The women of St Hilda’s College Boat Club recently enjoyed a very successful day at the annual Bedford Amateur Rowing Regatta. Our boat, led by captain Sarah Hewett, entered the Women’s Novice Coxed Fours event, and despite having only two outings as a crew under our belt in preparation for the event, progressed to the Semi-finals after winning the first race against the Norwich School by a comfortable 3 lengths. The second race proved to be more of a challenge, as we came up against a strong crew from the City of Cambridge Rowing Club, yet still managed another 3 length victory thanks to clean and solid rowing. Encouraged by the St Hilda’s College men and the blazing sunshine, we set out for one last race, the final, against Dame Alice Harpur School. As we readied ourselves on the start line, the weather changed dramatically and we were forced to withstand both torrential rain and a strong start from the other crew. The final was our closest race of theday, with the Dame Alice school putting up a good fight until three quarters of the way through the race, where our strength and determination paid off and we took a one and a half length lead before the finish. The rain certainly added to the drama of the occasion as our very soggy and triumphant crew headed off to collect our award of a pewter tankard each. The whole day was a wonderful experience for all those involved, and we certainly felt proud to represent St Hilda’s College boat club outside of Oxford. For some of us, it was our first opportunity to row away from university, with the added excitement of side by side racing which we rarely experience on the Isis. The win in Bedford has been a great confidence boost for both the crew and the whole rowing club coming into Summer Eights, where we hope to continue our success.
by Rachel Scoffield
The Easter holidays ended with a rowing training camp for the boys. Sunny days filled with long outings on quiet rivers got everyone excited about rowing this term. Rowing down the Thames to Radley for a few pieces got everyone used to long sessions in the boat and did wonders for everybody's technical work.
Our evenings were also spent together as the first years were put up in by the second years in their houses. This helped everyone to get to know each other better across the crews as well as allowing some time for holiday work which had been left over the previous weeks. The training ended with a row out to Abingdon where the local rowing club kindly provided us with some racking space, we then spent the last day training in the town to prepare for a head race the next day.
A slight misunderstanding by me over the entry system gave us a very early start time, and we cycled to the race as the sun rose. However tiredness quickly left us as we were taken in by the atmosphere of what I thought to be a wonderfully organised event. Clubs from all over the country had traveled down to take part and for some of us it was a first taste of rowing outside the university.
As we paddled up to the start line we were amazed, partly by the sheer number of boats (around 100 in each of the 4 divisions!) but also by the friendliness of the other crews before the race. The piece itself was very strong, our boat flew up the river from start to finish and a special mention must go to Adam Blackburn who due to conditions last term only really got his first taste of coxing at the training camp. However he drove us calmly from the cockpit steering us perfectly throughout the course and controlled two unexpected over takes very well.
After we'd packed our boat away we decided to watch the other divisions and look around the town. We were overwhelmed when the results came in showing how despite it being tight (we were only 7 seconds faster than the second placed crew from Edinburgh University) we had won our class! Hopefully we will build on this throughout term and go onto a successful summer eights and regatta season.
By Will Hepburn