Churchill Second VIII – May 1997


Second VIII (Sir Winston Churchill): Alan Barr (bow), Ewan Main, Jason Sebastian, David Badgery, Rob Thatcher, Phil Robbins, Richard Bounds, David Sampson (stroke), Nigel De Silva (cox).


Head of the Cam – Second VIII finished 14th

The first race of Easter term was the Head of the Cam, held over 2800 metres in wet and miserable conditions on 26 April. The race attracted a good entry of Cambridge College First and Second Boats. Churchill II was treating the race as a training outing, with the new crew having returned from holidays just a week before. However, we managed to put in a solid and controlled performance to complete the course in 9'31", fifth among non-First Division boats, and just 16 seconds behind Caius II, the top Second Boat crew. The race was won overall by 1st & 3rd I in a time of 8'44".

Notts City Regatta – Second VIII finished 3rd

The second race of term was the Notts City Regatta, held over 2000 metres at the National Watersports Complex course in Nottingham on 10 May. Conditions were absolutely appalling for the start of the men's novices race, with strong winds and very choppy water making rowing difficult. We started strongly to lead the field past the 1000 metre mark. However, Durham University then settled well and began to inch ahead. With water crashing over the riggers and pouring in over the side of the boat (and the cox taking steering instructions from stroke after having his contact lenses dislodged by a wave!), we battled for second place with Nottingham Trent over the final 500 metres. Nottingham managed to pip us on the line, but we were satisfied with third place after a spirited row in awful conditions.

Cambridge City Rowing Club Regatta – Second VIII beat Corpus Christi I, lost to LMBC II

The final race before the May Bumps was the Cambridge City Rowing Club Regatta on 24 May. In the quarter-finals, we faced Corpus Christi I, 6th in the Mays Second Division. Both crews were level off the start, but we began to build an advantage slowly through the early part of the race. We maintained our rhythm and were a length and a half clear by the finish.

Our opponents in the semi-finals were LMBC II, the highest ranked second boat at 3rd in the Second Division. LMBC started strongly but we held them at half a length throughout the first half of the race. They then pushed to extend their advantage, and we were unable to respond, going down by a length.

May Bumps – Second VIII bumped Fitzwilliam II and Emmanuel II, finished 15th in Division 2

We started May Bumps behind Clare II at the bottom of the men's Second Division, confident of moving up after success in the lead-up races. We started strongly, moving on Clare from the first strokes, and closing to a length as we settled to our race rating. At that moment, Fitz II ahead of Clare suffered a rigger failure and were forced to stop, giving Clare an easy bump and saving them from our charge. From then, we were forced to chase Caius II for an unlikely overbump, and although we briefly closed to a length behind at Grassy Corner, they were able to control the gap and pull clear in the Reach. Catz II behind had started reasonably quickly, but after a row over that morning in the Third Division, they were unable to sustain their pace.

We chased Fitzwilliam II on the second day of May Bumps, determined to succeed after our bad luck the day before. We again started strongly, and settled into a comfortable but rapid rhythm. We moved steadily on Fitz from the outset and finished them off with a big push near the end of First Post Reach.

We again chased Clare II on day 3 of the May Bumps. With the weaker Emmanuel II crew ahead, we faced a race against time to catch Clare before they hit Emma. Clare held us off the start and began closing on Emma. We put in a big push after the motorway bridge and began to reel in Clare, and we were just a third of a length down when they overpowered Emma before First Post Corner. Emma and Clare then took forever to clear the river, slewing across our path and forcing us to stop and wait. We eventually resumed, somehow still clear of our Fitz and Catz behind. However, after such a long delay, an overbump on a crew ahead was out of the question, so it was a case of controlling the gap to the chasing crews. We rowed over comfortably but disappointedly.

Large crowds lined the banks of the Cam for the final day of May Bumps. Chasing Emmanuel II, we started strongly again and were within a length before the motorway bridge. Emma fought hard but we held our nerve and continued to close in, taking it into them well before First Post Corner. The Emma cox refused to admit defeat, and contact was made several more times before the umpire's shouts to acknowledge were heeded. We rowed back to the cheers of the many current and former members of Churchill College assembled along the river.

After two bumps and two row overs, we had risen to 15th in the Second Division -- a successful but slightly frustrating campaign, but that's the nature of Bumps racing!

Race results


Churchill Men's Second VIII enjoyed a successful and enjoyable May Term. We performed strongly in the May Bumps, moving up 2 places... and it could have been even better, had it not been for some bizarre incidents that denied us bumps on days 1 and 3. We also rowed well in the CCRC Regatta to beat Corpus I, and had a number of thrilling contests with Churchill I during Bumps training. Thanks to our coaches, especially Susie Burton, Mark Harrison and Chris Boswell. Thanks too to Jim and Chris, our boatmen, for tending to Sir Winston on those rare occasions when Nigel's steering wasn't quite as good as it could have been.

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