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Women’s Headship retained!

June 6, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Summer VIIIs 2011

At the end of an exhausting and exhilarating week, Balliol Women remain Head of the River.

As W1 arrived at the boathouse on a sunny Saturday afternoon there was an overwhelming sense of camaraderie in the air.  Leading up to this hour motivational ‘we CAN do this’ emails had been flying around left, right, and centre, and the entire JCR had been instructed to go down to the river to cheer on what was to be a day to remember.

Poker faces were on. We knew that Pembroke were good – as they had proved every day previously, but we also knew the power, determination, and ambition within our (brand new!) boat. Mentality was key; apart from our last-minute sub who has now rowed more times at the head of the river than she has had training sessions this year (hats off to her!) every single girl in that boat had poured their soul into training for this – a term for some, a year for others, a row across the Atlantic for one!

The boat was put in as gates were checked and rechecked, riggers tightened, every inch of Happy II gone over to make this possible. As the girls got in smiles in awesome anticipation abound.  And they were off…

Down at bung line 1 awaited an old member who rowed in Balliol’s first ever women’s eight, very much in the here and now. Off went the cannon and the battle began!

By the start of Boathouse Island Pembroke was making its move. Not put-off our eight girls held their nerve as Pembroke lost theirs to catch a boat-stopping crab! And we were home and dry… Until the appeal came.

A tense 36 hours followed (arguably far more tense than the actual race!) which eventually lead to the SUs concluding that there was no bump.  We had Headship.

All that is left to be said is how proud anyone who has been associated with this boat club has felt over the entire week. It was an awe-inspiring task and the challenge was risen to with full gusto. This is one Headship crew to be proud of – on and off the water.

Massive thanks to be given to Nick Bevan, Jo Williamson, Abs Harrison, Brianna Maclean and Lynn Hutchings for making this crew what it is. In True Blue style, as Beth said this time last year “be strengthened by the knowledge that there are nine rowers in your boat”. We did not have nine rowers in our boat – our total was more like fifteen. No wonder they went so damn fast!!


Women’s Headship

June 6, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Summer VIIIs 2011

Many of you will have heard about the controversy over the result of Women’s Division 1 on Saturday. Pembroke appealed to the race committee that they had bumped Balliol shortly before their 3 girl caught a crab and consequently stopped their boat pretty much dead. Yesterday evening, the race committee decided on the balance of probabilities that Pembroke did in fact bump Balliol. However, we quickly appealed to the Senior Umpires in an attempt to overturn this decision. Please see below a statement issued by the Senior Umpires following our appeal:

“The senior umpires spoke to race committee who confirmed that they were not certain a bump had occurred and that the bump was awarded to Pembroke on the basis of the balance of probabilities. The SUs decided that the race committee has therefore acted incorrectly in their application of B10, going against the established custom and practice of the preceding four days and of previous years, of awarding bumps only when it is certain that they have occurred, primarily based upon a positive report of a bump from one or more umpires in accordance with the terms of B10.1. The SUs are therefore overturning the decision to uphold the Pembroke appeal and bumps for Women’s Division 1 stand as originally announced.

Senior Umpires Lynch Mason, Lenny Martin and Laura Dance were adamant that there was no conflict of interest from Rachel Quarrell being involved since her connection with Balliol is academic and not with the boat club.”

Eights day three!

June 3, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Summer VIIIs 2011

Wow W1 – you now have a task on your hands!

Today our first women’s eight had a much easier time of it – keeping their distance well-ahead of Wadham until Pembroke stormed upon Wadham in the gut. This, much like Wednesday, allowed our girls to drop the rate and have a relaxed paddle home.  But, and the big but, this means that Pembroke are chasing us tomorrow, and they are fast. The question is: faster than Balliol? This is where every single minute of pain in the gym and on the water training pays off. This is the final test. Can they stay Head? I say they can.

W2 also had a more successful day, comfortably rowing over at the top of Division V and then again rowing over at the bottom of  Division IV. Tomorrow they have to do the same again, this time chasing St.Catz in Div IV who are not so unbeatable…

All eyes on W1 going into the final day of Summer Eights 2011.

M1 – Summer Eights 2011 (Day 1 and 2)

June 3, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Summer VIIIs 2011

Apologies for my long absence from this blog – hopefully I can rectify this to some degree in the days to come!

M1, fresh from a successful training camp in Earith in Cambridgeshire, returned to the Abingdon stretch for four weeks of intensive training in preparation for Eights 2011. Despite losing two members of the Torpid, the boat was picking up speed at an impressive rate. We travelled to Dorney Lake for Wallingford Regatta and despite our start suffering in the strong winds, placed a solid third in our heat. For most of the crew, this was a first experience of the excitement of multilane racing and although deteriorating conditions prevented us from racing again in the afternoon, everyone came away satisfied with our performance but aware that we still had a long way to go.

Four and a half weeks later, we sat on the 7th bungline, ready to begin our Eights campaign. The highly rated Wolfson M1 were chasing us and despite predictions they would take us inside a hundred metres, we picked up a length of clear water on them off the start. Through the gut and along greenbank, we sprinted to catch St Catherine’s up ahead, knowing that Wolfson’s speed in the latter half could well give them an advantage. Controversy ensued as Catz (despite eyewitnesses that we bumped them) refused to concede and Wolfson bumped us across from boathouse island. We appealed, claiming contact on the Catz stern but it was overruled as the umpires could not tell either way and the Catz cox pleaded ignorance. Bad sportsmanship or genuine unawareness? It was impossible to tell. But Balliol will in future be leading the campaign for ‘goal-line technology’ in bumps racing!

24 hours later, we put in a very solid row over. The pace was relaxed and we could respond easily to whatever Magdalene behind us could muster. Up ahead, Wolfson caught Catz giving us another shot at them tomorrow.

To be continued…

Eights day two

June 3, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Summer VIIIs 2011

And what a tense day it was!

W1 had Wadham chasing them, a crew who caught Hall yesterday and who over-rated Balliol for the most part of the race today. Our girls managed to keep their cool and with some classy coxing (S Wan), evaded being caught to defend Headship for one more day! High hopes for tomorrow now…

W2 put in a good performance but were being chased by Univ who  were simply faster,  so were caught by Donney Bridge.  Day three means they are now fighting to stay in fixed divisions!

Third time lucky, right?


Eights day one

June 2, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Summer VIIIs 2011

An equally infuriating and pleasing day for the girls!

W2 were chasing LMH and had overlap in the gut but then unfortunately came a crab, to detrimental effect. 5 more strokes and they would have had it! But they recovered well and gained on them for the rest of the race, – day two should bring them down!

W1 had a very good row – keeping their distance well ahead of Hall. Wadham caught Hall just before boathouse island, allowing Balliol to relax, dropping their rate to 32 and neatly paddling in to stay head.

All in anticipation for day two!