2015 – 2016
Officers: President Poppy Middleton; Men’s Captain George Watkinson; Women’s Captain Alissa Machin
The men’s squad started Michaelmas Term with few returning oarsmen from the previous years. Recruitment of novices was therefore the main focus and the link that the Club has with Wycliffe Hall proved particularly fruitful. The aim for Michaelmas Term was to focus on technical training and fitness for both 1st VIII returning rowers and novices who had recently joined. The 1st VIII entered the Isis winter league and were relatively fast. In the meantime the novices were training for Christ Church regatta and were making vast improvements in terms of fitness and technique. Queen’s made it through to the Friday of Christ Church regatta having beaten a good number of crews in side by side racing. Unfortunately, they were defeated by a strong crew which went on to win the regatta.
After Christ Church regatta the crews were joined together and fitness and technical work remained the priority. Hilary Term began with a training camp in Oxford, soon after which seat racing commenced and the crews were set for Torpids bump racing. Unfortunately the 2nd VIII did not qualify to race and the 1st VIII were finding it difficult to train as the Isis was closed for many weeks leading up to Torpids. This lack of water training showed, and the men’s 1st VIII did not have a successful Torpids campaign.
Nevertheless, both crews were determined to make the training hours count for future success in summer Eights. Both crews went on a training camp at the beginning of Trinity Term and spent two solid days on technical work as well as practicing starts and one kilometre pieces. By fifth week both the 1st and 2nd VIII appeared strong. Indeed, the 1st VIII bumped on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Blades were in sight, but unfortunately it could not catch the very fast Pembroke crew on Saturday. The 2nd VIII had a mixed four days, being bumped on the first due to a problem in the boat, bumping on Thursday, rowing over on Friday, and disappointingly being bumped on the Saturday.
This past year has had its challenges, but the maturity and work of both crews has laid a solid foundation for a stronger performance in 2016-17.
This year marks a turning point for the women’s squad. In October it consisted of five seniors from the previous year as well as welcoming back the Boat Club President, Poppy Middleton, after her year abroad. Michaelmas Term was crucial for the senior rowers, mainly focusing on improving fitness for the coming terms. Under the instruction of new coach, Susie Dear, there was a discernible change in the attitude of the squad, as everyone began to understand the meaning of hard work in the series of gruelling weekly thirty-minute erg tests that were to become a routine part of the training schedule. The novice recruitment drive was strong and successful in Michaelmas Term and it was an enthusiastic crew that made it through to the Friday of Christ Church regatta.
Hilary Term training began well, in spite of the temperamental river conditions and frequent red flag warnings. Water time was limited for all crews on the Isis. The squad took this as an opportunity to maximise improvements in technique in tank sessions in the Iffley gym, building on the baseline fitness that had been established over the winter vacation. The squad was also joined by several more freshers, which was an encouraging development. However, it was a challenge to put together eight rowers who were able to put in the necessary training to form a consistent 2nd VIII, which led to its failure to qualify for Torpids, but it did just manage to qualify for Eights and made a valiant effort against very strong crews. The 1st VIII made huge improvements compared with its performance in Torpids 2015, paving the way for the Eights campaign. The same discrepancy in this year’s and last year’s performance was apparent in the 1st VIII’s performance in summer Eights in which it rowed over on two of the four days. With many members of the crews returning for 2016-17, improvements made this year will be invaluable and next year seems very promising.