Maggie And Downing Are A Perfect Match

ROWING: MICHAEL ALHADEFF rounds up this term’s action which climaxed in the Fairbairns Cup.

Anglia ruskin rowing christ's rowing fairbairns jesus Lady Margaret Boat Club michael alhadeff novices Queens' Rowing Sport

After last season’s damp squib, with a postponement into Lent term, Fairbairns came back with a bang. As aways, it presented a great chance for teams to stake their claims before they head into the winter recess.

For novices, the Fairbains cup represents the end of an era. And in true Cambridge style, it is an era which is compressed into a mere eight weeks. Many turn up fresh faced, only to find an oar thrust in front of them. They become part of the weekly outings, the late-night erg sessions and get sucked into rowing lingo. They evolve into boaties, complete with stash, annd ultimately, they evolve into lean, mean rowing machines. Well, kind of.

Jesus push hard to claim second in the Senior VIIIs

In all seriousness, Fairbairns provides the best indicator of which boat clubs have the best chance of going forward with their intake of freshers. In this respect, Lady Margret look the best placed novice crew as they capped off a strong season by winning Fairbairns in a time of  9.42.20.

Christ’s, who have also posted some decent results this term, finished a creditable second, but were still 17 seconds off the pace. After winning their own competition last time out, Emma rounded out the top three, only two seconds behind Chirst’s. And ARU put in the strongest second-string performance.

In the women’s competition, our man on the bank for most of the term was proven right. Emma sprints provided no guide book for Fairbains with Hughes Hall/Lucy Cav finishing a distant eighth. The winners were St Catz who completed the course in a time of 10.45.60. They were pushed hard though for most of the way with St. Mary’s School only finishing seven seconds behind. They were clearly the two out front with a large gap to third placed Tit Hall, although with Tit Hall also having the strongest second boat, they should be pleased about their prospects for the year ahead.

Murray Edward take away third from the day’s racing

But Fairbairns isn’t just about fresh faced rowers. There are also senior events that provide a chance for old rivalries to be renewed. In the men’s competition, Caius showed that the lost form at the start of term was just a blimp by coming back to win Fairbains. They managed to hold off a strong CULRC crew in a winning time of 14.15.20. The performance of Caius’ boat club was reinforced as they also provided the strongest second boat. Queens’ rounded off another competitive term by finishing a respectable third.

In the women’s competition, Downing proved how strong a college they are by providing the fastest college boat. With a host of CUWBC boats timing out in front, it was left to Downing to take home the crown in a time 16.52.50. Jesus and Murray Edwards completed the top three.

After a manic few days of rowing (and undoubtedly a heavy night), the winter break will provide an opportunity to recharge the batteries. Some will bask in the glory of a good term’s work while others will be seeking to come back stronger. And for the novices, will the river come calling again?

Photos courtesy of Alan Hendrick