Torpids 2018: Day 1 Race Reports

With extreme weather facing the crews, there were a mix of results from across the divisions. Worsening forecasts for Thursday mean day 2 has been cancelled by OURCs, with the final two days provisionally going ahead.


Day one of Torpids got off to quite a ‘cool’ start! Despite some small mishaps in rowing on, W2 came back stronger than ever. Braving the chilly weather, the W2 team put forth an outstanding effort in not one but two races.

The first Hertford team to race of the day, W2 started in third position. We were trying to bump Mansfield II and had Magdalen II coming at us from behind. The nerves and excitement were pumping and the snow was beginning to fall when the starting cannon sounded. We quickly caught up to Mansfield, who conceded, and we completed the race before reaching Donny Bridge. Unfortunately, Magdalen II missed the memo and rammed into our boat at almost full force. Magdalen II has appealed, claiming that their bump was legitimate. However, we know that this is not the case and we are remaining optimistic about the result of the appeal.

We landed on our raft and quickly proceeded up to the boathouse, elated about our fast victory. However, within minutes of reaching the boathouse, we learned that we were to race again. We turned around and made a mad dash to get our boat back out onto the water. By this time, the snow had picked up and what was previously was a beautiful ‘Winter Wonderland’ had turned into a full blown blizzard. Braving the cold and the snow, we began at the back of the pack with nothing to lose, but everything to gain. The race began and we rowed hard, in order to catch up with a determined Trinity II team. We continued to push, lead by Abbigail our fearless cox, who was vehemently calling out for the Trinity II team to concede. They conceded right before Longbridges and W2 ended the day provisionally up three and having moved into fixed divs!

Our Hertford W2 team fought hard today and we are all excited for what the rest of the week has in store.


Stroke: Tobi

7: Shash

6: James

5: Oscar

4: Justus

3: Antony

2: Yifu

Bow: Dominik

The warmup for our race in the 4th Men’s Division started amidst a snowstorm. The cold though affected nobody, and the crew was on top form, listening to Simon’s last instructions. The race started and all eight of us fired up the engines, pushed those legs, and started building up our rhythm under Naomi’s (the “legendary” cox of M2) melodic and inspirational yelling. As Hilda’s’ M1 started closing the gap between us, we wisely conceded in time and we continued our course uninterrupted, as we were closing up behind Univ’s M2. During the chase there was a respectable amount of overlap happening, which Univ tried to ignore. The guys were emptying their tanks, our coach Simon was whistling to encourage us, and the fearless cox was yelling “UNIV DO YOU CONCEDE?”. Univ, being the basic rowers they truly are, thought they could escape from our chase by employing steering tricks that were of no benefit, because we were faster. As we were going for the bump, they ended up crashing into one the bank in the gut. Naomi with her expert steering went for the bump, our blades touched theirs, and we rowed past them shinning from our victory. With such a great first day in Torpids, we believe the best is yet to come. Highlights: James taking his kit on and off a myriad of times before the race started, Tobi’s socks, Antony suffering from the cold, everybody’s faces during the race, which had a constant expression of charm and happiness plastered on them.


Cox: Joe ‘confidence, not faith’ Wynn

Stroke: Phil ‘dubious-fantasy-bumps-decisions’ Thornton

7 Sarah ‘what-dissertation-deadline’ Edwards

6 Maddie ‘didn’t-bring-her-dog-to-this-race-which-left-everyone-disappointed’ Burrell

5 Annie ‘ruined-the-colour-scheme-sorry-everyone’’ Ault

4 Sophie ‘don’t-tell-all-of-chorley-she-isn’t-in-the-blue-boat’ Clarke

3 Harriet ‘can’t-distinguish-between-ducks-and-geese’ Thomas

2 Ellie ‘Cornish Powerhouse’ Van Vogt

Bow Amy ‘Veteran’ Holguin

This race report will take the style of a Desert Islands piece, taking you through the songs that best explain each section of the race. It was an emotional rollercoaster.

1) Eminem ‘Not Afraid’

Despite having four novices in the boat, we were feeling reasonably confident in the run up to Torpids. Since being the 2nd fastest placed college at Henley Head 10 days previously, we had done a lot of starts and bumps practice on the Isis, and knew we couldn’t have done any more to prepare ourselves over the past few weeks. We were in good spirits after seeing W2 bump up 3 places earlier in the day, and were hoping to carry on a great day of racing for HCBC. After an incredible team talk from Joe, it was time to warm up and we headed out onto the water

2) Elsa ‘Do You Want To Build a Snowman’

Our warm up was dominated by a small blizzard. We weren’t too fazed by the -3 degree temperature and small snowstorm, as W1 is a majority northerner boat. Whilst others complained of the ‘cold’, we put on our (metaphorical) big coats and got on with the warm up. Visibility is overrated anyway.

3) The Fear – Lily Allen

We lined up on bungline 4, and after the customary pre-race nerves, we were soon underway.

4) Bump & Grind- R. Kelly

Our start went well, and we came under Donnington Bridge looking strong. Unfortunately, a miscommunication with the stride call meant we kept the rate too high for too long, and panicked slightly as Pembroke started to gain on us. They bumped us in front of our boathouse. We knew they were a strong crew, with a lot more experience than us, but were nonetheless pretty devastated about this.

