HCBC Victory at Henley 4s and 8s

On the 18th February 6 HCBC crews decamped to Henley-on-Thames for a hard day’s racing, with one emerging victorious in their division! Read on to learn how the action unfolded. Well done to all who raced.

Men’s Novice 4+

Cox: Alice Vacani
Stroke: Jack Waterman
3: Alex Allison
2: Jacob Vivian
Bow: Alistair Duffey

The super 4 took to the water in the morning with high expectations, we knew we could row well and now was our chance to prove it. However we got off to a shaky start in the warm up, with balance not quite coming together and losing a button on the stroke seat oar. It didn’t take long for us to blow of the cobwebs though and any doubts were quickly washed away with some lovely bursts at rate 33 taking us up to the carnage that was the spinning area. The crew stayed composed and clear headed while all around crews collided and marshals screamed, we finally tapped our way up to the start line ready for the 3 kilometres ahead.

As we set off, straight away we quickly set into our rhythm and visibly started making space between us and the crew behind, with any threat of being caught out of our heads we could focus on starting to chase down the crews ahead. It didn’t take long until Alice was informing us of how quickly we were eating up the crew in front, in less than a kilometre we had taken our first crew and were hungry for more.

We kept the rate and the pressure up as we came past the temple and started to really feel the burn, but we kept our heads up and pushed through it, catching yet another crew in the next kilometre and making quick progress on another.

Yet another crew quickly falls to the power of the super 4, our lungs were burning and our legs were empty, with about 800 meters to go focus temporarily fell out the boat and the rate come down but, with a well-timed call for focus, we all sat up and brought it back together. Soon we came up to our last 500 meter sprint and with the screams of ‘Come on Hertford!’ coming from the crowds we emptied every last drop we had left in the tank, crossing the finish as strong as we had crossed the start.

It was a strong race all the way through, with us over taking 3 other crews. In the end we came 1st in the Nov4 beating the second place crew by 20 seconds.

Jack Waterman – Stroke

Women’s IM2 and IM3 8+

Cox- Joe Wynn
Stroke- Abie Witts
7- Ros Martin
6- Marie Becker
5- Penny Hyde
4- Philippa Thornton
3- Hannie Knox
2- Amy Holguin
1- Annie Ault

The day of Henley dawned (not that) bright and (far too) early, as W1 assembled on the lawn outside the Leander Club. Swift work was made assembling the boat and the crew made their way down to the IM3+. Some excellent backing down action from 7 and 5 saw our heroes in position on time for the start, and after some slight confusion spinning they were away with Wallingford in their sights. After settling to a healthy rate the crew in front drew near, and the call from the stern was to take them before the end of Temple Island. This was achieved with little trouble, and the Wallingford crew were pushed away until they were nothing but a speck in the distance. Meanwhile the Hertford machine rolled on, the rate constant and the pressure firm. Approaching the Upper Thames Club a push was again called, and again Hertford picked up the pace ready for the last 750m. Closing in on the final 250m the call went to up the rate, and at 100m (ish) the call for the last 18 strokes came from the coxswain. Alas the cox, as simple as he was poorly proportioned, had called for the final push some 10 strokes too soon! With heavy hearts the crew committed every ounce of their mettle until, unrelenting in their pressure through the water, the call finally came to wind it down. 13:18 was the final time, though the crew knew their best might yet be to come…

After an-all-too-brief interlude, Hertford once more cast off and headed downstream ready for IM2+. Excellent bursts of pace on the practice leg proved auspicious, and as they sat upon the start line (expertly held in place by stroke’s blade against the bank) they waited to be called forward. Winding up to speed our heroes once again set an impressive rhythm, although behind them (also setting a commendable rhythm) lay the ominous form of a Marlow crew. After initially taking half a length on Hertford, Marlow struggled to make up further ground. Visibly (and audibly) frustrated by the unprecedented fight on their hands, the (increasingly frantic) Marlow cox called “Come on girls, they’re only a college crew!” Incensed the Hertford boat surged forth, though alas the footplate at 7 worked its way loose (…) and the advantage was short lived. Marlow continued to bear down on Hertford, taking them with 750m to go. Calls to hold Hertford’s advisories did not, however, go unheeded and Marlow never really cleared the bow. A (precisely timed) push for the end rounded off an excellent day’s racing with a time of some 13:20 which, considering the technical difficulty, wasn’t half bad. Having put some 40+ seconds into both Balliol and Univ, the crew of Hertford W1 took a well earnt break on the sun-drenched bank of the Thames. All things considered, they decided, rowing hadn’t been an entirely bad way to spend the day.

Joe Wynn, Cox

Men’s Novice 8+

Cox: Patrick Austin
Str: Jack Waterman
7: Alex Allison
6: Jacob Vivian
5: Toran Sharma
4: Milo Rignell
3: Rowan Schrecker
2: Jong Kwon
Bow: Ross Johnstone

The novice 8 took their place in the marshalling area in plenty of time, even getting a cheeky lap below the island in before preparing to race. We lined up number 11 in the division, sandwiched between a Henley masters and Henley J16 boat. ‘Why are we racing against guys with beards?’ asked one of our J16 opposition, prompting much discussion about which beard in our crew was able to strike the most fear into the heart of a teenage boy.

