2014 – 2015

Officers: President Frederick Parker; Men’s Captain Alexander Pavitt; Women’s Captains Nicola Oldroyd & Naomi Bradshaw

The Boat Club has had a good year. Not only have the men’s 2nd VIII achieved four bumps in both Torpids and Eights, but also the men’s 1st VIII achieved an impressive five bumps in Eights. The women have coped remarkably with the loss of almost every experienced rower at the end of last year and have put together a sound platform for the next few years. Overall participation is up, with five crews entering Torpids and seven crews entering Eights. Thanks to the very generous support of the 1837 Society a new pair and two new cox boxes were purchased which will continue to aid rowers’ development over the coming years. Special thanks should go to Terry Baker, to the Boat Club committee, and to the 1837 Society committee for their hard work. The support from across the College has also been inspiring.

Men’s Rowing

In Michaelmas Term the men’s squad consisted of two boats of returning or experienced oarsmen and two novice men’s eights. The aim for Michaelmas Term for the two senior crews was to focus on technical improvements and build up a strong fitness base. Training gradually built up to the point that the 1st VIII had eight training sessions per week. Both senior crews competed in the Isis Winter League and put in strong performances. The 2nd VIII was the fastest second boat competing and the 1st VIII was only a few seconds behind some first division crews. These strong performances continued in the regatta at Fairbairns in Cambridge. The 1st VIII put in another solid performance beating many Cambridge colleges’ 1st VIIIs, and the 2nd VIII performed commendably.

For the novice boats, the Michaelmas focus was on acquiring essential technique, with the longer-term goal of qualification for Torpids, Christ Church regatta taking a peripheral role. Nevertheless, Queen’s was able to field two novice eights in Christ Church regatta, the strongest of which progressed all the way through to Saturday. Unfortunately, due to the immense strength of one of the rowers, the boat was always being pulled around to one side and this, coupled with a bad starting position, resulted in the crew losing the quarter-final.

The senior men’s crews trained very hard over the Christmas vacation, including on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Unfortunately the men’s crews were not allowed to return to Oxford until a week before the start of term. However, training recommenced immediately with fierce, and prolonged, competition for seats in both boats for Torpids. As only the 1st VIII was in a fixed division for Torpids, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th VIIIs had to compete in the rowing-on races. The 2nd VIII easily managed to row on, securing its place in Torpids. However, the 3rd and 4th crews suffered some last minute withdrawals and had to draw on some more inexperienced rowers, the result being that neither boat qualified.

The first day of Torpids saw successes for the 2nd VIII, bumping Balliol III, and the 1st VIII over-bumping Somerville. On the second day the 2nd VIII continued its surge with an impressive long row, managing to bump St Benet’s Hall 1st VIII by the end of the Island. Unfortunately, this was not matched by the 1st VIII which, with three boats bumping out in front of them came within a length of achieving the quadruple overbump. Going from strength to strength the 2nd VIII put in another valiant performance bumping Green Templeton 2nd VIII quickly on the third day, and pulled off an overbump on Merton 2nd VIII coming out of the Gut. On the third and final days the 1st VIII was only able to row over behind Lady Margaret Hall. Both crews learnt a great deal from Torpids and training for Eights commenced halfway through the eighth week of Hilary Term.

The Easter vacation also saw a very structured schedule, involving training on the rowing machines almost every day. Trialling and selection, based on ergometer and water tests, began almost immediately after returning to Oxford. With the return of Rowan Arthur from the University Lightweights and Hugo Forshaw, an O.U.B.C. cox, the strength and depth of talent sent the Club into Eights Week with great confidence. Despite losing a significant number of finalists, Queen’s was able to enter five boats into Eights, the most of any college.

The first day of Eights brought success for the 1st VIII which carried out a spectacular bump on Somerville coming out of the Gut. Because of a breakdown in communication between the two coxes the bump was completed with the bow of the Queen’s boat in the number five seat of the Somerville eight. However, due to the magical powers of Terry Baker, the Queen’s boat was ready to row again the following day. The 2nd VIII carried out a quick and efficient bump on Green Templeton 2nd VIII, the 3rd VIII managed to bump Keble 4th VIII, and Queen’s 4th VIII was awarded a technical row-over at the foot of the river.

The second day brought more success. The 1st VIII bumped Corpus Christi coming out of the Gut with a very controlled and mature row. The 2nd VIII bumped Wadham 3rd VIII quickly to solidify further its position in the fixed divisions. The 3rd and 4th VIIIs both managed to row over. The third day of Eights was set to be the toughest day for the 1st VIII. In order to reach the goal of making the move to the second division it would have to bump both Christ Church 2nd VIII and Exeter. The bumping of Christ Church 2nd VIII was easily completed but after an aborted start caused by a hail storm, the 1st VIII produced its best row of the week by bumping an Exeter crew that contained the O.U.B.C. President-elect at Donnington Bridge. The 2nd VIII continued its impressive form of not having to row for longer than a minute before achieving another quick bump, this time on St Anne’s 2nd VIII.

With two Queen’s crews each needing a bump on the last day of Eights to meet their target, the Club was pleased to receive the support of a very large number of supporters from College. The 2nd VIII bumped Christ Church 3rd VIII during its start sequence, reaching a total of eight bumps in eight days, and maintaining its record of not having to row further than Donnington Bridge on any day of racing. The 1st VIII had four bumps in the bag but just needed a final one on St Peter’s. Queen’s closed in to three-quarters of a length off the start then settled into its rhythm, the bump coming under Donnington Bridge, thereby earning a Bump Supper for the first time in the current century.

Women’s Rowing

The Q.C.B.C. women’s crews did not share the good fortune of the men, having very little experience in their ranks at the beginning of the year. In fact, at the beginning of Michaelmas Term the 1st VIII had only one member prepared to commit herself to rowing in Eights, the academic pressure being felt by the rest being so great. However, a large number of novice freshers was recruited and produced an eight that reached the fourth round of Christ Church regatta. All the members of the squad worked hard over the Christmas vacation with an eye on Torpids, but it took a change in coach to improve the Club’s attitude, focus and quality. The crew still suffered from inexperience and starting in second place in the second division was a position that the 1st VIII did not expect to hold. Despite some encouraging performances the eight did suffer its expected fall. Training and further recruitment continued at the beginning of Trinity Term and when Eights Week arrived Queen’s had the making of two good eights. In fact both fell three positions in Eights, but hopes are high for next year when most members of the crews will be returning.

There is little doubt that the Club now has the enthusiasm and experience to make positive moves in Torpids and Eights and, with some recruitment from amongst the freshers, it is the aim to enter three boats in each. The Club is very grateful for the efforts of coach Lea Carrott and the captaincy team of Nicola Oldroyd, Emily Venn and Emma Roberts, and the help given by the waterman, Terry Baker.