Autumn Head 2016 – King’s M1

Written by: Daro Nakshbande

King’s M1 commenced Michaelmas term with no more than two members left from the previous crew for May Bumps. After barely two full weeks of outings we entered Autumn Head as a benchmark to work from towards the milestones of the coming term (Uni IVs, Winter Head and Fairbairns). Smith’s coaching throughout the preparatory outings had emphasised work on the finishes. Higher rate work, however, was still a novelty for this newly configured crew. This did show quite quickly after we did a rolling start and wound up to about rate 32 just under the Motorway Bridge. Our decent start followed by a good two minutes of quality rowing soon started showing symptoms of a lack of rhythm and relaxedness which had characterised the performances of previous King’s crews before us. The nice pace and platform we had established during the marshalling and race warm-up simply did not translate and hold over time.  While we were more or less aware of this from the start, the fact that Robinson M1 overtook us by Ditton Corner definitely indicated that mental toughness could potentially be improved on as well. With a time of 10 minutes and 23 seconds, King’s ended last of the College M1 crews competing, and saw Downing finish one minute and twelve seconds before us. Considering, however, the great differences in the crew composition and the marginal amount of outings preceding this race, one cannot conclude but by recognising the great potential and dedication this crew demonstrates, which will undoubtedly produce significantly better results as the term progresses!

Cox: Hrutvik Kanabar

Stroke: Lachlan Jardine

7: Lewis Couch

6: Daro Nakshbande

5: Jacob Toop-Rose

4: Joe Gaffney

3: Hans Verschueren

2: Neil Paul

Bow: Siggi Martinsson

Coaches: Chris Smith and Chris Braithwaite

Autumn Head 2016 – King’s M2

Written by: Matthew Else.

Following a series of promising outings, the newly-formed 2016/17 M2 crew set out to start off the term in style, taking on the 2.6km Autumn Head race alongside M1. Having spent a seemingly endless time waiting, sandwiched between two boats, we eventually got off to a good start, eventually getting within a few lengths of Jesus M2, who had been quickly overtaken by Clare M2. Urged on by Cox Charlie, we pushed hard to chase them down the reach. This unfortunately left little energy in the crew for the last 500 metres, but the crew managed to hold on, beating Jesus, coming within a few seconds of the next fastest crew, and within 20 seconds of M1.

As the crew are all aware, #beyonceWasntBuiltInADay, and we should look positively towards the upcoming Fairbairns and Winter Head races. Thanks to all of the crew, as well as Chris Braithwaite for his (I’m told) uncharacteristically positive coaching and everyone else who’s contributed to M2’s training so far this term.

Cox: Charles Connor

Stroke: Shaun Matos

7: Jaza Syed

6: Jasper Montana

5: Matthew Else

4: Canlin (Kenny) Ou

3: Sebastián Céspedes

2: Conor Bolas

Bow: Leo Paillard

Coaches: Chris Braithwaite and Neil Paul

Michaelmas Term Race Reports

Hello KCBC community!

Apologies for the lack of posts so far this Michaelmas – believe it or not, we have been rowing!

The good news is that we have lots of race reports ready to publish. Rather than publish them all at once, we thought it would be better to stagger their release. Think of this as KCBC’s take on the advent calendar … our gift to you this Christmas.

We hope you all enjoy reading our race reports! Look out for the Michaelmas Newsletter (Henry’s VIII) which will be sent out in the next few days.

All the best,

The KCBC Student Committee 2016-17

Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s Alumni ‘MLegend’

Enthusiasm for the Fairbairn cup amongst KCBC alumni was at an unprecedented level this year and before Chris Braithwaite could even begin his annual grooming of recent graduates the 2012/13 M1 crew decided to reunite.

So it came about that on the evening of Thursday 3rd December, as the current M1 finalised their mental and nutritional preparation for the culmination of a hard term, several early-career professionals and PhD students turned up and interrupted them with outdated banter fuelled by whiskey and observations of unwanted weight gains.

‘MLegend,’ as they arrogantly dubbed themselves, had a combined rowing experience of decades as well as first division blades (and spoons), university medals, HRR qualifications and Paddy’s achievements back in M2. 8 of the 9 had also won the Fairbairn cup in 2012, so felt no apprehension at the prospect of a 14-minute slog through the fens. Reconvening on the Friday morning, nobody felt fresh, loose, fit or keen but there was ample laughter and reminiscence and that made everything seem alright.

The details of the race were unremarkable; marshalling was a shambles, MLegend flew like a cannonball past the boathouses and that cannonball then rolled slowly down the rest of the course. Waiting at Baitsbite lock, there were many happy cross-college reunions, and other alumni crews confirmed suspicions that the river had in fact got longer.

With the sun unable to cut through the cold air and old blisters being painfully rediscovered, the long row home began in low spirits. However, the boat seemed to be moving more smoothly now that the race had shaken off the cobwebs from long-unused muscle groups, and it wasn’t long before jubilant and unimaginative shouts of “yeah King’s” were once again irritating every other boat on the river.

Another win always seemed an unlikely prospect, and the race results showed the leaders almost a minute ahead up the river. Surprisingly, though, many college M1 crews trailed in MLegend’s wake. It can thus be stated conclusively that fitness is a poor substitute for friendship.

