Emma Sprints 2021

1st Novice VIII – lost to Christ’s and won against LMBC NW1

It was a sunny yet crisp day out on the Cam as we prepared ourselves for our first ever race. Spirits were high and the sun was shining down on the 1st Novice VIII as we began our first challenge of the day: assembling our costumes. The theme for our costumes was cops and robbers, taking inspiration from the infamous Rowbridge #8030 in which NCBC was given the helpful advice, “Don’t steal. Be good”.

Having assembled our costumes, we all gathered around to take some crew photos before hopping into the boat and setting off to the marshalling zone. Something amiss was brewing in the air whilst we paddled up towards the Reach as a series of unfortunate events befell Lady Godiva, our beloved boat. To begin, Asma’s police hat flew off into the distance, sinking down to the bottom of the Cam where it will live out its days. We then proceeded to collide with a gang of swans who seemed set on preventing us from reaching our destination.

Moving swiftly on from the chaos that had befallen our crew before we had even reached the marshalling zone, we remained in high hopes, blissfully unaware of what was later to come.

After having arrived at the marshalling zone, we parked up and eagerly awaited the beginning of the race. We had to pull into the bank and put our blades onto the grass. Sitting at such an angle caused me great trepidation, as everyone knows my fear of an angled boat. Meanwhile, Eliza caught the best crab of her rowing career, which we will label a ‘land crab’ – don’t ask how, Eliza does not know herself, but it was rather impressive, nonetheless. Our next challenge was clapping along to ‘We Will Rock You’, which was as interesting as always with the 1st Novice VIII’s liberal approach to tempos. Sadly, unlike our predecessors, no one sang with us, so we had to belt for the entire river. Finally, it was our time to take the start line and prepare for our first ever race as a crew against Christ’s.

The Marshall called “Attention, GO!” and we set off. We got going, and the race start (surprisingly) was a success. However, in typical 1st Novice VIII fashion, things very quickly got chaotic…

As we started taking the first few strokes, I heard a desperate cry from behind as April screamed my name to get me to drop out. At this stage, I was remaining calm, thinking that April had simply caught a crab and that bow pair were going to make a swift return to the race. As I turned to see what the issue was, I saw that April’s entire blade had flown out of the gate. I turned around to try and help April retrieve her blade which was inches away from taking a dip into the river.

Having saved April’s blade from the depths of the Cam, I heard April shouting at me to watch my blade but alas, it was too late. I turned around to catch a boat-quaking crab. Bow pair out, it was down to the more reliable stern 6 to keep rowing on, unaware of the shambles that was occurring at the back of the boat.

It was incredible watching stern 6 desperately fight Christ’s 8 to keep up. They held on for a while before the Marshal demanded that we stop in fear that one of the bow pair were injured (don’t worry, our only injuries were emotional). This gave us an opportunity to recover ourselves and race on. Unfortunately, it was too far gone, and we were unable to catch back up.

The loss of the race took its toll on us. It was a rough 5 minutes. However, we had to recollect ourselves as we still had a final race to go, against LMBC’s NW1. This was our shot at redemption.

Motivated by the events of our first race, we were determined to succeed. When the Marshal called to go, we set off at our fastest ever pace; 36 strokes a minute. We maintained this rate for the entirety of the race. With square blades and swift catches, we steamed to a resounding victory, and it felt as though we had won the entire competition!

Running on the highs of our victory, we (somewhat chaotically) paddled back to our patch of grass, performing some questionable slaps which involved no rhythm and even worse technique. The LBCs and senior crew members watching from the sidelines were extremely confused, to say the least, but we were all having a good time!

We finally reached our station, got the boat out and had a quick debrief partnered with some free mince pies. Emma Sprints was a bit of a rollercoaster, but it taught us lots, both individually and as a group. We are now very excited to partake in Fairbairns and hope to have a much more successful racing experience this time around

– April Wells and Eliza Rippengal (Bow pair)

2nd Novice VIII – lost against Lucy Cavendish and lost against Wolfson

Having garnered a fair bit of speed and power in training, we were feeling quite confident as we pulled up to the start line. But our hopes of winning were quickly dashed when we crashed straight into the bank, and (quite hilariously) brushed against it in very shallow water for a good chunk of the race. Quite remarkably, we managed to make a good recovery and almost catch up to Lucy Cav but despite giving all we had, we couldn’t quite make up the distance in such a short race.

In our second race against Wolfson, we were determined to secure at least one victory. But unfortunately (and very hilariously), we crashed again and came to a complete stop while Wolfson got ahead. Though we were speedy enough to start to close the gap between us, it was not quite enough to win the race.

Nevertheless, racing for the first time as a team together was still incredibly fun, and Emma sprints turned out to be just as chaotic as we were promised it would be!

– Amber Marino (7)