As we set off, we quickly settled into a strong rhythm, and began to gain steadily on the masters boat ahead. Despite their clean shaven faces, the Henley boys were tidy oarsmen, so we all new a good race was in prospect. As we rounded the island the morning’s racing really started to hurt us in the legs, but unwilling to be overtaken we upped the rate and settled in for the long haul.

The Henley boys closed us down to about a length of clear water, but we were able to effectively hold them off until we reached the enclosures. This was excellent practice for bumps – we didn’t lose our heads under pressure, just kept working in our rhythm and sending the puddles away. As we reached the last few hundred meters, the Henley crew put in a big sprint and we upped the rate to 34 to keep them away. Alas, after the mornings racing our legs couldn’t hold them, and we moved over as they began to overlap.

In the mean time, we had been steadily gaining overlap ourselves on the masters crew ahead, so we moved into the final straight 3 abreast. A minor blades clash proved catastrophic for the masters boat as the stroke man caught a crab! The J16s put in one final push, but Hertford were able to hold them about half a length behind – saving us the total embarrassment of being beaten by a boat with a complete lack of any facial hair.

In the end we finished 3rd in the NOV8 behind the Henley boys, and Wadham M1, who hadn’t raced that morning

Alex Allison, 7-Seat

Men’s IM3 8+

Cox: Jessica Li
Str: Rob House
7: Marcus Green
6: Chris Jones
5: Milo Rignell
4: Rowan Schrecker
3: Toran Sharma
2: Ross Johnstone
Bow: Jong Kwon

Following a greasy carb up pizza social the night before (credit to Alex Allison), the Hertford men’s crew trudged out of the coach sleepy and bloated ready for the long, onerous races to come. After a swift rerigging of the boats and a prolonged stare at the mountainous Leander club rowers, it was time to get race ready and warmed up.

A rather unsteady pontoon filled our shoes with icy cold water, and shattered our dreams of having all our toes remaining after the days racing, however we did not let this faze us, morale was high and anticipation filled the air. The warm up was clean and the boat was feeling steady, the few bursts we did revealed a strong, sustainable rhythm that we felt confident we could hold throughout the race.

Queuing up for the start line we saw the huge monstrosities of the Leander VIII zooming past, and also, the bow man of another boat awkwardly contorting his hips over the edge of the boat to try and empty his full bladder. However, the comic relief didn’t save us from the screaming pain to soon follow…

Jess called for the build up to race pace, which was eagerly met by Rob and the rest of the crew which led us nicely into a steady, strong rhythm of rate 32-33. The rowing was tidy and clean for the most part, with some few strokes slightly messier and off-balance near the temple island. Nevertheless, we recovered swiftly and regained a smooth, controlled rhythm to yield some more slick rowing. At this point we could all feel the searing burn of the lactic acid, and all those zoos and ergs seemed to be paying off. Jess called the 6-minute mark which spurred us onto some nice powerful strokes.

The pain was becoming rather unbearable, and we were approaching what we thought was near the end of the course. The crowds were all around us cheering loudly, and we knew the end was in sight. It was about 300m from the end when the appearance of numerous tents and large crowds led our cox to believe it would be the last 10 strokes of the race. This call was met by a well-intentioned burst of energy from the crew, and in the eagerness to finish the race the rowing became more frantic and rushed. The boat was swinging from side to side whilst each rower was putting down all the power he could. Our cox realising her mistake counted another final 10 stroke push, which was again met by more frantic rowing. Yet, the crowds and tents just endlessly continued and the bow-man in his misguided rage and agony may have loudly screamed some rude words (completely not aimed at the cox…) for which he later apologised and still feels terrible about. By the end of the third ’last 10’ stroke push we had finally crossed the line, and were told to wind down. All 16 legs of the rowers felt damaged beyond repair, and it seemed increasingly more tempting to take up a sport like croquet or ultimate Frisbee, yet we came off the water all happy with how it went, and feeling satisfied with our performance. For many this was their first ever external race, and their enjoyment of this new experience was clearly evident in the photos of the crew.

Jong Kwon, Bow 

Men’s IM3 4+

Cox: Alice Vacani
Stroke: Rob House
3: Marcus Green
2: Chris Jones
Bow: Alistair Duffey

With Soreen in the tank and stag leggings back on show the IM3 4+ crew boated from the raft amongst the eager throng of other event entrants. Catching the attention of a rather enthusiastic marshal-cum-air-traffic-controller, we were waved on though like a Eurofighter Typhoon jet to take up our position on the Henley runway. Pre-flight checks complete our heads were back in the boat and we tuned in for the race ahead. Just as soon as our chasing crew, fellow Oxonians Corpus Christi, had taxied up behind us we were sent off to a flying start. Soaring through our first k at a steady r33 we managed to put a couple of lengths of water between us and our competition and with clear water up ahead from a break in the division we cruised on past temple island towards the second half of the race. Beginning to feel the effects of the morning’s race in our legs, the engine started to slow and the rate had dropped a couple of pips allowing Corpus to climb back up on us. Sensing the need for some motivation, calls came from the cockpit for power tens down the boat from bow to stern sending us into our final third. Spurred on by Hertford cheers from the bank we came in for the landing approach and, with tanks empty, we crossed the finish line in just over 13 minutes. Checking our times after the race we discovered we had lost by the narrowest margin to our Oxford competition but were pleased to hear we had successfully outperformed some high-flying bankers from HSBC and, most importantly, the RAF contingent!

Rob House, Stroke

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