As the global economic, political and social interregnum rages, a new era is dawning at Imperial College Boat Club.
The arrival of Quintin Head is a welcome respite from the seemingly endless miles in the gloomy weather and short hours of sunlight. The opportunity to swank on home water is never to be turned down and quite rightly so. Indeed, crews resplendent in black, blue and silver of are particular excitement to the vocal throngs which congregate across riverside drinking holes.
With the same reliability of a slightly above average sunrise dominating one’s social media feed, the flagship crew of the women’s eight retained the WIM1 pennant. The IC rhythm is now firmly stamped on all recruits, with Amy Gibson and Philippa England excelling as a well-matched bow pair. Notable performances in recent endurance testing from three seat Eleanor Disney and four seat Jade Hubbard earnt promotions into the engine room. As evidenced in the official photography, vastly improved catch timing underpinned boat speed this time out, with five seat Joanna Thom finally understanding what stronger in together means. Despite stroke Rachel Snow’s sincere fulminations over official club colours, the rhythm was duly reinforced by now-Imperial stalwarts six seat Maddalena Ardissino and seven seat Natalie Long. Outshining Prime Minister May with an even more astonishing capacity to vacillate, it was a triumphant return for coxswain Christopher Au. Coach Patrick Hudson has fostered an indomitable spirit and concurrently ushered this squad into a position where they are breathing heavily, down the necks of rivals. As the fifth fastest women’s crew, this was a job well executed. Sterner tests will follow, but the women’s squad are looking increasingly redoubtable as the weeks go on.
The student men’s first VIII relished the return to combat, placing third within senior and sixth overall. Faced with numerous selection headaches, coach Brendan Gliddon packed the boat with emerging talent, all having made serious improvements since their transfers from feeder clubs: two seat Jonathan Edwards, three seat Luke Whiting and four seat Edward Bentley. From the same milieu of recent Imperial College stroke-seats, Jack Walsh was parachuted into the stern, the next brave individual to attempt to guide the Ball-Vouilloz-Hines axis. Dugald Fraser is a testament of the success of the ICBC novice programme, back into the top eight with characteristic élan. He and his family are very welcome at the club whenever they so desire. Medic Emily Boother took hold of the strings, tasked with operationalising Gliddon’s enlightened principles of “go fast” and “be smart”. Six seat Tristan Vouilloz was unavailable for comment, despite this reporter being of the same gender. Instead, Gliddon mused: “It was a messy race and the crew needs to be sharper to prevail”.
For the second VIII, it was a battle into twenty-eighth overall. The intense nature of the pack necessitates some serious resolve, a particular attribute of this crew. Yet, coach Tessa Millar was somewhat bemused with a seemingly gross misinterpretation of her didactic instructions. Orders to “be the change you want to see” were manifested where, amidst the backdrop of the Tideway Tunnel, an unnamed crew member resolved to dump the evidence base in favour of improved sewage works. A crewmate commented that the event invoked a strong sense of home, before being inspired to throw his share on the pile. This concatenation of histrionics was an apt induction for coxswain Theo Gibson, who expressed his delight at making his debut for a forward-looking club.
Quintin Head is a landmark for the novice programme. Consolidating a successful run-out at Teddington Head, three novice crews undertook their first Tideway Head. The novice men’s crew valiantly opted to race IM3, finishing eleventh. Quickly learning the relentless nature of these beasts, three seat, and reformed triathlete, Alistair Wallace noted “I’m relieved to have finally found a proper sport”. With two novice women’s eights out, the ongoing commitment to the development of our sport constitutes a wonderful part of this Club’s fabric. They finished eleventh and nineteenth. Four seat Ophelia Millar was spared a break from her exertions with the senior squad, stepping into one of these crews due to a last-minute injury. The depth of these squads is a credit to the tireless efforts of novice coaches Sophie Clarke-Hackston, Cyril Cornet and Kieron Turkington. Recent novice pedigree from ICBC leaves some sizeable boots to fill and we keenly await their sharp progression.
As per tradition, Quintin Head also marks our annual dinner. Underneath the Imperial College Queen's Tower, Dr. Zoe Lee and Dr. Melissa Wilson were the guests of honour, addressing the whole club for the first time since their historic, superb row in Rio, where they secured the silver medal in the Women's 8+ for Team GB. Whilst never in doubt, it is truly heartening to be reminded of the strength and quality of the Club community. One member sorely missed was Andrew Halls, Club Captain 15-16. He knows we all stand firmly behind him as he recovers from a bike accident, with Dominik Howald returning to the Embankment to be the first in line.
This was a good day out. Winter is a tough time, but the squad is fitter, more resilient and more harmonious as a consequence. Results at Quintin matched or bettered the record from last year, when performances at the headline events were fitting of this Club’s heritage. If Quintin results prognosticate a successful head season, it is of little wonder the buzz around the club is mounting.
England, Gibson, Disney, Hubbard, Thom, Ardissino, Long, Snow, Au
Edwards, Fraser, Whiting, Bentley, Ball, Vouilloz, Hines, Walsh, Boother
Knights, Kegler, Thomson, Hambrook, Murray, Tiba, Reid, Harrison, Gibson
Holden Cas, Pujalte, Wallace, Cowley, Markowski, Usynin, Wilson, Simmonds, Grayson
O’Connor, Mason, Kyle, Millar, Olive, Parkinson, Fenies, Grison, Bowden
Chen, Baker, Regnier, Fořtová, Richards, McKay, Koh, Grand, Kennedy