Torpids 2017 – Saturday Race Reports

W1 – up 2 to 4th in Division I

After the near miss of the Pembroke over-bump on Friday, W1 were ready to face them again, this time only a length and a half behind. Behind us, a fiery St John’s, seeking revenge for us shattering their hopes and dreams of blades the day before. While we knew we had it in us to put some significant distance into both of them after Friday, we also predicted a hunger for revenge and so prepared for a hard race.

Warming up on the right side of the gut this time, with only minor technical cox box issues, we made it to bung line 6 (shout out to St Hilda’s, who, despite the declared college rivalry, let us use their cox boxes all week). Mollie reminded us once more that she didn’t like the 7 bib and to ‘stick the knife in’, as we sat calmly anticipating our race. With Penny’s shoulder flailing and wanting the whole rowing thing to end, we told ourselves to make it a quick one, to avoid any unnecessary injury. Our start was clean and hearing that we were only a length off Pembroke, we refused to stride properly and maintained a high Rate 37 under Donnington bridge and approaching the gut. With Mollie shouting ‘end it’ and whistling furiously on the bank, we were all awaiting that glorious 666 push to complete the bump. However, in the middle of what was a technical focus on catches, Joe unexpectedly told us to wind it down. Pembroke, with fear in their eyes, had conceded in front of Falcon. Another bump for Hertford W1 moving us to 5 th on the river, a level we last held in 1982! …Or so we thought- it turns out, in front of us, carnage had unfolded, as Wolfson’s rudder broke, steering them into the bank and allowing Pembroke (among others) to row past them.

Finishing 4th on the river is certainly beyond anything any of us anticipated coming into this term of rowing. Throughout the week we have improved massively as a crew and we are beyond happy with our performance. Despite numerous injuries and illnesses, the continuing level of commitment and determination from all the girls was incredible. Maybe the elusive #hertfordheadship2k18 isn’t as much of a joke as we thought it was after all…

Thank you also to everyone who came down to support us during any of our races this term, we really appreciate it and it made a massive difference to our performance!

Marie Becker – 6-seat


M1 – level at 5th Division I

A highly contentious third day of racing culminated in an agonising night for M1. The multiple appeals had been passed to the omnipotent senior umpires (bump gods) to give the final decision on Saturday’s start order. The gods were kind to us and we were awarded two bumps. One for our row-past of a flailing, beached Wolfson, and one owing to a penalty bump on Christ Church for beaching them, deemed to be a dangerous manoeuvre. This placed us at bungline 5 for Saturday’s racing; Hertford men’s joint highest position in Torpids!

We were chasing a rapid Catz crew, who bumped us on Wednesday and were rowing for blades, and we were being chased by a very angry Christ Church crew, eager to make up for the mistakes they made the day before. Our job was clear, stick as close as possible to Catz, to best capitalise on anymore mishaps, and completely shut Christ Church down. We had a clean start, striking 42 before the stride, with a long 38 after striding.

As expected, Catz gradually pulled away from us but we held Christ Church at a length whilst going through gut after they had gained on us at the start. We held a strong rhythm up green banks which helped us increase the separation slightly. However, at the top of green banks, Christ Church put in a huge surge. Urged on by the chants from their boat house they decreased the separation to 3/4 length. Our resolve held and we responded by raising our rate back up to 38. Christ Church were still pushing hard to the finish but there was no way that we were going to allow such a historical Torpids position to be taken away from us. We crossed the line with approximately 1/2 length of separation.

Chris Jones – 5-seat


W2 – level at 6th Division V

Anticipation was high amongst the W2 crew on the last day of what had been a rollercoaster week. Our strong performance yesterday meant we were confident for the oncoming race and bump – it was simply a question of whether Mansfield or Magdalen were going down. Previous days suggested that Magdalen would be bumped quickly by their chasing crew, Mansfield, and so we prepared ourselves for a steady and relatively long race. Due to unnecessary dillydallying from other crews on the raft, W2 had a late start for their warm up, leading to a slightly panicked arrival at the bung-line. This unfortunately impacted our normally fantastic starts, meaning that we did not gain on Mansfield with the ferocious speed we had showcased on Friday. However, we powered on in true Hertford style, focusing on maintaining our power and catching together. Mansfield bumped Magdalen first, leading us to shift our attention towards the latter crew. There were some unsteady moments as we got tired and our concentration somewhat slipped. Just before the gut however, the wall of sound which greeted us from the roaring crowd of Hertford supporters jolted us with a new burst of mental and physical energy, allowing us to row beautifully as a synchronised and powerful eight. We gained on Magdalen quickly after this, and finally bumped them brilliantly just past our boathouse. It was an exhilarating and relieving moment, and a perfect end to a fun week of racing.

