You are browsing the archive for 2008 June.

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Henley Qualifying

June 27, 2008 in Captain's Blog

Today saw the qualifying time trial for the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. A new line up temporarily saw a second Exeter man in the “Balexeter” composite. After yet more prerace antics the crew found their way to the start. Balliol raced second, chasing a solitary school boy crew from Abingdon, gaining steadily all the way down the Henley course. After an anxious wait the boys were informed that their season wasn’t over; no easy feat considering the number and quality of other crews in the event, and the dying wind conditions for those lucky enough to be positioned last alphabetically, and hence racing last. Perhaps the crew should be renamed to Exelliol?

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Registration Emails

June 26, 2008 in Web Officer's Blog

I think I’ve solved the email problem, although I get two sent to me all the time now.

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Collapsing Menu

June 26, 2008 in Web Officer's Blog

In my infinite wisdom I made the page menu collapsable – go me!

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Users

June 25, 2008 in Web Officer's Blog

I have allowed registration of users although I don’t know how well its going to work since registration emails don’t seem to get through to many people. If people would like to register please try; if you don’t receive an email giving you a password send me an email and I’ll assign a default which you can then use to login for the first time.

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Header

June 25, 2008 in Web Officer's Blog

At the request of a certain former web officer, I removed the offensive blue-red gradient in the title bar in favour of something more subtle. I plan to make the whole site look much more “Balliol” when I get the chance.

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Marlow Win

June 25, 2008 in Captain's Blog

Since winning the Summer VIIIs Headship, Balliol’s men have continued to train hard and were rewarded this weekend with a win in the Senior 3 category at Marlow International Regatta held at Dorney Lake. Two of the Headship crew have retired for the season, the remaining seven have been joined by former Captain Hunter Harris and an experienced lightweight oarsman from Exeter college, Will Cannestaro. Windy conditions proved challenging even for Balliol’s expert cox, Zhan Su. Balliol’s inexperience at multilane racing showed whilst attempting to attach themselves to the stake boat. However, bumps racing has clearly given the crew a lightening fast start and they were up at the 500m mark. By the 1000m King’s School Chester had pulled out a 1/4 length lead but it proved not to be enough with Balliol stamping their authority and experience on the race in the final 600m, finishing 3/4 length clear of the field.

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Head of the River

June 24, 2008 in John Blacker Society

Nikola Čašule (2005)

Nikola

With lungs burning and punished legs screaming for relief, the only thing more welcome on the afternoon of May 24th than the sound of the finishing post was the knowledge that we, Balliol men, were Head of the River once more.

The moments following Saturday’s race are a blur. Collapsed in the boat, I could see our coxswain standing in his seat, roaring words of victory; our coach jumping on the spot in elation, a flip-flop in each hand, hastily removed during his run along the boat house island; and in the distance, past blue turtles on Oriel backs, the heaving mass of the island, silent witness to hundreds such victories, cheering now for Balliol.

Standing next to our boat at Wallingford at the beginning of Trinity term, few of us imagined that we’d be where we are now. Balliol are routinely underrated in the world of Oxford rowing, and all of the river chat, as well as the infamous ‘Talkrowing.co.uk’, focussed on whether Pembroke could knock Magdalen off the top spot and how much damage the Christ Church ‘gunboat’, bristling with OUBC talent, would inflict upon the crews in its path. But, guided by the steady hand of our coach, Colin Williamson, we gradually got faster. Some strong performances at regional regattas were a boost to our confidence, and as we approached Eights week, there was a cautious optimism building in the boat.

Come Wednesday of Eights, we were all pretty nervous. We took a warm up run to our customary tree by the Cherwell, and stood facing each other, our expressions a mixture of fear and determination. Stroke looked across the meadow; hulking 5 cracked a joke about crabs; 6, as he would each day, delivered a short but effective pep talk; 2 kicked the dirt. And we were ready.

Wednesday’s bump was an unexpected gift. We gained on Pembroke throughout the first minute, but they suffered a rudder failure and swerved into the bank, tempering our joy: were we really fast enough, or was this a lucky break? On Thursday, we proved that we were. After a fast start sequence, we gained on Magdalen into the gut. The bellowing of ‘shut the door’ by our coach (our call to go for the bump) mingled with the cheers from the bank, as our bows made contact. Yet again however, our joy was less than total: we were now Head of the River, but while we knew that we could row over in front of Magdalen the next day, they would likely be caught by Oriel, who had proved to be one of the fastest crews on the river. And so it was.

