JOE WALLACE reports on last week’s Queen ergs and winter head.
The rowing year gathered momentum this week as rowers took first to the gym in Queens’ Ergs on Tuesday, then to the Cam for Winter Head on Saturday. As ever, Queens’ Ergs (the second biggest indoor rowing competition in Europe with over 1000 competitors) was a slick and entertaining event. Each member of teams of eight rowed 500 metres as fast as possible. Winter Head attracted boats from across the country to the tight bends of the Cam.
Queens’ Ergs is the first taste of rowing competition for novices and Jesus were dominant, winning both the men’s and women’s novice divisions. Individually, Caius’s Christian Nnochiri caused a stir with an impressive time of 1 minute 22.4 seconds. Lucy Cavendish’s Francesca O’Hanlon was the fastest novice woman in 1:42.3. A bright rowing future beckons for both. Caius won the mixed senior division, averaging 1:32.8.
Winter head was the final chance for crews to test their mettle before the Fairbairn Cup (Michaelmas’s major event, which takes place on December 5 and 6). On the men’s side, both King’s and Downing M1 looked impressive, jointly recording the fastest time of the day (8:34) and beating a number of off-Cam crews in the process. Caius came third in 8:41. It was a particularly good day for Downing as they were also the fastest college M2 by a comfortable 12 seconds, with Emmanuel second and Caius and Queens’ tied in third.
On the women’s side, First and Third’s fist eight won building on the strong form they demonstrated at University Fours beating second place Emmanuel to the finish by a good ten seconds. Murray Edwards and Queen’s were joint third. In the first fours, Lady Margaret were again dominant, recording their third victory of the term by an emphatic 37 seconds over Caius, who nonetheless came an impressive second.
An exciting Fairbairn Cup beckons. Among the seniors, Downing and King’s are the best bets for the M1 title, while First and Third look likely to win the W1 eights and Lady Margaret the W1 fours. Downing appear dominant among the M2s. Predicting novice results is notoriously difficult. Judging by Queens’ Ergs Jesus’s men and women should both be victorious. But strength and fitness alone do not win rowing races and potential results should become clearer after novices cut their teeth on the Cam for the first time in Clare Novices’ Regatta next week, usually a fun, cold and chaotic event.