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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Having failed to catch Sidney, M2 were again faced with the challenge of escaping Christ’s M2 at the head of the third division. Feeling confident but not complacent, we rowed to the start and lined up on station one with the same plan as the day before.
We went off hard as planned, and settled nicely. The rowing felt much cleaner and stronger today, but Christ’s had clearly upped their game as well, as we didn’t pull clear so quickly this time. In fact, down plough reach we were more or less on station, and Peterhouse did not close on Christ’s at all as they had the day before.
Coming around Ditton into an extremely strong headwind, we started to open up the gap, and had about three lengths by the time we reached the railway bridge. We were confident enough to start winding down as we passed the P+E, but Christ’s definitely made us work harder today than on Wednesday!
Again, we were set to start at the bottom station, this time chasing Pembroke. We all knew this one was going to be tough, having been so far off Sidney the day before and with Sidney taking a lot of the course to catch Pembroke. We opted for the fly and die strategy, and even modified our start by adding an extra five winds to get the rate even higher.
This worked well, and off the start we reached and maintained rate 46. We started to move on Pembroke, and gained between a quarter and a half of a length, getting just shy of our first whistle. But while the ‘fly’ part worked well, the ‘die’ part came all too soon, and by the time we reached first post we had nothing left. The challenge of having to race after three row overs had taken it out of us. Pembroke had opened up three lengths, and we gave up the chase around Grassy.
We knew that the race would be quick and tight, so we went all in straight off the start. We jumped half a length on Sidney Sussex in front of us, but seemed to settle there for a while as Downing were slowly getting closer and closer from behind. As they were half a length off us we did a big push, where we accelerated and soon landed half a length off Sidney. Whilst we were clearly gaining on Sidney until the very end, it wasn’t quite enough for us to reach them on time. It had been a quick race that only went on until the motorway bridge. Tomorrow we will return fresh after this short distance, and ready to fight out a longer race.
M1 rowed over on the first day to retain 9th position on the river. After a solid start the crew felt we dropped off the pace slightly when the crews behind us bumped out, but nevertheless got the row over. Tomorrow we have Emma chasing us and we look to go for Peterhouse.
The crew was ready to go and expected a long row, eager to bump Wolfson W1 on the first day. We immediately saw Caius W2 behind attempting to use this against us by doing a fast start, but we pressed them away. Soon enough their big push was over and we dropped them, and they eventually got bumped by a speedy Downing W2. Wolfson were faster than expected, and whilst we kept up they bumped Sidney Sussex W1 before we could get to them. We didn’t give up, but instead refocused on an overbump on Emmanuel W2. Sadly they also bumped out, leaving us with a solid row-over. We thus proved to ourselves that we can keep good pace for the entirety of the course. Tomorrow will be exciting, with a fast Downing crew coming after us as we look to bump Sidney Sussex.
Queens’ M2 started the day as sandwich boat, and so our first job was to row over ahead of Christ’s M2 at the head of the M3 division. The crew was feeling confident, having decisively beat Christ’s in a head race a few weeks previously, but we were taking nothing for granted and planned to still go out all guns blazing.
Our row up was some of the best rowing we have done together as a crew, and the freshness of a few days of tapering was clear. Our practice start was scrappy, but quick, and we lined up at station one full of energy and ready to go.
On the cannon we went off hard, reaching rate 44. We gradually settled into a nice rhythm and pulled clear of Christ’s, immediately pulling away half a length. Coming around grassy, Christ’s put in a push and for a moment it looked like they might come back at us, but we responded well and pulled away further. Coming around Ditton we were 3 lengths clear, although we still didn’t feel safe enough to wind down – Peterhouse had three whistles on Christ’s and so both crews behind us were still really going for it. By the time we got half way down the reach though, the gap was large enough that we could take the rate down to 30, and we cruised across the line well out of the firing line.
After an all too short break in which malt loaf and sweets were speedily consumed, it was time for our second race. This time our opposition was Sidney M1, who bumped Queens’ M2 down to sandwich boat last Mays.
Our row up this time was the best rowing we’ve ever done, and we lined up on station 17 feeling good. We knew Sidney were going to be tough opposition – they’d just pipped us at the head race a few weeks before. But all 9 of us believed that we could catch them eventually. We weren’t expecting them to move on Pembroke, and so thought we’d have to whole course to close and complete a bump.
Off the start this time, we didn’t move quite as well as we could have. It was tidy, but less power was going down (a symptom of the fatigue from the first race). Coming under the motorway bridge we hit some horribly dirty water, and things got very scrappy. After that we struggled to make any ground, and never closed on Sidney.
By the time we were on the reach, Sidney were well clear. This, and some obstructions up ahead, led Rob to call us down, and we paddled the rest of the course at rate 18.
The obstructions led to Sidney and Pembroke re-rowing, with Sidney ultimately catching Pembroke at Ditton.