Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s Novice M1

The ‘graduation race’ for 2015’s novices found NM1 a lot more enthusiastic than we had expected to be. As the morning’s grew colder and the winds more gruelling all of ‘NM Voldemort’ knew that Fairbairns marked the end of a long Michaelmas of crabs, spoons, spanners and answering to ‘novice’. Surely upon our rowing graduation we could finally become the tall, strong, purple lycra clad heroes that we had dreamed of since freshers.

With a 7:30 meet the mist still hung low over our fair river as we pushed off and then cleared at the start line to reveal a plague of incompetent coxes. Luckily our main man Charles, seasoned with all manner of unfortunate events (see Winter Head race report), guided the legendary wood workmanship known as ‘Neil Saigal’ safely to the start line. A reluctant power gipped our eight as we accelerated from the start line under Victoria Avenue Bridge, uncomfortably close behind a spannering Sidney Sussex crew. Our rate remained high as Daro and Charles drove us round the twisting waterways of Riverside.

After this strong start we finally passed King’s ‘boathouse’ and into familiar territory… and a familiar position of being stuck behind other boats on the Cam! It was the stern of Sidney fast approaching. Our cox’s calls for water echoed across the water but alas there was no room in this narrow-boat ridden section. “HOLD IT DEAD” bellowed forth from the cox box above the coaches’ clamour. Blades clawed against the stream as the mass of the Saigal was dragged to an unwilling halt. Soon Sidney had spluttered their way forward and our rowing resumed, now with the men of King’s filled with rage (and a sneaky swig of water).

Taking a tight line under the green dragon bridge we thereon proceeded to up the power and rate until we seized the chance to take Sidney on the reach. Inspired by our second ever race overtake the strokes remained hard and fast as we navigated the gut then bust forth from under Newnham Bridge and into seniorship!

I’ve no idea where we placed but we still get called ex-novices so not much good came of it.

Newnham Short Course 2016 – King’s W1

The first race of the term found W1 in great shape. We rowed up to the start knowing we’d have to face a strong wind but determined to give our best.

We had a solid start after which we settled at a rate of 31.5, which we maintained for the whole length of the course. Motivated by our cox’s mid race humor attempts, we rowed confidently past Grassy Corner and then on to the Plough. We kept Queens M4 at a consistent distance behind us as we were steadily gaining on their W1. A strong wind hit us as we came in to the Reach but after a couple of hesitant strokes we regained our rhythm and rowed firmly into the last 500m of the race. The finish line secured us the 11th place in the W1 division and filled us with optimism for a better Lents performance than in the past.

Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s Novice W1

Due to some seasonal flu we ended up with a change in the boat, i.e. a different stroke, at short notice and we were all slightly nervous before our first proper race (we’d all had mixed feelings about our first racing experience; in Emma Sprints we had crashed into a tree) – especially as we were told Fairbairns would be the race we’d be entering as novices and leaving as seniors. It was a rather cold and windy day and by the time we were manoeuvring the boat into the marshalling zone, we were more than ready to get going. Before we knew it, we were racing and rowing those 2k away. We were particularly proud, when we realised afterwards we didn’t catch a single crab. After crossing the finishing line, a mixture of elation and exhaustion accompanied us back to the (not-)boathouse, while we celebrated by singing ‘Row, row, row your boat’ in sync with our strokes. We placed 13th in our division – a result we were all proud of, and thus the race definitely made a fitting conclusion to our first term of rowing.

Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s W1

W1 started the term with an almost entirely new crew but after eight weeks of hard work we’d made tremendous progress and rowed down to the start of Fairbairns with excitement.

We had a solid start and soon settled into a steady rate 32. Before long, we were coming onto the reach and maintaining an excellent rhythm. We were all starting to feel tired as we came towards the Plough but showed a lot of grit and determination to push round the corners and into the final stretch. We kept the rate up throughout and finished with a strong final minute and a very respectable time, boding very well for Lent Bumps next term!

Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s M1

After 16 months of not being able to row for King’s (due to an injury) I was grateful to join M1 halfway through Michaelmas term 2015. Fresh from University Fours, the crew was just getting used to being in an eight again. In 16 months the crew had changed almost beyond recognition – I had rowed with only 2 of the member before. Still, I sensed the same King’s grit and determination I had known in the ‘glory days’.

