W1 - by Eliza MP
None of us in the boat knew it at the time, but Saturday somewhere above our heads a drone was flying between the bursts of rain and brilliant sun. The footage is now available online, silent and unedited and raw as an open wound. I haven’t been able to watch it to the end.
Hasn’t anyone told you? Bumps isn’t fair.
At the beginning of the week bumps racing was terra incognita for half our boat; of the others, two of us had been bumped four times and rowed over four times and never known the joy of being able to stop before the course was up. Half the boat was ill, all the boat was nervous. Sat shivering on the bung-line on Wednesday, Sarah, our four seat, screamed when the 5 minute gun went off. An auspicious start to racing.
But the 6x500 ergs and the weights and the endless sprints up at Godstow had done what Rod, in his omnipotence, had designed them to do.
After a somewhat leisurely paddle on Wednesday for the over-over-overbump on Magdalen (formerly Head of the River), we finally located our Sprint Mode. The next two days we never made it much farther than the Gut as we caught first Pembroke and then Christ Church. Two minutes, we seem to have decided, was a good length for a race, and we were disinclined to let any last longer than that.
True to Wadham form, our crew had only been set two days before racing. The entire boat had been bow-rigged and the crew re-shuffled just a week and a half before. And Wednesday through Friday we rowed down to CORC to pick up our six seat, Laura, mere minutes before spinning onto the bung-line. True to Wadham form, none of that seems to have mattered.
But then there was Saturday. There was Saturday and there was Oriel. My memory of that race is a thick fog of pain. I know we pushed exiting the Gut and again along Greenbanks and again at Univ and again and again and again. I know my vision started going halfway down boathouse island. I know now, having been told, that we had overlap on them twice. But Oriel had themselves found a new gear, and that bump never came.
We left everything on the river.
The golden dream of blades-to-headship just escaped our grasp, but we moved up three places, three vengeances for last year, at the very top of the very top division. We came together as a crew, we found gears we did not know we had, and we gave absolutely everything we had to give. Whatever the whims and caprices of bumps racing, we left the river with the knowledge that we are the fastest crew on it.
We began every day of Torpids two-and-a-half boat lengths closer to the head; now it is up to next year’s crew to close that final gap and reclaim our headship.
W1: Timothy Davies (c) - Lia Orlando (s), Eloïse Anne, Laura Standley, Liv Weatherhead, Sarah Hiepler, Rosie Clear Hill, Eliza MP, Jovana Deden (b)
Coach: Rod Andrews
W2 - by Megan Edwards
After a term filled with lots of rain, land training and carbs it was finally our time to go show the rest of the Isis what we were made of. We were determined to make up for some of the damage done last year, get the W2 headship back from Wolfson, who started one place ahead of us, and maybe even get blades on the way.
We knew we were a pretty fast crew from the time we posted at Henley Head, especially compared with the other W2 crews but were still apprehensive going into the first day. We were being chased by Exeter and chasing Wolfson II and it was anyone’s race. Wolfson II bumped out quickly on a slow Corpus Christi crew and we knew we had to go for the overbump. With no pressure from behind, we pushed all the way to the top of the boathouse island and after a scream of “we’re gaining” from Dani at bow we had a nice physical bump of their stern just after Univ.
Day two. We were hungry for another bump, again chasing Wolfson II but two places ahead of them were St. Hugh’s, who had already dropped into division 3 on the first day. After a pre-race briefing with Maddy we mentally prepared ourselves to go for the triple overbump on Hugh’s. When we passed Donny Bridge we saw Mansfield had bumped out and then a bit farther along the river, there was Wolfson II chilling at bottom gut after a second quick bump. With Maddy screaming lengths at us which were quickly getting smaller and again Dani screaming at us from the bows saying we had overlap, the whole crew gave it everything. It wasn’t enough. We ran out of river before we could catch them. We were distraught, not only because we came so close, but that we had the glory of blades and the W2 headship taken from us.
After a painful race on day two, we knew that as long as we stayed composed and together as a crew we were going to catch St Hugh’s without covering much river. After a strong start and hearing the echo of Maddy calling “half a length” as we came under Donny Bridge, we caught Hugh’s just before the gut which was just what we needed going into the last day.
