Summer Eights photos are now online in our gallery – click here to see them.
If you have any photos to contribute, please get in touch.
Summer Eights photos are now online in our gallery – click here to see them.
If you have any photos to contribute, please get in touch.
The dust settled on the third day of Eights and Hertford M1 took stock of its situation. It did not make for pretty viewing. Not since Tiger Wooods’ wild, sex fuelled demise had the world seen such a spectacular and swift fall from grace in the sporting arena. Hertford M1 was now an Division 2 crew, and what was worse, they had been sent down there by Wadham, that renowned wet-rag of a college. We now had one goal: drag ourselves kicking and screaming out of that festering pit of thrashing, uncoordinated, second-rate rowing. We’d have to do it the hard way, rowing over in our first race whilst being hunted by a Lincoln crew, before laying down our lives to earn redemption and our rightful place in Division 1.
The chaps convened upon the boathouse in the early afternoon of Saturday and were greeted at last by the sights and sounds of a Summer VIIIs in full swing. Thousands lined the bank, eyes peering out eagerly in the hope of a lower boats ejector crab or a sinking boat from a titanic bump. The swarms of geese were circling the wreckages of the many unsuccessful vessels, feasting on the remains of the unfortunate crew members. Their screams were drowned out by the cheering mob, enjoying their picnics all along the river from the Isis Tavern to the Head of the River.
Longbridges was a hectic sight on this fine day. The Hertford support was strong amongst the crowd and, all around, Pimms and strawberries were flowing and the mood was joyous and expectant. We had to deliver. After the usual warm-up the crew convened before their final dance. As we gathered around I noticed a difference amongst the brothers I had fought alongside over the last three days. It was the eyes; the naive wide-eyed wondrous gaze had been replaced by a mad, fiery rage. There was a thousand bumps of pain in those eyes and it had been focussed down into pure, unadulterated hate; more intense than the stare of any ‘Nam vet or Boat Race losing crew. We took to the water and the crowds cheered as we treated them to a spectacle of speed in the warm-up. This would be a different race: head of the division, clean water, shorter course, hungry pretenders snapping at our stern. We would go out hard and kill it off quick, not giving Lincoln a sniff of that legendary opportunity: to row in Division 1 of VIIIs. Eventually we spun at our bungline and waited. The seconds ticked down slowly. Behind me I could hear the low growl of seven angry men, my brothers in arms who I knew would lay down their lives for me, and who I would lay down mine for. Still we waited. Each of us knew what we needed out of this race; long, loose rowing and a strong surging rhythm to carry us to the finish. We knew it was going to hurt, hurt more than anything before and we relished that challenge. The one-minute gun fired and we made final preparations. It was now or never, do or die, fight or flight.
The cannon fired and we surged. Lincoln and New surged with us. We whipped our boat up into a strong rate 42 and found that rhythm we had so desperately lacked in the previous days. As we settled into a strong 38, Lincoln and New made ground on us. As we powered through the gut, Lincoln made a monstrous push, tearing down upon us. We were a canvas ahead and I had a front row seat to the drama. The Lincoln bow blade was chopping down with vehement fury every stroke, hunting for our stern. It was a matter of inches but for 30 seconds we held firm in the face of death. The cheers of our own boathouse may have carried us through this moment and when Matt demanded a push, we responded in kind, moving away to 1/3 of a length up greenbanks. Whilst suffering a blow, Lincoln would not yet be deterred and they remained on us, their wild thrashing being spurred on by an aggressive and hungry New crew close behind. As we began the final phase along boathouse island, in front of the baying hordes, the race was in Lincoln’s hands: either bump or be bumped. Except it wasn’t. The Stag discovered its long, graceful stride and moved away, leaving Lincoln to break outside their own boathouse and be bumped by New. It has since been told that this break was heard for miles around, and on hearing the news, Lincoln’s Fantasy Bumps stock price collapsed, resulting in mass suicides. The Stag strode out to a glorious row over and in the great annals of Hertford history, this will be the point where our fortunes turned for the better. We had earnt it the hard way, with a crew everyone had written off. We rowed back to phenomenal scenes. The hundreds of women were fighting to get front row views, and when Thomas McGregor stood up and rolled down his onesie, several ladies simply fainted. We had done ourselves proud and before us lay a chance of redemption. We had to take it though. Wadham were not going to give it to us. After a spot of onshore R+R (mainly signing autographs) we returned to our trusty vessel, that unerring constant in this adventure which sailed true and never let us down.
