M1 - by Joe Emsley
2016 has started out as a remarkable year for M1. With the high-stream limiting our water time to weekends at Dorney Lake, and a drastically different crew to last summer, our Torpids result would provide anticipated answers to a lingering question: was our record-breaking climb of the previous year a one-off, or the birth of an exciting new era for men’s rowing at Wadham?
The first day of bumps was an initiation by fire for three crew-members. All had learned to row in Michaelmas under the coaching guidance of ex-president and Rod protégé, Tom Johnes. Rather anti-climatically, the top half of Division I, including us, all rowed-over. However, we had gained considerably on Wolfson and left an old-enemy, Hertford, far in our wake. A promising start.
Our confidence was building, and the next couple of days saw fierce commitment to each race. If we didn’t bump ourselves, the plan was to pressure the top five crews until one of them cracked. On Thursday we closed to nearly a canvas-length on Wolfson, who subsequently took out a fleeing Christ Church. The shake-up had begun. On Friday, we wound high and attacked early. Exiting the gut, Christ Church were ours. 5th on the River for Wadham M1!
Spurred on by the promise of a pint at the finish line, we boated on Saturday determined to finish what we started - catching Wolfson. A valiant effort sent us flying into the familiar turbulent waters that precede any bump. We had overlap on their sterns. However, in spooky likeness to the final day of Torpids 2015, Tim’s cox box gave up and we were again condemned to silence. Struggling to unite the crew for a final “wind to the line”, Wolfson, yet again, slipped from our grasp.
Regardless, what a year it has been! Overall +1 and an astounding record high placement in Division I. Deserving credit to our excellent coach Rod Andrews; to the inspiring leadership of captain James Evry; and to the unbeatable camaraderie of the entire men’s squad - I am immensely proud to row alongside you all.
M1: Tim Davies (c) - James Evry (s), Joe Emsley, Kjolv Egeland, Patrick Bapty, Richard Appleby, Moritz Esch, Cam Higgins, Jonathan Cheung (b)
M2 - by Adit Kale
We went into Torpids a little under-prepared, with only one outing with the final crew conformation at Dorney the Sunday preceding Torpids. Still, we felt that we could probably hold off Wolfson at the top of Division IV on Wednesday. However the inexperience of the crew showed (50% had no bumps experience) and we were disappointingly bumped by Wolfson II at the exit of the gut. After the painful debrief we went into Thursday to prove we could move up to Division III. Sadly we didn’t have Maddy as cox as she had become quite ill but Tim took over coxing and with our new-found will to push harder, we bumped New II by the gut to become the sandwich boat and gave Tom Malpas his first bump (7th time lucky).
In our second race we closed rapidly on the Wolfson II crew that had bumped us the previous day. Tragically, at ¼ length down, bow’s blade came out of his gate and we had to easy and restart. By then Wolfson II had bumped out and despite halving the 5-length deficit to Christ Church II, we had to settle for rowing over.
We did learn from that though, as after all subsequent races several of the gates took a while and a lot of effort to undo after nervous over-tightening on the bungline! On Friday we comfortably held off New II to row over at the head of Division IV, and then we once again proved that we should be in Division III by catching Christ Church II in the gut.
Therefore, ignoring Tim’s new-found call of “less useless boys”, Friday was a success and the first day everything went to plan. We then entered our final day knowing a bump on Oriel II was highly likely. Jesus II started behind us and went so far as to tell us that they knew we would bump Oriel and asked if we could clear the line quickly so they could have a go too! The Jesus II coach was right, and we bumped Oriel II before Donnington Bridge, making the perfect end to a solid Torpids and returning M2 to Division III.
M2: Maddy Butler/Tim Davies (c) - Adit Kale (s), Dennis Mok, Moritz Seiler, Tom Malpas, Philipp Zelter, Edoardo Pirovano, Nick Basty, Seb Grogan (b)
M3 - by Dan McNaughton
Torpids has been an opportunity for Wadham M3 to prove themselves in recent years and we started this year in 11th place in division 4.
