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St John's W1, fastest women's Torpid's crew, go to the Henley Boat RacesBy Samantha Rawlinson. Posted on May 9th 2013 at 4:46PM.Torpids 2013 ended on a high for SJCBC’s Women’s First Boat: winning blades for the third consecutive year running, they had, in the process, firmly stood their ground at the top of the women’s First Division, rising comfortably from 10th to 6th place. In light of this success, they entered the Henley Boat Race Challenge, a time trial aimed at selecting the fastest men’s and women’s collegiate crews. The winning boats would go on to compete against the top Cambridge collegiate crews in the Intercollegiate Races held at the Henley Boat Races.
On the morning of Wednesday 6th March, St. John’s completed the course in 3mins and 4 secs. They were 7 seconds faster than the next best crew, which was one of a number of blade-winning boats to compete in the trial. The next two weeks saw St. John’s training focussed on gaining boat speed in preparation for their race against Downing College, Cambridge on Sunday 24th March. The prospect of representing both Oxford and St John’s at Henley was a strong motivating factor for the crew, all of whom remained in Oxford after the end of term in order to prepare for this event.
As a result of the bad weather conditions in the week leading up to the Henley Boat Races, a decision was taken to relocate the event to Dorney Lake, the Olympic rowing venue for the London Games. A session on the Lake on the Friday preceding the race gave St. John’s a chance to practise racing on the course. The crew rowed well despite very windy conditions, and they returned to their accommodation in Henley that evening with a sense of confidence in their ability to row well on Sunday.
Race day dawned bitterly cold and windy, but St. John’s remained unfazed by the conditions. The Women’s Intercollegiate Race was the first contest of the day. After a warm-up circuit of the course punctuated by shouts of encouragement from the many St John’s supporters gathered on the bank, St. John’s lined up alongside the Downing College crew in preparation for the 2km race.
A strong start followed by an excellent settle from St. John’s saw them hold level with Downing. A strong rhythm allowed them to inch forward at one point, but Downing closed the gap, pushing ahead as of the halfway mark and gradually taking the lead. Encouraged by the ‘Dorney roar’ from the strong contingent of St John’s supporters at 1500m, St. John’s maintained very good form over the last part of the race, losing only by 1 length. Despite the outcome, all members of the crew felt that they had rowed well, and had put on a strong performance in light of the conditions.
St. John’s experience of racing the top Cambridge college women’s crew at the Henley Boat Races will allow them to continue training for Summer Eights with a renewed sense of purpose and a great deal of confidence as they prepare to challenge for Headship this Trinity term. College’s wonderful support in the run-up to the Henley Boat Races was much appreciated by all involved, while both the men’s and women’s sides of the Boat Club were united in wishing them luck on the day. SJCBC hopes to encourage next year’s Women’s 1st Torpid to enter the time trial for this event in the hope that we are once again given the honour of representing both Oxford and St. John’s against Cambridge in the Women’s Intercollegiate Race at Henley.
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E. Lowe, J. Daly, B. Pilgrim, S. Rawlinson - May 2013
Torpids 2013By Samantha Rawlinson. Posted on Mar 28th 2013 at 3:55PM.Michaelmas started with a large influx of keen novices, but unfortunately Christchurch Regatta was cancelled and there was a three month period between November and February without a single day of Green Flag. Although the Isis had been high all term, it dropped just in time for Torpids, leading to a mad rush to try and get last minute water time. The lack of water time meant that there was a large variation in the quality of crews across the University, and a mixed bag of results for SJCBC.
Unfortunately our M4 didn’t manage to qualify at rowing on (they had their first outing as a crew that morning), however hopefully a taste of racing has left them hungry for next term and fairer weather.
W3, coached by Emma Lowe and Annette Fayet managed to finish level for the week, a great achievement as they were surrounded by more experienced 2nd boats. This is not to say that they had an uneventful Torpids. On Friday, after Exeter II failed to clear the racing line after bumping, our W3 collided with them, breaking a rigger in the process. The boats were so entangled that the race was klaxoned and several of our girls had to be evacuated to the launch for their safety. Thankfully no one was hurt, although it was a baptism of fire for novice cox Becca Bowden, as this was her first ever bumps race. Congratulations to W3 for remaining the highest 3rd boat on the river, their dedication to the ergs paid off!
