Victory at Newnham Head

The Newnham Head of 2020 took place last Saturday, and it was a great success. Sidney participated with its W1, M1 and M2 crews. For most members of the M2 crew, this was their first race in senior rowing, and a very important learning experience. M1 completed the course in 7:18, a time they’re pleased with considering they’re yet to practice high rate work. There’s room for improvement but they are confident that they know how to achieve it over the next few weeks.

Eight happy M2 rowers and one happy cox at marshalling position.
M1 were thankful for the Newnhamite help to fill their ranks.

The great – if not HUGE, TREMENDOUS – success story is brought to us by W1. Their cox, Joe Shaw, gives us the lowdown:

After a powerful row down to the Lock, Sidney W1 were ready for their first race of term, putting into practice the many outings focusing on, of course, accelerating to the finish. Positioned behind Kings W1, the top of division 2 in Lent Bumps (5 positions above us), we were excited to be able see how we were in comparison to their crew, giving us a new focus for the next 3 weeks of training.

W1 looking powerful.

After a controlled, unified build from rate 18 to 34 in 3 strokes, we began our 2km with a strong start. Following the formation of a steady rhythm, the 3 by 10 along First Post Reach meant we could focus on suspending at the catch, opening the backs together and locking the knees down for the rock-over. We were soon lifting into First Post and this, along with excellent front loading from bow and 3 meant we flew around the corner, a spoon’s length away from the bank.

As we entered the gut, a strong lift out of the corner, focusing on ‘squeezing’ at the finish, meant we could easily pick our rating back up from 32 to 34. As we reached Grassy Corner, a helpful reminder from our coach Tim that this was half-way point encouraged us to give the remaining 1km everything we had, reeling in the Kings crew ahead.

Along the Plough Reach, the gap of 7.5 boat lengths between us and Kings at the start of the race had shortened to 3 boat lengths … this was now turning into a Bumps race rather than a time trial! Continuing to suspend at the catch and accelerate into our finishes, by Ditton Corner we’d shortened this distance to 2 lengths. Following a tight corner, lifting in and out with control and, most importantly, lots of power, we were a boat length from Kings.

It was now that the real test of the race began. Strong winds cutting across the reach as well as being forced into the stream as we set about passing the crew ahead, meant we needed focus and determination more than ever. By the half-way point along the reach, we were within canvas distance from Kings, who’d only now realised we were catching on them. They began to pull away slightly but calling in ‘pair pushes’ meant we were soon sending the boat along the reach, crawling back at the crew ahead. Having not realised how close behind Kings we were up until this point, 2 seat Heather, was shocked to see the stroke seat of their boat sat adjacent to her. Seeing us quickly gain 1 seat, and another, and another until eventually their cox was level with our stroke seat gave Sidney the boost it needed to squeeze through this final 100m.

As I, the cox, called for W1 to empty out in the final 50 metres, Sidney finished under the railway bridge with the same strength and control as we started. A very impressive time of 8 minutes and 10 seconds meant we came away from the race as THE FASTEST WOMEN’S CREW ON THE RIVER; a testament to the crew’s stamina, determination, and most of all …POWER.

— Joe Shaw, W1 cox and Social Secretary of SSBC

Well-earned metal.

The SSBC editorial office congratulates all members of W1, including coaches, on a magnificent and truly inspiring victory. Go Sidney!

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