ROWING: JONATHAN FURHRMANN watches action packed weekend on The Cam.
Last weekend was jam-packed with action on the river. The Winter Head attracted a large number of off-Cam crews to Cambridge on Saturday, while the novices took to the water in fancy dress for their first go at side-by-side racing in Emma Sprints on Sunday.
Traditionally, a number of London universities and medical schools as well as other regional clubs send some relatively inexperienced crews to Cambridge to race the Winter Head. The race is, unsurprisingly, infamous for delays and chaotic marshalling, but while complaints are always numerous, people still seem to enter year after year.
The well-positioned spectator was presented with plentiful entertainment as they witnessed Cam carnage. While off-Cam crews tend to be equipped with smaller rudders more suitable to wide, straight stretches of water, our own had no such excuse.
Loss of direction
An eight from Essex managed to spearhead into the bank with such force that they ripped their hull open, requiring the crew to leave their boat (and the river) in a rather ungraceful manner and the shell itself to be towed off.
Once again, Cantabrigian fielded the fastest overall crew, managing to keep the lightweights at bay. Completing the course in 8:04, they put 8 seconds between themselves and the fastest CULRC eight. They were closely followed by Caius, Maggie and Queens’ as well as the other lightweight crews, including the quad scull, which placed a strong 30th at Fours Head two weeks ago.
Downing, wearing what can only be construed as an attempt to keep up with colleges sporting more… fashionable… lycra, were also not far off the pace. These top four colleges were well ahead of the rest of the opposition with Selwyn, who appear to have improved significantly over the course of the term, placing next among the college crews some 15 seconds behind.
The Uni women produced a strong performance overall, with their top crew finishing in a blistering 9:01. This placed them comfortably ahead of Emma, Churchill, Clare, Magdalene and Sidney first men’s eights, who clearly have their work cut out for them for Fairbairns.
Among the college women’s crews, New Hall came out of nowhere to claim the fastest time of the day, pipping Downing to it by a second. Newnham, well over a minute behind New Hall, have only the slimmest of chances to defend their Fairbairns eights title from last year.
Uni women set the pace
The Emma novice men took home victory in their club’s event on Sunday, placing them temporarily on top of the novice rankings for Fairbairns predictions. In the final, they beat a Clare crew which had previously dispatched Christ’s, who had won the novice division of Winter Head the previous day. It is unclear, however, whether these were the exact same crews.
In a somewhat more surprising turn of events, the ladies from Hughes Hall won the women’s regatta, completing a set of results which are ultimately completely useless in making any predictions whatsoever for novice Fairbairns. However, the old adage that “ergs don’t float“ will probably ring true as the Anglia Ruskin novices, who won Queens’ Ergs a few weeks back, look in no fit state to be competing in any sort of on-the-water event.
Senior Fairbairns should also be an interesting affair – Jesus tend to base their start order on the previous year’s results and, given last year’s poorly-attended postponed event, there have been some raised eyebrows about this year’s draw. Behind last year’s competitors, all other crews have simply been listed in alphabetical order. This leaves crews like Clare (behind Addenbrooke’s) and Downing (behind Darwin) in acute danger of catching up with the crew in front before they are allowed to overtake. The implications could be amusing, although I’m sure the colleges in question would vehemently disagree. At least the river is not exactly looking likely to freeze over.
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Fuhrmann