M1 won University Fours 2011 C: W. Morland S: J. Jaros 3: H. Dietert 2: P. Mildon B: J. Brubert

Day 1 - beat Clare

A relaxed, precise paddle down to the lock gave us confidence for the race. It was pure joy to be in that boat as we pulled away from Clare chasing us. After a clean racing line through grassy, we opened the gap further and flew past the reach at a comfortable rate 32 to finish with a margin of 40s. A lovely race that felt good at all times!

Day 2 - beat Jesus in the quarter final

Today, it did not quite come together as well as it did yesterday, it seemed as if we could not get rid of the last bit of tension before the race. Nevertheless, after a fair start, we pulled away from Jesus again at grassy corner. Beautifully steered around that key bend, we held the rate at 32 comfortably. The boat did not feel as stable as yesterday, though. By no means a bad row, we increased the gap to the chasing crew steadily and established a handsome margin of 55 seconds at the finish line. The records show that there has not been a margin as big as this since 2008. Go Queens’!

Day 3 - beat LMBC in the semi-final

The boat gelled as well as on Monday on the row up to the start. The crew were not too nervous at the start, instead focused on the task at hand. Starting again from the up stream station, the boat went off balance a little under the Motorway bridge before settling into a smooth flowing rhythm at r33 that would not be disturbed again until the finish. The result was not clear coming into grassy, but a solid move past the posts on Plough reach indicated that the Queens’ were about a length up at half way. Will steared a fantastic line onto the Reach and then the momentum just began to build and build, with the power slowly increasing for the final two minutes of the race.

Result: Queens’ beat LMBC by 17 seconds.

Day 4 - won the final agains Caius

After yesterday’s rather fresh and rainy afternoon, the sun was back today to produce a picture perfect day in Cambridge at a marvelous racing temperature of 15 °C.

Sunglasses mounted, we paddled legs-only past Caius’ boathouse and exchanged polite wishes of luck with their first IV+ crew: 4 rowers of their May’s M1, who gained headship in the 2011 campaign (and blades in doing so). After they beat Downing in the first round of the Uni4 competition with a margin of 3sec, it was clear that this boat was the team to beat this year. Indeed, we now met in the final after they had beaten King’s by 7sec, and we had sent home LMBC by 17sec in the semis.

The warm-up routine was promising, which was important with the challenge ahead. A burst down the reach was clean (even though our perfectionist cox Will opposed that opinion), and the first practice start left the people sitting outside the Plough visibly impressed. Peter did not even want to do a second practice start as we normally did!

The crew was calm and composed at the start. We set off well, with a minor upset for a stroke or two under the motorway bridge, then quickly lengthened to r34 as we came towards grassy. With Caius gaining on us perhaps a length, Will demanded bow side pressure and steered the Hudson around this bend on the perfect line. Jacob and Helge got us around the corner masterfully again. The original distance between the boats was restored as we continued the strong rhythm at r34 down the Plough reach.

Our Formula1-worthy cox crossed the river and showed an incredibly tight line around Ditton. The bow side blades touched the vegetation at the bank several times without upsetting the boat or rhythm, while Peter at 2 did not dare to pull at max. strength for a few strokes - that’s how tight it was! A demonstration of strong nerves by everyone.

On the reach, the margin between the boats remained unchanged. We emptied our tanks and passed the finish line without knowing who’d won. The race felt good at all times, similar to the day before, but with the difference that we worked harder, were faster and, as a consequence, legs and lungs were hurting from the Plough onwards, unlike the days before. It was clearly the toughest race we had this week.

In a discussion between the marshals and the crews, it became clear that the boats were equally fast, so the decision leaned towards a dead heat as experienced several times in the past few years.

Congratulations to this victory, and thank you to everyone involved who made this a fantastic experience!

M2 C: B. Jones 4: N. Bookbinder-Ryan 3: G. Steele 2: T. B: R. Siinmaa

Day 3 - beat LMBC M2 Day 4 - lost to Trinity Hall M2 by 6s