Posted: Saturday 24 January 2015, 9:12PM by Lois Overvoorde
W1 started off their Lent bumps campaign in style today in the Winter Head to Head. We started this term optimistic for good results after a successful rowing week and some very promising first outings, and today did not disappoint. We headed down to marshalling with our stalwart coach and supporter Pete Langley and bank-partying newcomer Tom Lawson, complete with oversized rucksack full of bananas. There we met with with our very own crowd of supporters - Chris, Lucian, Nathan and Elliot - who had braved hangovers and chilly weather to come and shout for us on the reach.
Spurred on by this show of SSBC solidarity, we headed for the start line. We settled into a decent rhythm, and our fitness paid off as we kept up some excellent speed all the way to the motorway bridge with some beautiful corners from Tom Hitchcock. After catching our breaths and listening to Taylor Swift's 'Shake it off' thanks to one of the other parked crews we were ready for our second 2 km.
We knew we'd left Caius W2 far behind in the first race and caught up on Clare W2, and we managed to go one better in the second. As is traditional for Sidney W1 we came into our own on the reach and, thanks to an eye-wateringly precise line along the bank and some excellent motivational shouting from Tom Hitchcock and our crowd of supporters, we managed to get our bow-ball level with Clare's 4 seat by the finish line.
The row home was euphoric, and for the first time in my rather long SSBC memory the whole crew went to the City boat house to wait for good results. We didn't quite manage to win pots, finishing 4th in our division, but we're still thoroughly pleased with the result. We can now head towards bumps knowing that if we train hard we have a really good chance of doing well.
I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved so far this term and am really pleased with the keenness and effort from everyone in the crew. A special shout-out goes to our two newest members, Phoebe and Claire, for slotting into the crew so well and absolutely nailing their first senior race. Thanks go to Pete, Tom, Chris, Lucian, Nathan and Elliot for supporting today, to Silvia and Ant for coaching, to Tim for keeping our boat in racing condition and to all of SSBC for training, support and general hilarity.
Let's keep this going W1, the bump is in sight!
Posted: Monday 24 November 2014, 12:24PM by Lois Overvoorde
Casey's first water race against Emma NM2 was hampered by a series of disasters: an encounter with the bank near the start, a detached seat and a cox-box so sodden it temporarily refused to function. However, for the parts of the course where all eight were rowing they were blisteringly fast, catching up with Emma although sadly not enough to win the race.
Their second race was much more controlled, but sadly they were matched against a particularly fast Selwyn crew and despite a strong power ten at the end they didn't quite catch up with Selwyn, losing by half a boat length.
Casey's team spirit in the face in the face of equipment failure and miserable weather was wonderful, good luck in Fairbairns boys!
Posted: Monday 24 November 2014, 12:14PM by Lois Overvoorde
Harrison's race day started (excessively) early on Sunday morning with handing out our pac-man themed costumes - an inspired idea were it not for the combination of T-shirts and freezing drizzle. We set off for marshalling in plenty of time, and found ourselves at the deserted remains of the P&E. Our survival training kicked in and we took shelter from the elements under the Green Dragon footbridge.
Eventually our competition and the marshals arrived, and we re-parked (with much more success than some of the crews around us) at our correct marshalling point before setting off to race. By this time we were thoroughly drenched and racing at least served to warm us up a bit.
We lost out to a strong Emma NW3 in the first race, but after yet more sitting around in the rain we came back fighting against Fitz NW2 and pulled away from them impressively off the start. Fitz were presumably so astounded by our superior speed that they crashed into the bank, letting Harrison win by a huge margin.
We set off home shivering and with our paper pac-man ghost eyes shredded to soggy confetti in the bottom of the boat, but proud of our first racing victory. Bring on Fairbairns!
Posted: Monday 24 November 2014, 11:49AM by Lois Overvoorde
Despite setting off under the pouring rain and making our 'Frozen' theme a little too literal for comfort, Snow had a strong row to marshalling and a powerful start in the first race against Catz WN1. A technical incident let Catz catch up with us, and although we kept up with them in sixes, by the end of the Reach they had pulled ahead.
In the second race, however, Snow's full potential was shown as, after being left behind by Churchill WN1's explosive start, they matter-of-factly caught up with them, got back on station by the middle of the Reach, and proceeded to overtake. With a low, steady rating and chunky catches, every stroke lifted the boat up and the puddles were massive - we won by a comfortable length.
"This is how Snow rows", the girls proudly concluded back at the boat house, reflecting as much on their power and technique as on the determination with which they kept together in the face of the weather, very fast opponents, and a broken coxbox!
Posted: Monday 24 November 2014, 10:08AM by C Radoux
After admiring their newly purchased Christmas jumpers (note the Sidney colours!), Marsh set off from the boat house and gave a remarkably strong paddle down.
