Hardy’s Boat Race Diary: Week 5

So who was voted the most eligible Blues rower?

blues rowing boat race hardy cubasch

Last week’s little piece of Valentine’s Day fun certainly appeared to get the Cambridge juices flowing. 1,200 votes were cast by our town’s finest single ladies.

However, not one personal email was sent to any of our dashing young bachelors. Now there I was thinking that our beloved University was heading towards a balance between the sexes.

Intrigued, I did some reading and found that, although research suggests that to an extent both women and men perceive feminism to be in conflict with romance, studies of undergraduates and older adults have shown that feminism has positive impacts on relationship health. So step on up and take charge ladies, that young man of your dreams might just be a simple click of the mouse away. And in case you’re wondering, yes, they are all still single and awaiting their angel…

To the results then. The young, shy and pre-pubescent George “The Laminator” Lamb certainly hit the ground running and appeared to have a strong pull on the heart strings of many a young Cambridge girl. However, rumour has it that outside assistance was received and that his personal harem had made it their quest to put their man top, using their status within John’s and the wider University to help ensure the votes came through. Either way “The Laminator”, now more commonly known as “The Lame-inator”, looks set to meet his love during his time at Cambridge.

                      The Lame-inator

First place however eluded this Freshman. Who then took the honour? While the wild adventurer Matt Whaley and ultimate father figure Pete McClelland shared the lonely-hearted middle aged female PhD & fellow demographic, the four hundred votes they split were not enough either.

So surely then it must have been Nick “The Thunder from Down Under” Edelman. He certainly stole the hearts of every young female Land Economist and was spotted on multiple occasions autographing colour printouts of The Tab outside Mill Lane lecture rooms. Never had a Monday morning Paper 3 stats lecture seen quite the attendance following the Sunday release of his risqué nude profile shot. Having also received interview requests from iconic magazines such as Fitlads and Boyz, I was sure this bronzed Aussie would top the rankings.

But oh just how wrong I was and a valuable lesson I have learned. Never underestimate the power of teenage Britain. For all those that questioned me, yes he is a member of CUBC but no he is definitely not one of the rowers. When word reached his younger sister that he was struggling in the poll, our cox with the self-claimed ?fittest’ face of the five bachelors quadrupled his stats overnight. Ted Randolph, it appears you my boy are the CUBC’s most eligible bachelor. First prize? An all expenses trip to Mexico where you can legally enjoy spending time with one of your 320 very special fans…

So onto more serious things then. Trialing and testing have been continuing for a while now and last week saw the final and most grueling of all the tests, the 5km ergo time trial. Man vs machine. The harder you try to beat it, the more lactate and pain it inflicts straight back at you. A 5km trial is as much a test of the mind as a test of your body’s physical capacity. Between 15m20sec and 16m40sec will put you in the top 16 and guarantee you a spot in either the Blue or Goldie boats.

However, just where you rank depends to what depths you are willing to take yourself to. The ergo is a great training tool but also one of the toughest pieces of testing equipment. As a trial of this importance approaches a strange sensation begins to take a hold of you. You struggle to focus on many of your daily routines, instead beginning the mental preparation for what is about to take place.

Sure if the time trial didn’t carry much weight it would not absorb you like this. However, the final fight for seats is always fierce and the only way you can ensure beating anyone else is to be willing to suffer more pain than them.

Around ninety seconds into the piece you hit the first hurdle. You have come out fast, are in a good rhythm but you feel a shock to the system. The next 500m is critical, a clear and focussed head must be kept and you have to fight through the burn in your legs and maintain a strong breathing and racing rhythm.

The body then slowly adjusts and the next 5 minutes are spent trying to get to half way as efficiently and effectively as possible. It is around this point when the real fight begins and many Boat Races are decided during this third quarter. By now the body is really starting to hurt and out of nowhere an imaginary voice begins to question what you’re doing, trying to warn you that you’ve gone out too hard and the wise move is to back off a touch and keep some in reserve for the finish.

The top guys have learnt from experience to ignore and shut out this voice and it is here that their motivation and mental strength take over and they do not falter for a moment. For allowing this to happen even for a few strokes could hand the race to your opposition.

A little after 12 minutes into the race, the distance to go on the computer screen drops from four to three digits. Every rower will describe the boost they get from this most simple of experiences. It is almost the beginning of a new race. Although the guys are in incredible pain, if you have fought through the middle half of the race well you know you are set to post a good time. Every thirty seconds you begin to drive up the stroke rate and power output and before you know you are in a sprint to the line.

The last 500m is quite horrible to watch as some people’s technique barely resembles a rowing stroke due to their muscles being filled with lactate and unable to function properly. The drop in metres from three digits to two is almost the best part of the test. With all your blood being drawn to the muscles, most of the guys are on the verge of collapse. However, they know they are at the end and for the briefest of moments a sense of achievement and relief is felt. Then what? The image below should answer that. You are taken away to your own special place.

With the final ergo test of the year done there is definitely a sense of relief within the squad. There is no more racing each other and the focus can shift towards up coming fixtures and the final challenge against Oxford on April 3rd. This weekend the squad heads back to London for another training camp and will also spend some sessions racing against the GB Under 23 VIII.

And lastly, before I forget. I did have many disappointed Cambridge ladies contact me during the week saying that it was unfair that I didn’t have any pretty pics or contact details of the University’s most eligible bachelor. So for this week only, as promised ladies, may I present the baby faced boatman of the CUBC, Mr Matthew Jago (mej29@cam.ac.uk)