M1 - 11th Fastest College in 8:55

After a busy week of crew selection following the Uni IVs competition, we had one week’s worth of outing as a set M1 crew until Winter Head. Although this is not the most important event of the term we still wanted to post as quick a time as we could to see where we stood amongst the other M1 crews this early in our campaign. Plus, winning the event two years in a row would definitely be a nice ego boost.

We were down to row in division 2 of the competition, starting at 10:15. Rowing up to the start line, which was just after the motorway bridge, it was clear we were all in the zone. The boat was flowing smoothly, particularly during our short burst of rate 24. There was very little check on the boat and the platform was solid. We were off first in our division with Downing behind us. There was a noticeable mismatch in weight distribution in the Downing boat. The stern four were absolutely enormous making their bow four look like a small collection of stick insects. We all got out the boat at the start line and focused on the race ahead, trying to ignore the appallingly smelly chat coming from the Downing boat. After one of the marshals asked them to overlap their bow with the stern of our boat I heard a budding comedian from amongst their crew pipe up saying “first time Queens’ have ever had overlap on us”. Terrific noise Downing.

The water was still and there was very little wind making the conditions perfect for rowing. The main focus for us during the race was the catch an area which we had tried to target in training earlier on in the week. We knew if we could all get this right, eliminating check and not wasting any of the water during the drive, we would have a strong chance of winning the competition again. We de-kitted and began winding the boat up to race pace. Earlier in the week we had been struggling to maintain rate of 30+ due to the check we had been getting on the boat so weren’t yet expecting to be racing in the high 30s as we had been at the end of the summer term last year. We straight away found a strong chunky rhythm as 32. There was hardly any check on the boat and the pace felt maintainable for the whole course. Demoralizingly, Downing had ‘gunned’ the start. By first post corner they had gained about 15 seconds on us! Obviously we had fallen into the same trap as we did in the first round of Uni IV. The boat may have felt nice but we weren’t moving that quickly. We were not going to give Downing the satisfaction of overtaking us. The humiliation would have been crushing! Here we stepped it up a gear. The level of aggression started to creep up and up but unfortunately so did the amount of check on the boat. Entering the reach Downing were about half a length behind us. We were still holding our low rate of 32 but increasing the rate would have been suicide. We held Downing off at half a length for the whole of the reach and perhaps pushed off them slightly towards to end to get that all important racing line under the railway bridge. Gradually increasing the rate by a few pips up to the finishing line we crossed it with the Downing boat about half a length behind us.

Unfortunately Downing ended up winning the competition finishing with a time of 8:34 and we came 11th with a time of 8:55, losing by 21 seconds. To be fair there were rating good 2 or 3 pips higher than us so could realistically expect to have beaten them. Analysing the times, at the 1000m point we had lost 12 seconds on them by this point. The race for us can be broken down into two halves. The first half we found a nice rhythm with low levels of check but we were lacking that aggression in the drive phase to really send the boat. The second half we had that aggression but this also crept into the recovery phase bringing check to the boat. If we could take the best elements from each half of the race we could have been potentially holding the title once again. But hey, who needs two of the same hip flasks anyway.

Our next event will be Fairbairns in a couple of weeks. If we can bring the focus we had during that race into each outing we undoubtedly improve enough to challenge for the Fairbairn shield once again.

James Edgley Cox: Chris Clark Stroke: James Edgley 7: Alex Duncomb 6: Tom Bury 5: Mark Varley 4: Helge Dieterg 3: Emil Hewage 2: Simon Brunner Bow: Jack Amey Coach: Seb Robins W1 - Joint 3rd Fastest College in 10:18 M2 - 25th Fastest College in 9:47, (2nd M2)