Novice Men’s Eagles by Sasha Hajnal-Corob

Our Emma sprints race did not get off to a very good start. The first hiccough came 5 minutes before we were supposed to be martialling, when we still had not properly assembled our ‘escaped prisoners and police-woman’ costumes and hadn’t even begun to get the boat out, due to thinking our race was an hour later. However, we quickly got ourselves organised and into the boat (getting rather wet feet, and a wet police-woman hat in the process) and rowed up to the start line just as the race began.

We were against one of Clare’s boats in the first round. It was neck and neck for the majority of the race, but we kept our focus and our timing, and slowly we began to creep in front. Excitement levels rose as we watched our boat pulling away from Clare’s. With our LBC screaming from the bank, we streaked across the finish, thrilled to have won our first ever race.

The second round was against Jesus. After a strong start, two rather dramatic crabs from each of the boats caused a bit of mayhem. Both boats were rowing in sixes, and the pace had slowed considerably. It was incredibly close as we got near to the finish line, but unfortunately the Jesus boat just had the edge and reached the end of the race a few seconds before us.

Novice Women’s Second Boat by Lydia Morris

Our boat had an interesting experience for Emma Sprints. After being told by our coach, Becky, “Don’t panic when the race starts! Just take it nice and slowly” we proceeded to completely ignore that advice which resulted in a wobbly boat and a few crabs. We had to stop twice - once due to a severe crab and another time due to one of the oars coming out! So we lost our first race against Emma but we were met with strawberry laces after the race which consoled us rather effectively. Our competitors for the second race dropped out so we did the race anyway and all of us counted it as a victory!

Novice Men’s Hawks by Chris Ford

A sunny winter’s afternoon saw the Men’s Novice IV boat “Hawks” take to the Cam in the trusty ‘Jeffrey’ for their first taste of race action. Covered all over in college Green body-paint and with the support of our coaches, Hamish and Yang, we had high hopes for the day.

Our first round race against Emmanuel proved to be a tight affair. Queens’ were strong in technique and enthusiasm but unfortunately our opponents got a better start and despite making up ground on them all the way, 500m was not quite enough distance to catch them. After a quick spin and marshal we were back at the line to take part in the repechage.

Sadly our second race, a boat house derby with Magdalene, was not so close. As we pushed hard to chase our opponents all the way to the finish, stroke Jack Barstow’s foot flew out of the straps. QCBC President and novice cox Lindsey Tate acted instinctively to grab on to the loose foot to keep Jack in the boat and allow him to try and continue but the combination of the loss in stroke side pressure and admirable attempt at one handed coxing saw the boat swerve over towards the other side of the river. We rowed on, determined, but ultimately the Magdalene lead was too great to catch up.

We finished twice beaten but proud and itching to race again. Bring on Fairbairns!

Novice Women’s Third Boat by Isla Tyrrell

It was on a blue, crisp morning that the fairies gathered on the banks of the Cam. We came, swathed in glittery fabrics, bearing fairy wings and war paint (swirly patterns). Along our way down river, the NW4 fairies met many other interesting creatures: pirates, hulks and a caterpillar that, confusingly, happened to be very much a Queens’ green.

Arriving at the starting line, we learnt that Sidney Sussex was to be our first competitor. Racing a load of Where’s Wallys is quite distracting because you are constantly in a state of glee about the fact that you have found them, and this is never a good state when you are meant to be paying attention to the calls of “AND CATCH, CATCH… STROKE WHY AREN’T YOU ROWING? STROKE? STROKE?! STROKE!??”

But the race commenced and was going swimmingly until Sidney crashed into us, and carried on rowing. It’s quite hard to row through another boat, so they had to stop in the end, and over-compensated a bit by then proceeding to crash into the opposite bank of the river.

The NW4 fairies didn’t mind though; we rowed on and won! Hooray!

Alas, our next race against nearby neighbours Selwyn did not go our way, but we merrily paddled back up the Cam to the boathouse, and from there, back to Queens’ for a much anticipated brunch, full of post-Emma Sprints joy.