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Crew Database

October 5, 2010 in John Blacker Society, Web Officer's Blog

If you’ve been to the crew database section of the website recently you’ll have noticed some changes. We now have bumps records going back until 1980 for both Men’s and Women’s Crews in Torpids and Summer VIIIs. We are now working on getting the names for everyone in these crews; this is mostly complete but unfortunately the bumps programmes often contain first initials only and so we are trying to find full names by matching data up with that from the Balliol Register.

We’ve also added a new Statistics page containing statistics for all the rowers that we have data for.

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.

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!)

Beth

Summer VIIIs

May 19, 2010 in John Blacker Society

Dear Blacker Society Members,

You are cordially invited to join us at Balliol’s boathouse for Summer Eights 2010, 26th – 29th May, for what promises to be four days of intense racing, rivalry and competition.

The Men’s 1st VIII, currently fourth on the river, will be facing tough challenges in the top division. After winning blades in Torpids, the Women’s 1st VIII have the potential to become Head of the River, which would be the first Headship for the Balliol Women. Both Clubs will also be entering a second boat, which will provide lots of bumping excitement. The crews have been training hard all year, and support from fellow Balliolites on the bank is always appreciated. There is nothing better than hearing a College cheer from Boathouse Island in the last 500m of the race!

We encourage you to join us at the river, where there will be a bar serving refreshments for the duration of the events. If you are unable to attend Summer Eights, you can keep up-to-date by visiting our website, bcbc.co.uk, where we will provide live commentary as events unfold.

We also invite you to attend the Boat Club’s dinner, following Saturday’s races. Drinks will commence at 7pm in the Fellow’s Garden, followed by dinner at 8pm in Hall. Please R.S.V.P. to Katie Jones, kathryn.jones@balliol.ox.ac.uk, by Friday 21st May with any dietary requirements.

Gordouli Members are also reminded of the upcoming Gordouli Dinner, further details at www.bcbc.co.uk/gordouli-dinner/

We look forwards to seeing you all on the banks of the Isis, and we promise to do Balliol proud.

Best wishes,

Brianna MacLean
Blacker Society

Wallingford Regatta

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

Last Saturday W1 braved the driving rain to race at the lake which will be used for the London 2012 Olympics, taking part in Wallingford Regatta. This was our first experience of side-by-side racing over a 2km course, which will be excellent practice for the high pressures of rowing over at the head of division 1 in Summer VIIIs. Despite grim conditions we kept up morale and pulled off a respectable race. Although we came 5th in our heat (and therefore didn’t qualify for the final), closer analysis of the race times showed that we raced faster than all of the crews in the other heat. We were particularly pleased to perform better than the only two other college crews present: Pembroke (Oxford) and Kings (Cambridge).

Well done to everyone for great racing on a tough day.

Wish us luck for Bedford Regatta this Saturday, where we return to defend our string of 4 wins in a row!

Beth

Blacker Bulletin

March 18, 2010 in John Blacker Society

Beating Cambridge with the University
Nehaal Bajwa, Triallist with OUWLRC

If, even a short nine months ago, someone had suggested the very concept of my trialling for a place on the Oxford University Women’s Lightweight boat at the Henley Boat Races in March 2010, I would have laughed at them, possibly over one of many (many) summer bowls of ice cream. The fact is that I have never really seen myself as a serious rower, let alone a triallist, and certainly not the only lightweight triallist from Balliol in many years! As someone who was drafted, at the eleventh hour, into the Novice A boat in her first year, and spent much of last year not rowing at all, it is admittedly a not-exactly-predictable turn of affairs. However, here I sit, days away from my first serious weigh-in at Reading Head, having experienced vicious semi-frozen training camps and what seems like innumerable gym sessions.

I have often asked myself how this has happened. The only thing I can be certain of is that we may never know. One contributing factor, however, was certainly the support and advice of the esteemed members of Balliol College Boat Club. With three open-weight women and one lightweight man trialling from Balliol last year, the twelve-session weeks of training, body composition analyses and near-constant guzzling of bananas seemed to be a part of my life even before trialling started this September. The Vice-Captains of the women’s squad at Balliol were very encouraging to any member of the boat club who wanted to trial and I don’t believe the idea to do so would have crossed my mind if our boat club had the same atmosphere as so many others in Oxford, where trialling is seen as a drain on college boat club resources and those who do often have to juggle a tough training schedule with ensuring that they put in enough hours with their own college. A number of people on the lightweight squad have almost ended their involvement with OUWLRC due to conflicts (scheduling or otherwise) with their own boat clubs.

