Over the past month, Imperial College Boat Club has been taking on university and club rivals in some exciting (and often wet and windy) head to head racing on the tideway. In a very English fashion, the weather is a widely talked about topic of this time of year. Unfortunately, the men’s squad’s first fixture of the year against Kingston RC fell foul to a fast-flowing stream causing the river to red-flagged.
The weekend (1st February) following Quintin head gave the opportunity for four Imperial eights to take to tideway. The women’s 1steight took on our neighbours, Thames RC women’s 1st eight. This was a challenging fixture against tough opposition, however the Imperial eight rose to the occasion and put in a strong performance to end the day with some competitive racing which provided good experience for both crews.
At the same time, the men’s 3rd eight raced Marlow RC 1st eight. The first two pieces the IC eight made a strong start and held their pace against the Marlow crew through the bulk of the pieces and had a solid wind towards the end to pull away at the end of the pieces with the aid of some aggressive use of the German language from cox, Felix. The Imperial crew attempted some alternative tactics in the final piece which came into conflict with the aerobic capabilities of the rowers causing a drop off in speed towards the end of the piece (aka they blew epically). Overall the Imperial crew (‘the bus’) were happy with the experience.
Later that afternoon the men’s 1st and 2nd eight took to the Boat Race course to give Goldie A and B a run for their money. The 1st eight took the Surrey station and raced well off the start to build out a slight lead. Capitalising off their advantage they held Goldie to the top of the island. However, Cambridge put in a big effort to move through IC before Chiswick steps. The second piece provided contrasting wind and water conditions where Goldie proved to be stronger, leading Imperial to the end of the piece.
The 2nd eight went out with strong intent against Goldie B, taking an early lead on the Surrey station. They held off Goldie around the Fulham bend and took their advantage around the Hammersmith bend, getting to clear water underneath Hammersmith bridge. They maintained this lead to the Chiswick steps. In the second piece, the Goldie crew were sharp off the start leaving the IC eight to catch up. The Imperial eight held overlap on the Goldie crew until their bend came into full effect under Barnes bridge, which at the time was acting as a wind tunnel indicating some very difficult conditions from there to the finish. It was a good experience for the IC eight and provided some important lessons to be learnt.
A week later Imperial lined up to take on Goldie’s Boat Race counterparts, Isis. Once again, the men’s 1st and 2ndeight took on Isis A and B respectively, with the women’s first eight also joining in the charge, taking on Osiris. Both crews this time faired less well in the coin toss and were given the Middlesex station, providing an opportunity to race a slightly different strategy to the week before.
Once again conditions proved to be very challenging with significant chop on the water, this proved difficult for the men’s 2ndeight as they battled with wind and waves to find a sustainable rhythm in the first piece. The Imperial crew were unable to make significant gains from their slight advantage around the Fulham bend leaving the doors open for Isis to make build a strong lead around the Hammersmith bend which they held to Chiswick steps. Imperial had the advantage going into the 2nd piece, however fatigued from the first piece and once again struggling with the conditions were unable to capitalise on their advantage giving Isis B the win in both pieces.
The 1st eight, also taking the Middlesex station, made a good start against Isis A to gain a slight advantage. However, Isis had a good run of pace around with their advantage around the Hammersmith bend moving through Imperial to claim the first piece. Disappointed with the result the Imperial crew went full beans off the start of the second piece to once again pull away. They were then able to hold this though the difficult conditions under Barnes bridge and on to the finish.
The women’s 1st eight had a dominant performance over Osiris, bettering the results of the men’s crews. Their timed pieces proved to be a very good steppingstone for this crew as they gain confidence and speed coming into their final preparations for BUCs head and WeHORR.
To end the run of fixtures Imperial men’s 2nd and 3rd eight lined up against Oxford, however this time their lighter counterparts. The 2nd eight faced a technical well-drilled crew who didn’t seem overly phased by the once again rough conditions. However, this time the shorter, 5’ pieces IC fared well in some tight racing to come away with a good result.
The third 8 had had a slight change made to it before the pieces; coupled with the very choppy conditions, it made us more determined to hold off Oxford on our water. The start of the first race wasn't as strong as we hoped but we held onto them until about 3/4 of the way through. After a crew chat, the second piece was won after a strong start and committed sprint in the last minute, using our Hammersmith bend. After swapping stations, Oxford had the advantage but beat us by the same verdict. Overall, a good race for preparation for BUCS where we're ready to perform.
After some solid performances and results in these fixtures, IC now looks towards the upcoming BUCs Head, WeHORR and HORR to finish off the season before the whole squad heads to Banyoles for a well-earned bit of warmth for summer training camp.