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  • Writer's pictureDavid Simmonds

Brit Champs 2016 – A New Beginning

With freshers flu floundering, another toga party conquered and just over a months training in the bank it was time for ICBC’s first full club event of the season. Brit Champs is the race that everyone loves to hate – it’s in Nottingham, it’s windy, it’s cold, it’s three 2ks a day, it’s the start of the season. However, the majority of us row to race and although no one admits it, it’s a pretty cool event – all the major clubs & universities present, lining up against World and even Olympic champions and the format allowing for epic battles across the board. After some long early season miles and last season a distant memory, it was time to open up the tank and see where we ended up.

This year has seen our largest intake of freshers since the golden intake of 2010 (no bias) with many of the old guard retiring or migrating to clubs far and wide – From Melbourne Uni to the bunch in red black and white next door. With some new look crews and plenty of Imperial racing virginities to be taken it was time to get cracking.

On Saturday we had two under 23 girls doubles racing, one heavyweight and one lightweight. Xanthe Weatherhead and Nottingham Uni recruit Amy Gibson, who was thrilled to be back at Holme Pierrepont, had the better of the racing and ended up a solid 2nd U23 2x in the TT. Ex-Oxford Lightweight Jo Mieszkowska and Jade “feta lover” Hubbard found it tough going in the TT but came through to win the G final.

Amy and Xanthe in their TT

The rest of the club were greeted on a nippy Sunday morning by a rare Nottingham tailwind, which was great for the 1st 500m but rather less pleasant by the end of the 2k lake, as Toby “Mr Crabs” Heaton found out in true style. Now, compared to Brookes’ NINE(?!?) Men’s 8s we have “rookie numbers”, but two women’s quads and three men’s eights is a pretty good turn out for IC, even Jordan Belfort had to start out somewhere.

Georgia when she realised she had to go back to Caversham on Monday

The Girls kicked off the day with a 3rd and 9th in the TT, much to the delight of coach Stu, although this may have been due to his new Unicorn hat or the arrival of home baked goods from Mrs Hines & Mama G. The top quad struggled with steering in the A final, thinking they were back on the tideway and missed out on a medal. The 2nd Quad had a solid day’s racing and held their position of 9th.

The 1st VIII in action. Tristan at 6, who’d have thought they’d see the day!

The Boy’s eights were spread across the field coming in 9th, 20th and 33rd in the TT and all held these positions come the final standings. The 3rd VIII gained some valuable race experience and have a benchmark to push off for the coming months. The 2nd VIII held off the Cambridge lightweights and Durham’s top VIII in their final, which always makes for good reading. Despite Toby’s best efforts in the last few hundred metres of the B final, the 1st VIII pipped Thames to a 0.01s in the final, although Alex Ball’s chin did act as a sail in the tailwind conditions. Rumour has it that a bet had been placed with Thames, whereby Ben “Judas” Thomas and Chris “Judas” Au would be returned to IC untainted should we take the win. Chris was last sighted going into a dark room with his laptop before the start of the Lightweight Women’s 8s at HOCR and Ben has had multiple job offers as a bouncer at Embargo’s and even a call up from Eddie Jones for the Autumn rugby tests.

Brit Champs provided some great race experience for our noobies and for some new combinations. A good start to a new season and I’m sure there is plenty more to come this season, bring on the hard work in the lead up to Xmas!

Next up: 5-6th November – 1st set of GB trials and the start of the BUCS series with small boats head and indoor championships, consisting of everyone’s favourite, 2k Erg.


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