1st & 3rd coast to victory

20 November 2008

After the previous weeks’ nail-biting shenanigans at the Queens’ Ergs and the University IVs, rowing fans were treated to more rowing racing action on Saturday; the Winter Head race, organised by the Cantabrigian Rowing Club, giving senior crews their last chance to fight it out on the water before Fairbairns in early December. The event sees clubs attempting to make the transition to eights with differing degrees of success. Saturday saw most colleges send out their newly formed eights for their first race of the year and there were several surprises in store.

First & Third Trinity took the men’s prize in 8:44, with a comfortable 9-second cushion over a surprisingly strong Jesus crew that impressively recorded the day’s second and third fastest times (among college crews). Caius and Clare were tailing Jesus closely but had been slowed by the stronger winds earlier in the day, while Downing and LMBC, two crews predicted to do well, failed to live up to expectations finishing in 5th and 6th place respectively. All of these colleges are well-placed in the hunt for Fairbairns. Emmanuel, King’s and an unusually strong Sidney crew will also be looking to spring a surprise come December. The Cambridge lightweights were also out in force and their first boat performed impressively, finishing 20 seconds ahead of First and Third. Fitzwilliam, joint winners of the coxed fours division at University Fours chose not to field an eight so it remains to be seen how they compare to the other crews. First and Third would appear to have the advantage at the moment but a lot can happen in the two weeks before Fairbairns and a number of colleges will fancy their chances come the 5th December.

The top four women’s crews from University IVs – Christ’s, Downing, Jesus and First & Third – started just a few places apart in the last race of the day. First and Third’s eight wasn’t moving as well as their four though and Jesus reeled them in and comfortably overtook little over halfway down the course, with Downing closing right up to First and Third’s stern by the finish. Downing’s two fours were clearly working together in their eight as they won by 10 seconds in a fast time of 9:53, with Jesus 10 seconds behind. Christ’s raced the course twice but their fastest time was 19 seconds behind Jesus – they don’t yet look to be out of the Fairbairns race though, unlike First and Third whose 80-second deficit means they may struggle to keep up with the top three.

Several novice boats also took to the river on Saturday to experience racing for the first time; the Clare novice men went quickest finishing a commanding 33 seconds ahead of Queen’s Ergs victors ARU.

The traditionally strong LMBC novices, tipped as favourites for the Fairbairns novice division, will also be disappointed after recording a time more than a minute and a half behind Clare and only two seconds quicker than the ARU women novices, who went one better than their men’s crew, winning their category ahead of the Clare boat. The next test for novices comes in the fun fancy-dress Emma Sprints on Sunday from 10am: head down the river to watch some action!