Sun, heat and lots of rowing - our boat club’s busy summer

by Poly Frangou, Women's Captain on 3 October 2016

For the majority of Cambridge colleges, May Bumps mark the end of the rowing year. Rowers, coxes and coaches say goodbye for the summer and the boats are put away or sent for repairs in preparation for the next season. At Lucy Cavendish this is not the case: over the long break we train our summer squad, mix up our crews, participate in races on and off the river Cam and enjoy the lovely British weather. After all, this is why we train diligently all year and persevere through the low temperatures and the rainy mornings: so that we can have fun in the warm and sunny summer evenings in Cambridge.

This summer, we wished to give all our members racing experience on a river different than the one they are used to, by participating in British Rowing events around East Anglia and enjoying side-by-side racing, which is not very frequent on our narrow river. It has been the club’s busiest summer so far, with crews entering five different regattas.

In British Rowing events, the category in which a crew is racing depends on the number of points the crew members hold in total. Rowers are awarded points when they win the final of a British Rowing event. A crew without points is a Novice crew and as long as even one rower has a point the crew becomes an Intermediate crew. There are three intermediate classes (IM3, IM2, IM1), with increasing number of points per crew.

The first regatta we entered was held at St. Neots. We raced with an VIII in the IM3 division. This was the first race off the Cam for the newest member of our fleet, Lucky Lucy, donated by Dr. Lindsey Traub, former fellow of Lucy Cavendish College and our club’s great supporter. After a powerful race the crew beat Maidstone Invicta in the final and came home with pots and for many of us our first rowing point.

Our very supportive boatman, Pete Twitchett, whom we share with Emmanuel College BC, kindly let us borrow a IV to train and race for the rest of the summer. This drastically changed our training and racing opportunities. Rowing in a IV requires being more technical and focused than in an VIII and can help make massive improvements both individually and as a crew. We entered a Novice IV+ crew in Sudbury Regatta, where more points and pots were collected! After very few outings together and for the first time in a IV, the crew beat Cantabs by 3 and Sudbury by 4 lengths, winning their division! We would like to thank Sudbury Rowing Club for giving us one of their boats to race in, after we couldn’t find a way to trailer our IV there!

One of the most popular summer regattas takes place in Peterborough over two days, on the purpose built rowing lake next to river Nene. Our club went there on the Sunday, when the 500m sprints are raced. The exciting feature of this regatta is the multiple lanes side-by-side, just like the Olympics, so we got our taste of Rio racing!

Preparations for Peterborough included a lot of training in multiple crews, as we entered two women’s IVs and a mixed VIII with the men’s side of the club from Hughes Hall. It had been a while since the last time our combined club did a mixed crew and the result was beautiful and entertaining outings, bringing together different rowing styles but the same morale. We may split the stroke at different parts and we may need a customised boat with varying footplates and gate heights, but at the end of the day we share the same passion for rowing and HHLCCBC! We raced in the IM3 VIIIs final and rowed well against big clubs from around the UK.

Originally entering a Novice and an IM3 coxed IV, both our women’s crews were bumped up a division, in IM3 and IM2 respectively, after the success in Sudbury the previous week, since most rowers now had points! Joined by alumnae Abbey Child and Catherine Quinn, as well as our W1 coach Hannah Spry, we thoroughly enjoyed training for these races! For the IM2 IV+, the first outing with the whole crew took place at river Nene and felt like an adventure. The absolutely stunning scenery, together with the excitement of the unknown river and the appearance of a river T junction (!) made this an incredible experience. The crew qualified for the final after a thrilling heat where they finished second for 0.7s, being ahead for most of the race. They came third in the final. Our IM3 IV+ had a very tough draw against three strong London clubs, but gave a really good fight and stood proud next to them, after only three outings. We may have not brought back pots, but we had a lovely fun day full of races, being the only Cambridge College participating with IVs and VIIIs.


Our next race was the Cambridge Regatta, organised by Cantabs. Our club was once again the only Cambridge college racing. Our women did very well in the timed race, as well as in the side-by-side race against Cantabs, in the IM3 IV+ category. Our men won the Novice IV+ division with a strong push in the last 100m!

The last regatta of the season was Cambridge Autumn Regatta, organised by Cambridge 99s. We entered a women’s IM3 IV+ who raced against Devil’s Elbow RC from Long Eaton and won by 4 lengths. In the final against Downing College, they lost by ½ length after a strong race. On the men’s side, we entered a Novice IV+, who beat Devil’s Elbow in the heat for 3 lengths and Sudbury in the final for 2.5 lengths, winning the division!

As the women’s captain, I couldn’t be more proud of our busy summer and what we achieved as a squad. The main characteristic of senior rowing in Michaelmas is the fresh start – new crews, new line-ups, new training goals. We are going into term having built a great platform over summer, having worked with multiple crew combinations and having given all our members the opportunity to race. Thanks to the IV we borrowed from Emmanuel Boat Club Fit Via Vi translated as “The way is made by force” or “Strength is the way”, we worked our way through the regattas with our strength: the depth of our squad and our love for rowing. Now I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

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