M1 Day 4 – Samuel Dower
With three taxing days down, we all went to bed thinking of one thing: rear-ending LMH and how good the beer would taste afterwards. Sure enough we arrived for our pre-race ritual with a knowing calm; knowing what we needed to do, how to do it, and the inevitable fate of the crew in front of us. After perhaps the most passionate and inspiring reading of Invictus yet, we left the changing room into the noise and chaos of the final race day- but to us, it was empty. Just us, LMH, and the river. We would not settle for less than +2 on this campaign. This was a title match, and they were getting knocked out, no matter what.
After a familiar warmup, we found ourselves at the start line, greeted by none other than the Hertford principle himself, offering some final words of support. Three seconds to go and there was no sign of nerves, no jittery anticipation, just the collected calm of a boat as one. The bang of the gun sounded and the first beat of a beautiful melody played as our blades tore against the water as one. Crisp timing left the blades-chasing Hughs absolutely in the dust, not to be acknowledged again for the rest of the race. There was only ever one boat on that river with us, and we were gaining on it quickly.
The first whistle sounded, one length away, in a matter of seconds. Still at rate 38, we gritted ourselves for another three minutes of painful racing. Yet, 30 seconds later, we heard the second. Who knows what happened? Perhaps that melody to which we were all in tune was so beautiful that LMH slowed down to hear it. Perhaps fear of our principle sprinting down the river behind us, filming, gave us the fight or flight response we needed. This we will never know. All we knew was that in the last stretch of the gut, with our boathouse watching on, LMH accepted their fate and conceded.
All those morning outings, all those missed lectures and angry tutors, worth it to see Graham in antlers with a smile on his face as we landed. Fin had an intimate wrestling match with a champagne bottle on the landing stage, and the celebrations lasted the night. One great term. One unforgettable race. The first of many. FTD.
W1 Day 4 – Tiril Høye Rahn
It is the final race day of Torpids for W1 in Div 1. The atmosphere is buzzing with people and spectators along every boathouse. It is fantastic to see the banks of the Isis return from Covid-19 restrictions. The attitudes and team spirits in the boat continues to be so friendly and encouraging. We get into the boat and are ready for our last day. We are off to a good start – like the other days Keble college is chasing us rather close. But we are fast. Although so is Keble. From Univ boathouse to boathouse island, Keble is in touching distance behind us. With amazing coxing skills, we are taken across the river and now row parallel with Keble. All we can hear is the cheering, shouting and, sound from people at boathouse island in the super intense row off. On the legs!!! Right outside of Keble boathouse we concede. But we are so happy: we managed to hold them off for so long for all three days. We get over the finish line shortly after. All the women boats are cheering for each other, and we are happy too. Great effort!
M2 Day 4 – Anton Fedotov
The final day of torpids was another wet and windy trial for the boys in M2, who were once again back to a full starting lineup with the return of our 6 seat. After being gunned down by Univ the day before, we started behind them at the bottom of Div 5, with a strong Peter’s crew chasing us. But that didn’t matter – all eyes were forward and we knew we had to get a bump to solidify our position and keep next year’s crew from rowing on. With Tom Fletcher himself by our side, we came forward to start the most difficult race yet. BANG – the start was not what we hoped for, with the boat catching in the wind and stream and taking us a long time to get to pace. Peter’s were upon us within a few strokes and we had to concede to keep us from tangling. At least that happened so early that nobody except Fletcher saw. Rounding the corner, we settled into our beautiful rate 35, before being hit by a huge gust of wind. We kept it clean, kept it strong, and tried to chase down Univ. As we rowed past Donny bridge, Wolfson disentangled themselves from the bank and rejoined the racing line after an apparent crash – with much protest from a terrifyingly angry Harriet, who had thought they simply bumped out earlier. We kept on the chase – now apparently chasing Wolfson – although unfortunately, every time we got within a length, the crew in front bumped out. And so, despite our best efforts, and perhaps our best rowing all term, we rowed the length of the course and were only a couple lengths behind Linacre by the end, who started far, far in front of us. The boys had braved wind, rain, and stream, sprinting for the whole course, but despite it all unfortunately we were going to Div 6. Or so we thought – until we realised that Wolfson had stopped for some reason in the middle of the course, despite having lost positions from their earlier crash. With Harriet leading an excellent masterclass on ‘How to appeal’, we submitted evidence and discovered that Wolfson had, in fact, mistakenly thought they’d bumped not once, but twice – and so they were bumped by every boat below them, including us. Although it might not be the most exciting ending to the campaign, it certainly felt like a well deserved one, and very ironic given our week started with an appeal to go +9 from picking up Regent’s blade. I’m extremely proud of the crew, who fought valiantly all week to keep us in Div 5, considering the first time we even did starts as a crew was on Monday. Our M2 is ready for a fierce campaign onto Summer Eights, and the river will certainly learn to FEAR THE DEER.