As we gathered on Saturday, in the confines of our boat house replete with blades and photos of men long gone, the tension hung heavy. Many old BCBC members had come to show their support. John Blacker, a member of the 1952 Balliol crew that went Head of the River, gave us a short, sharp piece of advice: ‘When they’re getting close, stay long and row hard.’ A couple of us smiled at the hint of the double entendre; the rest continued to stare out into space, each in his own world of hopes and fears. Our 3 man had fixed his gaze on a point on the floor, knowing what awaited us.

Pushing off from the raft, we were cheered by the thousands that had gathered to watch. Oriel’s controversial substitution earlier in the week had earned the ire of the island, and we knew that most of the people on the banks of the Isis were behind Balliol. We paddled to the start and manoeuvred onto the bung line. As the one minute gun went off, bow pair tapped up to pull the line taut, but overshot and the blue cord came out of our coxswain’s hand. If we couldn’t reattach, we would lose before taking a stroke. Stern pair backed the boat down. 30 seconds to go. Our cox reached for the rope offered again by Steve Gaisford, our boatman, and missed. 20 seconds. He reached again and grabbed hold. 15 seconds. More gingerly, bow pair tapped again. With mere seconds to go, and the rope still visibly slack in the water, we had no choice but to square up and hope that those precious two feet would not cost us the headship.

The shot of the starting gun shattered the still silence, replaced by the cacophony of blades, coxes’ shouts and supporters’ screams. Rating at 46 strokes per minute under Donnington bridge, we started strong, but Oriel closed through the gut and were half a length off outside Longbridges. As our cox called us to push across the stream, we moved, holding them off to a canvas. I could see their bows inching closer, pressed along by Olympic talent, but was secure in the absolute trust that had developed amongst our crew. We would defend, or pass out with the effort.

Nearing Boathouse island, the quiet of the Green Bank gave way to a wall of noise that overwhelmed everything else. Oriel had overlap on our stern, and now our cox came into his own. Drifting across the river towards the island, he denied them the bump. Oriel’s cox, realising too late what was happening, tried to swipe our stern and missed. I could see the turtles on the back of their blades, and only one thought was in my mind. No. You. Don’t. We maintained our rhythm and held our nerve. Oriel tried to swipe again, this time from the other side. We pushed in response, every muscle on fire, begging for relief, and they missed by inches. Our cox thundered: ‘We’re moving boys, give them everything you’ve got!’

And as we passed the island, a fierce determination overtook our boat, fed by the knowledge that in 200m we had the chance to stand on the shoulders of the Balliol oarsmen who had carried us to this place through years past, buoyed by every stroke they took in the months and years of training, and hold on. The turtles got a little smaller. And with a final thud of our stroke in unison we crossed the line.

The euphoria on the island was incredible. Screams. Embraces. Champagne and sweat soaking blue and red lycra. We carried a boat back to college: the Don Cadle, named after one of the 1950s generation of Balliol oarsmen who were last here. And as we cheered and sang and took photos in the front quad of college, a man closer to the end than the beginning wept tears of joy.

On that sunny afternoon in May, in a small place in the world, dear to many, the ten of us made history. It is a day we will never forget.

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Year Review

June 24, 2008 in John Blacker Society

1 Headship crew, 41 bumps, 6 sets of blades, 4 sets of tankards, 2 medals.

This year has been a successful one for Balliol College Boat Club. Michalemas started with an impressive intake of 52 novices, forming 3 men’s and 3 women’s crews. The weather appeared to be on our side for most of Michaelmas, allowing the novices to train properly in preparation for Christ Church regatta. This included entry into Nephthys head and regatta, where the Women’s novice A crew managed to race all the way into the semi finals and the Men’s B into the quarter finals. Unfortunately, at the last minute, the weather turned against us, and once again, Christ Church Regattawas cancelled. However, encouraged, the majority of novices returned in Hilary, for another chance to prove what they had trained for.

