IM3 8+ ; College 8+
M1: Tim Davies (c), James Evry (s), Jonathan Cheung, Kjølv Egeland, Hector Manly, Will Ripley, Moritz-Alexander Esch, Richard Appleby, Tom Malpas (b)
M2: Jen Appleby (c), Joe Reason (s), Roy Kimachia, Kishan Makwana, Gabriel Dalboozi, Moritz Seiler, Edoardo Pirovano, Louis Skinner, Seb Grogan (b)
On Saturday the 7th of May 2016, three WCBC crews overcame the temptation to snooze the alarm clocks and assembled outside of college to meet the sunrise. Armed with kit bags, pillows and generous quantities of food, the coach set off on the journey to Bedford, picking up fellow competitors from Magdalen along the way.
M2 started off the day's racing for the men, competing in the NOV.8+ bracket with the draw against Bedford School BC at 10:33. Although the crew had only been rowing together for a couple of weeks with limited water time due to bad weather, they went into their first huddle of the day and paddled down to the start, looking to kick off the day’s racing with a win. A great race ensued showing no lack of commitment from the boys, but the relative experience of the Bedford crew allowed them to take the advantage leading to a 2 length win.
Shortly after followed the first race for M1 competing in the IM3.8+ division, racing against a crew from Hampton School BC. Both crews went off the start without holding back, Hampton displaying their skill and agility with a very tidy and high rating start sequence. After the rush of the start, the crew were able to settle into a long and powerful stride and started inching into Hampton’s advantage around the corner, drawing level by the bridge. Coming into the home stretch, Wadham had taken the lead by just under a length but the opposition responded with a push and had started closing the gap. After the counter push was called, the boys held on and saw the race through to a ¾ length win, drawing the mornings racing to a close for the Wadham crews.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon were spent in the shade on the riverbank, watching the racing and gearing up for the long afternoon ahead. As expected, the weather was hot and the sun was out in full so the club retreated under the trees, with some deciding to take the edge off the early morning and picking out the best napping spots. While some revision was brought down, it was largely ignored in favour of watching the racing with lots of top club and school crews showing off their abilities. The 8x races also proved popular entertainment!
Next up were M1 again in IM3.8+ racing Abingdon School. With Abingdon on the enclosure station, Wadham started on the stagger and tried to push off the flurry of pink blades they could see in the peripheral vision. After a minute, the opposition committed to a push putting them ahead by more than a length going through the bridge. However, the boys were able to regain their rhythm and didn’t let Abingdon take any more ground. A move on the final straight saw Wadham reclaim some distance and finish the race with a verdict of a 1 length defeat. This meant the boys were out of the IM3 bracket but there was too little time to dwell - the focus was rapidly switched to the college eights bracket that would take place in the early evening.
Half an hour later and M2 were back in the boat for the novice plate, looking to make up for the mornings defeat. With the sun still high in sky and sunglasses firmly on, they attached to the stakeboats. The boys got off to a good start taking ground on Sir William Borlase’s BC early and pressing out the distance between them inch by inch to cross the line with a 1 ½ length victory, putting them through to the next round where they would be facing another crew from the same school.
Before M1 faced Warwick University in the college bracket, a quick team talk with coach Rod saw a breakdown of the morning's performance and identified key areas where we needed to effect changes to the race strategy. The race saw the crew go off with a modified start sequence which enabled them to undo the effect of the stagger in favour of Warwick, pushing through them to gain a half length lead going under the first bridge. Managing to maintain a strong rhythm down the straight, some strong responses by Warwick necessitated our boys to wind up the rate twice to the finish, managing to hold the competitors off for a ¾ length victory. This put M1 through to the final of the college eights!
Very shortly afterwards M2 were in place on the start line ready to fight for a place in the plate final. Despite the trials of the rest of the day, they weren’t giving in yet. The surge off of the stake boats showed the boys were prepared to commit and empty their tanks. Despite it being a close race, it wasn’t meant to be with a respectable 1 length defeat.
The last race of the day, the final of the college eights, saw an Oxford showdown with M1 being set the challenge of facing current Eights Head of the River title holders Oriel College. Knowing that they would be in for a tough race, the guys composed themselves before heading down to the start line one last time. Starting up on the stagger, they were determined to try hold ground through the disadvantageous outside of the bends. Despite an aggressive start, the tortoises surged up to draw level very quickly. However once into rhythm, M1 held Oriel level through the bridge and for a significant middle section of the race. Unfortunately the 3 previous tough
races of the day had taken their toll on the legs, and when we needed to respond to a big push from Oriel down the home straight, there was too little left! The race finished with 8 knackered rowers, one hoarse cox and Oriel only 1 length ahead - an acceptable result all things considered!
Overall the men’s side of the club had a very productive day at Bedford. While M2 had only had limited water time together in the run up to the regatta, it still proved immensely useful in gaining vital race experience. With a mixture of victories and losses for both crews, they were able to identify what was going well and what areas needed to improve before Eights week. Getting out of the Oxford rowing bubble and watching club and school competition was also a plus, if only to gain inspiration for garish stash ideas. I suppose the chance to kick start the tan was welcomed too.
We would like to thank the crews from Bedford School RC, Sir William Borlase’s School RC, Hampton School BC, Abingdon School BC, Warwick University BC and Oriel College BC for being great competitors and offer our congratulations to Oriel for winning the College Eights bracket overall.
Men's 1st VIII