M3 had a great result of finishing +2 overall for the week, although largely a novice crew they were bolstered by the return of a couple of experienced rowers. They had a successful first day finishing up two places overall as a result of a bump and an overbump. Thursday was a tough race chasing an eventually blades-winning Green Templeton III who bumped out early in front of them. They couldn't make up the distance for an overbump but rowed over comfortably clear of Corpus Christi II behind. Saturday saw a bad start for M3, with a crab in the five seat that very nearly became an ejector crab as the rower tried to take the blade back underneath him. This allowed Wolfson III to get an early bump on our M3. Once recovered our boys dug deep and managed to secure a quadruple overbump on Christ Church III. They finished the week up two places overall at 10th in Division 6.
After successes of the Women’s 2nd Torpid in previous years, this year’s W2 were starting as the 2nd highest 2nd boat on the river. However, as all but one of this year’s W2 were novices, they were greatly inexperienced in comparison to other crews. Wednesday started with “moderate carnage”, unfortunately a nervy start led to a couple of crabs in the boat, resulting in being bumped by Linacre and then by New II. After this disappointment, they were spurred on to get revenge, but unfortunately they just missed bumping New II on Thursday despite having closed them down to a canvas. Friday saw W2 having to row in the wrong boat (rigged the wrong way around) as their boat had been damaged in W3’s race earlier that day. They were bumped by St Antony’s I and Green I but then bumped New II to finish down one for the day. On Saturday they managed to get a double over-bump on St Hilda’s I. This meant they ended the week down three places at 9th in Division 3, but still remained the 2nd highest 2nd boat on the River. They were coached by Hazel Shepherd and Becka Hewstone.
The Men's 2nd Torpid was comprised entirely of novice rowers. On Wednesday, whilst navigating around a stationary crew M2 were bumped by Oriel II, however they went on to get the over-bump on Lincoln II to finish Wednesday level overall. Thursday saw Exeter II start at the top of Division 4, who were then bumped by all crews ahead of us before Donnington Bridge. Unfortunately, Linacre blocked the racing line and the carnage that ensued resulted in our M2 becoming entangled and being ploughed into by Worcester II and then Jesus II. After an (extremely) lengthy appeals procedure our M2 were awarded a technical row over and a bump on Exeter II. On Saturday they were bumped quickly off the start by a blades winning Wolfson II crew and then rowed over comfortably clear of Jesus II to finish overall down two places at 7th in Division 4 – a phenomenal achievement given the relative lack of experience compared to neighbouring crews.
For the first time, W1 were training off the Isis at Abingdon, thanks to our new launch. This proved invaluable, due to the conditions on the Isis this term, as well as providing the space to get stuck into some solid pieces without having to navigate novice crews. The Women’s 1st Torpid were starting 10th in Division 1, chasing Worcester. On Wednesday and Thursday they found a decent rhythm and proved themselves to be a class apart from Worcester and Hertford respectively, who were both bumped before Donnington Bridge.
On Friday W1 were chasing Christchurch. With an excellent stride before Donnington Bridge and a tight line underneath it, they started to eat up the gap to Christchurch, getting contact in the middle of the Gut. Saturday saw W1 chasing Pembroke. They had a great start and once they were into their stride there was no escape for Pembroke, who were quickly wound in and bumped at the bottom of the Gut, giving our women blades.
This took W1 up to 6th on the River, which is the highest ever Torpids position for W1. Our W1 are now on an unbroken run of 12 bumps in a row in Torpids. The Women’s 1st Torpid returned to training in 8th week in order to contest the Henley Boat Race Challenge. Our W1 smashed the opposition, being seven seconds faster than their nearest rival and hence were selected to represent Oxford at the Henley Boat Races on the 24th March.
The Men’s 1st Torpid saw a number of returning Argonauts take to the water along with two novice oarsmen and a cox new to bumps. On Wednesday, M1 were starting at 6th on the River and chasing Wolfson. A good start saw the men take half a length off the gap by Donnington Bridge, but an even quicker St. Catherine’s crew was storming up from behind, who bumped our men in the Gut. After this we struggled to regain a competitive rhythm and our M1 rowed over. Thursday saw M1 put under pressure from a quick-starting Oriel, who had overlap on us coming through the Gut. However, through some gutsy determination and excellent steering our boys answered the challenge and held Oriel all the way down Greenbanks. Unfortunately a problem with a seat meant that we were caught at the end of Boathouse Island. On Friday M1 rowed over, with Wadham providing very little threat from behind.