In comparison to previous years, this crew had relatively little experience. Our best result in Winter Head ranked us 12th fastest Cambridge College, behind many crews around us in Lent Bumps. The pressure was on. M1 responded positively in the ensuing outings, and we arrived at the Fairbairn Cup start line hungry to restore King’s among the top College crews.

It was a glorious December morning – the river was flat calm and the sun was shining. As we pulled up in front of Jesus boathouse, the nerves were beginning to show. “Come forward” commanded Will, our cox, who was also the most experienced member of our crew. We knew that he was our trump card – his lines could gain us crucial time over our competition. “King’s. Attention. Go!” After an impetuous start, we settled into a solid cruising rhythm of 34 strokes/min. Will’s calls kept us sharp and motivated. Soon we were surging past King’s boathouse, then the Green Dragon Footbridge. As we passed under the Railway bridge, we still had our momentum, and Will urged us on: “Bridge-to-bridge from here – you’ve done this many times before”. After a shaky second half of The Reach, we regrouped along Plough Reach, slingshotting around Grassy and raced through The Gut. Along First Post Reach, Will’s voice rang out “Go to that dark place”. Then, it was over.

M1 finished 7th fastest Cambridge College crew. Although not as impressive as results from previous years – 2nd in 2014, 3rd in 2013, 1st in 2012 – we had made significant gains in a short space of time, putting around 20s on crews that had beaten us in Winter Head, just 3 weeks earlier. I am very encouraged by the potential our crew has shown, and look forward to continuing improvements in Lent term 2016.

Henley Women’s Regatta – King’s W1

We arrived at Henley Thursday evening with eager anticipation for KCBC womens’ first attempt at Henley Women’s Regatta in recent memory. Our confidence was boosted by a successful May Bumps bumping up four but in our typical pattern for the term, we had been unable to get any outings with the full crew prior to Henley Women’s due to May Week. We had our first row as a Henley crew and a taste of Henley’s famous course early Friday morning before the race which went well. We knew we would be up against a challenging field, with only 16 of a field of approximately 30 university crews qualifying. After a bit of a boat traffic jam getting to our start position and a log in the middle of the course, we got up to our starting position and took off. We had a really great start that felt strong and fast, as was the remainder of the row as we settled into a good rhythm. Although we did not qualify, we were all pleased that we rowed our best, pushed as hard as we could, and had a good row. Our time was only 11 seconds off the qualifying time and we were faster than some other university crews, which is not too shabby for a Cambridge college crew and our first HWR experience!

May Bumps 2015 – Summary

Crew Wed Thu Fri Sat Overall Final Position
M1 0 0 +1 0 +1 9th in Division 1
W1 0 +1 +1/+1 +1 +4 16th in Division 1
M2 0 -1 -1 -1 -3 4th in Division 4
W2 0 +1 +1 +1 +3 6th in Division 4
M3 0 -1 -1 -1 -3 8th in Division 5

M1: [Bow] Chris Jones, [2] Ollie Sluijters, [3] Adam Townson, [4] Tom Watson, [5] Fletcher Williams, [6] Conor Burgess, [7] Conor Bacon, [Stroke] Lachlan Jardine, [Cox] Will Miller, [Coach] Chris Smith, [Boat] Adrian Cadbury.

M2: [Bow] Ash Simkins, [2] Will Miller, [3] Theo Di Castri, [4] Joe Gaffney, [5] Ed Bentley, [6] Simon Butterworth, [7] Kittiphat ‘Am’ Chanthong, [Stroke] Kert Putsepp, [Cox] Anthony DeSouza-Edwards, [Coach] Chris Braithwaite, [Boat] Vicky Wade.

M3: [Bow] Louis McBride, [2] Filp Gokstorp, [3] Sam Trueman, [4] Elliot Bell, [5] Ali Hussain, [6] Jasper Montana, [7] Henry Morgan, [Stroke] Philipp Heckmann-Umhau, [Cox] Louis Shankar, [Coach] Kittiphat ‘Am’ Chanthong, Ollie Sluijters, Lachlan Jardine and Conor Burgess, [Boat] The Lady Jo’anna.

