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.