We took our place at the foot of Division 1 ready to make one final charge at Wadham. Death or glory awaited. The cannon fired and we moved up by half a length off the start. However, this quickly became a different race. Wadham’s wild, ungainly and thrashing blade work made such gargantuan wash that our poor boat just couldn’t make up that final length. The Kraken was being summoned ahead of us, and our emotionally drained souls just weren’t quite up to the task. We gritted our teeth for one last row over and soaked up the atmosphere alongside the many Olympians and other titans of Oxford rowing. In we paddled, pride redeemed but hunger brewing. A hunger to reclaim our rightful spot in Division 1 (as well as commence the hard-earned lash). Every member of the crew remains in Oxford for anther year yet. Hertford M1 will be back with a vengeance in 2015.
Simon Zieleniewski – stroke
After a week of highs and lows, W1 were eager to prove themselves on the final day of racing. After soaking in the atmosphere at Longbridges, hearing that M1 had held off chasing crews in their race, and receiving a final good luck from Will Hutton, we were excited as we pushed off the raft.
Despite chasing a very strong Wolfson crew, our main challenge was to be holding off the chasing Oriel crew, who had looked strong throughout the season. Holding them off was important to us as this was to be our last event with our coach, who taught most of us from beginners throughout her two years at the club – as Oriel’s coach is her close friend, we wanted to prove we could row the best we ever had as a crew and deny them of their bump.
After delays on the start line, the crew was relaxed at the startline – pulling a fantastic start that saw us holding off Oriel through Donnington Bridge and towards the gut. As we raced past Longbridges to a roaring crowd, we picked up the boat speed and were soon pushing away at three lengths. The crew held their composure past Boathouse Island, determined to hold off Oriel right to the head. The crew were overjoyed – we knew it would be a challenge, but we came together and had one of our best rows together on the day that it counted most.
Helen Carswell – Stroke
It was with an immense sense of duty that M2 paddled up to the bung line. This was it. A chance to redeem our mistakes from Thursday and show the world, or at very least Longbridges, what we were capable of.
A solid start lent itself to a quick and brisk race pace. The crew pushed hard off the bridge and took the gap down to a canvas through the gut. Lincoln made a brave move, crossing early on the exit of the gut but an unfortunate crab sealed their fate.
It is with great pleasure that I can report Hertford Men’s Second VIII bumped Lincoln Men’s Second VIII directly outside the boat club.
Harriet-Rose Noons – cox
Race report to follow.
Race report to follow.
Twice defeated, we returned for a third day of battle not despairing but with a renewed determination to capitalise on the previous day’s improvements with added intensity. Thursday’s race, whilst disappointing in its result, had been positive at least in its rediscovery of some of the technical precision and looseness that had shown such promise during our final training sessions. Friday’s aim was therefore clear: to row with the pride, control and dignity of the technical finesse we knew ourselves to be capable of, but with a confidence and fire that was perhaps lacking in the previous day’s fight. Followed by Wadham and chasing Keble we were to leave our pursuers dead in our wake whilst injecting into Keble up ahead a true fear for the dear.
The first 1.5 minutes off the gun to Donnington Bridge were a testament to this attitude as we maintained our distance from Keble with some long, solid rowing. Choppy waters under the bridge unsettled the crew as our pace boat in Keble bumped out of the race, and Wadham began to close the gap, but the tactical steering of Matt Collins and some well-timed calls to which the crew responded well allowed us to push off them out of the gut. Whilst defending our distance effectively against Wadham’s first aggressive push along the Green-bank, the crew struggled to fight back their later attacks, holding our position valiantly, but without the technical dignity of which the stag is truly capable, past the boathouses. Wadham’s final attack only a matter of strokes from the finish was thus a disappointing final assault to which we were unable to respond with the necessary pace and vigour, leading to a bump with the end frustratingly insight.
