M1 - 10th Fastest College in a time of 15:20.4

The Morning of Fairbairns brought with it the start of the cold weather. A few minutes on the ergs and the three strokes required to get from the boathouse to our position in the queue, was all the warm up we had for the race. We kept our ski wear on for as long as possible and focused on the task at hand. We were well prepared for the 4.3km course. We had done plenty of 5km ergs so we knew how to pace ourselves and we had done many pieces during the upcoming couple of weeks.

We were off 4th had Caius who beat us in the Winter Head race a couple of weeks back. When it was our turn to go off we de-kitted and began the wind up to the start line. We hit the ground running rating into the high 30s and keeping the split nice and low. After twenty or so strokes we strode down to our race pace at a rate of 33 which remained constant for most of the course. Coming into Elizabeth Way, the first corner, disaster struck. Unfortunately the cox box cut out. An issue we have faced in the past. This put us at a massive disadvantage because the screams of the cox could not make it into the bows, despite Chris best efforts This meant that we could not effectively put in any sort of push, and it made it very difficult to work as a unit. We were effectively a man down from the beginning. Saying this we flew along the first 2km of the course. The boat was running nicely and coming out of Chesterton footbridge we had closed the gap massively on the Kings crew in front. At the speed we were going we would have overtaken them on the reach. Just short of the halfway point the muscles were starting to hurt and small discrepancies in timing and power application started to grow. Tiredness caused lack of concentration and thus deterioration in technique. The check on the boat increased making our rowing less efficient and ultimately a lot slower. The massive lead we had pulled out over kings was not slowly slipping further away. Unfortunately without the cox box we had no way of bringing us back together as a unit so instead we resulted in muscling it over the rest of the course. There were patches where the rowing started to click again but they were not maintained for long. Without being able to communicate with bows Chris still managed bring us round the corners nice and tight. Coming out of first post corner onto the last stretch we started to wind the rate back up and hit around rate 36 by the time we collapsed across the finishing line.

I cannot fault the effort put in by everyone during the race. With a couple of cases of PRC (post-race chundering), including the cox, everyone rowed their socks off. Unfortunately the result did not reflect our efforts. We crossed the line in 15:20.4 and were the 10th slower than downing who won the competition. If we kept the same physical commitment we gave to the race but maintained the mental and technical composure we had for the first half it would be fair to say that we would have been right on Downing’s tail. We will take a lot away from this race and hopefully after another terms worth of outings will be ready for the all-important Lent Bumps.

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 + Charlie Adams W1 - 3rd Fastest College in a time of 17:31.5

As Fairbairns approached, W1 were anxiously trying to do coxed run through on the ergs, sleep restfully and eat their own weight in carbs, determined to prove they deserved a top position after coming joint 3rd with Murray Edwards in the Winter Head race a few weeks before. On 6th December, after gale force winds and cancelled divisions for the novices the day before, the race was confirmed to be going ahead and the girls met bright and early to eat porridge and discuss tactics. Our usual cox Anoushka was off skiing, so luckily Anisha the Cox’s Captain was able to fill in. We overwhelmed her with all calls we wanted to hear during the 4.3k slog and got ready to leave for the boathouse, some of us in particular wearing inconspicuous stripy purple lucky racing leggings. Once again, arriving at the boathouse and ready to marshal far too early, we warmed up on the ergs and had last prep talks involving Bill helpfully telling us ‘there will be pain girls.’ Trying to minimise unnecessary weight in the boat, we reluctantly gave our layers and water to the 5-strong bank party and got in the boat… to sit in a queue for 20 minutes in 3degrees centigrade temperatures. Many of us were shivering and couldn’t feel our hands or feet as we approached Goldie boathouse!

A powerful start sequence saw us get off to a flying start before settling at our rate. Support from the bank kept us going whilst Anisha’s technical calls made sure we didn’t rush and made each stroke effective. The first 1.5k went without us noticing and we really started to move as we came to the water we were used to racing on. Several bursts kept the power up as Robinson behind faded into the distance and we grinded down the Crustaceans in front. Perfect lines around all the corners were taken and a motivational speech by Anisha out of grassy resonated down the speaker system as we gave our all to the finish line beyond the Motorway Bridge.

After warming up on the back again and enjoying our last row back in 2013 with fun involving Canadian rowing and Chris Clark’s ‘we will rock you’ party trick we eagerly awaited the results inside the Fort St George whilst watching the IVs division get ready . In the provisional results we were joint 3rd with Murray Edwards again; in the official ones released several hours later we had claimed 3rd on the river as our own, with Murray Edwards shifted down to 4th, Downing 1st and FaT 2nd. We were all ecstatic at achieving our aim of being in the top 5 and it was a great high to end a term of training on, celebrated at the boat club cocktail evening and college Christmas bop that evening. We are excited for what next term has in store and hope to have a successful bumps campaign as well as visits to Bedford and the Thames for races. M2 - 2nd Fastest M2 Boat in a time of 16:24.2

The race started well- give how cold all our muscles were, we executed one of our best starts of term. We began to pick up speed, and then after the winds and ten on the legs, Katie called a stride.

Through town we were rating about 28/29, it felt like a reasonable rate and one that we could maintain. There wasn’t that much check on the boat compared to some of the practice pieces we’d done, and the boat was a lot more sat than it had been. It seemed that everyone had upped their game for the race.

We had another push for ten under the railway bridge, and coming onto the reach felt really nice, we had a good platform and the boat was flying. On the reach, Clare M1 started gaining on us; we’d had them in sight since the P and E. This turned out actually to be quite useful though, as Katie shouted at us to pull away from them and we held them for the most the reach.

Then, coming round the corner, they looked as if they were about to catch us. Katie decided to pull out and take a wider corner so they could overtake rather than risk a crash. This was definitely the right call.

We almost managed to hold them for the rest of the race, and by the end, they’d only taken about a boat length off us. Katie called kill at the motorway bridge and we really went for it, then died at the finish line. All in all, it was a good race, and Katie managed some excellent corners. We finished the course in 16 minutes and 24 seconds and were the second fastest M2 boat on the day.

Tom Stafford