Fairbairns Race Report M1 By Mark Varley Tied 1st College 13.48, (With Kings)

On a bright and cold Friday morning Queens’ M1 took to the water to take on the daunting 4.3km of the Fairbairns course.  After a week of flooded rivers, gusting winds and brutal training the race looked to be under quite benign conditions.  The previous night the crew got psyched on a diet of pasta and Youtube rowing videos led my Peter Mildon that has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport.

Having no real warm up, (some rowers not yet taking a stroke) the crew set off knowing that this was our chance to really put a marker down for Lents.  Winding to a comfortable 38 off the start the crew sent the hull flying along the water, striding down to a 34 race rate to attempt the course.  Being expertly steered by Bronwyn the boat picked its course through town and past the parked barges, the crew tapping along solid and powerful.  Our first half was good though unofficial timings at this point retrospectively showed we were 6 seconds behind Kings at the Railway Bridge.

It was down the reach that all the training, long pieces and ergs really started to count.  As the crew got tired the commitment got higher and the speed picked up.  Round the corners the pain was really starting to dig in, but no-one in the crew faltered everyone knowing that every stroke counted.  Coming out of First Post the line was in sight and the crew accelerated taking the rate up to 37 coming through the motorway bridge.  Unfortunately the plan was to be dead at the motorway bridge then take 5 more strokes to the finish, however the finish was much further away than that being counted out at 18!!

After the race unofficial timings suggested we were right near the top of the pile, rumours of the top 5 boats being within 6 seconds circulated and Caius and Kings were looking smug from their personal timings.  Eventually it came through that we tied for first with Kings in a time of 13.48 and beating Caius by 2 seconds.  This is Queens’ second ever win of Fairbairns replicating the win 3 years ago and has just reward for the entire squad who has put in a huge amount of work over the term.  Bring on the Lents. Stroke – Mark Varley (c) 7 – Tom Bury 6 – Matt Edmonson Jones 5 – Helge Dietert 4 – Matt Chipping 3 – Rob Emery 2 – Peter Mildon Bow – James Edgely Cox – Bronwyn Jones

Senior Women’s 1st boat by Abi Smitton

11th college 1st women’s crew

After a hearty crew meal on the Thursday night and much talk of psychological strategies, W1 went into Fairbairns with a ‘Mind over Monkey’ strategy and with one aim: to beat the Boars. We knew that perhaps our only problem was our confidence. We had proved in training that we had potential, but we needed to believe in ourselves in this race. Once again we had a super sub. This time, the lovely Jacqueline (or Jacob, if you’re being picky) stepped up to the (foot)plate and took on our number 5 position in place of Mathilde.

Discovering as we reached the start that the crew we had expected to chase (Newnham) had scratched, we found ourselves chasing the Queens’ Boars Boat. The race was on. Off the start we found our rhythm really well. All the issues we’d had at Winter Head had been ironed out and we settled immediately at rate 32. For the first half of the race up to the railway bridge, we stuck to the training plan and held the boat ahead within our sights. Once past Chesterton, however, we unleashed our power and began to reel them in. Aggressive calls from Anisha for the heads of people in the boat ahead psychologically rallied us and we felt the speed pick up. With encouragement from Chris and Hamish on the bank we went onto Plough Reach having taken a good 10 lengths off the boat ahead. Coming out of the Gut, we knew this was make or break time. Anisha gave a surge call for Queens’ and we flew forward. Over the finish line we had taken the gap down to less than 2 boat lengths between us and the Boars.

It was some of the best rowing we had done as a crew all term. We proved that we had the psychological stamina to row a taxing 4.3k race and that the Fairbairns ergs we had done over the term had paid off. As Captain, I was so proud of the way we rowed that day and could not have asked for any more from any of the girls in the boat. Onward and upward to Bumps! Stroke – Abi Smitton (c) 7 – Claire Armstrong 6 – Helena Wickham 5 – Jacob Brubert 4 – Malti Vaghela 3 – Elaina Davis 2 – Jemima Graham Bow – Rachel Salter Cox – Anisha Mistry

M2 by Jack Robinson 1st M2 Boat 14.41

The atmosphere felt a bit tense in the boat house as we watched boats go past Queens’, knowing that we’d only get five or so strokes before we started the longest race in Michaelmas.  But soon enough we were in the boat and crossing the start line.  We set up a strong rhythm from the off and the town part of race went extremely quickly.  Stroke side put in some great work to get us round Chesterton and Emily gave a couple of fantastic calls reminding us that from there we knew what to expect and that this was ‘our river and our race to win’.  The first of many pushes came here.

Coming past the railway bridge we had another push, focusing on suspension.  From there we had technical calls going down what felt like an extremely long reach.  Bow side helped us round Ditton very well and from there on in it began to feel extremely tough.  The last few corners all went fairly well then we just had the last 500m or so along 1st post reach towards the Motorway Bridge. Every muscle was hurting by now but we took the rate up two and had one big last push.  I can’t even remember if Emily gave us a kill call or not but it felt as though the whole boat really gave it everything on that last stretch.

Top race by everyone, especially Emily who gave some great calls at just the times where we needed them. Stroke – Jack Robinson 7 – Hamish Houston 6 – Alex Chappell 5 – Jack Amey 4 – Greg Steele 3 – Yang Xu 2 – Fernando Bravo Bow – Mike Hope Cox – Emily Baxter

Novice Women’s 2nd boat by Katie Newsome

Although by far the longest, Fairbairns was our strongest race this term. The rolling start meant that we began the race unflustered and together. Our timing has improved dramatically over the course of the novice term, and everyone was feathering successfully. We kept a steady pace throughout and none of the crew came close to catching a crab. The river was the most swollen we had experienced but that didn’t stop us! All in all a triumph!