5) Let It Go-Frozen

So what happened next? With no boats in sight behind us, it would have been the expected thing to wind it down and save our power for another day. But, this is Hertford W1 we’re talking about, and that’s not really how we do. We kept up the power, and rowed the best that we could to try to catch Christchurch.

6) Power- Kanye West

No explanation needed- as we came down greenbanks, the rate was up, the power was on, our legs were burning and the boat was moving. Ollie’s whistle starts blowing, and we were gaining on Christchurch. The biggest comeback since Take That in 2006 was well underway- but would we reach them by the finish line?

7) Ain’t No Stopping Us Now – McFadden and Whitehead

WE WERE MOVING SO FAST AT THIS POINT- Ollie’s whistle was going continuously.

8) Gonna Fly Now (Rocky Theme Tune)

HERTFORD BUMP CHRIST CHURCH. SCENES. We hit them at absolute pace, just after their bow ball crosses the finishing line, but before their stern does (which is the thing that counts in Torpids). ‘Hertford bumps Christchurch’ is announced over the tanoy system, and the whole boat goes mad. We can’t believe we did it. We’re so knackered, as the last push for the bump was huge, but we reached them and our efforts had been rewarded (for now). There is a lot of ecstatic shouting and we are delighted with our come back, as we hold our place as 4th on the river

9) We Are The Champions- Queen

General euphoria continues for the row back, as more snow comes down and a beautiful sunset occurs in the backdrop. It doesn’t get better than moments like this. We have a blissful hour in the boathouse of warming up with hot chocolate and celebrating all of our hard work paying off.

10) Heartbreak Hotel- Elvis Presley

OURCs give Christchurch the benefit of the doubt about when we hit them, due to the marshal being unsure when the race finished. The bump doesn’t stand, despite a Hertford appeal. The first rule of Bumps racing is that it isn’t fair, but even so we were all pretty sad about the situation.

11) Someday- The Strokes

We will be starting the 2nd day of racing in 5th place, and you can bet that we will be going in hard to try and over bump Christchurch. The first day of racing was an emotional rollercoaster, but we performed incredibly well and the crew should all be really proud of how we made such a strong comeback. The dream of winning the 2018 Headship might have died today, but with such an unbelievably tenacious row today from a relatively inexperienced boat, we demonstrated that we can compete with the best Oxford colleges and that the future of HCBC is incredibly bright.


Cox: Ettie “Weak Arms” Caverly

Stroke: Danny “The Newcomer” de Rozairo

7: Harry “Butter Won’t Spread Below Zero” Connor

6: Hamish “Sailboat” Streeter

5: Jack “Ice”man

4: Freddie “Schnee” von Kaufmann

3: Maciej “Melancholic” Bugala

2: Rob “The Veteran” House

Bow: Patrick “Not-so-hot Hands” Austin

Having seen the W1 fall afoul of Pembroke coming out of the gut while waiting to boat, and knowing that that stretch of the course would be where our own race was decided, Hertford M1 set out determined to put up an equally valiant effort in front of the home crowd at Longbridges, and with some luck, hold off our own pursuer in the form of Christ Church M1. Following a warmup fraught with indecision and misunderstanding over circulation restrictions, the crew were wary of allowing themselves too long a wait on bungline 5 as the worsening conditions meant any and all heat would be lost rapidly to the whipping wind and swirling snow. Thanks to some unorthodox spinning onto the bungline, we managed to shorten our wait to painful, but bearable levels. With practically continuous rowing required of bow to combat the crosswind, there was worry from one member of the crew that the line itself would be torn from her cold, weak fingers. Such fears proved unfounded, as the line remained taught until the sounding of the cannon and beginning of the race.

The oft practice start sequence did not fail us, and we made a good accounting of ourselves in the first minute or so of racing. Whilst Christ Church made up ground behind us, as we approached the gut it seemed that we would have a fighting chance of holding them at bay and letting them do the hard work in our wash, leaving us free to continue our loose, conditioned rowing. However, no-one had accounted for such a reckless burst of speed from them in the gut. Whilst our cox did well to follow the conventional line straight through the bends, the opposition followed the curve of the city side bank, surging forward. While this first swing missed our stern, the Christ Church crew made a final gamble, taking a hard left to row towards Longbridges Boathouse. Such a risky manoeuvre would surely leave them in the lurch against the other crews further down in the division, yet to the dismay of all their bow found purchase as they rowed over our own stern, in what is oft described as a “T-bone”. Having lacked the acceleration to match them, a Hertford first VIII was once again forced to concede a bump outside our own home ground, to the dismay of all present. Despite this shake up, the crew’s focus remained, and unfazed we continued our race up greenbanks. From here the race was uneventful, and whilst the distant Baliol made up ground over the clear water between us, they never got close enough to threaten us. We were able to continue to the finish without further incident, although there was some disagreement over where exactly the finish was and when it was acceptable to wind down.

With Thursday’s racing cancelled, it will be 2 days before Hertford M1 are able to again lock horns with the other crews, and hopefully test Christ Church’s mettle over the full course rather than the abridged version they were intent on rowing.

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