Women's 1st VIII Lents 2016-17 , Newnham Short Course

This race took place over the 2km stretch of river between the motorway bridge and the railway bridge. We were entered into one of the afternoon divisions, and the weather was surprisingly warm and sunny. The plan for the race was similar to that for Winter head to head, but was to hold a good rhythm at rate 32 throughout the race rather than rate 30. We had been working, prior to the race, on separation through the drive and a strong hips-through movement to increase the power through the drive.

We executed a rolling start under the railway bridge and settled to a rhythm at rate 32 which we were pleased to find we could hold for longer than a few strokes and in fact kept that rate up throughout the race. Ahead of us were Caius W1 and we gained on them in the first few minutes, rowing a strong race round first post corner and grassy. A call for a middle-4 push as we went past the plough prompted a surge in boat speed and a re-establishment of the rhythm at the point where we traditionally slow down in head races. There was a small wobble as turned onto the reach, but we quickly corrected this and rowed well and strong down the reach. As we came towards the finishing line we wound the rate up a couple of pips, and crossed under the railway bridge at rate 34, finishing third in a time of 00:08:03, and 1 s faster than Caius W1.

Overall the rowing was good for this stage in term, and there was a good focus on correcting individual rowing faults without Emily having to call them. We now need to work on not having the occasional wobble when that focus slips.

As we had 2 subs, one of which was our coach, Kate, we were sadly racing time only. However it was very useful to get the race experience at higher rate, and was a valuable lesson in how well we can row when there is a well-established rhythm with good separation. It was a little galling to finish behind Jesus W2, but pleasing to beat several traditionally strong women’s crews, including Caius.

Women's 1st VIII Lents 2016-17 , Pembroke Regatta
Caius W1, Churchill W1, HHLCBC W1
Won, Won - 2 lengths, lost - 1 length

We had the rare enjoyment of racing regatta-style on the cam on Saturday. The race is a 1 kilometer course, starting from the stumps at the top of the reach, and finishing at Peter’s posts at Chesterton. The weather on the day started with a strong headwind on the reach as we lined up on the meadow side against Caius W1 for our first race. We beat them by 1 second in Newnham regatta 2 weeks previously so we were excited to see how the race would end. Caius had a slightly more explosive start than us, but we held them and pulled it back before they moved into their advantage corner. We held them while they had an advantage, and then pushed back at their push on the and prepared for our advantage corner under the railway bridge. We started to make our move, but unfortunately their cox steered in too close on , causing a blade clash, and our 5 seat to crab. We held it up and recovered the crab as Caius pulled away, and then wound up again for a strong race to the finish line, closing the gap to ½ length by the finish line. Fortunately for us, the umpires upheld our complaint, and disqualified Caius so we were through to the next round. Whilst nice to qualify, we were slightly disappointed not to see how we could have responded to Caius in the second half of the race.

Our second-round race was against Churchill W1. We were again racing on the meadow side, and executed a solid start, though one slightly less powerful than our on against Caius. Fortunately this did not matter, as we pulled away from Churchill from the first stroke, pulling away seat-by-seat as the Emily called us past. Within about 300m we were half a length ahead, when they caught a crab. Taking advantage of their loss of motion, we pulled away strongly at pace to the railway bridge, and then settled down more comfortably to a more comfortable pace at rate 31 to conserve energy for the next race. They pulled back on us a bit, by the finish line, but we crossed the line 2 lengths ahead.

In the semi-finals we then faced HHLCBC, a somewhat more unknown quantity than either of our previous opponents. We executed a good start for us, but they had a considerably more powerful first few strokes and pulled their lead out to half a length of the start, and ¾ of a length by the time that both crews had reached their cruising speed. We had similar race speeds and responded to their pushes well, pulling back at them when they pulled away. We raced our strongest race of the day fighting valiantly to the line, but sadly they crossed the line 1 length ahead of us.

Women's 1st VIII Lents 2016-17 , Winter Head to Head
8+, ST: Lents 1st Div, Female -
00:16:35.8 (00:07:51.3, 00:08:44.5)

This was our first race of the term Lent’s W1 crew, including two rowers who have just made the transition from NW1 to W1. The aim for the race was to find a good solid rhythm at about rate 30 and to effectively put the power through the drive on every stroke. The race consisted of two 2 km legs, from the railway bridge to the motorway bridge and back again.