In the meanwhile, the seniors continued their training to maintain the hard work put in the previous years. The women decided to challenge themselves, entering two fours into the New College Indoor Regatta. The A team, went on to win by an impressive margin, with the B’s putting in a great effort. The strength of Balliol was supported by their skill when they won their division in Nephthys Regatta.

Hilary term saw the usual increase in erg based training, as river levels hit some impressive highs. However, this did not seem to affect the Boat Club, as come Torpids we went out in force. The first two days saw M1 bumping University and St John’s, and entering the first division for the first time in twenty yearsby bumping LMH. In the next two days, they climbed a further 4 places, to finish 8th in top division. M2 started strong, bumping Oriel II and Hertford II. Although Hertford II managed to bump back the following day, M2 went out on the last day to gain their revenge, and successfully sent Hertford back down. The women had a fantastic week, with all 3 crews winning blades. Both W2 and W3 went up a division. W3 bumped Brasenose II, Linacre II, Jesus II, Trinity II and Exeter II, to end 7th in 4th division, and W2 bumped Linacre II, St Anne’s II, Queens II, Wadham II and Pembroke II, to reside 12th in 3rd Division. W1 secured the hat-trick of women’s blades by bumping Wolfson, St Hugh’s, Exeter and Hertford and are now placed 2nd in the 2nd Division.

With good weather and a determination to keep up the good work, the crews hit the water hard in Trinity. For M1, the pressure was mounting, with the race for the Headship as competitive as ever this year.. The women were determined to keep their unbeaten record. In preparation for Eights week, M1, M2, W1 and W2 attended Bedford regatta. M1 won the Senior 3 division, and W1 won S4 for the second year in a row. With the tankards resting on our shelves, we entered Summer Eights with quiet confidence. A confidence well deserved.

W3 got drawn bottom of the 6th division, and with no where to go but up, they were determined to do so. The first two days saw them row over, that by the time the third day came, they took that step up and bumped Hertford V. W2 were the blade winning crew who bumped Osler-Green II, Queens II, New II and Keble II. They currently reside top of division V, with their sights set on entering the fixed divisions next year. W1 started the competition with a slight lack of luck, where they were offered a technical row over following carnage in the gut. However, the following three days allowed them to prove their skill. Bumping Hertford and Somerville, they entered the top half of the top division, and on the last day, they went out with Gordouli blades and bumped Pembroke.

The men’s divisions continued to provide suspense. Despite facing troubles with rudders, banks and klaxons, M3 managed to gain a bump on Somerville II. M2 started the week as sandwich boat, entering the 4th division in style with an over bump on Osler-Green. They went on to bump Hertford II and Worcester II, and are currently 8th in 4th division.

M1 took the week in style. Starting 3rd in top division, Headship was in their reach. And it only got closer. With quick bumps on Pembroke and Magdalen, M1 moved up to Head on Thursday evening. Friday saw them row over in their stride. However, Saturday held the best rowing seen all week. With Oriel on their tails, the race started. As they raced past Boathouse Island, they had the support of the entire crowd, who watched in suspense as they held of and succeeded in twice pushing away from the overlapping Oriel crew. Skillful coxing and powerful determination allowed M1 to become the first Balliol Headship crew in 52 years. This momentous occasion was celebrated by all present, including members of the glorious 50’s crews. It was a well earned and fitting culmination to a successful year for the boat club.

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John Blacker Society

June 24, 2008 in John Blacker Society

The newly formed John Blacker Society welcomes old members of BCBC. Through the society we hope to improve contact between the current members and those who have left to join the real world. We aim to produce a bi-termly newsletter, with all the latest news on the crews, training and results. A day will also be dedicated to the society, where you will all be invited to join us at the boathouse, to reawaken those muscles (and memories) by getting back in the boat, before spending the evening having dinner in hall in true BCBC style.

We would like to encourage you to sign up, where you can choose to receive the newsletters, and receive the invitation to all the events we will be holding. We are also forming an archive of crew lists, which you are highly encouraged to contribute towards, by remembering those who you rowed with.

We hope to see you at an event soon.

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New Website

June 24, 2008 in Web Officer's Blog

Since my supervisor was away from work today I started work on creating the new Balliol College Boat Club website. Since I’m lazy and not a full time web developer I decided to use WordPress for the website. Hopefully WordPress should allow enough flexibility to do whatever we want to do on the site.