Finding ourselves sandwich boat on the last day of racing, the crew now has nothing to lose in showcasing the true fighting finesse of the Stag in one final battle to regain some of the honour it truly deserves.
On the friday of Summer Eights, Hertford W1 knew they were in for a tough race. Chasing Keble and chased by a Wolfson crew powered on by triallists and blues, we knew we had to be even quicker off the start. After an intense warm up, we boated feeling positive and fired up to do our fastest rowing yet.
Following the gun, we were off with one of the best starts we’ve ever done. We kept our composure and gained on Keble a little, holding off Wolfson with our hardest rowing. No strides allowed, as our cox called for a short float and continued to ask for more and more pressure. Unfortunately, at this point our stroke came off her seat and was unable to row for a few strokes. Although 7 took over the rhythm bravely, we lost a lot of speed. Wolfson quickly used this to their advantage and soon after bumped us. Tomorrow the final challenge faces us, with Oriel chasing us.
Charlotte Buijs – Bow
Despite disappointment from the last 2 days, the crew arrived prompt at 2:30 keen to win back our pride. After a sneak preview into Dan Heasman’s Oscar award winning Summer 8’s speech it was time to hit the ergs. 10 Minutes later it was go time!
Pushing off the raft in high spirits we started our warm ups down the isis. A few strong starts, bursts and hard paddling and we knew we had brought our A game.
On the start line as the 5 minute cannon sounded, scaring our ‘on edge’ 6 man for the third time. No time for talking, everyone knew we had to preform now and no words need be said. 1 Minute cannon, we take position in the river and prepare.
BANG! The crew took the catch as one, sending the boat soaring through the water, another couple of solid strokes brought us up to a race pace. With all rowers still on their seat, confidence was high. As we squeezed through each stroke we cut the distance between us and Osler House M1 eager for our revenge. Unfortunately they got an early bump on Lincoln just before the bridge, so our attention turned to St Johns who had kept pace with us so far.
Holding Johns at bay through the gut, we powered on, the Hertford boat house a blur. As the tiredness began to creep in from the Johns crew a huge crab from their stoke man sent Johns shrinking into the distance. Now working to increase the gap we powered the boat down Boat House Island and through the finish a solid 4 lengths ahead.
Get the spoons ready Lincoln, we’re coming for you.
Charlie Jackson – 7 seat
Rowing down to the start line today, Hertford W2 felt calm and confident. Our plan? To bump Lincoln W2 before GTC W1 bumped us! We got to the start line early and sat waiting in good spirits for the five minute and one minute guns to fire – and also pondering the delightful fact that the gun is in fact a cannon which emits actual puffs of smoke. As we sat to attention for the final countdown, we readied ourselves to push harder than ever before. We had a fast start and soon settled into a powerful, controlled rhythm; however, Green Templeton (or ‘Grempleton’ as they’ve been newly abbreviated) was gaining on us. We put on a final push but their powerful crew got overlap and, with a bump, our cox conceded heading into the Gut. We hastily rowed to the side of the river to make room for the next racing crews; however, the three following crews had a messy bump and the race was klaxoned. We were well out of harm’s way and happy to have finished our race before the klaxon. We rowed our best today and are proud to have held off GTC for as long as we did. Tomorrow’s plan? To hold off Magdalen for the whole race and avoid the dreaded spoons!
Race report to follow.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of speed, it was the age of ejector crabs, it was the epoch of rain, it was the epoch of sunshine, it was the season of Light, it was the season of angry swans, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to the Head of the River, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like many before. The period was day 2 of Summer Eights.