Hae Jin Yang – 5-seat


M2 – level at 10th Division IV

Cox: Nayyar ‘Offensive Flanking Manoeuvre’ Jamie
Stroke: Patrick ‘Not Angry, Just Disappointed’ Austin
7: Toran ‘Best Crew I’ve Ever Had’ Sharma
6: Rob ‘Our Captain and Saviour’ House
5: Hamish ‘Epistaxis’ Streeter
4: Maciej ‘GEE-TEE’ Bugala
3: Harry ‘Let’s Throw All Our Good Drinking Water into The River’ Connor
2: Freddie ‘The Bard’ Von Kaufmann
Bow: Ross ‘Strokeman to Be’ Johnstone
Coach: Simon ‘Here in Spirit’ Kirk
Captain: Jack ’Here in Flesh’ Waterman

Abstract: In the days leading up to Saturday, Hertford M2 have plummeted down the division, dropping 5 places in a mere 3 days. Having previously neither bumped, nor rowed over, the morale was low and the crew was in immediate danger of getting spoons. The final day of Neptune Torpids 2017 (proudly sponsored by Neptune), saw the Stags embark on a mission to save face, deny Hilda’s blades and generally make a good accounting of themselves (Waterman, 2016).

Introduction: The absence of Maciek ‘Deadweight’ Peplinski on day 4 has been a blow to the crew, with 1 seat in the boat left unfilled. There was much speculation as to who was going to be his replacement. Some suggested the much revered Gary Wu, others mentioned Jack Yates, and even the M4 single scull champion Charles Wang was rumoured as a stand in (Austin, 2017). However, on the day it was none other than the HCBC Captain Rob House coming to the rescue, and subsequently providing the much needed boost to morale, power, and discipline in the boat. Chasing Teddy Hall M2, and being chased by University M2 who have given us a serious thrashing on some joint practice pieces this Monday, the position in the division didn’t leave much for optimism. Behind the Univ crew was St Hilda’s M1 who, having bumped for the last 3 days, were determined to get blades. In the eventuality of concession to the Univ crew chasing us, Hertford was determined to make it their goal to pull away from Hilda’s and ruin their blades campaign. Unfortunately, Coach Simon Kirk was unable to be there on the day and so it was the experienced eye of President Alex Allison and Vice-Captain Jack Waterman that guided the crew that day.

Method: After some stretching and a warmup in the Erg Room, the crew exchanged some motivational words in the boathouse and soon after, it was time to get the trusty Graham Topping Too out on the water and push off. From the raft, it was possible to see all the support from the spectators that gathered that day despite the unwelcoming weather, with signs in hand, ready to cheer on. With some sturdy paddling and a few practice starts, the boat was making its way towards its designated bung line with relative ease and efficiency. The 5-minute cannon was followed by the 1-minute cannon, initiating the manual countdown from the bank. Ten seconds – square, nine, eight, seven, six, five…*CANNON SOUND*. The fourth and final race of Torpids for M2 this year begins with a strong start for Hertford, establishing a high stroke rate and good boat speed in the first 3 strokes. 20 strokes in, and Hertford appear to be maintaining distance between themselves and the University crew behind. As Donnington bridge gets closer, unfortunately so does Univ M2, and the next half minute sees University secure a clean bump against Hertford, accompanied by shouts and cheers from the bank. The crew maintains composure nonetheless and rows on fiercely whilst paying little attention to the Hilda’s crew in the distance, now about 2 and a half lengths away. The race goes on and soon the crew is approaching the gut, overtaking crews which appear to have already bumped. Out of the corner of the eye, the crew spots Brasenose to our stroke side who appear to have run into some trouble, and we quickly realise they are still in the race. As they regain their speed, Hertford gains some overlap and what is at first side by side rowing, quickly turns into an exciting bump as our bold cox Nayyar aggressively swerves in their direction facilitating the blade clash between Hertford and Brasenose. At this point the crew is joyful and relieved and doesn’t mind that it’s heading towards trees and branches just off the entrance to gut. Stopping just in view of Longbridges boathouse, the crew throw their arms up in celebration, and as is tradition, cheer for Green Templeton.

Results: The crew have narrowly escaped getting blades, thanks to the bump on Brasenose M2 who have dropped several places that day. We ended up 10th in Division 4, -5 from last year. While the overall result has been quite disappointing, the final day bump meant that Hertford M2 finished with their heads held up high in what has been an exciting (and for many of us, first) Torpids.

Discussion: Torpids Dinner at the Isis Farmhouse concluded Torpids 2017 which has seen great results from Hertford W1 and M1, and results from Hertford M2. It has been a valuable experience, and good preparation for Summer Eights in Trinity term.

Acknowledgements: Rob House for subbing in, Simon Kirk for coaching supervision, Jack Waterman? Neptune for sponsoring Neptune Torpids (sponsored by Neptune)

Maciej Bugala – 4-seat

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