In the first race Marsh had just started to nudge ahead of Robinson, but unfortunately Aakash managed pull the handle clean off the end of his blade. Robinson pulled ahead, but even with 7 rowers they actually started to gain on them again! Sadly it was not enough.
The crew refueled with some cakes from Lionel, and were very grateful to have chosen such a warm costume idea.
For the second race they had to row as a six, which meant that Emma were able to get their boat up to speed much more quickly. Once Marsh got the boat moving they actually managed to match Emma's pace, but it was not enough to catch up.
A fantastic but unfortunate effort, bring on Fairbairns!!
Posted: Monday 17 November 2014, 2:21PM by C M Stacey
Last weekend M1 stepped up to our first true test of the year at the Winter Head. A tough race along the bumps course that required both speed and endurance to set a competitive time. As a crew we went into the race slightly apprehensive, with the new crew having a decidedly mixed amount of racing experience. We were also unlucky to not have two of our regular rowers available: Lucian Comandar and Chris Radoux our strokeman. Nevertheless we were determined to put in a good performance.
Having awoken early (6:30 for myself) for our divisions we paddled down to marshalling in good time to sit and watch the other crews row up the misty river. Racing conditions were good with the weather cool but dry, and the river calm.
We were the eighth boat to set a time, so under the eyes of numerous crews we managed to make a blistering start off only 5 strokes, and Amy - our cox - quickly called that we were gaining on the Selwyn crew in front of us. I'm sure I wasn't alone in feeling the memories of bumps early in the year come racing back!
Thus inspired we quickly lost sight of the crews behind us coming through the Gut and into Plough Reach, although the Selwyn crew in front pulled away. Coming through Ditton Corner our efforts were rewarded by the cheers of a number of Sidneyites who had braved the cold to come and watch. Summoning our strength we pushed on down the Reach to the finish at Green Dragon Footbridge.
The standard of rowing was very high considering the composite nature of the crew, and the race was one to be proud of. Although our final time of 9.46 placed us 21/23 in our category it was more than respectable in the context of the event as a whole.
Overall the Winter Head has left M1 both enthused and encouraged for Fairbairns later in the term. Particular congratulations should go to Jimmy Lei, Nathan Curry and Lionel Dufour for completing their first race with the senior rowers in a very solid debut.
Posted: Monday 17 November 2014, 10:15AM by Lois Overvoorde
W1 met their first milestone on their quest for Fairbairns glory this weekend in Winter Head. Our race preparation started on Wednesday morning with one of those outings where you're miraculously rowing much better than you have at any point before that in the term ("I'm on such a rowing high!!!" - Camille Lardy). We continued this with a solid outing on Thursday morning, followed by race day, meeting at the preposterously early time of 7 am on a Saturday. We set off in plenty of time, which gave us the opportunity to get in a practise piece down the reach and sit at marshalling critiquing the other crews as they rowed past.
The morning was cool and slightly misty, so that by the time our boat was called to set off we were raring to go just to warm ourselves up. We built up the rate before the start with a solid rhythm set by stern pair Camille and Kate and started off the race with a firm but relaxed power ten. Lead by some excellent coxing by Tom Hitchcock we kept our rush in check through the gut and pulled round the corner onto the reach where we pulled out our signature pair pushes. Tom's calls of "Do it for each other" spurred us on, and we could just about see our chasing crew trailing behind us as we got to the middle of the reach. Our gruelling weeks of 30@20 ergs paid off towards the end of the race, as we kept up the power right to the bunting. Racing was followed by crew photo, very welcome showers and the traditional pile of fried things at Sidney brunch.
W1 came 11th out of 15 in our category, a solid result considering we were racing a few visiting universities as well as Cambridge colleges. We came 31st out of 75 women's eights in total. This result is a promising practise for Fairbairns, just a few more 30@20s to go!
Special thanks go to Tom for coxing us for a practise outing and the race, and to Pete Langley and John Upton for getting us ready to perform in such a short space of time. Congratulations also to Rosie Morris for completing her first race as a senior, and to the whole crew, an excellent effort girls!
Posted: Saturday 15 November 2014, 3:55PM by Camille Lardy
Sidney entered six novice crews into Queens’ Ergs this Tuesday 11th November, and rowers, coxes and coaches alike were bursting with excitement - and not a little trepidation - as each group made its way to Queens’. We whiled away the compulsory 45+ minutes between registration and racing by admiring this year’s particularly artsy t-shirt and applying liberal amounts of face paint*.
