Emma Sprints – Great experience for novices, great entertainment for seniors

Contrary to this website, the club has actually been very active. Especially, as always at this time of the year, with regards to novice rowing. We can confirm that the newly-hatched rowers of the ’19 season are getting on rather well. We saw them survive their first challenge – Queens’ Ergs – and now they have proven that they are ready to meet the world: quite literally meet the world, in one-on-one racing on the water.

Emma Sprints happened.

Few rowing regattas manage to unite smiling faces with crap rowing and numerous crashes, which is why seniors love spectating this race. And why novice coaches fear it.

The women’s novice crews have matured faster than the novice men. This becomes obvious if one observes the race report submissions. We, the coaches tell them how to row, but the women’s side have done some overtime, teaching their rowers how to write.

Cheadle let us in on their experience:

The day had finally arrived for Cheadle to put all their hard (and slightly wobbly) work to practice for… Emma Sprints.

Loaded up on numerous snack bars and starbursts, with serious amounts of glitter painted onto the faces of our angels and devils, we hopped into Lady Fran (without losing any team members in the process luckily) and calmly made our way down to the railway bridge in anticipation of our first race. The nerves may have got the better of our parking to begin with – as Camille put it “we don’t get the prize for the best outfit but certainly for the most entertaining parking” – but the crew managed to focus in on the task looming ahead. Trisha, as always, lined the boat up effortlessly and kept the whole crew calm as we faced our first opponent, Pembroke NW1. Then the signal we were all waiting for sounded… go!

Draw one… draw two… draw three… Cheadle were flying across the water. We managed to pull slightly ahead of Pembroke and maintain the distance from them. Even with a minor slip in timing, the crew pulled together effortlessly and glided across the finish line in first place. Then the anticipation set in again for our next race against Downing NW1. By this time the starburst packet was rapidly reducing but seemed to work its magic. In our second race, Cheadle once again powered ahead of Downing, who unfortunately – but fortunately for us – had a misunderstanding with the bank. Trisha held her ground and drove the crew home back under the railway bridge safely across the line.

We had made it into the semi-finals! Despite being slightly weary having already raced two 500m sprints (or four in the case of Heather), the team continuously maintained focus throughout the process which was demonstrated through our improvement in… parking! We were becoming quite the experts thanks to Camille and Katy! We refilled on water and… guess what… starbursts… and set off for the third time to the start line. This time the pressure was really on as the bowler hats of the Churchill NW1 crew slowly creeped into sight. Cheadle certainly put on their best performance in this race, sustaining focus and timing all the way to the end despite unfortunately losing to Churchill. We were really starting to row as a team which was almost perfectly in sync!

Heaven sent strokesiders, bowsiders are the devil’s own creatures. Change my mind.

After a short five-minute break, we were ready and set for our final sprint… the race for third place against Newnham NW1 (drum roll…). Cheadle were ready to put up a fight… The first half of the race was fairly even but Cheadle kept their ground and pulled ahead when one of the Newnham girls crabbed. It may have been a (slight!) crawl to the finish line but Cheadle had won their well-deserved third place. Everyone was exhausted but completely over-the-moon, we had surpassed all our expectations. Our thanks have to go to Camille and Katy, who had trained us so well, and carried on screaming and cheerleading – even in the most difficult of times (no elaboration needed)! The hard work and focus of the Cheadle girls had clearly paid off and Trisha brought us all home delighted, safe and sound.

Just putting it out there.

Shipley report the following:

On the 24th of November Shipley faced our first race. At 8 am in the boathouse we brought the hype with our face paint, and discovering how to attach tinsel to our riggers without messing up the entire boat. Does tinsel make you fast? We were accompanied by some moons, Alice (stroke’s) cousins, who decided to circle around in our orbit. To the chagrin of Eleanor (5-seat), we could not in fact, put more glitter on the boat or in the river.

On our way towards marshalling, we got even more hyped up by the compliments on our costumes. Alice (stroke) again told us about the shagging cows on our previous outing in order to give us good luck before the race. We waited for what seemed like hours singing “row row your boat” and playing “the planets” into the cox box.

Sparkling like angels as we graced the river with our tinsel-glowing presence. Accompanied by our fearless, colander-wearing leader, we decided that the real BDE was rowing in sixes. We figured that if Emma could be the ONLY coach dressed up (as our lovely dwarf planet!), we could bring even more hype in our first race.

