Summer Eights 2015 – Saturday Race Reports

M1: Up 1 – Over all level

An Ode to Summer VIIIs

As I awoke on the 30th May I had but one thought on my mind

It’s Saturday of VIIIs, what a glorious day, and the weather has also been kind!

After eating my lunch to fuel my efforts, I made my way along the river

And seeing the lower divisions all thrashing did make my heart quite shiver.

Hertford M1 had a slow start to VIIIs, being bumped on day one by The New

But after two days the chance of a bump came, and our Fantasy Bumps stock price grew.

Worcester College the target, revenge on the cards, but we knew that Brasenose weren’t goons

So a good start was needed, so that we then speeded, and inflicted upon Worcester spoons.

We gathered forth in the changing room, all nine of us fine young men

The names I shall know until old and slow, and I’ll recall again and again.

Chris Hughes our captain, a glorious leader and I’ve heard quite an adept young yachter,

Very physically able, he had but one flaw, he simply couldn’t put the blade in the water!

Chris Jones and Steve Crabb, the two biggest men, who sat in the engine room

They would put in the hoonage and get our boat moving, and along at great speed we would zoom.

Eloi and James, the two smallest members did make a very fine bow pair,

While James had some power, poor Eloi was like a flower, for he really was lighter than air!

St Benedict was our superstar rower, as certified by the Rowchat guide,

The most powerful man on the Isis he was, but now he did thrash on bowside!

Thomas McGregor was a fine specimen, a man quite unlike any other,

Small but proactive and unquestionably attractive, he must have had quite the young mother!

And last but not least, our cox Dr Collins, a man who had done 10 years of bumps,

This was his last for he was now a right arse, and bad rowing simply give him the grumps.

We pushed off the raft and onto the water and the mass of spectators did see,

As we showed them some starts, and filled up their hearts with lots of excitement and glee.

We rowed to our line and steadied our vessel, for we knew what we were here to do.

Smash Worcester the aim, and so we’d reclaim, our rightful spot at the summit of Div 2.

When the gun did fire, and we surged from the line, we could hear our coach Graham cry,

“GLUTES!” he would shout, and “GLUTES!” he would spout, and on our huge glutes did we fly.

We were slick and were fast and the gap did not last as we closed upon Worcester quite fast.

While they thrashed and they splashed we stuck to our task for we knew quite soon they’d be gassed.

The hordes did cheer as we closed on our prey, this time the stag would not be denied,

And we speared them hard, right outside our boatyard, to fill our supporters with pride.

We now had a chance to try and reclaim one of the berths in Div 1,

But it would not be easy as some of us were queasy from the bump we had just gone and won.

We narrowed our thoughts to that of revenge, for we wanted to hunt down The New.

We knew we could do it, if we put our minds to it, and rowed all in time as a crew.

The second start neared, and so we were steered onto our bung line in Div 1.

We were right at the end of the final Isis bend and we did but wait for the gun.

Strokes one, two and three were as clean as could be and we got off to a very good start.

But strokes eight and nine were a complete waste of time, we were lucky not to fall apart.

We hooned and we hooned and closed up the gap, and we were now but one half length from The New.

But they closed on St Catz, who were totally shatz, and once in the Gut they just blew.

So we had no choice but row down to course, and soak up the great sights and sounds,

Of another VIIIs down, but perhaps we can be proud of reclaiming the Div 2 headship crown!

– Simon Zieleniewski – 7 seat

W1: Rowed over – Over all down 1

5.15pm, Saturday of Eights crept up all to fast for Hertford’s W1 crew. One minute it seemed we had been slogging it out in the crisp early mornings (some might say too early), the next we were pushing off from Longbridges one last time in front of a roaring Hertford crowd. Inspired by the inspirational duo of Annie Taylor and Calla Glavin, and their by now infamous battle slogans “nevar have ragerys” and #99problemsandhertfordisallofthem, we set off determined to chase New down until the very end and give ‘not one inch’ (as Joe would call in true Al’ Pacino style) to Summerville behind us. Following words of encouragement from Torpids veterans, Emily Wilkes and Helen Carswell, we positioned ourselves on bungline 12, each of us vowing to make Connie’s Eights week wish a reality; row hard, row proud, row till you taste blood (or better yet sick), then row some more.

