Torpids 2016 – Saturday Race Reports

M1 Race Report

M1 approached the start of torpids with trepidation, but with each passing day we grew with confidence and ability (even if the best rowing was always the paddle home). We set out on Saturday evening knowing that Wadham had caught Christchurch the day before and if we carried on our trajectory of improvement then we had a genuine chance of a bump into the top half of division 1 to finish the week. A solid warm up was disrupted by half the crew succumbing to a tidal wave from the ‘safety’ launch making our footwells look like we had just finished a rough day on the tideway. After attaching to the bunglines some semi frantic bailing of water was attempted.

We set off strong from the start putting distance between us and St Catz earlier than the day before (despite their unsubtle call of we are bigger than them boys will have them off the start). Through the gut the familiar wall of Hertford noise from Longbridges strengthened us onto a push to gain contact with Christchurch ahead, down to 1 and a quarter lengths but no more. We called for our new found all out push and brought the distance down slightly again but Christchurch were able to open the gap back to 1 and a half lengths outside their boathouse. We simply couldn’t reel them in over the final stretch.

I am extremely proud of this bunch of lads, most of the crew had never rowed in M1 before and the feeling spread through the boat that if we needed to push there was always the rest of the crew backing you up. We may not have been the biggest, strongest or fittest crew but with the technique drilled into us by our coaches Graham Topping and Chris Dalley over the previous few weeks we were able to hold our own in the middle of Division 1. A massive congratulations and thanks has to go to James Jordon as well for getting this crew to within spitting distance of the finish line before having to drop out with injury barely a week before. Not everyone would be strong enough to make the call to drop themselves from the crew so close to the event.

Onwards and upwards to next term and summer eights.

Fear the Deer!

Steve Crabb 7 seat – President/relief captain

W1 Race Report

On Saturday, being the last day of Torpids, W1 were determined to continue our march up the river (8 places in 2 years, just saying). Fearing a feisty New from behind, but being pretty sure that we could catch John’s ahead, we yet again set off to our bungline, only further encouraged by ‘the real’ Leslie having come down to cheer us on. Setting off to a solid start, I can’t deny that Joe changing the race plan half way through, as John’s had held their ground more than expected, was not the most pleasant experience (New however hadn’t really gained on us- no idea what happened there). However, pushing off the wall of cheers which met us at Donnington Bridge and continued through the gut, we continued to close on John’s only to catch them in front of Longbridges. Although the race did not go as planned and was undeniably painful, as we had essentially not strided, because we expected to catch them sooner, the level of Hertford support was astounding and definitely what helped us through. What an amazing way to finish the last day of Torpids and make all those grim sliders and Dorney sessions worth it!

Overall W1’s Torpids Campaign this year can only be said to have been an extremely pleasant surprise. With very little water time and numerous substitutions due to illness, causing us to field a crew each day which had before Wednesday never rowed together, we were undoubtedly very unsure at our prospects. Nevertheless, what we saw throughout the four days of racing and had seen all term (was perhaps just not obvious, as expressing your enthusiasm for sliders is not exactly common), was an amazing level of determination and enthusiasm. Although we rowed over on the first day, bumping every other day was undeniably more than any of us could have asked for or expected and it cannot be said to have been down to anything other than how well everyone put up with the sub-optimal circumstances and rose to the pressure and challenge of starting in Div 1, especially those that had never rowed in Bumps before. With Hertford Women currently being the second highest they have been in Torpids since 1983, I am extremely proud of how far we have come and held our ground. As Holly said last year- more women should row, because it teaches them a skill of determination and grit, learning to hold your hand in the fire, which is difficult to find represented in other sports- W1 this Torpids showed just how much that is true (for reference please watch videos of that glorious Thursday bump on Baliol)… Speculations of a glorious 2018 Hertford Headship are going around and various Masters for this purpose have already been planned- so look out, Hertford Women are back strong this year and will continue to smash it on the Isis!

Thank you to Caroline and Joe for their amazing coaching this term (and Joe obviously for his incredible steering), but most of all to everyone else in the boat for their never-ending enthusiasm, co-operation and inspiring determination!

Marie Becker Stroke – captain

M2 Race Report

M2 lined up on bungline 6 on Saturday with a tough task ahead of them – to hold off a charging Wadham III who had already risen 3 places. Ahead of them were three crews who had already bumped them, but M2 had been improving every day, so were looking to give them a fright off the start. The gun went and M2 surged into their increasingly familiar start pattern, winding the rate up to the highest it had been all week. The Wadham crew were charging, but Hertford held them on station, and started to gain on the Keble crew ahead. Unfortunately New College II continued their tumble down the division, so allowed Keble to bump out. Even more unfortunately, Christ Church M2 were looking to complete the largest set of men’s spoons for the week so allowed New to bump out as well. They eventually managed to close ChCh down to a length, but alas, even for Hertford 6 bunglines is occasionally too big of a margin to make up. All the while the Wadham crew had been steadily gaining, but along Christ Church meadow a push ensured that they wouldn’t be getting their bump. The M2 boys truly had given everything by the finish, especially so in Jacob’s case: a trip to the first aid tent for exhaustion induced hypothermia was his reward for a successful torpids campaign!

Alex Allison Vice Captain

W2 Race Report to follow…

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