W1: [Bow] Sophie Harrington / Saki Shinoda, [2] Antoanela Siminiuc, [3] Ellie Archer, [4] Isabel Barnes, [5] Christina Woolner, [6] Liz Dzeng / Nicoletta Knoble, [7] Kate Erin, [Stroke] Fanny Belais, [Cox] Colette Bane, [Coach] Roger Thorogood and , [Boat] Leo Sharpeston.

W2: [Bow] Saki Shinoda, [2] Elizabeth Byrne, [3] Anna Bachmann, [4] Hana Lewington / Agnes Cameron, [5] Amy Roberts, [6] Vanessa Tyler, [7] Niamh Mulcahy, [Stroke] Phoebe Thomson, [Cox] Rebecca Vaa, [Coach] Callum Picken, [Boat] Jolly Roger.

May Bumps 2015 – Friday

W1 – Bumped Murray Edwards and Selwyn
In our full crew for the first time this Bumps, we rowed up to the start filled with confidence from our bump on Trinity Hall yesterday. We knew Murray Edwards might be tough to catch today but we were determined to bump them and carry on upwards into the first division. Coming past The Plough our practise starts were strong and secure. When the cannons finally went we had a solid start and quickly gained a whistle on Murray Edwards. As we came around First Post Corner we continued to creep up on them and before long had progressed to two whistles. Expert coxing from Colette meant we had continual overlap all the way around Grassy Corner and Murray Edwards finally conceded coming in to Plough Reach, giving us a position at the top of Division 2 and the chance to row again later to seal a place in Division 1!

So an hour later we found ourselves waiting for the start gun again, chasing a strong Selwyn crew who we knew would prove more elusive than Murray Edwards. However, with no one chasing us we were confident we would be able to row them down over 2k and go for our second bump of the day. Starting from bottom station this time, we had another strong start and were just settling down into a rhythm when we got a whistle on Selwyn, much earlier than anticipated. This was just what we needed and we upped the pressure and continued to gain on them, dealing well with the outflow under the motorway bridge which caused us so many problems last year. Before long we had continual whistles and had bumped them before First Post! This means that, for the first time since 2011, King’s W1 has a place in the first division. We are hoping to continue our winning streak with a bump on Catz tomorrow!

M1 – Bumped St. Catharine’s
The third day of bumps was warm and close, but we had something to prove. We knew ourselves to be far better than we had been in the previous two days, and today was the day we would show that. Our aim? Hit Catz. Quick and hard. Our paddle down was our best of the week, despite the slight fatigue starting to set in. A confident warm up, which was not affected by the apparent psychological games Catz were playing behind us had us feeling good. After a clean tap spin on station we pulled in to gather ourselves for the race.

Soon enough the 4 minute cannon sounded and we were back in to the boat, heads in and ready to achieve what we set out to do. A quick start sent us flying towards the motorway bridge and into the rough water churned up by the crews ahead and the outflow. Completely unphased by this, we glided over the choppy waters and settled in to an attacking rhythm. Just as our strength showed small signs of faltering, Will called a lift and the response from the crew was phenomenal. Flying in to First Post Corner we got our first whistle. Upon exitting a mere few strokes later we had overlap. It was all over very soon after that. Mission complete. Catz were taken down in the exact spot they met their end in Lents. This was our best race all week, later than we had hoped, but heading in to the final day we knew what our objective was now. Lay to rest any doubts in our mind that we can get Clare.

W2 – Bumped Clare W3

M2 – Bumped by Darwin M2

M3 – Bumped by Churchill M3 (Technical result)

May Bumps 2015 – Thursday

M3 – Bumped by Pembroke III
Preparation for day two was not going well: we’d lost a member of the crew to injury and had had to find a last-minute sub. Nonetheless, we had nine people by the time we pushed off, so it could’ve been worse. Worse didn’t take too long. We made it to our station with a good practice start, where we were given some bad news: Tit Hall hadn’t turned up, so the boat in front of us (Jesus M4, who we were confident we could catch) got a free bump. This left us in a difficult position: we had no chance of bumping and were being chased by the formidable Pembroke M3. A wonky start got us going at a decent pace: Pembroke were soon gaining, though, and we just had to last as long as possible. Whistles were blaring by Grassy Corner, where they caught us on the apex. A difficult piece of parking awaited – we managed to not hit Queens’, though – but we pulled in and relaxed. An unfortunate stroke of luck had gotten us bumped but two more days were left and we still had a small chance.

