Hammersmith Head 2011: Press Officer Tom "Lycra" Carpenter reports on the Men's Novice Squadron Performance
After a disappointing display at BUCS the Novice Squad were out with something to prove. With the IC Putney Novice Head World Championship already in the bag a victory between Chiswick and Hammersmith was all that was left to achieve complete novice domination on home turf.
The "mere beginners" were joined by seven of the finest seniors still to be clinging to their novice status’ who, together with renowned French man Xavier ‘pension’ Lorrain, made up Imperial College A (Cox: Jess Johnson/ Paul Jones/Ben Joakim/Tom Shaw/Finlay McPhail/Xavier Lorrain/Matt Taylor/Tim Barr/Tim Duncan). Due to a mix up in the entry the crew would be racing IM3 and not joining Imperial B in the Novice category. So with the French power engine promoted to IM3 and the tall, scraggly and allegedly great rower Tom ‘Blue Shirt’ McArdle out for emotional weakness (or illness as its otherwise known) Imperial Collage B brought Hugh ‘Facial’ O’Connell out of retirement to keep the hopes of a nation alive (Cox: Kieron Turkington /Robbie Hernandez/Tom Carpenter/Tommy Hirst/Reuben Hill/Alex Quigley/Matthieu Burnand-Galpin/Hugh O’Connell/Will Blyth).
Both crews paddled up to the start without a hitch to endure the usual hour wait for permission to race. The necessary prerace demoralising of all other boats ensued and it was soon established that none of the surrounding boats stood a chance of beating the might of ICBC. Eventually Imperial A were given the go ahead to turn and were congratulated on their excellent ability to do so without colliding with anything. The calls of “well done cox” were considered a little patronising seeing the inanity of the task but, considering the lack of steering intelligence by other crews, was probably justified (Not everyone is IC material...). With the majority of Imperial B being young innocent freshers who are not used to their mothers not being present to advise them when to “use the facilities”, certain member(s) of the crew decided that their bladder(s) could not hold much longer and relieving themselves over the side of the boat became the only viable option. Thankfully, the dignity of the proud ICBC name (together with Alex ‘crabz’ Quigley’s) was kept intact as marshals began ordering crews to “take your kit off” which didn't need repeating.
With a mix of abilities and variety of average crew ages competing, both crews were met with slow boats ahead of them. Imperial A overtook the somewhat more mature crew from Sons of Thames B, setting a time of 11:29.1, making up 28 places to finish 27th overall and 6th in their category. Meanwhile, Imperial B were feeling the pain of an inexperienced crew loosing valuable time to the real competition ahead in the final 1000m, despite overtaking the slow moving Twickenham RC B. The crew still set a respectable time of 11:55.6 making up 29 places to finish 58th overall and 7th in the Nov8+ category. Both crews were proud of what had been achieved but know that the real test of HORR and the summer regatta season was still to come.
Tom ‘Lycra’ Carpenter