With a rolling start towards the railway bridge, we had time to settle onto our race pace of rate 30 as the stopwatch began for the first leg. Unfortunately we didn’t succeed in achieving the rhythm we were aiming for from the get go. This was in part due to a Jesus men’s IV+, which had set of uncomfortably close behind, forcing us off the racing line as we approached the first corner. With that distraction out of the way, we began to move as a unit, rapidly closing in on Pembroke W1. This presented us with our second challenge, sweeping around the outside on grassy corner, pulling away into some clear water, finishing the first leg and recording a promising time.

After spinning and marshalling again we set off for the second leg, with Pembroke chasing us this time. The start for this race was much more controlled and we settled more quickly into a strong rhythm which we maintained well. We managed to hold it onto the reach despite hitting a headwind, and wound up higher getting to rate 32 by the finish line, whilst maintaining a good rhythm. We finished 6th and came back having achieved what we set out to do in the race: row a good solid rhythm at rate 30 in both races.

Women's 1st VIII Lents 2016-17 , Lent Bumps , Day 3
Got bumped
Clare W1

The race plan for today was to go off hard and hold on, having seen Clare bump Emma yesterday, and having heard Kate’s praise for their finishes. We were also chasing Newnham again today after rowing over behind them yesterday.

Following the plan we wound aggressively up to rate 40 in the start, and despite the usual rhythm call from Emily stayed up at rate 38 down first post reach. Despite the high rate we rowed well with sharper catches than yesterday. We held it round first post corner and fought on through Clare’s first whistles, staying strong and not letting them put us off. The rate settled down slightly to rate 35, and we hit our stride. We took a tight line around grassy corner and stayed on station with Newnham but allowed Clare to get to half a length behind us. However we didn’t let them put us off, and executed our reset move, re-establishing the rhythm, and followed it up with a middle four push past the plough. They got their bows on the inside of us as we pushed hard and we were finally bumped as we turned the corner onto the reach. Whilst disappointed with the result we were pleased with our row, our attack, and our determination which we need to hold for tomorrow’s race.

Women's 1st VIII Lents 2016-17 , Lent Bumps , Day 4
Rowed over

The race plan for today was to row hard to the plough, put Emma behind us and then row our race to the finish line. We had a slightly shaky row up as our sub adjusted to the rate 40 starts we have been doing, but when we span at the top, we decided that no way were we being bumped by the ballet boat. With this determination we pushed off, and when the gun went we went out with a flying start, wound up to rate 40, and then rhythmed to rate 36. We were slightly tense, and wobbled a bit round first post corner but then settled down as Emily called our gut. There were single whistles coming from behind us but that might have been Emma or that might have been FaT. Out rowing was a little scrappy but still fast. It cleaned up as we did out reset move down past the Plough and middle four lifted wit again. With that move we moved to shut the door behind us and move it. Strokeside pulled us round onto the reach, and we reset again with an up 2 on the rate when Emma got bumped behind us. By this point we were 3 lengths ahead of them anyway. As we came past the apex of the reach, Kate called from the bank for us to reset and sit tall into the finish. We got 4 feet extra cover out of every stroke and focused on making our row good, first to the railway bridge, then past the waiting men’s boats and then in the last 250m to the top finish where we wound down well satisfied with our race. We executed a tough and hard start like yesterday, but then didn’t blow and carried on to row a strong race – the best one of term and at the right time. Same tactics for tomorrow, but we are expecting FaT to provide more pressure from behind.

Women's 1st VIII Lents 2016-17 , Lent Bumps , Day 5
Got bumped
FaT W1

We were slightly nervy on the row up for the last day of bumps. The race could go either way and the plan was the same as the last couple of days: go off hard to the plough and then reassess. After a slightly nervous row up, we span, settled down and focused ready for the gun. When we pushed off, and the gun went we executed a good start, settled down a bit more than the day before and rowed well round first post corner. Emily called us to settle better down the gut, and we were still on station with FaT behind and Newnham ahead. We pushed a good hard push round grassy corner as FaT started to get one whistle behind us, and reset, with a hard middle-4 push staying focussed despite the crowds at the plough. We braced again for wind as we came onto the reach and fought hard to maintain distance ahead of FaT, responding well when Emily called an up-2 on the rate when they came up to half a length behind us. Battling on down the reach we held them until the railway bridge, but sadly in the end they bumped us as we came under the bridge.