat that was already close to capsizing because our oars were drawn in on the bankside! About ten minutes before the race, Billie noticed we had lost our bow-ball during our brief encounter with the river bank on the row-up, and left us to find a solution. Fearing we wouldn’t be allowed to start, we anxiously waited until our coach came back with a new one from god-knows-where that she and Leah cellotaped onto our bow without further ado. Thus equipped, we finally made our way to the starting line for our race against Downing College. After the signal, we all gave our best to row as quickly and as powerfully as possible, with our cox setting the pace and shouting commandos at us while Billie cheered on us from her bike. Sadly, Downing took the lead early on, and we were busy chasing them for most of the track. About mid-way through the race, we finally came close to catching up on their boat, but an unfortunate moment of several of us catching the crab in all the flurry slowed us down again, and we lost the chance to overhaul Downing. Nevertheless, we gave our best effort to reach the finish line not too far behind the winners. Since we had missed the chance to enter the second round, we immediately made our way back to the boathouse after we had finished, and many of us had underestimated how demanding this post-race work-out would be! As we finally brought our boat in, we were all completely knackered, but in high spirits – we had lost the race, but we’d had nearly two hours of very intense training, and we could certainly be proud of our commitment and the progress we had made. Most importantly, Clare’s was the first-ever race for many of our crew members, and will surely be an experience that we’ll never forget.

Report by Felicia

QCBC Bridgemas

This Sunday rowers took some time off rowing to get into the Christmas Spirit. Starting with some Ice Skating (where Balint did some showing off) we joined together for some Mulled Wine and Mince Pies before the college carol service.

Chilling in the bar in the evening was a great way for novices and seniors from both sides of the club to mingle and get to know each other.

Women’s Term Report

As Michaelmas draws to a close, the Queens’ women’s side are in the final stages of training before Fairbairns on the 1st December. The term got off to a promising start, with a large crop of returning seniors and some new schoolgirl rowers joining the ranks. The women’s side this year also has several girls trialling with CUW and CULRC, and looking ahead this will add some serious strength to the squad come Mays. Our new coach, Lisa Silk, has also been invaluable so far; her unparalleled knowledge of Cambridge rowing and firm but fair attitude have gone a long way in getting the best out of the girls this term.

We began the term in mixed crews to see who worked well in which combination; one such combination was put to the test in Autumn Head in early October, where we won the W2 category. Meanwhile, the W1 IV entered the University IVs as the definitive underdogs and ended up reaching the semi-finals, beating both Newnham W2 and Clare W1 and losing out to Downing in the semis by a measly 5 seconds. This was a considerable achievement given that QCBC women have never made it past the first round before, and it certainly spurred us on to train harder and keep up the good work.

After Uni IVs we settled into a 1st VIII and 2nd IV for the rest of term. W1’s first race as a full crew was at Winter Head on 18th November, in which we were the 6th fastest college. Our performances so far and the girls’ continued commitment and dedication to training means that I am confident we will do ourselves proud in Fairbairns next week!

Off the water, the QCBC social campaign is still going strong and is working wonders to bring the club together outside of training. We’ve had plenty of women’s side and whole club socials and are very much looking forward to the next one, an ice-skating, carol-singing, mulled wine-fuelled Christmas extravaganza (although we are proceeding with caution to prevent any skating injuries before Fairbairns!). We’ve also been getting to know some of our boathouse neighbours (discovering on a social that certain senior rowers didn’t realise that John’s and LMBC were in fact the same…) and are planning plenty of events next term to maintain QCBC as the most sociable society in Queens’.

Overall, the QCBC women have had a great term both on and off the water. We’ve worked hard and put the hours into our training, and I am truly impressed with the seemingly boundless enthusiasm and commitment shown by the squad so far. I’m sure that this will continue and deliver success for the girls both this term and for the rest of the year.

