M1 - Knocked Out Quarter Finals of Division 1 1st Round Beat Fitzwilliam by 7 seconds Quarter Final Lost to Kings by 9 seconds

With only 2 weeks of outings under our belt arrived the first of the main Michaelmas competitions. Despite the loss of physical fitness lost over the summer months we were starting to move nicely as a unit. Fresher, Alex Duncomb, did very well to quickly adapt to the Queens’ style of rowing after years of rowing at school and Anisha Mistry brought her experience as W1 cox in Mays over to the men’s side. Averaging at around 79kg we were surprisingly not the heaviest out of our two IVs entering the competition. This unfortunately meant we would have to race in the Brown, the lighter of the two IVs designed for a crew of an average weight of 72kg. The consequences were immediately apparent. Bow man, Mark Varley would have been better of equipped for the competition with a snorkel and some armbands instead of a blade.

The evening before Monday the 28th October the weather took a turn for the worst. Gale-force winds swept across the country, a complete contract to the clear sky, still afternoons we had been training in. Our first race was against Fitzwilliam (M1). We were on top station with Fitz doing the chasing. Although we had the advantage of being able to push off the crew behind this did mean we had a larger section of the open, unprotected windy reach to race down. With this in the back of our minds we readied ourselves on the start line. The first race of the competition was underway. We got off to an average start spinning the rate up well into the high 30s. We then settled on to a race pace of 34 strokes per minute which we maintained for the entirety of the course. By this point Fitz had already closed the gap. They had gained about a length off the start and were looking strong. Keeping relaxed and focusing only on our boat we moved into first post corner. By this point the Fitz crew had closed the gap by half. Anisha ‘Sebastian Vettel’ Mistry took a tight line round to keep the pursuing crew at bay. Unable to make full use of the still patches along the gut we then hit the big bow side corner, grassy. Again we kept a close line round but Fitz had somehow shrunk the gap by even more. We put in a critical push down plough reach. Here we started to move. We had managed to increase the gap by about 2 seconds but Fitz were still very much in the lead. As we approached Ditton we knew it was about to hit us and then it did. The huge winds from the reach felt like it had stopped the boat dead. The boat became almost unbearably heavy. We called a gear change to half slide and powered on. The legs and arms were starting to burn as we muscled our way towards the finish line. The boat was moving demoralizingly slow but as we moved further and further away from the struggling Fitz boat behind we knew we could beat them. We ended up winning by 7 seconds. We were through to the quarter final.

We faced Kings (M1) in the next round. Kings were the crew which knocked out our M1 last year after a re-row. We had taken a lot away from that first race. During the first half of the race we were being too conservative. Although we had found a good rhythm we were not putting enough power down and this is why Fitz had caught us up so much. Knowing the huge headwind was coming down the reach may have caused us to row in such a way. If we were going to beat Kings we would have to be as quick as possible over the whole course and make full advantage of all the less windy sections.

The race was on Wednesday and the wind had not died down as much as we would have hoped. This time round we were on bottom station hunting down the Kings crew. We seemed a lot more relaxed compared to our first race which was a good sign. The initial nerves were gone and we were fired up ready to race. The race was underway. After our start we strode down onto around 32 strokes per minute. This was to ensure we were not overrating the boat and so we could get the maximum amount of power down in the water as possible. We were moving a lot quicker than our previous race. Calls of ‘close the gap’ from Paul Knight could be heard from the tow path as we remained on station into the corners. As always, Anisha took some tight lines and we prepared ourselves for the reach again. Being the chasing crew it was hard to tell what was happening. Not knowing if we were behind or in front at this point was definitely a disadvantage. Still on station at this point we hit the headwind of the reach. A gear change was called but we struggled to find that critical rhythm. We battled on doing deadlift after deadlift with our muscles screaming at us to stop. We collapsed across the finish line initially unaware of the result. We had been beaten. Kings had managed to pull away from us by 9 seconds down the reach. We were gutted having rowed so well and fallen at the final hurdle. Promisingly we had improved on our time from Monday by 25 seconds so perhaps with another week of preparation available the result may have been different. Kings went on to lose to Claire in the final.

This is obviously not how we wanted our University Fours campaign to end but we threw everything we could at it and unfortunately this time round we fell slightly short. I really enjoyed rowing with the other boys and hopefully we can find some more races to enter later on in the year.

By James Edgley C: Anisha Mistry S: James Edgley 3: Alex Duncomb 2: Tom Bury B: Mark Varley Coached: Seb Robins & Paul Knight M2 - Won Second Division Uni 4’s Quarter Final: Beat Robinson M2 by 23 seconds Semi Final: Beat LMBC M2 by 45 seconds Final: Beat Emma M2 by 6 seconds

Bye through the first round. Quarter final was against Robinson II. They were chasing us and as it was our first race it was quite hard to tell how it was going to end. Thankfully they were comfortably beaten by 23 seconds, with the strong headwind on the Reach clearly affecting their rowing more than it affected ours.

The semi-final and final were raced one after the other, so we knew that if we made it through the semi we’d have to push ourselves extra hard in the final. The semi-final was against LMBC II, who again were chasing us. Strong pushes out of all the corners and a good rhythm down the reach meant that by the end of the race the other boat was barely visible from our position and we took a great win of 45 seconds. We were even able to relax the pressure a bit towards the end of the race. This set us up well for a quick break, spin and then row back down for the final.

In the final we were racing Emmanuel II, but this time we were doing the chasing. This race was guaranteed to be harder and sure enough the going was tough. They pushed us all the way along the 2km course and it was very difficult to gain much on them. After a strong start they managed to hold us and our grasp on the race almost started to slip a little, until a restart coming onto the Reach allowed us to complete the victory and take home the medals! The win was celebrated heavily in the bar that night.

By Jack Amey C: Katie Earl S: Helge Dietert 3: Henry Cathcart 2: Jack Amey B: Simon Brunner Coached: Seb Robins & Paul Knight