by Nina Faure Beaulieu, stroke
There was no better way to end the term than a crew trip to London to take part in Women’s Eights Head of the River Race. Following on such a successful Torpids for all of our crews, this race was an opportunity enjoy rowing with a little less pressure on our shoulders, as well as a great chance to step out of the Oxford rowing bubble. For three of our rowers: Meryem Arik, Hannah Asiki, and Eleanor Fielding, this would be their first tideway race - and more importantly, their first distance longer than the Isis 2k! Our cox, Olivia Murray, had also never coxed the tideway before and was going to have to change from her usual calls of the last week that had mostly been about how close we were to bumping! Luckily, Amanda Thomas was experienced with WEHoRR and talked Liv through important info such as bridge order and getting used to being shouted at by marshals.
In the morning, after fuelling ourselves on pancakes and nutella, we set off to Cygnet rowing club where Marlow RC had very generously offered to let us borrow a boat. We arrived to witness a lawn filled with rows and rows of boats from rowing clubs from all over the country. With so many boats waiting to go on the river, WEHoRR chaos quickly settled in and after a stressful hour of rigging, to heads, to waist, to heads again, to shoulders, and queuing, we were finally off! The wait to our race was long but far from boring. We were all very excited to be on a river three times the width of the ISIS and this was evident from the numerous times Olivia had to ask some of us (Juliette & Meryem - captain and novice) to keep our heads in the boat…
Finally, when it was our time to start, we picked up the pace and shot out of Chiswick bridge ready to take on this 6.8km course. The race was tough and long but guided by Olivia, we overtook two crews and did not let anyone overtake us. We didn’t get bumped during Torpids and we sure as hell weren’t going to get bumped on the Tideway! The push off Hammersmith bridge was nothing like any of us had experienced before: with hundreds of spectators cheering the boats on it really felt like we were part of something big. After crossing the finishing line, we were all exhausted but enjoyed a row back snacking on large amounts of chocolates. During the race we managed to move from position 199 to 159 with a time of 21.31, which was definitely a feat to be proud of!
This was a fantastic end to Hilary term, leaving the girls hungry for Summer VIIs and ready to tackle holiday training to prepare for more bumps success next term!
by Anna Clark
On the 5th of March 2016, 8 Somerville women travelled to London from Oxford to participate in Women’s Eight Head of the River Race (WEHoRR). The last time this competition saw the Somerville women’s crew was in 1996. 20 years later, SCBC returned, eager to reclaim their status as a strong rowing college. The 6.8k headrace was completely different from the short few hundred meter bursts we were all used to on the Isis and during Torpids, which had happened a week before. This race was the opportunity for many to both row on the Tideway and row the boat race course for the very first time. It was an incredible experience and SCBC definitely made a strong appearance by coming 4th out of the 13 Oxford crews that participated! This was an amazing event for all of us that took part and here are accounts from two members of the crew on what it was like.
The first is from Juliette Perry, a novice rower who joined the club this academic year and learned to row from scratch with SCBC but who’s commitment to the squad and training got her a seat in the WEHoRR crew. The next is from Caitlin Evans, boatclub president, for whom it was her last time to row with SCBC. Caitlin was captain last year and she has been an incredible force in transforming SCWBC into a rapidly improving squad.
Juliette Perry - “Having learnt to row at Oxford, I had never seen quite so many boats as there were marshalling at the start of the WEHoRR 2016. Equally I had never rowed in hail before, as the sky clouded over and the heavens opened – at first pouring rain, and later large chunks of ice – on the hundreds of women’s eights sitting on the start line. I had only ever rowed on the Isis (and once on the Cam), and had never done a head race I was totally unprepared for charging down the river with surrounded by other boats, with a cacophony of coxes screeching across the water. It was absolutely brilliant. The course was further than we had rowed in all 4 days of Torpids, but competing in such a huge event and watching some of the best women’s crews in the UK fly past made the cold, training, and pain worth it. Rowing with Somerville has been amazing, I’ve learnt so much this term – especially from the senior rowers who always have great advice or a funny anecdote – and WEHoRR was another incredible experience with the Somerville Women’s team, ending a great term on a massive high!”
Caitlin Evans - “Somerville Boat Club this year competed in the biggest headrace of the year. It was an incredible event to be part of. With the help and guidance of our former coach, Mike Landers, who coxed us brilliantly through the course, we had an incredible and exciting afternoon of racing. One of the best things about the event was the exposure it gave the whole team to the rowing world outside the Oxford bubble. The top boats, who we watched at the beginning of their races, were incredible. The whole team felt inspired to perform both in the next twenty minutes and in the future. In terms of the actual race, we had a really steady strong performance from all the athletes; we kept the rate and intensity high throughout the race, which was a strong test for a team only used to rowing the length of the Isis. I am very proud of all the girls for their commitment this year in getting us to a standard that we could compete at that level, especially Nina, our Captain, who put a huge amount of work into arranging our trip and leading the team.”