When I compare this with my own experience, I begin to appreciate just how relatively easy rowing with the Lightweights has been for me. Far from ignoring me, BCWBC have sent me their training plans and invitations to crew dinners, and welcomed me back with open arms to their gym sessions whenever I have had to make up for missed training with the Lightweights. We are lucky and rare to have such a positive atmosphere in college, and indeed the strength to put solid crews on the water for Torpids despite three triallists.
Adjusting to the new, fuller, schedule that OUWLRC entailed was still quite an experience. Nothing quite prepares you for the challenge of trying to push physically harder each time whilst making at least a token effort at staying cheerful as well as keeping tutors at bay with precisely the right mixture of actual argument and literary flourish in term essays. Having the support of those in college who trialled last year and, in some cases, who taught me to row in the first place has been invaluable. The only way that I convinced myself to continue through a particularly difficult week, when academic work and erg tests combined in a formidable cocktail of what felt like potential disaster, was to recall the words of one of my friends who trialled for the open-weights last year, that sometimes the only thing you need to do is ensure that you don’t give up. Enough of the process is psychological that, once the decision to carry on has been made, each obstacle diminishes in significance to a temporary and – usually! – surmountable hurdle.

Not that it hasn’t also been an immensely rewarding experience in itself. Despite the ostensible (and indeed actual) aim being to lose and therefore make a weight of 59 kilograms by the end of March, I have eaten more cake in the last three months than possibly during the whole of 2009 prior to that. More importantly, I have met and trained with some of the most impressive and dedicated people I have ever met whilst rowing, made excellent friends and learnt how to constantly raise my expectations of my own abilities. The coaching we have received has been hugely enlightening and I am really beginning to find it easier to just slot into a scratch boat and row well with seven people I may not ever have rowed with before. Whatever happens with selections for the 2010 Henley Boat Race squad, I fully intend (Finals permitting) to bring this flexibility back to Balliol for a term of relaxed rowing, and no small amount of fun. Plus any races I can squeeze in around my exams!

The Cadle Pairs
Neville Mullany, Honorary Senior Member of Blacker Society

The following notice appeared on the board in the Lodge on 12th June 1952.

“Whereas Messrs. Hugessen and Mullany have this day rowed a tub pair steered by Mr. F.J. Lindars, lately stroke of the Balliol Head of the River Crew, on the River Isis from the Bourne Stone to the finishing signal in 14 minutes and 58 secs: It has pleased Donald Cadle Esquire to promote a Match to be rowed in such craft on that River Isis on Wednesday the Eighteenth Day of June, between such Pairs of Gentlemen of Balliol as shall have duly sent their Names together with that of a Steerer to the Secretary by Noon on Monday Excepting only that no Gentleman who has rowed in the First or Second Eight of this College this year shall row, and that no Gentleman who has steered such an Eight shall act as Steerer The course to be rowed from the last Willow Tree on the Oxfordshire Bank, opposite the place of Timm, Boat Builder, to the Finishing Signal on the Berkshire Bank, opposite the Barge of Balliol College And has further of his munificence, offered to award prizes in the form of Beer to such Gentlemen as shall acquit themselves with Distinction. Roger Robinson, Secretary BCBC Fecit.”

What provoked this? Jim Hugessen and I, having been struck by the rowing bug on seeing Balliol regain the Headship after 73 years, took up rowing and were coached in tubs – as was the norm in those days. When Peter Eggington, (later cox of the 1st. VIII) heard of our “conversion” he foolishly placed a bet in the JCR Betting Book that Jim and I could not row that course in under 25 minutes. When Don Cadle heard about this he immediately saw it as a chance to have some fun in BCBC. This was the birth of the Cadle Pairs, which lasted for a number of years, with Don paying for a keg of beer long after he had gone down. For the record, 10 crews composed of “Sportsmen, Athletes, Cricketers, Men of Academic Prowess and other Bucks and Blades” competed that first year. And the beer was found on the Barge after the race.