Georgie Holmes, Women’s Captain 2017-18

QErgs Seniors

Qergs is always a long and stressful day for the senior members of the boathouse as the Qergs Presidents rally all the troops and make them all help-out with the set-up, marshal, and clear up the whole event. On top of this, a mixed senior crew enters the competition. This year, it was made up of women’s captain Georgie, Anna, Billie, Lea, men’s captain Peter, Balint, Lex and Allister. They all warmed up in the empty Fitzpatrick hall between events, slightly dreading the race. The division was announced as the first rower sat on the erg. The start looked unpromising as Lea went up again some of the other colleges’ men, but as the relay progressed, Queens’ put on a solid performance. As the last rower got onto the erg, we were in a good position to make the top three. Luckily, Balint was our last rower and he exploded out of the start, pulling an incredible 1:21 split! The rest of the crew along with 5 or 6 coxes were screaming and shouting hoping that he would not burn out. By miracle he didn’t and he rowed Queens’ to victory! Cheers resonated in the hall as the home team took the gold medal! A truly deserved triumph for a crew that left everything on the erg.

Report by Léa Gansser-Potts

M2 Winter Head

It was 7am on a very cold Saturday 18th November morning, and a bleary eyed M2 crew arrived at the boathouse for our first race, which also happened to be our first outing as a crew. Hence there was little expectation on our shoulders, and our plan was simple – go off hard, and see what happens.

The row up was decent with some solid bursts, and we marshalled at the lock in good spirits and looking forward to seeing what we could do. After de-kitting prematurely, getting very cold, re-kitting and then finally lining up for the start, we were eager to get going and warm up! We set off at rate 36 and after about a minute we settled naturally into a chunky rate 32.

We were told from the bank and coxing seat that we were gaining on the crew in front, and we could see that the quad chasing us (which we’d feared may catch and overtake) was being pushed into the distance. This urged us on, and coming out of Grassy and Ditton we made big pushes that kept the boat speed high and the rate never dropped below 32. Under the railway bridge towards the finish we brought it up, and came under the line in 9 minutes 36 seconds – only 30 seconds behind M1.

We sat at the top of the results board for second boats for most of the day, until we were just pipped by UCL M2 in the final division of the day. Interestingly, the UCL M2 crew that beat us also beat UCL M1 by 26 seconds, so we had some questions about UCL’s crew selections, especially since if they’d entered the correct crews in the correct divisions we would have won the M2 division. However we were all pleased with our result and look forward to a strong performance in Fairbairn’s.

Callum Chivers

NW1 Emma Sprints

After many mornings in the cold and a strong effort indoors at QErgs the women’s novices were eager to finally race on the water. The row to the start was a focused one – the excitement to finally show their progress was apparent. The NW1 boat (nicknamed the Gummy Bears) lined up at the start next to Caius NW1. The start was an even one, with Caius coming out slightly ahead only to move into the bank and be forced to a stop. Queens’ pushed away ahead to show their speed even without a competitor near to push them, but then a cross-wind hit and they too were forced to restart as they hit the bank. Caius were now a length ahead with half the race to go, and so Queen’s did a massive push on long strokes to regain the lead and came up next to them. Both crews were getting tired and pushed to their limits by being neck and neck with the competition. In the last 200m, the race was excruciatingly close, neither crew keeping the lead for more than a couple of strokes. In a brilliant call from cox Ellesheva Kissin, Queens’ gave their all in the last strokes to push ahead and won by half a foot!

Their second race was against Clare NW1, and here too the start was even. Queens’ pushed ahead by a canvas as they lengthened out and settled into a solid rythm, keeping Clare there for 300m. The crews drifted together closely and as their blades interlocked in the headwind a couple of crabs occurred in both boats, causing the boats to turn towards each other. Clare came out ahead as they faced towards the right side of a bend in the river and could thus restart fairly swiftly. Queens’ took up the chase and gained significantly but ultimately had too much to gain and too little river left. They lost by a length and a half in the end, but were happy with their first race day and looking forward to another regatta, Clare Novices, next weekend.

NW2 Emma Sprints

The NW2 boat entered in Emma Sprints was a mixed crew made up of half Skittles and half Jelly Babies (these are two of the tree women’s novice QCBC crews this year). Spirits were high as we pushed off in the Chrysalis all dressed up as queens, and the row down to the marshalling area was neat and looked promising. Our first race was against Darwin NW1. After the ‘start’ was called, our marvellous novice cox Leah Schmitt, cloaked and crowned, called the draws and winds and we crept ahead of Darwin. Unfortunately, Darwin was the faster crew over the course and they overtook us and won the race. Queens’ took this defeat in their stride and lined up for the second race against Trinity Hall NW2 with determination on their faces but again, our elegance and demeanour weren’t enough to claim victory and we crossed the finish line behind Tit Hall. Altogether, what the day lacked in victories, it had in positivity. The whole crew enjoyed the competitive spirit that the races nurtured, and came away from their first rowing regatta with good memories.