Cox: Will Miller M1 2011-present
Stroke: Lachlan Jardine M1 2011-2015
7: Joel Wilson M1 2011-2014
6: Paddy Buchanan M1 2011-2014
5: Algernon Wallis M1 2012-2013
4: Conor Burgess M1 2012-2015
3: Craig Lambert M1 2012-2014
2: Neil Paul M1 2011-present
Bow: JT Baird M1 2014

Huge thanks to Captain Oli Slooj who allowed us to piss around in his boat.
Special mention to Will and Neil who had already rowed the race with M1.
Best of luck to King’s M1 for the rest of the year, you’re a great group of guys.
Kindest regards to Chris Braithwaite, sorry for not carrying your tub of old men down the course.
Commiserations to Jesus M1. Sorry not sorry. You’re s***.
Finally a tip of that hat to Paddy for being chauffeur for the weekend in his company BMW.

Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s Alumni M1

In the autumn in England, the leaves turn brown and fall to the earth, and
begin to rot away in the cold November rain. The alumni rower is very much
like one of these falling leaves, except that in a few small corners of the
leaf, there is a smattering of green that is stubbornly unwilling to let go,
like a belt that is stretched on its last hole following Christmas dinner.
Every year therefore it transpires that the leaf that is most the most
convinced of continuing greenness organises an alumni crew to row in
Fairbairns. This is a long and arduous process involving many different
forms of communication and cajoling, and meets generally with some level of
success, in that usually some replies are received. Occasionally one of the
people replying doesn’t immediately have a good enough excuse as to why they
can’t attend (going to Brazil only narrowly won out in one potential coxes
mind over seeing Matt Main in lycra again), and therefore puts a tentative
yes down while they go away to plot something just a little bit special this
time around. This year recruitment was hampered by the other, younger,
alumni boat snapping up a whole load of people who would normally have been
gullible enough to volunteer. Happily though, and perhaps somewhat
miraculously, enough people signed up for the boat in good time, and
everything was set.

Then, with about 24-48 hours to go people started to really engage with the
process. Suddenly, inspiration was found and the excuses started flowing. A
variety of illnesses, pregnant wives having to go into hospitals and so on
meant that all of a sudden the boat was missing 2 rowers and a cox. To add
to the problems, for some reason I now forget (we will just say it was the
incompetence of the current men’s captain, as it wouldn’t have happened in
my day), there was also a distinct lack of a boat to row in. As people had
actually taken time off work in order to come, failure to resolve these
problems was not an option, and so I set about ringing everyone I knew who
could potentially help out. Our main saviours in this case were Chesterton
RC who allowed us to borrow a boat, a rower and a cox. Still short a person
however, I needed to keep some level of continuity by finding a skinny
ginger person with a dubious level of banter to replace the withdrawn Matt
Tancock. Fortunately KCBC have been cultivating just such a person in Joe
Gaffney, who agreed, to everyone’s relief and gratitude to bring the average
age down by about 5 years and average training level to above zero.

As the day of the race dawned, we realised that some of the mishaps had been
distinctly to our advantage. Having borrowed a boat, we also acquired pretty
much sole use of the Queens’ boathouse mens changing facilities. Also, being
closer to the start meant that we wouldn’t have to tire ourselves unduly
with having to warm up. Not having King’s baldes was solved by making the
younger alumni crew bring them down to us (I actually have no idea why they
did this). On the downside, the borrowed boat was bowrigged meaning that
choosing a stroke posed some problems. Here, fortuitously a solution was
found by utilising the deep understanding that prolonged alumni friendship
and real world scheming can bring. So when inevitably Chris Smith turned up
late, he found everyone else sitting in the boat, with only the stroke seat
left for him to occupy.

After marshalling, which was mostly self-directed as this year there didn’t
actually seem to be anyone on the bank, it was race time. Keeping the rate
relatively steady, a good start was made and a race rhythm found. Going past
the boathouse, where everyone who hadn’t been in Cambridge for ages wanted
to see what was happening with the new building, passed without serious
incident and then coming round into the reach we could start to look at
where we were in terms of other crews in the race. Peterhouse behind were
not gaining too much initially, which was good, as I knew one of the people
in the boat quite well and didn’t want to get overtaken by them. FaT, ahead,
seemed to have managed to find some people who were less fit even than us
and therefore seemed to be slowly coming towards us (the closing speed of
two slow things is really rather slow). The reason for race plans it to
prevent a rush of blood to the head causing overall defeat, and while the
temptation was there to raise the rating to above 30 and chase FaT down, we
decided to stick to the original plan of making sure everyone got to the
finish in a state where we could actually row home again. However, we did
continue to gain (as did Peterhouse behind, but never really enough to
trouble us), and coming through the gut and onto first post reach there
seemed a very real chance that it would only take a mild screw up on their
part to allow us to overtake. Sadly their competence held, and they crossed
the line approximately a length ahead.

Post-race we met up with the other alumni crew and then rowed back to the
boathouse (which while marginally further to row than King’s, was closer to
the pub) in great style, having actually had a bit of practice. Finally we
all ended up in the pub, which after all was mostly why people had come in
the first place. At some point later the results came out, and we didn’t
seem to have done terribly, which was about what we had thought.

The crew, which owing to increasing senility I had to look at a picture to
remind me of, consisted of:

B. Mark Hancock
2. Chris Diamond
3. Jason McEwen
4. Simon Emmings
5. Chris Braithwaite
6. Matt Main
7. Joe Gaffney
S. Chris Smith
Cox. James Tidy

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.