This year VMBC sent two VIIIs down to London for Womens Head of the River. 239 crews started after the organisers stopped many inexperianced crews racing. Thankfully both VMBC VIII's were adjudged to be competent enough despite the fast stream. Despite the wear flooding all term leading to a lack of water outings both crews had worked hard to gel as a team. The 1st VIII did extremely well to come 5th out the colleges. The 2nd VIII were equally successful and beat the only other college 2nd VIII to be allowed to enter. Read on for race reports from members of the crews!
WeHoRR 1st VIII race report (written by Bettina Riddle)
On Saturday 15th March 2014, VMBC Women's 1st VIII (Emily Clark, Ellie Willett, Isabel Banister, Bettina Riddle, Lucy Colgrave, Rose Earland, Maria Haag, Natalie Tunstall-Jackman, coxed by Hannah Pittaway) competed in London in the Women's Eights Head of the River. Throughout Epiphany term, the girls trained hard clocking weekly 7ks and travelling to Tyne for extra water sessions in Trust in Mildert. The week before WeHoRR the crew was kindly prepped and coached by Peter Gadsden, the new Men’s Captain, and Tom Arney, the current Novice Development Captain. The women focused on power in the drive and timing through several drills in lengthening provided by Gadsden.
The women’s crew was very lucky to be joined by Hannah Pittaway as cox for WeHoRR. She gave her time and experience to planning and preparing for the race and was invaluable to the performance and morale of the crew. Her calls were quick, direct, and highly motivational, calling upon each woman’s strengths and weaknesses until they gave it their everything.
In the midst of boating it was discovered that one of TiM’s hatchets was missing and one was kindly lent to the crew from Thames Rowing Club. With that the women swiftly boated and headed up stream to the start of the race. On their way up they focused on technique and were excitedly surprised as Leander Club (who came second overall in the race) rowed past with intense stokes and beautiful technique. Inspired by these women, Van Mildert’s 1st VIII readied themselves at the start with a crowd of VMBC parents, alumni, and supporters cheering the crew on at Hammersmith Bridge.
At the start, the women’s crew took off at rate 30 holding long strong strokes. With each woman’s powerful draw, Mildert spirited through the first section of the race, helped by a strong stream. Although they were overtaken by Agecroft BC, the women held the other crew off until the opposing cox challenged Pittaway for their line. The rate was then brought up by Clark to 32 keeping all other boats behind them at bay. Pittaway urged for more vigour aided by encouragement from the power four in the centre of the boat (Colgrave, Riddle, Banister, & Earland). With a surge after Hammersmith bridge, stroke pair, Clark & Willett, steadied and then pushed the crew harder, bring the rate up to 33. With even drives from Tunstall-Jackman and Haag, the women’s 1st VIII finished with style.
The crew finished 171th, with a time of 21.31.2. This result was a very respectable finish from the crew, and a great end to the head season for the women’s squad. VMBC has shown that it is a force to be reckoned with, and the regatta season promises further success for the women
Womes 2nd VIII WeHoRR report (written by Ceci Spriggs)
Crew: Louise Fallon, Ceci Spriggs, Audrey Bellis, Anna Morris, Charlotte Bambridge, Rebekah Lyndon, Heidi Fitchett, Agnes Hillered; coxed by Jocelyn Hutch
On saturday 15th March, with the sun shining and birds chirping, Cygnet boathouse was the perfect place for the 2nd VIII to sit back, work on their tans and have a rest before WeHORR 2014. That was the Castle 2nd VIII. In true Mildert style we were battling with detrailering the bathtub that is Ham Hoo, discovering she was missing screws, a completely disintegrated bolt holding on the rigger at 4 and trying to tackle the problem of how to not sink in the race when we discovered that the boat was in fact not entirely watertight. However with teamwork, a bit of stress and a fair bit of thievery (I mean, did Aiden's actually need all the bolts holding the two halves of the boat together..) we managed to assemble our beautiful boat and embark on a crew photoshoot and last minute carb-loading, a task that we all took very seriously.
With help from alumni Heather Reay it was finally time to start boating. Once on the water we soon realised that we were on the wrong side of the river with no way to cross to the other side with the race already being under way, we had a slight stress (read: major panic) but finally, what felt like an eternity later, it was our turn to race. The countless early mornings, painful ergos and all the time and effort each and every member of the crew have put into training the last term certainly paid off and we set off strongly, perfectly calculated through the start by the beautiful Jocelyn Hutch. Louise Fallon at stroke, inspired by Tom Arney's advice to 'not take sh*t from anyone', quickly settled us into our much practiced rate which, teamed with every members dedication meant we managed to hold off a DU crew (admittedly novices but who gives a..) untill well beyond the 2k mark.
After pushing off hammersmith bridge, encouraged by the shouts of support from family and friends, the last 3k were, as promised, hard and painful. But with Joss's shouts of 'DON'T DIE' and thinspiration for summer bikini bodies as we passed the Harrods depository, we made it to the last stretch and with a final pressure for ten, shredded hands and burning bums we finally passed the finish line.
The pain was all worth it when we ended up coming first out of the 2nd VIII's. Admittedly, there were only two but noone else needs to know that and we all agreed, as did Mark from DARC (our new bezzie mate), that our 0.3 second victory was all the more impressive considering the whole 'rowing in a bathtub meant for 90kg men' situe. Although some of the photos suggest otherwise the boat felt balanced and strong, with the whole crew working as one, and our attractively distorted faces in the photos show what an incredible effort everyone made, and how much every single member invested in the race. A huge thankyou to Ellie Willett for giving us the chance to race, the whole crew had a fantastic race, enjoyable day and, most importantly, beat Castle!