W1 – Bumped Trinity Hall
It was a confident King’s W1 that rowed up to marshal, if not the same crew as the day before. While our trusted stroke Liz was back, a knee injury confined her to six as Fanny continued to bring her Blues skills to stroke seat. The ever-suffering Nicoletta found herself rowing yet again, while bow seat had a new occupant. As a rag tag crew we set out determined to bump Tit Hall. They had been caught early by Jesus W2 on the first day, making us reasonably confident that we could make short work of them, and our row over ahead of Darwin W1 the day before suggested we could hold them off. After a slightly rocky start, leading to incapacitated thumbs, we quickly gained on Tit Hall, getting whistles as we rounded First Post corner. Coming through the gut we continued to gain rapidly on the crew in front, with Tit Hall conceding just as we rounded the inside of Grassy Corner. As we tried to clear the river, we found ourselves being chased rapidly by Darwin and Magdalene W1s, which were approaching a bump, preventing us from clearing to the opposite side, and leading to a rather unfortunate position directly on the inside of Grassy Corner. Once the final crews in the division had passed, we crossed the river to bedeck ourselves in greenery. Tomorrow we face Murray Edwards W1 and a chance at the coveted position of first division sandwich boat.

W2 – Bumped Queens’ III
W2 set out eager to improve on Wednesday’s row over, and bump on Queens’ III who obstructed us the previous day on our chase for an over bump. A couple of clean and controlled practice starts on the row up left us feeling optimistic for the race. After a much more controlled start than the first day we took the rate up to 30 and settled into our rhythm. Just before the motorway bridge we got our first whistles on Queens’. Within a minute we closed the gap down and gained overlap, and despite their reluctance to concede, bumped them shortly afterwards, with bow’s blade close to hitting the cox. A great row, and the first bump for many of the crew.

M1 – Rowed over tenth in Division 1
M1 knew we had to row better than yesterday; first to ensure Christ’s didn’t get anywhere near (“shut the door on them boys”), and secondly to give us the best chance of catching Clare (on the seventh consecutive attempt in three years). A much stronger start, and a flying, light and loose rhythm through the motorway bridge and up First Post reach saw us close to within 3/4 of a length of Clare, and leaving Christ’s three or more lengths behind. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite hold this rhythm into and around First Post corner, so we lost a lot of speed and the boat became pretty heavy. Clare started to move away, and up onto St Catharine’s, whom they bumped on the Long reach, leaving us to row over well in front of Christ’s. A better row than Wednesday, but still a reasonable way off our best, which we fully intend to bring tomorrow.

M2 – Bumped by Fitzwilliam II

May Bumps 2015 – Wednesday

M2 – Rowed over head of Division 4, Rowed over as Division 3 sandwich boat
At the start of Mays, King’s M2 is back in its favourite position: sandwich boat. Having not gotten enough of the 7 races in Lents, we were determined to knock out at least another 5 in Mays. In our first race as head of the M4 division, the pressure was on as Clare III were hot on our heels. Consistent power in the first half of the race allowed us to stay comfortably ahead until Clare were bumped out by Fitz II. The rest of the course was plain sailing (or should that be rowing?), with just enough motivation from the distant Darwin boat to keep us focused until the very end. We span and headed back to marshal for the greater challenge of the day: chasing Jesus III at the bottom of the M3 division. A strong start looked promising, as we gained on Jesus up to a boat length away. However, exhaustion from the earlier race was beginning to show; we kept the pressure on Jesus and were never more than 2 lengths away until the bitter end, but ultimately could not bump them. We shall be returning for round 2 on Thursday.