Coaching Room and Ergs in College

I am excited to announce the completion of the refurbishment of the coaching room at the boathouse. This was a project that I started over the summer, and has been finished off this week by the arrival of the centrepiece – the new honours board!

The board lists previous Captains and Presidents of QCBC, with Men’s Captains backdated to 1924! The boards have room to expand up until 2065, and so this represents a long term investment in celebrating the Club’s history and preserving this information for many years to come. A special thank you must go to the Alumni Office and to alumni themselves for supplying and verifying the names.

Aside from the honours board, the refurbishment has involved the replacement of the sofas (the previous sofas having been in place for perhaps 30 years!), fitting of blinds, installation of proper storage cabinets, and a new high quality television. This TV is already being put to excellent use by coaches, who can now take crews up to the room to debrief after outings and discuss technical points using footage from the outing.

The room has also become a comfortable place for rowers to relax before and after outings, with tea and coffee making facilities and snacks, and is suitable for working as well as chilling out on the sofas with the TV. I hope that the room will continue to be utilised to its full extent, and will serve to enhance the coach ability of crews and also the use of the boathouse space in general.

We are also pleased that after many years and many attempts, I am very pleased to announce that the College has permitted us to store and use two ergs in the College. They are currently stored outside the Bowett room, where they will remain initially for a trial period. The provision of ergs in College is something the Club has long felt passionately about, and now means that QCBC members have easy access to the equipment without having to travel to the boathouse, which we all know can be wholly unpleasant and time consuming in the winter months! Many thanks to the College for allowing us this privilege.

 

QErgs Event

QErgs hosted 900 competitors this year for an evening of ergtastic fun! For the first time ever we live streamed the event on Facebook which was very well received. We also partnered up with the Teach First charity who ran a stall in the bar giving out energy snacks and information to competitors. The event ran smoothly this year thanks to the help of the dedicated members of the club who gave up their free time to marshal and set up. Queens’ were particularly successful winning the novice men’s and the senior division, celebrating with a club finale victory dance to ABBA.

NM1 Emma Sprints

Buoyed by their recent QErgs victory last weekend Queens’ NM1 turned their rudder towards Emma Sprints. Far from it being a case of the usual suspects, NM1’s first ever race on the water also represented the first time that the 8 rowers had taken to the river together.

Inspired by the namesake of their glorious leader the team decided on the fancy dress theme of Noah and the Ark, and so, when judgment day arrived, Queens’ NM1 arrived at the boathouse looking like the castoffs from Disney’s latest storyboard. Never before have Rudolph, Vixen, a Gorilla, two ducks, two zebras and one Igor taken to the water. Special mention must be given to Turnbull who made for a very convincing gorilla. On the other hand, Selway and Gandhi somewhat undermined the theological cogency of the outfits, failing to realise that, should we be smitten by the Great Flood then ducks, with their innate ability to swim would not be given a berth aboard HMS Noah’s Ark. With a David Attenborough narrative ringing in our heads we set forth for Emma Sprints.

First up, the squatters in Queens’ boat house, Magdalene NM1. Magdalene had much the better of the start with Queens 6 catching a crab in the first 10 strokes, an honourable dedication to completing Noah’s task and bringing all wildlife onto the Ark. Once Queens’ found their rhythm they quickly pulled back Magdalene’s lead and, one hundred metres out from the finish, the lead was with Queens’. However, in search of partner for our recent crustacean stowaway, Queens 7 caught a second crab and so, with the finish line in sight, Magdalene pulled ahead to claim victory.

With dreams of silverware out of mind Queens’ were paired up against the eight sperm swimmers of Christ’s for the return race. Christ’s ejected off the start line, too strong for Queens’ rather impotent wind-up. Christ’s quickly established a lead of one or two boat-lengths. As before, once Queens’ were in their groove, they displayed a rhythm that Freddie Mercury himself would have been proud of and slowly started to eat in Christ’s lead. It was unfortunately a case of too little too late and Christ’s crossed the line deserved-winners.

Post-match video analysis demonstrates that, despite minimal time in the boat together, there were times when NM1 found a tidy and powerful rhythm. With Fairbairns and some material faces to make a return to the boat, there is much to be optimistic about as NM1 look to secure their second piece of silverware for the term.