Cambridge Winter Head is the first chance the squad has to run ranked VIII’s for the first time each season and is used to assess potential crews for the Fairbairn Cup. This year the event fell just a week after the Fours Head of the River Race giving less preparation time than usual.
The 1st VIII on First Post Reach
The 2nd VIII performed strongly rowing a mature race to win their category (Intermediate 2) comfortably, despite being impeded and unsettled by a crew that crashed just ahead of them on the course. The 1st VIII were unfortunate in two of their members falling ill, necessitating rowing with a sub on the day. After a disappointing start, the second half of the race picked up and we finished 2nd overall, just 3 seconds behind the fastest crew.
CULRC had their best ever row in the Fairbairn Cup. They covered the course in a very quick 13.29 and were 15 secs off the two matched CUBC Trial Eights which finished within 1 second of each other.
The Fairbairn Cup is one of the largest races that the CULRC races in during the Michaelmas Term occurring just after the end of full term. It presents an excellent opportunity to produce a strong performance in front of home crowds on the Cam and there is always much appreciated support from the banks.
The 1st VIII attacked the start hard, going off at 44 strokes a minute before settling out to our race rhythm at around 36/37. Our aim was to attack the first half of the race, learning from our mistake in the Winter Head. The crew achieved this well and continued to race strongly to the finish holding onto the technical changes that have been implemented over the term.
The 1st VIII just after Chesterton foot bridge
The 2nd VIII settled into a steady rhythm at 35 strokes a minute, also putting the emphasis on attacking the first half of the race with a strong gutsy tempo. They continued the excellent improvements that they had shown in training, drawing off their tenacious crew dynamic, to give a cohesive performance despite a last minute crew change. This enabled them to completely ‘empty the tanks’ down the last part of the course finishing in a very respectable time of 14:03.
The 2nd VIII just after Chesterton foot bridge
This year continues the trend of recent years of stretching further ahead of the colleges. The 2nd VIII finished just 1 second behind the fastest college crew (Queens’), indicating the great strength and depth in the squad this year too. Full results can be found here.
The squad will now split into matched crews in preparation for the Trial Eights race at Henley on Weds 16th Dec.
The 2009 CULRC Trial VIII’s Race produced a hard fought battle between the two crews “Maverick” and “Iceman”. Just like in Top Gun, the rivalry between the crews was fierce in training with each crew seeking to out-do the other in practice pieces. Also like the film, Iceman came out the victor, winning the race by a margin of 1 length.
The day of the race (Weds 16th December) was a cold snowy winters day, but mercifully with little wind. It was Maverick on the Berkshire station that took the initial advantage sprinting out of the blocks before settling at 38 strokes a minute. Gradually over the first 500m they built a half length lead over Iceman who had settled to 36 on Bucks. Leading into the 1km mark, Iceman pegged Maverick’s lead, maintaining the margin as Iceman’s cox squeezed both crews gently towards the Berkshire station. With 600m to go and Maverick still half a length up, Iceman made a move pushing the rate up into the mid-low 40s and swiftly gaining water on the other crew. This sparked the final sprint for the line and Iceman extended their new found lead out to 1 length by the finish in a time of 5:41.
The contest has given the squad the shared experience of match racing on the Henley reach that will be essential to us at the Henley Boat Races when we race Oxford on Sunday 28th March.
It was a pleasure to see so many of the friends and families of CULRC out on the banks supporting both crews on the day. I hope you enjoyed the experience and look forward to seeing you in March. I would also like to thank Robert Treharne Jones and Leander Club for use of the launches and Mike Williams for umpiring the race.
The squad will now enjoy a short break over the holidays before reconvening to fly out to training camp at Soustons near Biarritz, France on the 6th of January.