The terrible weather at the start of Hilary term brought with it a hindered training regime and limited water time, filling many with a few nerves about the week to come. Women’s captain for the year and seasoned veteran Joe Reason was brought in to settle the rhythm of the boat and, after several trips to Eton Dorney, the coaches could see the boat had potential to be speedy. It would just be about unlocking this potential as Torpids drew ever closer.
With a crew consisting of 5 novices with no experience of bumps racing, I anticipated we would have a shaky first day. The excitement that comes with the occasion coupled with the adrenaline rush of a boat hurtling towards you can often have detrimental effects on technique, but my prediction could not have been further from the truth. The crew rowed hard, rowed long, and overbumped a crabbing Univ 2 crew just at the end of the Greenbanks. A fantastic result and a pointer towards a very successful week.
Day 2 brought with it resurgent St Catz crew, which chased us down the whole course. We were helped in huge amounts by the brilliant evasion tactics of our cox Scott Houghton, whose expert turn before the line gave us the opportunity to pull away and maintain our position on the river. The third day of racing saw us bump a dilapidated Trinity crew within 40 strokes and, aided by a broken St John’s oar higher up the division, bump up 2 positions. On the final day we came within a canvas of catching Hertford 2 after an exhausting race down boathouse islands. A heart-breaking end to what would have been the cherry on the top of an extremely successful week.
The coaches and captains were bowled over by the spirit shown by the 3rds boat this campaign. They were impressed by the grisly determination exhibited throughout the crew, the crew’s astuteness and ability to learn in training, and also the quality of rowing that was maintained as the crew were tiring and under pressure. Tom Johnes went as far to say we had the look of an M1 crew – if only we were a little bit taller.
The exploits of Wadham 3rds have been a reminder of not only the strength of depth that the boat club has, but also the strength in character on display throughout the Men’s VIIIs. Having now reached their highest position in the last 35 years and maintained their 3rds headship, it’s onwards and upwards to a successful Summer Eights.
M3: Scott Houghton (c) - Joe Reason (s), Dan McNaughton, JP Haas, Roy Kimachia, Hao Wen, Gabriel Dalboozi, Kishan Makwana, Alberto Carella (b)
W1 - by Rachel Anderson
Looking at the bumps charts, it seems that Torpids 2016 was a dreadful week for Wadham Women’s rowing. However, bumps charts don’t tell the whole story; they don’t tell of the swift learning and fierce determination that it took from every member of the women’s boat club to boat three full boats for the week, and nor do they tell of the weather conditions we faced in doing so.
For W1 the build up to Torpids was far from easy. Beginning with only 2 uninjured returners from the 2015 crew in Oxford (with a third returning from study in Princeton 2 weeks before Torpids), the challenge was set for Rod to build a Wadham worthy women’s first VIII to battle for the headship this year. The only saving grace was the huge influx of committed and hardworking novices, along with a couple of additions to the senior squad. Following a successful Christ Church regatta, Hilary term began with a quick jump up for a number of novices straight into W1.
It is clear that poor conditions favour experienced crews, who are less in need of time on the river. Unfortunately this year we were not one of these crews. Battling the weather conditions, we reached the Saturday before Torpids having never rowed the full crew, along with a couple of last minute side and boat changes. A couple of gutsy rows in abysmal conditions at Eton Dorney, along with one much improved row on the Isis took us to the Wednesday of Torpids 2016 with a headship to defend.
Unfortunately, a poor start with a strong Magdalen crew behind led to a quick bump. With slower crews falling rapidly below, W1 were left with only the strongest crews chasing for the rest of the week. Further disaster struck when W1 returner Maddy Butler suffered an asthma attack having given everything in the run from Magdalen. On Thursday it was quickly realised that it would not be safe for her to row, and so after a panicked run around only an hour before boating, Xanthe Gwyn Palmer stepped into a grateful W1 for the day.
