From boat-stopping ‘crabs’ to the best novice men’s eight, Wadham College Boat Club Captain James Evry (Zoology, 2015) reports on Christ Church Regatta.
"From Wednesday to Saturday of 7th Week, two women’s and three men’s crews from Wadham culminated their first term’s rowing with Christ Church Regatta, a large annual event held for novice rowers from across the University. Training and entering five crews was an achievement in itself, but our novice squad performed fantastically well.
On the women’s side, the WB boat overcame limited water time to win their first race through to the second round. Our WA boat was very strong and made it through to the last-16. They may well have gone through to the final were it not for an unlucky boat-stopping ‘crab’ that brought their regatta to a premature close.
On the men’s side, MC came tantalisingly close to winning their first race, but like WA, they suffered a catastrophic crab near the finish line. MB proved the dark horses of the regatta, beating several other college’s top crews to make it through the last-16. A very respectable performance.
The ultimate prize went to MA. Fighting off some very tough competition, they won six races to make it through the final against Balliol, bettering them by over a length to claim the title of best novice men’s eight of the 64 racing. We believe this is the first time that Wadham men have won Christ Church Regatta, and it is a truly outstanding achievement for all involved. It took a great deal of commitment from the rowers and their coaches, Rod Andrews, Steph Hall and Kjølv Egeland, but the thrill of racing and elation after winning showed that it was absolutely worth the effort!"
Sam Durley (Theology, Harris Manchester), who rowed in the 2-seat in Wadham’s winning MA crew, shares his experience of his first term of rowing:
Rowing; Why wouldn’t you?
Rowing appears to be impossibly hard work. Endless training, being super fit, complete with the complication of having to row a boat with seven other people. It all seems rather tough when you have a degree to do. Granted, the training schedule would not fall into the category of casual.
Additionally, rowing has its fair share of incomprehensible vocabulary to be learnt; ‘stroke’ is confusingly both a side of the boat and one of the people in the boat, ‘back down’ means row forwards, and when your coach says “Does that make sense?” what she really means is, “Oh come on, I have been telling you the same thing for the last six weeks and you still won’t listen.” But in week 1, eight men with nothing uniting them but the thought of ‘let’s have a go anyway’ and the sole qualification of being able to swim fifty metres, started learning to row.
Early mornings put people off rowing. The source of motivation for getting out of bed in the nascent hours of the day is often questioned, especially as Wadham train at the northern end of Port Meadow requiring an even earlier alarm-clock setting. If you witness the sun rising over Oxford, waking up the fauna of Port Meadow and illuminating the eastern aspect of the spire-laden skyline, then you may find for yourself a source of motivation. Like our coach, we could never tell whether the cattle or geese of the meadows were impressed with our rowing, rather, they stood as silent observers of our morning’s training. Nothing but the splash of our blades breaking the water disturbed the tranquillity. Well, that and our coach yelling at us through a megaphone. But early mornings on the water, technical training sessions and long hours in the basement gym of Wadham College was the formula we followed until the arrival of week 7 when our novice rowing experience reached its zenith at the Christ Church Regatta.
The start line of the race is neutral, only the finish will determine which crew is better. Though some crews will try and convince you otherwise. Because we trained away from the other boathouses this was our first contact with our opposition. They were bigger, stronger, over-confident. For them the race was won at the start, the river was theirs. The river, however, is a true and cruel mistress. She will make you feel like her favourite when none truly are. The starting process is rapid, “Attention, Go.” Then the hours our coach, our cox, our captain, and the whole boat club had invested in us paid off.
We crossed the finish line first, not just in once, but every time. We won Christ Church Regatta. We weren’t an extraordinary crew of individuals, we were just eight guys who fancied having a go at rowing and worked hard. If you fancy doing something new with unexpected benefits and unexpected outcomes, then have a go at rowing. You won’t regret it.