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Finish line in sight…

March 4, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Torpids 2011

Day 3 of Torpids saw W1 receive their first bump. Annoyingly, we were gaining on Christchurch as Pembroke, who have been shooting up the rankings all week, crept up on us.  Pembroke got us as we held onto Christchurch for some considerable time and even had overlap at one point, but no concession came and they managed to pull away.  Tomorrow we return to our starting position of bung line 9, chasing Pembroke with Exeter chasing us.

W2 had a much brighter day getting their first bump of the week! They got bumped twice fairly near the start but then settle into a good rhythm and put in a very good performance to catch Pembroke. Spirits were high as they landed and despite some confusion at the race desk everyone is looking forward to tomorrow’s racing.

Here’s to a solid final performance in Torpids 2011!

Halfway there…

March 4, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Torpids 2011

Day 2 of Torpids saw more drama for the girls! W1, being chased by Queen’s (who we bumped yesterday) had to row over after the three crews ahead each bumped out. I think most would agree that going for the quadruple bump over such a short course is somewhat ambitious! Nevertheless it was a strong, hard row and we remain position 8 going into day 3.

W2 had a bit of a tougher time  with disaster striking in the form of St Peters (who they held off yesterday) crashing them into the bank, where they remained for the greater part of the race. Crews rowed past, the usual Torpids story came true… But Friday is a new day and they have every reason to claw some places back!


Torpids Day 1

March 3, 2011 in Captain's Blog, Torpids 2011

One down, three to go…

The first day of Torpids 2011 saw W1 achieve a rather too literal over-bump on Queen’s, who also succumbed to Wadham. After a solid start, we settled into a good rhythm going into the gut and came out the other side to catch Queen’s, who waited for us to get bow-to-bow before  steering into us! Unsurprisingly, the race was then klaxoned.

W2 didn’t see quite such a successful start to the week’s racing, being bumped twice, but nevertheless they held it together to keep their distance from St Peters who will now be chasing them.  In fact, the cannon should be firing any second…

Good luck all!

With one week to go…

February 23, 2011 in Captain's Blog

In addition to my previous post…

A huge thank you is due to Simon Wan and Clarissa Belloni, cox and stroke of W1, who have been acting co-captains this term due to my failing health. They have done a brilliant job.

Further, Nick Bevan, our star coach of the past five years fled to Australia in first week for a well earned break and as such we have had the dynamic due of Jo Williamson (ex-blue and Headship crew member) and Abs Harrison (Headship crew and many years of rowing experience) coaching us. They have been there for every 6am start (Jo having an inability to not sub at every opportunity) and have had a significant influence on the crew, rousing morale and recreating that ‘Balliol-go-get’em’ mentality. I for one sincerely hope they continue to have such fundamental involvement in BCWBC on Nick’s return.

With exactly one week to go until Torpids, spirits are high, alcohol is being avoided, and a sense of anticipation is in the air…

Torpids Run Up

February 21, 2011 in Captain's Blog

Just over one week until Torpids and don’t we know it! Following a run of illnesses W1 has finally been set and is looking strong. The boat this year sees three novice additions and a returning ex-blue, whom we are all very grateful for. Last weekend we braved an early Sunday morning to compete in Bedford Head where 2k races are rowed against the clock against a variety of Oxford and non-Oxford rowing clubs. We entered two divisions, finishing a respectable 5th and 9th with only two other Oxford women’s crews coming in ahead of us, these being Magdalen (currently head in Torpids) and Christ Church (currently 4th in Torpids).

W2 has seen its fair share of turmoil this term. An unforeseen change in coach at the beginning of February meant that two of our own M1 rowers have been let loose on the girls, to good effect! The boat includes a good proportion of last year’s W2 as well as our novice intake, so hopefully a good combination of experience and enthusiasm will pay off come Torpids. Along with a cox who doesn’t know how to shut up and can often be heard screaming ‘shut the door!’ mid-race, they seem set for a good few days’ racing!

Men’s Captain – Countdown to Torpids

January 31, 2011 in Captain's Blog

So, this being my first post as Men’s Senior Squad Captain, I’m going to give a brief summary of Michaelmas term followed by a discussion of how everything’s shaping up as we count down the days until Torpids 2011.

With almost 20 returning rowers from last year, the men’s senior squad looked in good shape as we started up full-time training in early October. We welcomed in coach and former lightweight world champion Peter Haining and got accustomed to our new Abingdon training base, but were rudely brought back down to earth as the ‘Haining method’ of training saw the introduction of gruelling 90 minute circuits and lengthy weight sessions. 8 weeks later and with a decent term’s training under our belts, we headed home for Christmas.

As I write this, an eventful month draws to a close. January saw the formation of a new and improved M1, along with a highly competitive and very powerful M2. A few key decisions need to be made before the latter is finalised, but a strong performance looks on the cards. M1, meanwhile, has grown in strength due to the return of a 2008 Headship winner and the possible recruitment of a lightweight trialist. The last few weeks have involved seat racing for the final bow side position as well as extensive speed work alongside LMH’s top crew. The weights are getting heavier, the ergs are getting longer, but with 4 full weeks of training to go, there is still work to be done.

To be continued…

Success for Women at Nepthys Regatta

November 24, 2010 in Captain's Blog

‘Particular congratulations to Balliol W1 for successfully holding into the Women’s 8s title for the second year’ – a very pleasing way to be able to begin my first captain’s blog!