Each crew’s weeks of training and huge motivation payed off! On the men’s side, Marsh pulled an awesome 1:35.3 average, Casey nailed a sharp 1:39.0, and Homer powered out a solid 1:47.9. On the women’s side, Meegan and Harrison both improved on their crew PB with a beautiful 2:04.7 and 2:12.9 respectively - incidentally, it is the first year that all of Sidney’s women’s novice crews have sub-2minutes rowers, you’re setting a strong precedent!
As for Snow... well, the ladies of Snow were in their usual high spirits when they strode into Queens’ sports hall for the 7pm W1 heat, and had resolved to give it everything. Spurred on by their cox Jeff, their coaches Nathan and myself, and their crewmates’ cheering, each girl showed us what they were made of! Starting with Gillian’s absolutely focused strength and Eleanor’s ruthlessly steady row, followed by Aleksandra’s headlong power and Graziella’s implacable technique, the girls finally went wild when Martina methodically demonstrated exactly what “empty out” means. In the whirlwind of adrenaline, Claire, whose back had healed since the weekend, picked up the power to new levels, and Snow’s boat on the blue screen inched its way up from the middle of the division. Phoebe’s split never once went above 1:50 as she built on the crew’s efforts and drew ever closer to the lead boats amidst the other girls’ delirious cheers. Finally, Evie sat down and, in a bubble of utter lucidity, proceeded to pull neck-to-neck with first Murray Edwards and then Churchill. In a three-boat race to the finish, she smashed down a sub-1:45 power 10 and hurtled through the last 100 meters in a series of huge drawn-out strokes, hitting the end line first. With an unbelievable average of 1:55.3, Snow had won their heat and exploded into raw celebration, prompting the Queens’ commentator to call out “Brace yourselves, Snow is coming!”
With the fourth best time in the W1 heats, Snow got into the finals, which were scheduled to start a couple hours later. Settling into a quiet corner of Queens’ Bar, we stretched, ate, relaxed, and dutifully did 10 squats every 5 minutes to keep the muscles loose. The other novice crews joined us for some banter, as did several seniors, coaches and friends from college - thank you all for your support! The race plan for the finals was “do the same again”, and indeed the girls pulled an average of 1:55.9, emptying out for the second time in the evening (in fact, Eleanor and Claire managed to do even better than in the heat, which had already seen each girl pull off a PB). Finishing twelfth in the toughest finals in recent years, Snow were incredibly pleased with their QuErgs campaign, and I was the proudest coach in town.
So again: massive well done to all of the Sidney men and women, by far the greatest novices the world has ever seen!
* It has been noticed that while the women made an effort with their war paint, the men’s crews chose to abstain - assuredly a ploy to whip up our expectations for their Emma Sprints costumes? Bring it on, then!
Posted: Tuesday 30 September 2014, 2:42PM by Charlotte Burns
Seen the boat race on TV? Heard about ‘bumps’ but don’t really understand what all the fuss is about? Keen to take up a new sport at uni? Join SSBC.
Every year SSBC trains approximately 50 new rowers (and coxes) during Michaelmas term, the majority of which have never rowed before they arrived in Cambridge but have competed several times before they leave for Christmas. Being a boatie is not all about the rowing, we also have numerous social events during the term culminating in the black tie Boat Club Dinner.
Look out for boaties in lycra/blazers during freshers’ week when SSBC will be hosting a squash (party) and tubbing (taster sessions) for all new Sidneyites. In the meantime, more information on novice rowing can be found in the following link –
Posted: Friday 26 September 2014, 2:05PM by Charlotte Burns
Rowers are well known for their early starts, and Sidney Sussex Boat Club’s 2014 trip to America was no exception. Gathering bleary-eyed at 5am with our luggage, we made our way onto the coach to Heathrow, aided by generous amounts of SSBC branded water bottles and t-shirts.
After surviving minor security issues in Heathrow and a bomb scare in JFK, we slowly made our way into New York via the subway, a trip which led to much discussion as we eventually took a somewhat circuitous route towards the hostel. Booked in and unpacked, we set out to explore New York, immediately landing in the middle of a Gay Pride festival. Having enjoyed this insight into the life of native New Yorkers, some of us decided to see the sights, including Times Square and, after 26 hours without sleep, the lengthy queue for the top of the Empire State Building, a decision which led to soul-searching on the part of a few.
Exhausted but excited, we woke up the next morning to two crises – one of our number had had his phone stolen, and another had found that the Transatlantic flight had exacerbated a swollen ankle, requiring crutches and a few worried phone calls home. Fuelled by some fantastic bagels from HI Hostel New York these problems were dealt with, however, and we split up to explore the tourist attractions of New York, some of us doing rather better at this than others (well done to Dan, Dave and Alex).
However, our time in New York had to come to an end – we had rowing to do. That evening we boarded the Megabus to Philadelphia, arriving late at our surprisingly rural hostel, Chamounix Mansions, via some very confused taxi drivers.