Thanks to Wolfson II bumping again on the Friday we were chasing St Catz on Saturday who had plummeted 9 places in 3 days. We had our greatest race of the week- not because it was the shortest but because it was the best rowing we had done. We could hear Maddy calling from the bank- 1 length, half a length, quarter of a length, canvas- and we were eager to get the bump and have a rest. We’d just passed Donny Bridge before Francesca called wind down, we were all so happy to get that final bump that there was no thought of our lost blades.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get the W2 headship back, we started in an unlucky position but there’s always next year. All of us should be so proud of our efforts and ready to get back in the gym to get prepared for Summer VIIIs.
W2: Francesca Murphy (c) - Emma Richards (s), Lara Thomas, Mirte Liebregts, Aliénor Hunter, Julia Kotthaus, Natasha Salonen, Megan Edwards, Dani Chattenton (b)
Coach: Rod Andrews
W3 - by Liv Weatherhead
With an ever changing crew and very little practice time, W3 didn’t know quite what to expect going into Torpids this year. They were part of the rowing on division, and posted a time which showed they were the second fastest W3, and beat many colleges W2’s, even one W1. Placed quite high in the draw, it was going to be a tough week, but W3 gave it everything, bumping on the first two days, being over bumped in the third and rowing over on the Saturday, dropping 2 places over all but showing that Wadham W3 can be competitive surrounded by W2’s. Well done to everyone who competed in this boat, from alumni to super subs from Christ Church!
M1 - by Kjølv Egeland
M1 started the Torpids campaign of 2017 fourth on the river – the highest any WCBC men’s crew had been in living memory. We initially expected to row off fifth, which was where last year’s racing had left us, but third-placed Magdalen’s decision not to enter the regatta meant that we climbed up one place before the racing had even started. Magdalen M1 undoubtedly reasoned that their rowing would have been even more catastrophic than the minus six penalty bump they were dealt by OURCs. Seeing Magdalen’s W1 fall from head of the river to fifth only on the first day – spectacularly bumped by a fifth-placed Wadham W1 – Magdalen M1’s decision not to race may, if not particularly sporting, have been wise from a tactical point of view.
Despite having lost most of the 2016 crew – only two members of last year’s first Torpid were in the boat – we entered the regatta confident that we could hold our own against the other top colleges. The novice intake in Michaelmas had been impressive. Eager to learn and work hard, the novice men had fielded three capable crews in Christ Church Regatta. Two of those crews made it to the final 16 and one won the whole thing. Just a fortnight before the start of Torpids, M1 had delivered a solid 3k at Henley Head, winning its division by a comfortable margin. Fantasising of joining the Wadham M1 crews of 1840 and 1849 on the list of Torpids headship holders – as well as, of course, our idols in W1 – M1 loaded their carbs and caterpillar cake in hopeful reverence on the eve of the regatta.
M1 would be coxed by Joe Reason, who, after collecting a headship with W1 last year was in dire need of a greater challenge. Former captain and veteran of many a successful WCBC campaign, James Evry would stroke his third bumps. Tom Malpas, another hard-working biologist, was sat at seven. Ageing but dogged, I assumed my position in the six-seat. At five was novice Hazem Hassan, probably the biggest human south of the Tyne. At four, Charlie Bodenham, a graduate of Eton College rowing, made up for his less colossal frame with grit and razor-sharp catches. Sirimon Thomas, another impressive novice, was selected for the three seat. He would lead Nicolas Basty at two, whose astonishing life-journey from down-and-out chopper to hankered-after captain will no doubt be the topic of a future MTV documentary. Jacob Scorey, the third of the crew with only two terms of rowing experience to his name, took his well-earned seat in the bow.
Wednesday: We closed on Wolfson off the start, gaining quickly on them through the Gut. From the Gut and all the way down to the Head, we heard the words “canvas”, “quarter length”, and “overlap” belted interchangeably from the bank. We must have rowed right on Wolfson’s tail for more than three minutes, unable to finish them off. It was tough. Landing safely at our raft, Charlie passed out from the exertion. When he woke up I gave him some friendly stick. He replied that “at least I managed to hold my food down – you didn’t.” Touché, Charlie. Touché.
Thursday: We knew we were faster than Wolfson. What had been lacking the day before was that last concerted effort to get the job done. The plan for Thursday was to make fewer, but more defined, attacks. We agreed that if we had contact in the Gut, we would go all out for the bump there. But the call to go for it didn’t come; we were further away from Wolfson than the day before. We regrouped and made a solid push by Univ Boathouse – strokeside’s blades inches away from brushing against the rafts – making huge gains on Wolfson. But, as the day before, it wasn’t quite enough; Wolfson held on. Coming past Boathouse Island, Jev wound the rate frantically. Lactate bubbling away, we bumped Wolfson a few strokes before the finish line. I’ll admit the Wolfson bump was particularly pleasing. It was our sixth time chasing the Wolf in three years.