Even if there were disappointingly few senior women’s crews entered for Nephthys Regatta, Balliol W1 still stormed to victory with a 5-length lead over Regents to kick-start racing this year, a  performance the well-known 21 year old (M1 rower) Ant Butler called ‘plain rude’, claiming that we ‘should have at least let them catch up a bit’. We kept it to 5 lengths, didn’t we?

Having said that, I think everyone would agree whole-heartedly that the novice girls stole the show, making it to the semi-finals before disaster stuck. In fact, some might say that disaster struck in the previous round, or even the one before that – where a combination of massive crabs and jammed seats were experienced, leaving our six-girl finishing one race holding her seat above her head! A seat one can overcome, but the loss of an oar is slightly more serious – and decided the fate of the girls to New in the end. Nevertheless, we still gave Brasenose, Exeter, and Keble a good view of our stern along the way! Well rowed all round.

On the eve of Christchurch, it’s an exciting time to be involved in the boat club. So come on girls, be proud to be Balliol and go for it!

Henley Success for Balliol Old Boy

July 5, 2010 in Captain's Blog, John Blacker Society

Jonny Mathews, ex St.Pauls, Balliol and Isis rower, was part of the 1829 Boat Club VIII+ which has won this year’s Thames Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta.

The Thames Challenge cup is a club event open to all athletes who are not seeking selection into their national squads or who have competed internationally previously. Although being the lowest rated club event at HRR the standard is still exceptional, the highest level event for non professional or semi-professional oarsmen; winning is therefore is a massive achievement and we are all proud of Jonny.

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And The Girls Are Head!!!

June 3, 2010 in Captain's Blog, Summer VIIIs 2010

For the first time in history the Women of BCBC are Head of the River in Summer VIIIs!

Yes, that’s right, for the first time EVER Balliol is now in pole position. And here’s how it happened…

After winning blades in Torpids, we allowed ourselves 2 weeks off (and I sat my exams!) before knuckling down to some hard graft. After some small boats work on the Isis over the vac, we had a physically challenging, but thoroughly enjoyable, training camp based at the OUBC boathouse in Wallingford. Unfortunately the Winklevoss boys didn’t see fit to show their faces, but we did have some fun side-by-side racing with Nick’s J15 boys from Teddy’s School. Many thanks to all the alumni who helped fund the camp!

We returned to our native Godstow with an ambitious training schedule drawn up by Zhan, the cox, and a deep rooted desire to win some pots. After strong performances at Wallingford and Bedford Regattas (winning the latter) we now had pewter tankards and ARA points: next to show Oxford what we were made of.

Unfortunately just two weeks before Eights disaster struck, and our stroke had to drop out for medical reasons. However, we were all determined to pull together and do even better for Christina’s sake. As Donald MacDonald put it “be strengthened by the knowledge that there are nine rowers in your boat”.

So as we lined up on bungline 2, with the elusive Teddy Hall girls behind us, we knew that every one of the girls in the boat would pull their utmost hardest, all the way to the cox’s stone. Luckily for us, this wasn’t really necessary. With a split of 1.13/500m (against the stream) off the start, and stroke rating of 42spm+, there was no where for the Hall to run. Or almost nowhere, anyway. Every source except the Hall cox maintains that we actually bumped them three times before they conceded. Nevertheless, by the end of green bank we were Head of the River.

We then had a relaxing three row-overs, on many occasions calling to ‘stride down’ so as not to exert ourselves too much, before we could finally carry a boat back to college to burn in the fireplace in hall on Saturday evening. I hope you get a chance to check out the video – it’s pretty surreal!

I think at this point it’s essential to remember that we only had to make one bump, as all of the hard work was done by previous years’ crews: in the last 5 years we’ve risen 22 places!

More importantly, needless to say none of this would have been possible without Nick Bevan’s inspirational coaching and support over the time he’s been here. My personal thanks also has to go out to Doug, Andrew and Peggotty for all their help, and to my vice-captain Kirsty for keeping me sane (almost).

I hope as many of our Old Members as possible can make it back for the Headship Dinner on Friday 5th November – it’s looking like it will be a really great night.

Bedford Regatta

May 23, 2010 in Captain's Blog, John Blacker Society

Last Saturday W1 travelled to Bedford to compete in their last external regatta before VIIIs, hoping to defend their wins in both the college and IM3+ events.

We had an exciting day of racing. The first few races saw us set off wuth a scrappy start and poor rhythm, but thankfully our opposition fared even worse and we managed comfortable wins (in one case winding down to 20spm by the last 500m)! We knew things couldn’t stay that easy, and we had to pull together to fend off increasingly competitive crews. We raced Pembroke, Cambridge, twice (once in each event), and things started to fall into place as we found a good racing rhythm under pressure and held them off until the end.

In the final of the college event we met Wadham, one of the fastest crews in Torpids. This time we couldn’t afford to call a stride down when things got easy. Instead, we kept the rate high the whole way down the course, and proved that the tough erg programme throughout term has paid off: when they started to tire, we came through and won by a length.

By the time it came to our 8th race of the day, the IM3 final, we were pretty drained of energy. We faced Downing College, who were still quite fresh having only race 3 times so far. Unfortunately they were also very fast, and ended up beating us by 1 1/2 lengths. We all felt we’d raced our best though, so we weren’t that disappointed.

Either way there was no time to dwell on things – a quick sprint to the trophy tent to pick up our tankards and then a speedy drive back to college in time for the end of Donald MacDonald’s talk (more to follow on this!)