Dates for the Diary 2010
26th – 29th May: Summer Eights
29th May 2010 : Summer Eights Dinner
18th – 20th June: Henley Women’s Regatta
30 June – 4 July: Henley Royal Regatta

A Bump a Day for All the Men’s Crews

March 16, 2010 in Captain's Blog, John Blacker Society

For the entire week leading up to Torpids 2009 there was a steadily growing knot in my stomach. It was obvious to everyone that I was the novice in the crew, and it was obvious to everyone that it was obvious to everyone that if anyone were to catch a crab, to panic and start slide-rushing, or to otherwise jeopardise a term’s worth of training it would be me.

And yet, one year on and a much more proficient (some would say ‘passable’) rower, I was the same bundle of nervous excitement. I was confident that M1 would end the week one, maybe two places higher than they started, but had no idea how my charges in M2 and M3 would fare. I’d overheard other captains crowing about their lower boats, but I’d not seen any of our direct opposition on the Isis during the brief window of opportunity when green or blue flag meant junior crews could train.  

High stream and winds early on in the week of Torpids meant Wednesday and Thursday were to be run on a limited scale. Wednesday ran ‘half-divisions’ of six boats apiece, so while M2 and M3 had to watch from the boathouse, M1 were left starting 2nd in Division 1b, with an opportunity to row again as the sandwich boat should Exeter be unable to last the distance rowing over.

Our start was scrappy (to put it mildly), but from the six seat I could tell it was fast enough since St. John’s, who I knew to be no pushovers this year, quickly fell further and further behind. Exeter, who train at Wallingford on the same stretch as M1, had always seemed to be tidy as we passed, but without much power. In the end not even race adrenaline could provide the extra push (Exeter ended up getting spoons), Balliol bump Exeter at the entrance to the gut. A tell-tale red mark on the underside of Beeland (his first battle-scar!) is a testament to his first (of many) Torpids bumps.  Just under an hour later we were waiting at the bunglines again, this time at the bottom of division 1a, just behind New. No one had heard anything of how fast they were, but with no one chasing us and so nothing to lose, there was no reason not to go all out from the start – if it didn’t work, we had opportunity to change tactics the next day. With another fast start, we didn’t get an opportunity to throw the kitchen sink at them. Balliol bump New mid-gut.

Already at Thursday, my aim for M1’s week had already been achieved. Earlier in the day M2 had shown their female counterparts how to do it, bumping Univ II after Donnington Bridge, allaying my misplaced fears and reminding me that the training they had put in, and the stewardship of my vice-captain and cox, Simon Wan, would be more than enough to see them do much the same on Friday and Saturday. The less said the better about M1’s race that day. Trying to correct the scrappiness of the previous day’s start by applying less pressure was perhaps an error, translating into a scrappy but underpowered start, meaning Oriel were able to keep the gap all the way through the gut. Gains were made and lost time and again throughout the course, but when the cox’s call of “just half a length” turned to “3/4” and then more, the fizz died out, leaving me worried for the next day, when John’s, who I knew to be gunning for blades that week, would once again be on our tail.

Friday saw the first full day’s racing, and M3’s first opportunity to race since finishing strongly in Rowing On. With Green Templeton I right behind them, I had warned them that more than ever a fast bump would be crucial.  But, while I told them that Wadham M4 were ‘looking fast,’ it was only to the cox that I mentioned that Wadham M4’s stern pair had both rowed M1 last Summer Eights. Much of the remaining crew had previously rowed M1 or 2, so the cox needed to keep a clear line in the likely event of Wadham bumping out early. Unsurprisingly, they did this not long after the bridge, but M3 quickly closed the double-sized gap between them and St. Hilda’s II without much strain; there was already overlap by mid-gut. Balliol overbump Hilda’s at the exit of the gut. Not to be outdone, a couple of hours later M2 did the same, overbumping St. John’s II at the gut. Poetic as it might have been for M1 to also achieve an overbump that day, there’s rarely that much difference between crews at the top half of division one. But for all of M1 – the seniors and newcomers alike – any bump on Oriel would do. It was much to our relief, then, to hear our coach’s call to wind up for the bump, “SHUT THE DOOR!”, just into the gut. As had happened in practice, there were five increasingly powerful pushes on the legs, and five more to keep the pressure up. We felt the boat fly. But the bump didn’t come. Nothing to worry about yet – Oriel were better drilled than Exeter or New – and there was much more to come. Next came five on the backs, each more forceful than the last. Another five to keep the pressure up. Again, another surge in speed, but no bump was forthcoming. Fine. We’ve more to give. The pressure was brought up again with five more on the legs – “WHY.” “DON’T.” “YOU.” “CON.” “CEDE?” 25 Strokes of out of our 30 stroke wind in. I could just about see the wash from Oriel’s Empacher, but it was hard to concentrate on anything but the fire in my chest and legs.

