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.”