The five-minute gun came and went and we waited for what felt like an age for the one minute warning to sound as an unidentified ‘object’ (presumably a boat) made its way off the course. Eventually Joe called to ‘come forward’ and 30 seconds later the starter cannon fired. Our start sequence was our most assertive yet, each of us showing 100% commitment to the first 20 strokes, lifting the boat up with each movement, closing the gap between us and New.

We settled into a solid, rate thirty-seven stride, aggression pumping through the boat as we gained on New by half a length. As we exited the gut Joe called for a push in front of the home crowd, each of us responding together, as a crew, ramping up the pace, lowering the split; Somerville stood no chance. As we rowed down Green Banks one last time, the full force of Eights madness hit us as a wave of sound erupted from Boathouse Island.

Nerve-ends tingling, the taste of blood emerging, we pushed hard for home finishing well clear of Somerville and having made some ground on New. It was a truly heroic performance from Hertford’s W1, all of whom learnt to row at HCBC in the last two years. To have competed and held our own against other Division One crews in Summer Eights is a real achievement. Our successes, in no small degree, came as a result of hard work and commitment, and of course the energy and expertise of our coach Connie. It has been privilege to captain such a driven and motivated squad throughout this year, and more enjoyable than I could ever have imagined thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment show by all. Bring on Torpids 2016!

– Holly Redford-Jones (Stroke/Captain )

M2: Technical row over – Over all up 2

Saturday 30th June – ‘Bow – breaker’

Twas sunny on the morning of battle, a light breeze cooled the gallant rowers of M2 at bung-line 10, none had any idea of the carnage that was about to unfold.

With the humbled, broken beast of GTC chasing from the rear, these brave rowers, the warriors waiting for the thunder of cannon, knew no fear. GTC were a little too ‘Green’, we breathed easy for all knew the stern was safe. The stern should not have been our concern, for little did we know, we brave warriors, the impending danger the Graham Topping II’s bow would face from the Worcester ‘trundle-bus’ and the St. Catz ‘Catz-tastrophe’.
“Front-Load the race” screamed Tom, the Drill Sergeant, “give it your all and finish Catz before Donnie Bridge, row long, use the power of the GLUTES”. Our race plan set, we knew nothing of ‘down 1 and harden’, only that we must give everything to catch the ‘Catz-tastrophe’ before they could amble by the ‘Worcester trundle-bus’.

The 1 minute cannon roared, all sat tall. Underlayers discarded, hatches battened down, we found front-stops and were poised, ready to pounce. We’re coming for you Catz.

BOOOM, the race began, immediately we could feel the wash coming off the Catz-tastrophe, we knew we were close from the off. Their start is reminiscent of a toddler stuck in treacle, 3/4 of a length, 1/2 a length diminishing. All the Worcester trundle-bus has to do is not be abysmal, for five more strokes and we’ll catch that stray cat, that feral Catz-tastrophe.

“Stroke rate 38 boys, up 2 and give me everything, finish them now, finish them now!” roared the coxswain, light in weight but not in volume. The M2 warriors responded with might, 40 was hit with Catz in sight. Just over a metre between the Graham Topping II’s Bow and the Catz-tastrophe remained. All along the bank, none could breath – who would bump first?

Alas, the Worcester ‘Trundle-Bus’ was not built for such work. Hertford M2 within a whisker of Catz, the Trundle-Bus concedes. With this we cannot be angered, for it is not the fault of the trundle-bus for being slow. The mistake Worcester made on the battlefield however was to hold-up hard, clogging the racing line, forcing our card. In the blink of an eye, our path was blocked, The poor bow had no idea what was coming: a Catz-tastrophe rigger delivered a crushing right hook, stroke rate 40 suddenly to nought.

Our race was over, that much was clear. The Graham Topping II had to limp home, down but not out, a wounded warrior ready to rise again and chase down the Trundle-bus next year. This is M2’s version of the RMS Lusitania, Worcester this means war! A year from now we’ll catch you, and the Catz-tastrophe too!