“SHUT THE DOOR!!!” Again? He had to be kidding. Just coming out of the gut, there was little to lose as St. John’s were nowhere to be seen. If we weren’t to get them there and then, we would end the week where we were, or lower. The usual mental bargaining “If you see through just 15 more mammoth strokes…” was interrupted by the cox’s voice “OVERLAP, WE’VE GOT A BIG OVERLAP NOW, JUST ….WIND DOWN BOYS, WE’VE GOT IT!” Balliol bump Oriel opposite Longbridges. Cough, splutter, cough cough cheer. The difference between how we looked as we landed on Friday and how we looked as we landed the day before was immediately remarked upon. A bump on Oriel, I said at the time, is worth ten bumps on Exeter or New. Those of us in the boat last Eights Week were happy to put right the mistakes of the Saturday, while those who had started rowing for Balliol just a few months previously knew that bumping Oriel meant we were by our own right (and not just by virtue of the previous crew’s performance) one of the faster boats in Oxford.

With Christ Church, Pembroke, Magdalen and St Catz all rowing over in the top spaces that week, we were the highest crew to put in any bumps. We’d gone from nervous anticipation of whether we’d be able to hack it with the big boys, from a frustration that Torpids only lasted four days, and we only had one more chance to bump. That sentiment was shared by M2 and M3 who, despite being the speediest second and third VIIIs seen in some time, had been robbed of the chance to get trophy blades painted up by the weather at the earlier part of the week. Nevertheless, commitment to training throughout the club shone through on the final day, with M3 bumping Magdalen III at the exit to the gut, M2 bumping Hertford II before the gut (and beating a klaxon by little more than 20 seconds), and of course M1 bumping St. Catz at the top of the gut.

With 9 bumps in total, Balliol Men were more successful than any other club on the river. What’s more, with 17 out of our 24 rowers new to Balliol at the start of Michaelmas this year, things are looking very positive for the next couple of years. Bring on Summer Eights.

Eddie Jacobs

BCBC Men’s Captain ’09-’10

Blacker Bulletin

February 28, 2010 in John Blacker Society

The Rowing Year so Far
Jack Devlin, President

I was once told by a coach that what he most wanted in a rower was enthusiasm, with this anything was possible. If he was right, then the men’s and women’s squads look set to do very well this year. Last term’s training was intense, and now we are two days away from the start of Torpids: the whole boat club is full of anticipation and excitement – not least to see how the weather and river conditions will impact on chances of the races going ahead.

Last term was marked by novice training, and the boat club’s newest members surprised us all by their keenness, arranging extra sessions for themselves, subbing into the senior boat outings and pushing themselves hard during painful ergos. Much of the credit for this must go to the captains, vice captains and coaches, in particular the men’s captain Eddie Jacobs, who set a tremendous example for the novices to follow, and created an highly effective training programme.

Sadly, Christchurch regatta was once again cancelled after the first day, denying the novices the chance to show quite how good they were. The first day results boded well, Balliol men’s A beating Keble C, Balliol men’s B beating Pembroke A in a nail-biting finish and Balliol men’s C loosing narrowly to Jesus B. On the women’s side, Balliol A beat St John’s A and Balliol B being unable to race because of failing light. It seems however that both sides of the boat club have remembered the positive aspects of Michaelmas term’s rowing, and have channelled the frustration of the denied races into training for Torpids, where all crews look to do well if given the opportunity to race.

