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.

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.

Women’s Novices Report

We have now had our two competitions with the novices. First was Qergs for which the women’s side entered 3 boats and everyone thoroughly enjoyed. All who participated said they had a really good time and it inspired them to want to do more competitive rowing. The squads on the women’s side have stayed as 3 main crews with 9-12 in each and this has worked well and allowed everyone to be able to go out on as many outings as they have wanted to. We look forward to rowing faribairns with 3 strong women’s crews entered.

Men’s Term Report

The men’s side has a strong base this year with two full eights. However we have learnt that coxes during the colder months are a rare commodity with some rowers having to take to the rudder (with varying degrees of success!). President Chivers proved that he deserves his name on the new honours board, stroking M2 to victory at Winter Head, winning the student M2 category. We have strong hopes for M2 for Fairbairns – good luck boys!

M1 had a rocky start to term, but gained over 20 seconds against other colleges in Winter Head compared to Autumn Head. This is in part due to cox Jayna Patel running ruthless core sessions while barking orders and wielding a large stick. The crew has also benefited from strong technical oversight and encouragement from coaches Rob Jeffrey and Chris Clark.

After Autumn Head, a new squad based training system was used where up and coming rowers got the opportunity to row with more senior members. This had huge advantages to consolidate the squad rowing style, improve cohesion and bonding as well as vastly improve individual technique. This has paid off for both boats in Winter Head and we hope to see the returns for the rest of the year.

Peter Stevens

QCBC Men’s Captain 2017/18