Last weekend 35 women (& Theo) pulled their black blue and silver colours on for the biggest head race of the season, WeHORR 2017.
With our women’s first eight leading off the race for the second year in a row, the coaches decided to serve up a crew of rising talent accompanied by resident club virtuosos; Dr Melanie Wilson took time out from polishing her Olympic silverware, and Georgia Francis turned down her GB cycling getaway to get some proper training and racing back on the tideway.
Coach Brendan Gliddon generated a crew line-up destined to silence twitter pundits with Shorten Long in the stern setting up a delightfully punny yet devastating IC rhythm. Appropriated in the 6 seat Dr. Wilson administered the prescribed dose of sass needed for any great British eight to finish on the podium, with her apprentice Georgia Francis following close behind, both during the race and the coming years. In the engine room, watt merchants Issy Powell and Meghann Jackson found themselves fully devoted to the black, blue and silver mandate; they were backed by resident Italian Mardissino at 2 and appropriately followed-in by Jo Thom in bow seat. To garnish this formidable line-up Brendan chose the loudest female voice in IC history – Dr Ellie Smith to take control of the rudder.
The 1st VIII started proceedings with the style and panache epitomised by the classic tartan leggings, at a blistering rate of 34. Unable to tame Rebecca’s unrelenting rhythm Ellie called for catches to be executed with precision and pizzazz. And deliver they did – top 3 at WEHORR for the third consecutive year.
Meanwhile a fully student 2nd VIII proved the quality and depth of the women’s squad this year, achieving a strong 22nd place finish.
In a somewhat controversial move coach Dave Loveday decided to test the powers of rowing physics by stacking stroke side with four lightweights. He did however not diverge from tradition in putting Tristan’s female equivalent, Pippa England, in the six seat. As unusual as they may seem Dave’s plans seem to have worked.
Learning lessons from the previous weekend at Hammersmith Head, the crew made sure that any and all bursts were completed well before the start of the marshalling area. With a strong start to the race, and no red boys being hit or crabs being caught, the girls ploughed on to the sweet rhythm of minty-green’s (CUWLBC) alumni RecoveryRae Snow. She was backed up by ICBC’s ‘most ill’ Amy Gibson and of course the absolutely stacked Pippa England, (so stacked someone named a boat after her). The engine room was occupied by Ellie Nudist-Disney-Talkie, Jade Chuppa-Chupps Chubbard and Kathryn ‘I noviced at UL’ Barnhill. Finishing off the boat was golden girl Yewanta Mieszklgjfdhs, who – in case anyone missed it – studies law, and Heather Walker eager to get to the finish line as fast as possible to celebrate her belated birthday. The whole ensemble was conducted by former Durhamite and ICBC’s best dancer Theo Gibson.
Approaching the headwind post-Hammersmith bridge the girls realized that perhaps an extra 20kgs may have been useful to successfully tackle the challenging conditions. The home straight on the other hand, surpassed Dave’s expectations of ‘it doesn’t have to be clean just row as hard as you can’ so that even the resident Pole in the boat couldn’t help clean up the mess.
For the two novice VIIIs perhaps the biggest achievement of the day was having all 18 of them turn up to the start line. After a long wait marshalling both the women’s novice A and B were determined and ready for the tideway challenge. The A boat stayed strong, kept the rate up and powered through despite the regular showers served by the stroke seat onto her crewmates to finish in a strong position. Their respectable time has given them a base to work with new coach: ‘let’s forget about last weekend and move on’ Lloyd. The B crew set off equally strong (after weeks of broken training and missed alarms) for the first time together giving a commendable performance overcoming some collisions. All in all, it was a great race to push the novice girls to train hard and aim for medals at BUCS regatta.
Although initially disheartened that the head season was over: an expensive Sainsbury’s trip, light-hearted bonding games, the works of the resident domestic goddess and a visit from a Christian rapper helped to swiftly lift the mood. As expected the night was completed with a trip to Putney’s finest institutions; for as RecoveRae will confirm – recovery is key!
Whilst the women’s squads were working hard tearing up home stretch the men’s first 8 were preparing for HORR by going bananas in Amsterdam. Race report from the Heineken Cup to follow.
Words by Nat & Jowita