Both the men’s and women’s squads have worked hard both in Michaelmas and Hilary to keep up their own levels of enthusiasm and laid the foundations for a strong performance in the summer. For the women’s squad, the thought of headship in summer eights, just a single tantalising bump away, has acted as a strong motivation, but no one is complacent about the work still needs to be done. In particular, it has been important to add novice and less experienced rowers to the core of experienced athletes this term. Similarly, the men’s top boat has also shown a promising beginnings. Under the capable command of Alan Sinclair, our new coach, our fitness has increased and the technical basics have become well established. We now need test our strength during Torpids and see what we can accomplish.

We hope that everyone will follow along with our Torpids accomplishments this week, either via our website bcbc.co.uk, or from the bank of the River!

In Pursuit of Headship
Elizabeth Mumford, Women’s Captain

After my first term as BCWBC captain I found myself both physically and mentally exhausted, but overall really pleased with the progress that the girls made in Michaelmas. Despite some early setbacks then I think all would agree that last term has laid some strong foundations for our Headship campaign next summer, and that we have been able to build confidently on this experience this term.

After a strong recruitment drive for new rowers at the start of Michaelmas we easily filled two novice boats. The girls were all dedicated and enthusiastic which made them a pleasure to work with. Unfortunately a large number of the squad were hit by ‘Swine ‘09’, considerably depleting numbers at the gym and the river. I would especially like to thank Joanna Williamson, Katie Jones and both the Vice Captains for keeping things going whilst I was bed-bound. Thankfully after the initial wave of illness we were all able to return to training with renewed vigour to catch up on lost time and retain our reputation of one of the strongest novice colleges.

In 6th week of that term we entered both novice crews and a senior boat into Nephthys Head and Regatta, organised by OULRC. It came as no surprise that Balliol were the proud winners of the trophy for best overall performance (beating the closest college, Exeter, by 6 points), confirming that all our hard work training had been worthwhile. The women’s novice A boat came 2nd in the head race and reached the quarter finals of the regatta, showing great promise for Christchurch Regatta in 7th week while he B boat managed to beat an A boat from another college in the Head race even though several of its members has already raced that day. The women’s senior boat also did well; despite a disappointingly low turn out of competitors we were still proud by the extent to which we won the regatta (several lengths over a very short course). This was helped along, I’m sure, by our cox Alice’s call to imagine ourselves at the Head of the River on the last day of Summer VIIIs. In Christchurch Regatta a week later, the A boat beat St Johns easily in their first race, but the Regatta was cancelled later that day, denying them the chance to race again, and sadly, denying the B’s the opportunity to test their strength at all. However, we remain confident that both crews could have easily defeated many others we saw on the river, and on the whole it was a strengthening experience. Needless to say we all thoroughly enjoyed Christchurch Dinner held after the last day of the planned regatta in honour of our newest members.

Special thanks for Michaelmas term must be directed towards the two vice captains, Kirsty Duffy and Anja Hayen, without whom the novice training programme would not have existed. With the foundation they laid together with coach Christina Schönbach, the novice squad was the strongest and most technical the college has seen for many years, and it has been wonderful to be joined in the First Women’s Torpid by a few of the strongest and keenest of them, coached again this year by Nick Bevan. Both the first and second Torpid have been training very hard this term – the usual early-Hilary river conditions have forced us into the gym to attain ever-higher fitness levels. Thanks to techniques learnt at a GB rowing workshop attended in Michaelmas (led by GB Olympic coach, Steve Gunn), the time has been well spent, and everyone was delighted to see the results when we once again were on the river in fourth week. Having had only three outings, the Firsts competed in Bedford Head Race on February 14th, performing very well in spite of the lack of water time, and the whole crew is now incredibly excited to do even better in Torpids. Similarly, the seconds – coached by Chris Cooper – have been putting in the time and effort of many first boats, and look well placed to do strongly this week where they are in position to become the top second boat on the river. We cannot wait to test our strength as a club come Torpids, when we’ll also be joined by a Third women’s boat, consisting largely of older rowers who have not been able to do consistent training this term – we expect to once again come top of the Bumps charts and to use the experience as good practice for Summer Eights!