W1 – Rowed over third in Division 2
After a month of injury-illness-exam mayhem, W1 rowed down to marshaling in a never-seen-before line-up (including a last minute change to our stroke) with very little idea of what to expect from our row. We knew Jesus II would likely gain quickly on Tit Hall at the head of the Division, and Darwin would be fast on our tails, eager to repeat their Blade performance of Lents. Some solid practice starts on the way down gave us a bit of confidence, and our faithful bank party – Roger, Stan, and our injured-stroke Liz – gave some final words of encouragement as the canons went, and then we were away! A solid start gained us a bit of distance on Jesus II, though around First Post Corner we saw them pulled over already, having caught Tit Hall in not much more than a minute. With no one left in the Division to chase, we knew we had a long slog ahead of us, with Darwin looking strong behind us. We rounded Grassy, and then Ditton corner rowing more or less on station, helped by the expert lines of our indubitable cox. A very unusual tailwind up the Long Reach, and the steady rhythm set by the first Blue King’s has seen in awhile (Fanny) now rowing at stroke, helped us keep Darwin at bay. And so we rowed, under the Railway Bridge, past the P&E, and on to the top finish. A gutsy row from a boat of waifs and strays ended with King’s fourth row-over of the day (with 2 more to come). Special thanks to super-sub Saki for enduring her second row-over of the day, and our insuperable-to-all-illnesses captain Nicoletta for jumping into the boat at short notice. Once back to our regular (if that exists?) line-up on Thursday, Tit Hall should be very afraid!

M1 – Rowed over tenth in Division 1
The crew arrived at the Porta-Cabin with a sense of determination. Having rowed-over behind Clare every day in last year’s Mays, we were intent on moving up. The crew was a mix of experience and young talent — some of the crew had not raced Bumps before, but we had all put the effort in during training to create a fast, capable crew. Warm-up and marshalling proceeded as usual, although the boat was tense, inevitable on the first day of Mays. The race started with a bang; our start was unsteady, less controlled than during training. The crew knew that we had to put our best rowing in to catch the fast Clare boat. Unfortunately, we never managed to find the rhythm and pace that was needed to move up on the crew ahead. Christ’s M1 behind us kept pace well, but were not fast enough to trouble us — we were focussed on the target in front. Clare were slowed by some of the unpredictable turmoil of Bumps racing, and we were able to pull close, but by the time we moved onto the Reach, our speed dropped and we didn’t have the edge that would have allowed us to close and make the connection. As a crew we couldn’t find the unison to allow us to improve our form, and Clare kept putting distance between us. We finished the course downhearted, without attacking Clare much throughout the race. Although we couldn’t secure a bump, the day’s race has given the crew renewed ambition, valuable experience, and more reason to finally move out of 10th place.

M3 – Rowed over fifth in Division 5
Bumps had arrived. Uncertain of our future and wondering quite how we’d managed to get there, we had a gentle but sensible row down to the P&E. We then proceeded onto the Reach and then had a decent practice start past the Plough. We span and got ready: with the first gun tensions were high but we were ready. Pushing off with only around 15 seconds to go, we had a hurried start but got on our way. We kept up with Queens’ for the first two corners but they gradually pulled away to get an over bump; behind us, boats quickly bumped out, leaving us with plenty of clear water. By the middle of the Reach, we had no other boats in sight: this was a surprise, we didn’t expect to make it so far. Energy was waning but we kept going. Winding down slightly as we went under the railway bridge, to the cheers of waiting M4 division, we persevered down to the finish line (the location of which was somewhat uncertain) before relaxing and realising that we had, against all odds and expectations, rowed over.

W2 – Rowed over ninth in Division 4
W2 entered into day 1 of bumps off of the back a solid GoR race. The draw saw us chasing Christs III and being chased by Jesus IV. We knew we were fast and that when we kept it controlled we rowed well, the challenge was keeping it that way under the pressure of bumps. Despite a rushy start we kept pace with Christs who bumped Queens quickly before the motorway bridge. We were left with the overbump on Darwin II. A challenge, but not impossible. We gained on Darwin, narrowing the gap and settling into our rhythm. Queens’ however, decided this was a good time to cross sides. Spanning the width of the river, we clashed blades and came to a stop. For what felt like minutes we sat watching Jesus approach. Sharp and quick, Rebecca got the crew’s heads back in the boat. We pulled off again and pushed Jesus away. Darwin by this time had bumped Clare and we were left to row home. A slightly disappointing first day, but bolstered with the encouragement of the ever increasing distance we made between ourselves and Jesus and the promise of catching our new nemeses Queens’.