In our first race, we had a stunning victory. We left Pembroke NW2 in the boathouse. We refuse to confirm or deny the rumour that this was due to the fact that they were, in fact, still in their boathouse. Despite a bit of a confusing start, we continued rowing on strong and crossed the finish line to win our first race.

The luck of the shagging cows did, however, leave us during our second race, against a very strong Jesus crew, who had us beaten before we’d even started (as they had started ahead of us), but we beat them on costumes. We can’t even remember what they were.

Tinsel. Can you spot the rowers?

So, does tinsel make you go fast? Quite possibly – although our attempts to convince the other boats that this is the case have failed – they claim it’s not aerodynamic!

Even though we didn’t make it to the final, we made it to Rowbridge. Our post-race celebrations were tragically saddened by spilling half the brownies from the tin, but some nice mince pies from Woods made it all okay. Emma (2-seat) decided that lunch was not necessary due to our enthusiastic celebrations; we also independently decided that tinsel will be a permanent fixture on our boat!

Overvoorde next: Crabs, Crashes, and Catches

After many early mornings and hard erg sessions, it was finally time for the first novice race of the year: Emma Sprints! Overvoorde, one of Sidney’s fabulous novice women’s crews, were buzzing with excitement as we gathered at the boat house to put the finishing touches on our costumes (Noah’s Ark!) and prepare for the big day. We looked fantastic, but it was an interesting Ark, as we all dressed as very large animals (tigers, bears, cheetahs…) save for Effy (6-seat), who was a mouse?? But those ears were definitely free speed.

Sadly, two of our finest rowers, Georgina (2-seat) and Lisa (5-seat) were suffering from illnesses, but we were blessed by the presence of Heather and Marie, who joined our tight-knit crew for the day and saved us from having to row an 8 with only 6 people! Massive thanks to them for stepping in!

The experience started ominously, with Céleste (bow) catching not one, but TWO crabs during warmups, while only rowing in fours…………. Oops. Can we blame it on the nerves? But thankfully the crabbing during the races was kept to a minimum, despite Laura’s (7-seat) fear of just catching a crab while walking down the street. Impressive!!

Wildlife living a wild life

For the first sprint, we raced against St Edmund’s College. As we lined up to start, we were all a bit nervous. We came to front stops, and set off!!! DRAW ONE, DRAW TWO, DRAW THREE…… annnnnnnd CRASH. Only a few strokes in, both boats veered right into each other! Ella ’s (4-seat) blade even went fully underneath the Eddies boat, and she was afraid to capsize them if she tried to hold it up! But thankfully no one was hurt (and no one capsized!), although Rosa (3-seat) is now quite proud of her (very tiny) battle scar. The race marshals had us reset, and we started the race again. This time there was no crashing, and we were SPEEDY! Guided by our trusty cox, Louis, and the rhythm of our fabulous stroke, Fatime, we raced down the Cam and pulled ahead decisively! There was power! There was rhythm! There were still crabs! But there were also beautiful catches! What an exciting feeling it was, to win our very first race together!

After pausing for a snack break, we had to race again. This time our opponents were Clare College. We lined up, went to front stops…… and we were off again!!! This time there was no crash, but sadly Clare’s crew was quite strong. Despite some exhaustion, we kept close and made a very respectable race out of it! Clare ended up winning our division, so there was plenty for Overvoorde to be proud of.

With two great races under our belts, we rowed home to the Sidney boat house feeling very happy and proud of ourselves! It was definitely the best we had ever rowed in eights, and no one ejector crabbed (which was a serious fear for many of us…)!

“What are we supposed to do with all that energy we didn’t spend racing?”

To cap off a wonderful morning of rowing, we gathered for a race debrief and some mince pies, although I’m sure we all would have preferred a bit of nougat….! All in all, it was a wonderful day for the Overvoorde crew! Big love to our incredible coaches, Abi and Lora, who cheered so loudly from the bank! We would be nothing without your wisdom and support. GO OVERVOORDE!

[Editor’s remarks: I have kept to the original manuscript verbatim, but I am worried that the writer must have suffered from some serious post-race hype. number of exclamation marks: 25; highest number of consecutive full stops: 13. Coach’s advice: do a UT2 erg.]

The editorial office congratulates the novices on their racing debut
(and their reports)

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