Rowing Report: University Fours
Clare and Lady Margaret come out on top of an exciting week’s racing on the Cam.
This week saw the college armada clash in the first serious event of the year: University Fours, one of three races in which a university medal is at stake. The regatta went ahead despite fears that it might be scratched because of the storm.
In the men’s first coxed four, Clare smashed all-comers in a star combination stroked by Joel Jennings (a blue) and including Ben Evans (who’s rowed in Goldie). Having dispatched a strong Downing crew in the quarter final, they beat last year’s winners King’s by a mammoth 31 seconds in the final.
On the women’s side, an impressive Lady Margaret (St John’s) four made it two years in a row. With two women returning from last year’s victorious crew and after a strong showing at Autumn Head they were always going to be hard to beat. But the final was bound to be a close affair with First and Third (Trinity) having beaten the perennially strong Downing by 18 seconds in the semi-finals. After an even start there was nothing to choose between the two crews at halfway. Lady Margaret then started to live up to their reputation by gaining a comfortable lead before the Reach and staying neat in a tough headwind from there till the finish. ‘Hugely proud of the girls’, enthused one member of the victorious combination. ‘We hit a huge, chunky rhythm down the Plough and just ate into them. Hopefully we can take this form into the Fairbairn Cup and go two better than last year.’ Time will tell.
Elsewhere, Downing’s top men’s crew stormed to a 38-second victory over First and Third in the final of the coxless fours, while Queens’ repeated last year’s victory in the second coxed fours. In thewomen’s second division Christ’s recorded a huge, 61-second win.
This all augurs well for an exciting Fairbairn Cup, which takes place on December 5 and 6. On the men’s side, last year saw a tie for first place and only three seconds separating the top three crews; another tight race seems a given with Clare, Downing and King’s all looking strong based on these results. It would also take a brave man to write off Caius, who did not enter this week and won the M1 and M2 divisions at Autumn Head. Queens’ usually start Michaelmas well and were joint victors at Fairbairn’s last year but look off the pace after losing by 9 seconds to King’s in the first coxed fours.
On the women’s side, Lady Margaret would seem to be favourites having won both races so far, but it’s unclear whether they’ll stick to the four or switch to an eight. If they opt for the latter, Emmanuel and First and Third look good bets after performing well this week, while Murray Edwards also loom large having won the W1 division at Autumn Head.