Friday: Unfortunately, Charlie had pulled something in his back rowing on Thursday. As the injury did not seem to heal quickly enough, he would be out for the rest of the regatta. Charlie’s absence was, of course, a bit of a blow, but fortunately a spirited Cam Higgins could jump into his seat on short notice. The race on Friday was the least eventful of the four days. After a much too meek start, we were unable to make ground on Oriel. Wolfson, although they crept up on us over the first half of the race, were never a real threat. But Wolfson were bumped by a rapid St Catherine’s crew off Boathouse Island, promising for a tough row on the final day. Catz were on for blades and would no doubt be highly motivated to take our position in the top three.
Saturday: Another day, another crew change. Richard Appleby, a veteran of last year’s Torpids and Eights campaigns, came in for Cam at four. We had a decent start, but Catz nevertheless closed to about half a length as we exited the Gut. St Catherine’s made a valiant effort at eliminating the gap over the last half of the course, but an equally heroic defence from Wadham kept them away. Catz came to about a canvas by Univ, but after the Wadham boathouse, M1 pulled away to a relatively safe distance.
The humble choppers of M1 are thrilled to have finished this year’s Torpids third on the river. Thanks, Rod, for your time, advice, and patience. Thanks also to Steph, the Society, various subs, and the Committee members for all help. When next year comes around, we’ll climb another two.
M1: Joe Reason (c) - James Evry (s), Tom Malpas, Kjølv Egeland, Hazem Hassan, Charlie Bodenham, Sirimon Thomas, Nic Basty, Jacob Scorey (b) subs: Cam Higgins, Richard Appleby
Coach: Rod Andrews
M2 - by Sam Durley
Start Position: 35th – Finish Position: 32nd (2nd highest 2nd boat)
Wadham Men’s 2nd boat has always been challenging 1st boats for position in the higher Torpids divisions, and this year was no different. Wadham II started Torpids 11th in Division 3 (35th overall), and the 4th highest 2nd boat in Oxford. With only Balliol II (8th) and Wolfson II (9th) ahead of them in Division 3, it was a tall order for an almost exclusively novice Wadham II crew to overtake both, and become the second highest 2nd boat in Torpids, with Pembroke II in Division 1 left to catch. Roy Kimachia (7 seat), the only veteran of bumps racing in the boat, brought vital experience and relaxed attitude to a young crew who have only been rowing since October.
Wednesday, the first day of Torpids often results in weaker crews dropping significantly through the divisions, and stronger crews reassert their positions. As an uninitiated crew, Wadham II were unsure how they would fare. The threat of a crabbed oar or a crash into the trees would lead to a disastrous drop, so unsurprisingly nerves were high as the countdown began for the start cannon. Wadham II were chasing St Anthony’s and being pursued by Oriel II, both strong crews. An equipment failure meant the cox had no way of measuring the crews stroke rate which had the potential to cause a problem. Fortunately, stroke Ben Crane has only two rowing settings, either not rowing or rowing at great speed, and his youthful enthusiasm passing down the boat means Wadham II takes off very quickly from the start. This paid huge dividends as the crew quickly closed on St Anthony’s from the start. Frustratingly, St Anthony’s quickly achieved an over-bump on Balliol II at the exit of ‘The Gut’. St Anthony’s and Balliol II became entangled, and came to an almost complete stop meaning Wadham II made heavy contact with St Anthony’s. Though this did mean Dan Lyness (Bow) could give the St Anthony’s cox an opportunity to practice their ability to jump over a fast-moving oar! As Balliol II disentangled themselves from St Anthony’s, Wadham II casually rowed past Balliol II to achieve an over-bump.
The over-bump meant Wadham II remained behind St Anthony’s on Thursday, but now pursued by Jesus II. As the previous day, the crew quickly gained on St Anthony’s and by the half-way point were within a canvas. Despite a number of ten-stroke power pushes that put a huge pressure on St Anthony’s, Wadham II failed to bump and rowed over. St Anthony’s gained a technical bump over Wolfson II meaning on Friday Wadham II not only got the chance to pursue a recently aggrieved rival (Wadham bumped Wolfson at the top of Division I on Thursday), but Wadham II had the opportunity to become the 2nd highest 2nd VIII in Oxford.