This rowing year has also offered us another fun and exhilarating experience, when on the 21st of November six of the first ever women’s 1st VIII and their cox returned to the boathouse as part of the celebrations for 30 years of women at Balliol. The rowers were Rebecca Hardy, Cressida Dick, Catherine Milsum, Margaret Quinn, Jane Edmondson and Susan Harnett. Debbie, the cox, was bank-riding. I’m told that many of them were worried that they would have forgotten how to row and there was much talk of us capsizing the boat. Within the first few strokes, however, it was clear that their rowing technique had survived the test of time and certainly made myself and the other senior girl in the boat sit up and pay extra attention to our technique for fear of being shown up! I think it’s fair to say that both current and slightly older rowers had a lovely time, and over champagne in the boathouse afterwards we compared notes on how rowing at Balliol had changed. It was almost inconceivable for us current rowers to imagine life without the ergo rowing machine, although it’s clear that all the extra water time before river restrictions made for a more technical crew – it also transpired that one thing that hasn’t changed is BCWBC’s tradition of winning multiple blades. There was also much talk of trying to recreate the ‘vintage’ BCBC kit! Thank you to Anna Lewis for organising the morning and here’s to the next 30 years of women’s rowing at Balliol: we hope to organize a similar even in Trinity, when more former BCWBC rowers return.

The club is also proud to keep up our tradition of supporting the University squads: as of September, Nehaal Bajwa has been trialling with OUWLRC, while both Jo Williamson and Christina Schönbach have returned to OUWBC this term to compete in another. They are all looking well-placed for Henley, and I will keep you posted on their progress!

New Days of Great Promise
Edward Jacobs, Men’s Captain

This year’s new blood is not to be underestimated. This is a lesson I was taught time and time again by the men’s novices in Michaelmas term. With more keen oarsmen than seats available at Christchurch Regatta, across the squad we witnessed the kind of determination that is essential to any blade-winning crew.
Under the auspices of Rob Ryan, the top two crews, ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ used each outing as a chance to prove themselves the faster over 750m , and organising extra afternoon outings in IVs and VIIIs with the hopes of claiming the title ‘A Boat’ for Christchurch. We found that this competitiveness has inspired some spectacular performances across the club, and places us well for the entire year. While the novice land-training programme was run on a voluntary basis during Michaelmas, it would have been hard for an outsider to tell: every week I introduced another circuits or erg session; every week there were some asking for more! The most promising newcomers were taken to Wallingford to see how the senior crew train, and I am pleased to say that many have joined the top boat for Torpids.

While the Red, Blue, and Green crews were all ultimately robbed of the chance to prove themselves at Christchurch, the overall Michaelmas experience seems to have spurred many on to continuing training in earnest this term, and we have been able to enter four men’s crews for Torpids, and cannot wait to see what they can do.

The senior squad did not get the gentle Michaelmas term they might have expected and have the top boat has certainly had to work hard this term. My call for a coach to help us back to the Head of the River was answered by Alan Sinclair of Leander, six year crewmate of previous coach Colin Williamson and formerly Head Coach at Pembroke. Such prizes as the Headship do not come easily though, and our training has been as intense as in any Trinity term. Those of us who let our fitness drop over the summer holidays had plenty of time to think about our errors as we slowly but surely clawed it back through hours of hard ergs, runs, and circuit sessions, and the mistake was not repeated over Christmas, and we are well-posed to bump confidently in this week’s races.

My Friend Trevor

February 27, 2010 in John Blacker Society, Web Officer's Blog

The Trevor Gallaher

Victor Christou naming the Trevor Gallaher

In his will the late Trevor Gallaher (1947), who died in 2001, left over £14,000 towards the purchase of a new boat for the Men’s 1st VIII. A boat was ordered from the world class German boat makers Empacher in early summer 2003 to replace the eight year old Aylings ‘King Olav.’