However, with Trinity on for blades behind us on Saturday, there was a very clear strategy going into the last day: start fast, row hard and catch Wolfson early. The plan was embraced by the boys; they bore down on Wolfson, coming within three quarters of a length by Donnington Bridge. However, coming up the Gut, the chasing Trinity closed us down and we conceded. Sadly, the early charge couldn’t reel Wolfson in enough, and although M1 had by far their best race, the energy expended in the first half proved too much and Wolfson pulled away again after the Gut.
The end result for M1 was down three places to finish at 9th in Division 1. This shouldn’t detract from the effort and progress the crew has made this term. SJCBC is sorry to see a number of M1 stalwarts give up their seats post-Torpids, after their invaluable contributions to the crew and club over the years.
Well done to all involved, and we look forward to more exciting racing in eights.
Torpids 2012 - An incredible week for SJCBC.By Alex Winchester. Posted on Feb 28th 2012 at 12:03PM.Torpids 2012 has seen St John's build on the successes of previous years, with all boats performing very well. The Women's crews were particularly outstanding, with both W1 and W2 achieving blades, finishing +6 and +5 respectively. Overall we finished on +14 for the week, giving us more bumps than any other college for Torpids.
W3 saw their training disrupted by poor weather, with the Isis freezing over for two weekends, and as such were unfortunate to not succeed in Rowing-On. Their time was 3.45.0, with the required time being 3.32.5.
W2, under the coaching of Martin Henstridge, had a productive term of training and expectations were high going into Torpids. Wednesday and Thursday saw them achieve quick bumps on St Anthony's and Worcester II. Friday and Saturday were more challenging races, but they performed well and gutsy races gave them bumps on New College II and Linacre I towards the end of Greenbanks. As St Anthony's had also bumped Hertford II on Wednesday, W2 finished +5 for the week, winning blades.
M2 were looking to turn around the fortunes of the second boat in recent years. With a significant number of novices in the crew this was not an easy task, but they rose to the challenge and tackled their training with enthusiasm and dedication. Strong starts and good fitness earned M2 bumps on LMH II, Hertford II and Jesus II on Wednesday, Thursday and Frday respectively. Saturday saw them chasing the high-performing Lincoln II who bumped out on Linacre, and despite their best efforts, M2 could not make the overbump. They finished +3 for the week, disappointed to miss out on blades.
Having trained hard during Michaelmas and Hilary terms W1 were keen to fight their way into the Women's 1st Division - and it was soon clear that this was on the cards.
A very fast bump on Osler House on Wednesday gave the girls a great start, as they bumped out within about 25 strokes.
Thursday saw W1 hunt down Queens, who offered more resistance but were caught comfortably in the Gut.
Friday saw W1 catch Balliol to move to head of division 2, before a bump on Exeter saw them shift up into Women's Division 1 for Saturday. This was a significant moment, marking the arrival of both Men's and Women's 1st Boats in the top divisions in both Torpids and Eights.
Finally, W1 rounded off their week with their 5th bump on Univ, marking a great end to yet another very impressive week.
They win back-to-back blades in Torpids, finishing +6 overall as Univ subsequently bumped St Catz.
M1 were always going to be hard pushed to keep moving up the 1st Division, with a high starting position of 6th on the river meaning there were only good crews ahead and behind.
Wednesday saw M1 row over well clear of Oriel behind them, and whilst we initially gained on Balliol ahead closing down to 3/4 of a length, a scrappy section along Greenbanks allowed them to escape.
On Thursday M1 had a strong and fast Wolfson crew chasing us which meant the odds were stacked against us. We managed to hold them off for most of the way down the Greenbanks but concession was inevitable and so this put us at -1 after two days.
Friday saw a very tight and challenging race for M1. Oriel were behind us once more, and with a fast LMH crew behind them they pushed us hard from the gut until the finish, closing to within 1/4 of a length. However, after Oriel were bumped by LMH we put in a strong push along boathouse island and crossed the line with a more comfortable gap.
On Saturday, with LMH behind us and St Catherine's ahead, M1 produced their best performance of the week by far. With a strong start and stride, we entered the gut 1/4 length off St Catherine's and with 2.5 lengths advantage over LMH. St Catherine's ran across to the towpath side of the river and from this point the bump was never in doubt. We caught them crossing over to Univ, getting a well-earned bump and finishing level for the week.
A highly successful Torpids for SJCBC; we look to build on these achievements for Summer Eights where W1 have a chance to race for the Headship.