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.