Report: QErgs 2022

Early in Michaelmas, the novice boats competed in an erg competition called Queens’ Ergs (QErgs). This is made up of eight 500m sprints carried out on an erg by all members of the crew as quickly as possible. Three Sidney crews competed in this with their results shared below:


The mood leading up to Qergs was largely an excitable one. Nobody knew what to expect, with none of the novices having really erg’d competitively before the two practice sessions they were involved in (and of course no knowledge about competing novices from other boat clubs). So when NM1 gathered on the morning of race day, there was a quiet confidence in the air – bolstered by their average 500m erg score of 1:38 which coaches Joe and Ahren had said was “excellent”. 

The crew were up for the earliest division, at 09:30 and the competition looked tough – a lot novice first boats from colleges of the calibre of Pembroke, Emma, Tithall and Queens themselves – but the guys were focused on their individual splits and times. The first person to take to the erg was Max. With loads of adrenaline coursing through his veins, Max flew through his first thirty seconds at an unreal rate 56 on the erg. 

This, coupled with a quick changeover to Navid and Thibaut who both set ridiculously strong but more importantly steady paces for their 500m put the crew in a leading position. After a seamless transition to Elliott and then AP, it was clear Sidney NM1 were contesting the lead of div1, as the guys were neck and neck with Emma NM1 and Pembroke NM1. They then had Kai and Pascal step up to erg and during the transition the seat came off the rails, taking away 5 or 6 seconds, but Pascal made up for this by erging even harder! Finally, Arthur came on to erg and after a 1:34 in his practice 500m he knew he had to anchor the guys to the win. 

Starting from a position slightly down on Emma NM1 (I.E. 2nd place), Arthur erg’d hard. Very hard. So hard that I believe the last thing I saw on his screen was a 1:28 split. Ultimately he was able to bring the guys close to Emma, but sadly 0.4s down on their time at the finishline, with both crews averaging a 1:36.0 split (to one decimal place, the fastest average crew split of the whole day)! Of course the guys were disappointed to lose out by such a small margin, but they displayed great sportsmanship in going over and congratulating the Emma crew. And everyone thought that would be it sadly. 

So some of the guys went home, some went to the gym, one went to badminton and everyone just continued about their day. Then at around 14:00, Joe D texted everyone to say that Queens had announced that the four fastest boats – after the winner of each division – would face off in a final competition that afternoon, which would likely include Sidney NM1. 

A lot of work had to be done in tracking down everyone who was doing other sports at the time (and not on their phone) but fortunately everyone was notified! So the guys regrouped and arrived at queens for 16:00 – some quite tired from their sport throughout the day with Max having thrown up from his rate 56 effort that morning. Certainly, nobody was 100% but everyone was ready to put in 100% of their effort and take their best shot at winning Qergs 2022. So we started in the same order and understandably, everyone on average was erging a little slower. Everyone other than Navid who, after his 2 hours of badminton must’ve been producing a mountain of endorphins to erg with a 1:35 (or thereabouts) split. At some stage in the middle of the competition, Sidney NM1 held the lead (of about 13 virtual metres) for a decent amount of time and against the “who’s who” of college rowing (Caius NM1, Jesus NM1, Emma NM1, FaT NM1) that was mightily impressive to watch. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough as the guys were really feeling their muscle pain from 7 hours earlier come back to literally hurt them and Sidney ended up in third after the final whistle. Nevertheless, a valiant performance from a crew who’s members stretched across all of our novice boats and to know that their erg relay time from that morning was faster than anything that the winning crew of Qergs could produce should be an immense source of pride for the guys themselves. 

Joe D said he just wanted someone from the “who’s who” of college rowing to ask “where on earth did you find these guys?” about Sidney NM1. And sure enough, the Queens men’s captain asked me exactly that.


Our novices hurried into the Queen’s gym at our appointed time, and with moments to spare leapt on the erg for the first leg of the race. Cheered on from both the gallery above and down on the floor by the men’s vice-captains, the crew had an early strong start, making their way to just below the middle of the pack. Undaunted, we crept up in the places, neck-and-neck with Homerton Haste for third place. Each erg switchover and each 100m burst was filled with intensity and earnest, powerful drive from each novice. Our opponents certainly gave it their best, and we finished 300 milliseconds behind them in fourth. Thanks to Queen’s for organizing, to our wonderful novices for such a great performance, and to Homerton Haste, Catz NM1, and LMBC NM2 for keeping our screens full of excitement!


NW1 showed up to Queen’s College meaning serious business, this was everyone’s first official event in their long-lasting rowing careers to come. After collecting t-shirts, almost all of which were size XL, they really looked the part and got cracking with a serious discussing about their favourite bakeries and admiring the vast selection of bread types on offer. Then to fully get in the zone NW1 did a thorough warm up to scared off all the competition, and proceeded to enter the hall where it was all about to go down. Tensions were high. So high that their coach, to her complete and utter embarrassment, even yelled go on the attention sign. However, NW1 knew what they were doing so ignored her and started off their 8x 500m relayed with vigour. The race was incredibly tense with Sidney NW1 pushing on throughout and almost catching boats ahead of them on several occasions to place 10th in their division. Although this was sadly not high enough to get them through to the next round all the rowers showed such amazing perseverance and teamwork. Many valuable experiences were gained along the way, as well as the free t-shirt, so overall a win in many ways for the Sidney Sussex NW1 boat.