Training began the next morning, as we experimented with Philadelphia’s public transport system, finding that taxis were much more efficient (thank you George Cooper and Rob Beresford). Aided by the wonderful Mike “Shep” Shepherd, UPenn’s boatman, and Megan Cotter, the UPenn Women’s assistant coach, we soon settled into a routine, training on the Schuylkill River out of the University of Pennsylvania boathouse, an integral part of the famous Boathouse Row, throughout the day, and exploring the surrounding area in our sessions off. This included Philadelphia Museum of Art, where we enjoyed re-enacting the Rocky training montage up the steps, as well as seeing the fantastic collection of 19th and 20th Century art.
All too soon training came to an end; before racing in the Philadelphia Independence Day Regatta, however, it was time to experience the celebrations for Independence Day itself, an event of particular significance to the city due to its history as the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Philly threw a fantastic festival and open-air concert while we watched the fireworks from Vesper boathouse, where we were generously received as guests of honour by Vesper Rowing Club. However, as we made the slightly stressful journey back to the hostel, delayed by gridlocked traffic, we realised that we had arrived at the vital point in the trip: racing began tomorrow.
The first boat to compete was the top men’s four+, consisting of the most experienced rowers (and cox) on the trip. Our build-up had been encouraging but slightly unlucky: after getting comfortable in the four provided by our hosts, an unfortunate accident forced us to use one of the women’s boats instead. Still adjusting, we arrived at the start-line nervous. These nerves translated into one of the best starts of our SSBC experience: leading from the gun, we found ourselves in second at the halfway mark. Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite hold this pace, finishing a length of clear water behind the next nearest boat. We were pleased with our time in the circumstances, but a little disappointed too – at our best we could have been even faster.
Saturday’s racing also included our women’s 4+, who raced against a strong senior field in the heats, failing to qualify for the final. Training for the women had been somewhat disrupted too, the eight getting caught in an almost apocalyptic storm while on the water, forcing them to make an emergency landing and leaving them shaken. Special mention must go to Sarah Robinson, Jessie Beech and Becca Auster for heroism in steering the launch and swimming to shore. A bonding experience which will be looked back on fondly, although it was certainly stressful at the time!
After a transfer to a nearby Hilton Hotel for Saturday night, we returned to the Schuylkill for the final time for the last of our races on Sunday, which included the men’s scratch four and eight, and the women’s eight. Gutsy performances by all were unfortunately not enough for qualification into the finals, and it was an emotional row home for some, realising that this would be their last experience rowing as a member of SSBC. Returning to the hostel, however, the mood was happy, realising that the hard work of the trip was over.
A much-needed rest day on Monday allowed us to recover in Philly and catch up on the many sights, including the famous (and impressive) Liberty Bell, a must-see. The next day, however, was another early start, with a trip to Washington DC scheduled. A Megabus break-down notwithstanding, we made it to Washington in good time, allowing the dedicated to tick off all the major tourist attractions, finishing just as the clouds opened.
Back to Philadelphia for the night, we had to pack quickly upon arrival, ready for travelling home. A third Megabus in two days dropped us in New York, and, now seasoned travellers, we made our way sadly but swiftly to JFK, saying emotional goodbyes to those staying longer in the US. Ensconced in the departure lounge, we reflected on the trip and watched the World Cup, before boarding the overnight flight to Heathrow. Arriving exhausted and saddened to leave, but with happy memories, we said goodbye as we went our separate ways.
There are many people to thank for the success of the trip. First of all, thanks to Nick Allen, Kirsten Dickers, and Max Beber, whose careful management, pointed questions, and granting of significant college subsidy allowed this trip to go ahead. The committee would also like to thank David Graves particularly for his tireless help, patience and availability in all aspects of the trip, from months-long budgeting and planning to crises an ocean away. All of us would like to thank Megan Cotter, and Shep at UPenn Boat Club, whose patience and willingness to help were invaluable – particularly to Megan for boat adaptation and coaching the men’s four, and Shep for helping us with rigging, repairs, and showing us where to get ice. Thank you too to Mike Lane, whose help and hospitality allowed us to come to America to train and race with wonderful equipment and facilities, and to Clete Graham, for waiving the race fees for the Independence Day Regatta and encouraging us to return to Philadelphia. Thanks also to Vesper boat club for their hospitality in hosting us on July 4th, despite some unfortunate no-shows (sorry). As leader I would also like to thank my committee: Sarah Robinson, Charlotte Burns, Becca Auster, Chris Radoux and Lois Overvoorde for their dedication, hard work and determination to make the trip as good as it possibly could be.
Finally I’d like to thank everyone who came on the trip: for their enthusiasm, commitment to the trip and for putting up with my mistakes and sleep-deprived stress. I hope you all enjoyed the trip as much as I did!