After the hard lesson of a row-over, the crew were focussed and confident, and again had a flying start on Friday. Wadham II quickly closed on Wolfson II coming under Donnington Bridge and an unscheduled ‘power-ten strokes’ as the crew approached ‘The Gut’ meant that the bump was imminent. The power-ten grew into a surprising power-eleven and a power-twelve, but the bump was achieved at the entrance to ‘The Gut’. To avoid blocking the racing line, the crew had to quickly manoeuvre out of the way, causing the confusion at race-desk as Wadham II exited ‘The Gut’ at speed directly towards the bank. But the bump was confirmed and Wadham II became the second highest 2nd VIII.
Saturday saw Wadham II chasing St Peter’s, who had been having a tough campaign. After the ever tactful Wadham II coach had suggested that not all members of the crew were using the prescribed technique in the start sequence, and provided some advice on how this could be corrected, the crew was confident that they would quickly catch St Peter’s from the off. Indeed, as cox Ben’s voice reverted to its prepubescent tone before reaching Donnington Bridge, the crew knew that the bump would be achieved very quickly. Another extending ‘power-ten’ meant Wadham II’s third bump of the week was achieved and ended a very successful campaign as 8th in Division 3.
M2: Ben Walker (C), Ben Crane (Stroke), Roy Kimachia, Liam Peaker, Lorenzo Sintini, Alasdair Grant, Adam Lewis-Douglas, Sam Durley, Dan Lyness (B)
Coach: Stephanie Hall
M3 - by Jonathan Cheung
After last years summer eights where M3 (aka Mdream aka MProfiteroles aka MKickedOutOfHall) managed to narrowly avoid spoons, there were high hopes for this year's Torpids campaign.
As always, the boom of the cannon marked the beginning of the Torpids event. Despite Scott briefing the crew, "Alright guys you probably have to row over", the Wadham eight closed to a quarter length on Hertford M2 after Donnington bridge. Edu decided at that moment to try to give his crewmates a bit of motivation...by catching a crab and increasing the drag on the boat. Spurred on by Edu's tactical crab, the 7 other rowers closed to a canvas on Hertford whilst Edu recovered his blade. Just as the whole eight got rowing again, they bumped inside the gut.
Mdream was now doing better than they did last summer eights. The Wadham boys went into day two of Torpids confidently and eager to bump Christ Church M2. Not long off the start, Christ Church caught a crab and Wadham capitalised on this to bump them soon after, and just before a klaxon!
Friday began with a last minute crew change. An injury in M1 meant that Cam had been called up to the first boat. Filling Cam's seat was Jonathan: WCBC 'alumni', lightweight rower, and lightweight drinker. The paddle to the start line was the first row with this crew arrangement ever. Unfortunately, a blisteringly quick start from Christ Church M2 meant that we were bumped under Donnington bridge. Though, a strong show of sportsmanship had Christ Church cheer us on as we closed on New M2. Clearly intimidated by our immaculate bladework, Jonathan's visor and Stewie's BNY mellon leggings, New tried to seek some free speed of their own mid race. Unfortunately, they misinterpreted freespeed as a boat-stopping crab and we bumped them just after Donnington bridge.
For the final race of the week, the boats chasing and being chased by M3 were the same as on Friday, albeit in the opposite order. Leevi put on his sunglasses in hope that the free speed would carry Wadham M3 to a successful final day of Torpids. Stewie steered the boat well, dodging many swipes from New- just like the whole crew had dodged their training sessions and ergs. Unfortunately, the crew had dodged too many training sessions and we were bumped by Longbridges. Catz, who were hot on new's tail, made a strong move after this to pull to a canvas on us. However a valiant row from the whole crew kept them at bay as we rowed along the boathouse island. Huge cheers from Wadham boathouse gave us strength to break the catz crew and we finished the row at a safe distance from Catz, thus denying them blades.
Overall, it was a very successful week for Wadham M3 who continue to be the fastest third boat on the river by a whole division.
M3: Tom Stewardson (c) - Joe Reason (s), Leevi Mehtäjärvi, JP Haas, Florian Mittenhuber, Sean Thomas/Cam Higgins, Eduardo Beattie, Yash Kumar, Avishek Mondal/ Mustak Ibn Ayub (b) subs: Jonathan Cheung
Coach: Scott Houghton