– Guy Pilbeam – 5 seat

W2: Rowed Over – Over all up 2

‘The (L)oar(d) of the Ri(n)gs: The Return of the Bumps PART 2 

(The last saga in the epic trilogy of four)

At last, it had come to the fellowship’s final battle.  Brave and full of Hert, the fellowship faced the last journey of the quest: to make the endless trek up the Head of the Mordor to burn the bump in the fires of Mount Doomhouse Island.
This final task would not be easy.  Their foe, who once lived deep within the Misty Magdalentians, had (probably) been given the promise of endless treasures (new rowing equipment no doubt) to spur their fire, and was none other than their treacherous nemesis – the dark-hearted dragon: Smaug-dalen.
Gimlessye, the small yet large-Hert-ed dwarf, had accompanied the fellowship through thick and thin on their quest, but tragically had been stabbed with a morgul-blade (got a cold) by the Christchurch wrigger-wraiths the day previous.  Luckily for our heroes, the mystical Laurarwyn came to the fellowship’s rescue, donning Gimlessye’s matching chain-mail (t-shirt) into battle.
Smaug-dalen awaiting, the fellowship rode out one final time from their camp.  A powerful warm-up to battle settled the fellowship into good thoughts, and they awaited their fate upon the foot of bungline four.  They knew that Smaug-dalen had a weak spot in its scaly armor, having a slow start, and aimed to pierce the underbelly (stern) with their pointed blades (bow).  They had also heard word that those behind them would be caught up in their own battles, leaving the fellowship to focus on catching and defeated Smaug-dalen.
Suddenly, the chase began.  Smaug-dalen attempted to evade the fellowship, yet their heavy dark scales weighed them down, unlike the petite yet powerful fellowship.  They charged up behind, getting within less than half a tail (length) between them in a matter of minutes.  Yet, crossing the tunnels leading to Head of the Mordor, the fellowship lost their grasp on Smaug-dalen.  Desperately, they pushed on.  Up and up the mountain they climbed in the shadow of the beast, unable to catch Smaug-dalen – but oh so close!  They did not know that their one precious bump was susceptible to dragon-fire! They rode the hype train hard and fast.  By the Head of the Mordor, both sides had not won, but only had a length between them.  They left the fight for another day, another year, another epic strung-out saga…
Weary and spent, the fellowship threw their collected bumps from days before into the raging fires of lactic acid and rower’s cough spit of Mount Doomhouse Island.  The bump chart glowed an ancient foreign script, read only in certain dark realms and known as ‘RowChat banter’.  It read what appeared to be a convenient summary of the fellowship’s quest:

‘One row over to start the quest

Two bumps on the hype train

One row-over to finish eights

And in the boat BUMP AGAIN’*

(*For film reference watch here)
The fellowship had survived their four-day quest; they were heroic, having retrieved two of the fabled bumps and losing no places.  A long night of well-deserved feasting and drinking lay waiting for the intrepid warriors, the success of whom would surely be made into a feature-length movie… perhaps even four?’

M3: Rowed over – Over all down 2

We were spinning when the five minute cannon went off, and we anxiously drifted our way toward the side of the river. This is the last day of eights, I thought to myself, and I better not screw anything up. As we tucked in, a man with a big harpoon started tugging us along into position. I began to regret the three chocolate croissants that I had eaten for breakfast. And then the one minute gun went off.Focus settled across the crew like a fog, but instead of distorting our vision, it clarified it, which indicates either an anomalous weather pattern or a bad analogy. But in any case, at thirty seconds we moved to front stops. At five seconds, we squared our blades.

Bang, goes the gun, and we’re off. A decent start, and the boat sat well. Ross had just been moved to stern the day before, but he set the rhythm like a metronome. Down one and harden. I kept my eyes glued to one of the freckles on Tim’s neck, but I could see in my peripheral vision that Merton was gaining on us. The crew felt the panic for a moment. Just a moment. Like a deer in the headlights, we felt the pause… only to trample it beneath our hooves.

We hardened. Sweated. Heaved. Hoed. And Merton drifted further and further behind us as we glided along the river. Our legs tired, but our souls began to sing. And as we rowed over for the last day of Summer Eights, with my breath still caught inside my throat, I realized that we were all kind of like this river, you know? Always coming and always going. I thought of my father, and his father before him. And the Head of the River opened up its arms to embrace us, as if to greet an old friend.

– Matt Abel – 4 seat

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