Rowers Step It Up For Uni IVs

ROWING: JONATHAN FUHRMANN assesses the competition in the second rowing event of the year as colleges start to look towards the end of the term.

Caius rowing christ's rowing downing rowing fairbairns fat rowing LMBC queens' ergs queens' rowing university fours Winter Head

I need to come to terms with it: I am shit at making predictions about the weather.

Not that I’m complaining – my completely inaccurate pessimism meant that umpiring the last day of the Uni Fours was really rather pleasant. Not that the rowers would have noticed.

The men’s second fours division saw crews from Tit Hall and Downing qualify for the final, with the former racing in a stylish but probably heavy wooden boat. Downing eventually took the win – a saving grace for the club’s men, whose first four crashed out of the competition in their first-round race against Caius. They had just returned from racing the Head of the Charles in Boston, MA, but all excuses aside, Caius proved worthy winners of that first round.

Overturning their shocking performance at the Autumn Head, Caius’ first four managed to finish the men’s first fours’ final in a dead heat with Queens’. As timing is not electronic and starts and finishes are staggered, dead heats are called if crews finish within a second of each other, but the two crews actually finished in exactly the same time.

A scrappy start from Caius saw Queens’ pull ahead, but better lines from Caius through the tight corners of the Cam, along with Queens’ appearing to tighten up towards the finish, saw the two crews back on station on the reach. A good race overall with lots of fighting spirit from both crews was concluded with medals for them all.

Cauis regain some form in Uni IVs

The women’s first fours saw Christ’s and Downing face off on a side-by-side course. In a rather less exciting turn of events than the men’s race, Downing pulled ahead quickly and gradually increased their margin to 18 seconds.

With both clubs somewhat depleted by triallists, one might speculate that the Downing women look set to perform well at Fairbairns. But interestingly, Christ’s women’s 2nd four beat Downing’s by twelve seconds, making results rather less useful as we head into the serious business of term.

 Close combat: Christ’s and Downing battle it out for top spot

The men’s coxless four – considered by some (mostly Lady Margaret, incumbent and often-time winners) to be the top event despite the fact that few clubs own such a boat and fewer use it every year – was the final event of the day. It is run over a longer course and LMBC, having beaten Clare in the semifinal earlier in the day, lined up against First and Third, who had a bye to the final.

The FaT crew consisted of alumni, the recent training volume of whom is unclear, while the Maggie four had been seen training frequently over the last few weeks. Unsurprisingly, Maggie quickly pulled away, although credit has to go to FaT, who kept their rowing smooth and tidy and put up a good fight till near the end. The race has yielded no clues as to the relative speeds of the two clubs, but with a contingent of schoolboy rowers and returned CUBC triallists (well, one), Maggie may be a crew to watch come Fairbairns.

The Winter Head in a three weeks’ time will probably be the last chance for Colleges to make an impression before the big day (Fairbairns) on the 2nd December. Until then, stay tuned for news from Queens’ Ergs and other novice fun.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Fuhrmann