Cambridge '99 – Winter 2001-2002


(poor)Cambridge Autumn Head – S3 4+ finished 15th

The first race of the head racing season was the Cambridge Autumn Head, held on 27 October over 2700 metres on the Cam. With no outings together before the race, it was difficult to expect too much. In sunny, windy conditions, we put in a solid row, but more aggression and a higer rating were required. We completed the course in 12'04", 15th of 30 men's coxed fours. Just one other crew was entered in S3 4+ -- the Cambridge '99 crew of Steve Sanders, Chris Mills, Simon Hargraves, David Rothe and Derek Bell (cox) -- and they finished ahead of us in 11'53". The fastest coxed four on the day was from Rob Roy (10'26").

Crew: David Sampson (bow), Dom Pickersgill, Phil Sheppard, Pete Kelly (stroke), Jon Anderson (cox).

Fours Head – S3 4+ finished 384th

The first major event of the head racing season was the Fours Head of the River on the Tideway in London, from Chiswick to Putney (4.25 miles) on 10 November. As ever, it was a hugely popular event, with 550 men's and women's crews entered. Our preparation for the race had not been satisfactory, with just three outings together, so our expectations were necessarily modest. Nevertheless, we were determined to give it our best shot and enjoy the occasion. Starting way down the order in 478th, we set a strong but steady rhythm through in the opening stages, closing on a couple of crews ahead while dicing with others coming up from behind. In the middle stages, we fought an interesting battle around Hammersmith bend with a coxed four from Bristol. Our cox stuck to his line well as the Bristol cox attempted to push us out of the stream onto the inside of the corner. During the final stages, we were unable to conjure any extra speed for the sprint to the line, and we completed the course in 22'29"17 to take 384th place out of the 550 crews competing. This time was 21st fastest of the 33 crews in the S3+C division, a fraction under two minutes slower than the winning crew from Thames Rowing Club. We had the minor consolation of beating the other S3+C crew from Cambridge '99, who had been quicker than us in training the previous weekend.

Crew: David Sampson (bow), Richard Thompson, Phil Sheppard, Pete Kelly (stroke), Jon Anderson (cox).

Cambridge Winter Head – S3 8+ finished 15th

The next race was the Cambridge Winter Head, held over 2800 metres on the Cam on 17 November. An S3 8+ was based around the two Tideway S3 4+s. Having raced too conservatively in London the weekend before, we went off much harder and concentrated on fast catches and picking up the work quickly. As a result, we settled into a very lively rhythm, and we were second of the five S3 8+s at the intermediate time check (3'40", 6" behind Hertford College). We continued rowing well to the finish, completing the course in 8'57", 13" off Hertford's pace. The time was good enough to maintain second in our division, and was 15th overall among the 8+s. We were pleased to be just 21" behind the Cambridge '99 S2 8+, who also finished second in their division. It was a successful day for the club's smaller boats, with the S2 4+, the S3 4+ and the S2 4x all winning.

Crew: Steve Sanders (bow), Chris Mills, David Sampson, Chris Kent, Phil Sheppard, Nick Wright, Simon Hargraves, David Rothe (stroke), Derek Bell (cox).

Cam Winter League, Leg 1 – S3 8+ finished 5th

The first race of 2002 was the first leg of the Cam Winter League, held on 27 January over 2800 metres on the Cam. After a scratchy start to the year, we had made some good improvements in the weeks leading up to the race. Conditions were blustery and the stream was running fast as we set off at a lively 34 strokes per minute. We closed up fast on a coxless four that had started well ahead, and we were almost side by side approaching the Railway Bridge. Unfortunately we tensed up a little as we drew alongside, and their cox also forced us to go the long way around the left-hand bend under the bridge before cheekily trying to slice across on the subsequent right-hander. Our cox made room -- a little too much, as my blade scraped the bank on the inside at one point -- but we made it through almost cleanly. At this point, the steersman in the four lost his nerve and jinked to the left to make room for us. Unfortunately for him, he ran out of river and had to hold it up hard to avoid smashing into a moored houseboat! Thrilled by our escape from this tight squeeze, we lifted the tempo for the run to the finish, crossing the line in a respectable 10'57", good enough for fifth overall. (We were the only crew entered in S3 8+.) The winning crew was the S2 crew from Cambridge '99, who completed the course in 10'26".

Crew: Steve Sanders (bow), Pete Kelly, Simon Hargraves, Martin Hillier, Pete Matthews, David Rothe, David Sampson, Richard Thompson (stroke), Anne Harrison (cox).

Cam Winter League, Leg 2 – S2 8+ finished 6th

The second leg of the Cam Winter League was held on 17 February. A crew reshuffle bumped us up to the S2 category. Conditions were cool, calm and significantly faster than for the previous leg. Having struggled a little over the final portion of the course last time, we set off a little more conservatively, sacrificing some speed early in the race to make up time later on. We crossed the line in 9'58" to take sixth overall. Fastest crew on the day was Cantabs (9'23"), with Emmanuel (9'26") and Cambridge '99 (9'29") not far adrift.

Crew: Steve Sanders (bow), Martin Hillier, Simon Hargraves, Pete Kelly, Phil Sheppard, Pete Matthews, David Sampson, Richard Thompson (stroke), Anne Harrison (cox).

Kingston Head; Cam Winter League, Leg 3; Head of the River Race

I was out of the UK for the end of the head racing season. The Nines S3 8+ squad finished 43rd (5th of 9 crews in S3 8+) at the Kingston Head, 5th in the third leg of the Cam Winter League, and 229th (25th of 49 crews in S3 8+) on the Tideway.

Crew (Tideway): Simon Hargraves (bow), Martin Hillier, Steve Sanders, Pete Kelly, Phil Sheppard, David Rothe, Pete Matthews, Richard Thompson (stroke), Anne Harrison (cox).

Race results


From a personal perspective, the highlight of the 2001-2002 head racing season was my first race on the Tideway since the Fours Head with Churchill in 1998. Towards the end of the winter, the squad started rowing better together, and we can look forward to competing well around the S3 level throughout the summer. Thanks to all those who took time to coach during the season.

Related sites

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