‘Trevor’s’ first foray into Oxford rowing, wasn’t all that successful. The 2003 1st VIII were bumped on four consecutive days to end up ninth in Division 1. After a brief retirement for Torpids 2004, the boat was used full time for both training and racing by the 1st VIII from Eights 2005 until Torpids 2009. During this period Trevor was bumped only once more in the Torpids of 2009 and chalked up a magnificent 23 bumps in total.
I joined Balliol in 2003, having never rowed before. After an initial year in the 2nd VIII, I found myself slung into the 1st VIII at six (behind a US Navy Lightweight and a St. Paul’s school boy) for Torpids 2005. That term was the term where I learnt to row and the term where the Trevor Gallaher saw its first real success. We achieved blades, moving up five places and bumping within 30 seconds on three of the days.

The next four two years saw steady success for the Trevor Gallaher. Two bumps in VIIIs 2005, three in Torpids 2006 (very nearly four) and one in VIIIs 2006. My most lasting memory of those two years was our bump that never was against Pembroke, right outside their boathouse in VIIIs 2006.

Bump On Pembroke

The bump that never was.

The following year was a more sedate affair. Most of our top oarsmen had left or otherwise decided not to row, Torpids was cancelled and so we headed into Summer VIIIs 2007 with probably the least experienced, and race prepared crew, I have ever rowed in. However, we held our own and more, thanks to a big Australian and a German with a penchant for snapping oars. After a nervy first day it turned out that we weren’t in fact that bad! We came very close to bumping Pembroke on all of the following three days. Despite the lack of any bumps, everyone in the VIII felt that we had overcome the odds in a boat that was clearly capable of more.

And then came 2008, almost certainly the Trevor Gallaher’s most successful year. We headed into Torpids with the usual nerves but in the knowledge that we had a strong crew. We ended the week, having rowed five times, moving up seven places and into Division 1. The crew was strengthened further for Summer VIIIs with the return of two lightweights from the University squad. I won’t dwell on the events of that week; suffice to say it wouldn’t have been possible with our now trustworthy boat.

Henley Royal Regatta 2008

The Trevor Gallaher at Henley Royal Regatta 2008

As well as success in bumps, the Trevor Gallaher has brought the boatclub other successes. It has competed in the Eights Head of the River, finishing ~150th, won at numerous regattas including Chiswick, Bedford and Marlow, and reached the second day of Henley Royal Regatta.
In summer 2009, the Trevor Gallaher was replaced as the men’s newest boat by the generous gift of the ‘Beeland Rogers’ from Jim Rogers. The new boat is also an Empacher and has already seen success, sadly not in Oxford competitions as yet however.

This year has seen a new look to the men’s boat club; an exodus of experienced and talented rowers and an influx of novices. This has naturally led to the question of what to do with the two high quality boats we have in our possession: do you trust novices to row in a boat which is such a valuable asset?

I remember back to those miserable early morning outings in my first year, rowing in a boat that creaked and groaned and felt like it would fall apart with every stroke (and sometimes did). This year’s 2nd VIII have no such worries. They are now rowing in the Trevor Gallaher, coached by me. After so many happy memories inside the boat it is refreshing to take an outside view with a new generation of Balliol rowers. I don’t know if I’m worse at rowing or coaching (hopefully the former) but I trust that the Trevor Gallaher will bring the 2nd VIII as much success as it has previously the 1st VIII.

Chris Wright (2003)

On the way to Headship

Coming past the boathouses on Saturday of VIIIs 2008

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by Admin

30 Years Of Rowing

November 21, 2009 in John Blacker Society

On Saturday 21st November six of the eight of the first ever women’s eight got back on the water as part of the celebrations of 30 years of women at Balliol.

As we walked down to the river, there was much talk from the crew of ’79 about how embarrassing this reunion was going to be – fears that they would have forgotten how to row, possibly that they would manage to capsize the boat. Within the first few strokes it was, however, clear that their rowing technique had survived the test of time. The two current W1 girls subbing in were, in fact, worried that they were being shown up.

Comparing notes on how rowing at Balliol had changed, we current girls were struggling to imagine rowing training without ergs. The crew of ’79 were delighted to learn that Steve the boatman was still Steve the boatman. All were pleased to learn that both then and now, BCWBC is a multiple blade winning club. A lovely time was had by all. Here’s to the next 30 years of women’s rowing at Balliol.

The rowers were Rebecca Hardy, Cressida Dick, Catherine Milsum, Margaret Quinn, Jane Edmondson and Susan Harnett. Debbie, cox of one of the first women’s eights, was bankriding.