With a new crew, the fight was on to stave off the over bump in a battle to stay within bumping distance of the headship. A strong Oriel crew bumped out, but a brave row from all of W1 kept off Pembroke until the very last stroke.
On Friday, the crew changed again, bringing our injured President, Lia Orlando into the 7 seat, and moving Olivia Weatherhead back to her preferred stroke side at 4. It was unfortunate that Pembroke caught the crew after a battle down to Green Banks.
On the final day, with the same crew for the first time, a strong row saw W1 close on the Pembroke boat that had bumped them the day before down to ¾ length at the gut. A strong Christ Church crew behind made the bump, but none-the less this final row from W1 showed what potential this crew had, and what a few outings could have done were it not for the appalling conditions leading up to Torpids.
This leaves WCBC Women’s first VIII 5th on the river, within striking distance of the headship and ready to come back fighting next year.
In spite it all, we must remember that little over 4 months ago half of this boat had never rowed, and this term all of these girls have barely rowed. The speed with which we have developed a boat worthy of W1 status is astounding; and so it is with great optimism we look forward to Summer VIIIs and maintaining our headship. In Rod we trust.
W1: Joe Reason (c) - Sophia Carson Edwards (s), Olivia Weatherhead, Rachel Anderson, Aliénor Hunter, Maddy Butler, Eliza Mauhs-Pugh, Georgia Mason, Vera Tardos (b) Supersub: Xanthe Palmer for Thursday, Lia Orlando for Friday and Saturday
With a tough position as highest second boat on the river, the crew dropped into Div 3 on day one, but rowed extremely well to hold off Queen's on Thursday after being bumped by a very strong Green Templeton. Friday and Saturday involved being bumped a few times by St. Hugh's, Mansfield and Wolfson II. There’s high hopes to get that W2 headship back next year!
W2: Jane Barnard (c) - Natasha Louisa (s), Christina Tang, Zuzana Vikarska, Megan Edwards, Giulia Vidori, Eliza Dickie, Jen Appleby, Dani Chattenton (b)
W3 - by Sam Harris
Wadham’s third women’s boat had a Torpids full of surprises: qualifying in rowing on with no prior outings as a crew and very little Hilary training; an early klaxon on the first day of racing; and Thursday's race itself, deemed the “messiest division” one OURCs umpire said he’d seen in eight years of bumps racing. Despite the newly formed crew, W3 managed to row stronger each day and, as Rod would say, are now starting to understand what it means to do a little “work.” Joe’s repeated pre-race encouragement of “it’s going to be a long race, girls” echoed in our heads one day following the next, yet the crew bravely managed to forget the previous day’s pains or discouragements (viz. bumps) again and again and fight their way straight down the Isis (rudder willing) from our dear Kevin the Boat Man at the bunglines to the welcome sight of the clacker.
After rowing over on Wednesday and losing ground on Thursday and Friday, Saturday presented itself with a final chance for that elusive bump—Hertford’s W2 seemed the perfect target, having lost 12 places on the river over the first three days of racing. W3 put up a strong fight as Jen’s calls of “you’re gaining, you can catch them!” spurred us on (or was it the “do it for the Pimm’s and profiteroles?"). We nearly did, but it seems at the crucial moment the Hertford crew decided to start rowing and managed to pull away. Saved mercifully on day one by the klaxon due to Ants’ W2 ejector-crash (do I sense a new “Peter’s no!” in bumps disasters history?) the girls avoided spoons—but did earn themselves the honour of ending the week as “foot” of the river. Now with a 400% increase in outings as a crew than when they started Torpids, they’re keeping these words of wisdom in mind: “sometimes you have to put your foot down to get a leg up.” David Weinbaum said that, apparently. I don’t know who he is--but we’ll certainly take this to heart and have our sights set on redemption in Summer VIIIs.
W3: Jen Appleby (c) - Sam Harris (s), Lena Mangold, Emma Doran, Jessica Morgan, Jane Barnard, Nicole Sochor, Laura Mason, Lynn Chua (b)