Summer Eights 2015 – Friday Race Reports

M1: Row over – Over all down 1

After a rather dissatisfying start to our summer bumping campaign, we met on Friday with a renewed determination to first recover our position at the much-coveted head of Men’s Div II, and then make the step up to regain our rightful place in Div I. Due to a late bout of illness our mighty bow man, Richard Tanburn, had to drop out yesterday and remained unavailable for Friday’s race. Fortunately our very own Catalonian dragon, mighty in his own way despite his diminutive size, and a veteran from the legendary Torpids 2015 blades winning crew, was on hand to step in. Not wasting any time to wonder whether, with Eloi installed in the key bow position, we were the only crew in our division who had a bow man lighter than their cox, we attacked our usual warm up on sliders with purpose and commitment.

Feeling invigorated by the unpredictable weather, which in true British style gave us a taste of all four seasons within a half hour period, we gathered together in the boat bay. Our 7 man Simon Zieleniewski, M1 veteran, former captain and all-round big dog, gave a rousing speech, calling on us to get our acts together and stop rowing like a bunch of choppers. Galvanized by this inspiring oration, we took to the water with power under the water and finesse on the recovery, regaining the poise which had left us yesterday during our mediocre attempt to chase down a buoyant New, who had left us in their wake, ultimately rowing over with a three length margin.

But, as esteemed HCBC alumni Duncan Coneybeare pointed out, today was a new day (no pun intended), and after a delayed start, during which sunshine turned to rain, and then hail, we produced a powerful first ten strokes which set us into a strong rhythm coming under Donnington Bridge. Brasenose behind us were baying for stag blood, and greedily ate into our initial 1.5 length margin as we pushed on through the gut. With only half a length of breathing space between us and the chasing crew, we felt the pressure a little along green banks, tensing up and not achieving our full length. The pressure eased however as cox Matt Collins moved us across to the Univ raft, and announced that Brasenose had blown up. Indeed they were not able to sustain their initial pace and began to fade away, and we (metaphorically) set our eyes once more on the purple-and-yellow target ahead of us. At Matt’s urging, not to mention constant exclamations of “LEGS!!” or possibly “LENGTH!!” from coach Graham Topping beside us on the bank, we moved up a gear, and with New still 1.5 lengths ahead we increased the power and our rate of striking to 39. We closed the gap rapidly, piling the pressure onto New College, but alas they were able to cross the line still half a length clear. Much like today however, tomorrow will also be a new day, and with the rather soft target of Worcester M1 waiting for us at the top of Div II, we will likely have another shot at bumping New and reclaiming a place at the bottom of Div I.

– Ben Snodin

W1: Down 1 – Over all down 1

Bungline 11 was now becoming a familiar sight for the crew of Lesley Atkinson, the only change from the previous two days being that the crew behind us was clad in purple and gold as opposed to blue and white. Having prepared ourselves for a gruelling race, our start was packed with aggression. Though we settled onto our race rhythm earlier than was usual, we kept the rate high and set off towards Wolfson with determination.

However, despite the ever closing gap ahead on our strongest row of the competition, it seemed that New College had risen to Joe’s trash talk of the night before and were determined to continue on their path to blades. Our finishing call of six catches, six finishes and six to end it came as we entered the last portion of the gut, and we surged forward to escape temporarily from New College’s clutches.

Tasting blood in our mouths we pushed ourselves as far as we could, only to be bumped just short of home water. Regardless of the result, we know that we rowed hard and that we will ‘nevar have ragerys’ so long as we are a part of this determined crew. And after all, the potential to snatch blades from New College on the last day of eights is now only all the sweeter.

– Rosie Worster (VC)

M2: Up 1 – Over all up 2

T-minus 1 minute: Sat at bungline 10 ahead of St Johns II and behind Green Templeton I, nerves are high but we had our race plan. Hard on the start. Hard in the middle. Hard at the end.
At the sound of the cannon we got off with a quick, clean start making instant ground of Green Templeton with St Johns holding level behind us. Within 20/30 strokes we had a canvas on GT with Johns coming up on us and closing the gap.
In the heat of the moment, a certain bow side rower decided to pay homage to one Daniel Heasman with a spectacular display of no seat rowing, but after a speedy recovery we pressed on. GT’s steering was good and managed to evade our multiple swipes until eventually they couldn’t hold us off any more and with a thud we got them.
Day 3… Done.

W2: Up 1 – Over all up 2

The (L)oar(d) of the Ri(n)gs: The Return of the Bumps

Dark skies were whipping up around Middle-Oxford. The fellowship were still riding on the hype train from yesterday’s victory, knowing their new tactical position in Div 4 had put them close to their new enemies, the Christchurch wriggerwraiths, leaving Gol(lincoln)lum and the Oriel-hai far behind.  Word of the Christchurch’s wriggerwraiths was that they were uncoordinated and slower than the Hertford fellowship, but Stuart the Soreen was aware that Christchurch could be riding on nazguls (aka, sheer luck). However, he had forseen using his mystical powers that the Christchurch wriggerwraiths could be defeated within 2 minutes of battles. The fellowship, determined to get the better hand, focused on a good warm up for the battle. They pushed on every stroke (sharpened their axes); they squeezed on every short burst (swung their swords); they had prepped long and hard for what was bound to be an intense but worthy struggle. They looked upon the sun as is came out, as if to warm their warrior spirits.

However, if there was one element that the Christchurch wriggerwraiths had not prepared for at all apart from the skill and determination of the fellowship, it was the force of the ghostly Army of the Dead (aka, the wind). Yet, the brave, if slightly hobbit-sized, fellowship had relentlessly prepared for this factor in their training, and so the Army of the Dead (the strong wind) appeared to sidle with the fellowship.

The two forces lined up in preparation for battle. Word had spread that the fellowship’s previous enemies ‘hated Hertford, everyone in it and everything they stood for’ (*Real life quote). Geared up to charge, the battle cannon fired once more. How quickly could the fellowship defeat the Christchurch wriggerwraiths? Would the Army of the Dead (the wind) still be on their side? Would there be an eponymous return of the bump??

The fellowship bumped the Christchurch wriggerwraiths before the Black Gate (Donnington Bridge). The battle was over in 25 strokes.

The Christchurch wriggerwraiths, writhing in their misery, rode their beaten nazguls (asses) back to their tower (ChCh boathouse) near the Head of the Mordor. The glorious fellowship gleamed victorious after breaking their way through the Black Gate to bump another day on the ever-continuing hype train. The saga concludes tomorrow…

– Jessye Aggleton

M3: Down 1 – Over all down 2

The M3 crew had a determined mindset on a chilly morning of pouring rain. We knew we had to keep our form up, chase Lincacre, and stay away from Oriel. Our stroke seat, Alex, was called up to to race with M2, leaving us a rower short. We were relieved to have a generous substitute, Bailey, who skillfully completed our crew today. Our 7-man, Ross, moved up to lead from stroke, and Bailey filled in at 7. The rain thankfully stopped, and we had just enough time to run our start sequence with the changes to our crew. We pulled into our bungline just after the five minute gun. Though tense mentally, the crew was resolved to stay loose physically and push hard.

The cannon thundered, and we launched off. Improving on our start from Thursday, the crew drew powerfully and quickly, finding our pace. After a decent start, the crew took a couple of awkward strokes to sync up, still at a high rate. Nayyar then called for rhythm, and we lengthened our stroke in sync. We began to see Oriel encroaching. Nayyar shouted for a push, and the crew pushed hard. We managed to hold off Oriel until the middle of the gut, where they eventually caught us. A fair result, we improved upon our form from yesterday, even with changes to our squad.

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