Following the disappointment of yesterday, the men of M1 took a new day as a chance to reset and take stock of the task at hand. A solid Warnock breakfast reminded us of the many hours spent there after strong outings at Radley and once again lit the fires of optimism and resolve in the boat that we so desperately needed. We all knew the task of holding off a good Keble boat containing two Olympic medalists would be difficult but the crew were determined that we would row our own race and try to improve on the previous day. Immediately after pushing off from Longbridges the feeling throughout the boat was far more relaxed and positive and this put us in a far better position spinning onto the buntlines.
Once the start cannon was fired, we settled into a much more comfortable rhythm and stride and tried to use Keble’s strength to push us towards Teddy Hall in front. The looseness that we lacked yesterday allowed us to steal a length from the crew in front within 20 strokes but unfortunately this push was short lived. After this Keble’s experience began to show through a they cut the distance between us within a matter of seconds. Despite a valiant effort to hold off this charge, M1 were unable to prevent a strong bump from a strong Keble. Although disappointing, we’re determined to take the positives from the way we rowed and use every day as a learning experience. Tomorrow is a new day and we will use every ounce of strength the row the Hertford way: long, strong and fast.
Callum Watling – bow
W1 boated today determined to be sharper on the start and pressure Univ ahead of us before Keble had the chance to do so behind us. At the start we made a little ground on Univ ahead, but not as quickly as Keble made ground on us. We were bumped at the entrance to the gut. Tomorrow another challenge faces us, with a fast, triallist and blue-stacked Wolfson boat chasing us.
Rachel Cary – 6 seat
It was one of our finest starts! First five strokes and we were already flying. First ten strokes and we were closing rapidly on Lincoln M2 ahead of us. We kept pushing. The gap to Lincoln kept shrinking. Few more strokes and we are half a length behind them. We are going to bump soon!
Not as soon though as that is when the rower in seat 3 notices that to tap down and feather the blade takes too much time.
- “Surely, not doing those will make the boat move faster!”, he thinks.
Revolting against weeks of training he stops doing those. But only for a stroke. A crab! Recovering quickly and joining the rest at the rate 35+ they were pumping at the moment, there was no time to loose for 3. Not on tapping down. Not on feathering the blade. Not even on sitting on the seat. A massive crab! Unlike stroke the day earlier, he was unable to get back on the seat quickly enough. Quick enough, however, was Osler House heading directly towards us. Even though the brave seven rowed as fast they could, they were no match to eight people in the Osler boat. And so we got bumped.
Daniel Bundala – 3 seat
After Wednesday’s chilly, rainy start to Summer Eights, Thursday was a much hotter, sunnier day. Rowing down to the start, Hertford’s W2 crew felt strong and confident. Our old foes from Wednesday, Univ W2, had moved up another spot into Division 3. Taking up the #2 bung-line, we waited for the starting cannon and the chance to catch Worcester. When the cannon fired, we had a strong start and began gaining on Worcester going through the Gut. Despite our stroke seat catching a crab, we kept our calm and balance and never broke stride. However, as Worcester pulled away after our crab, Lincoln’s W2 boat began gaining on us from behind. Our cox called a power 10 and we stepped up the power, but couldn’t hold Lincoln off forever. As we were coming out of the Gut in front of our boathouse, Lincoln finally caught us and we conceded the race. However, we gave it everything we had and are proud to say we rowed a strong race. Tomorrow we will be aiming to stay calm, keep the power on, and catch Lincoln right off the start – before the chasing crew from Green Templeton have a chance to catch us!
Julia Duchesne – stroke
Race report to follow.
We started the day with clear aspirations, we needed to bump Worcester before they bumped a poor Balliol crew. This was so we could put a buffer zone between us and an Olympian stacked Keble boat two behind us. Even though we had lost a key member of the boat last week, our Isis man Ben, we were feeling confident from several days of solid training. After a long delay on the bungline, the nerves got the better of us and we tensed up. We didn’t get anywhere near the length, rhythm and pace we achieved in training, so inevitably Teddy was on us from the gun. We didn’t manage to recover from the initial pressure off the start and so were bumped early. We are confident in our boat speed, this is only going to make us more determined today to produce the rowing which we have shown in training. If we do this, we know our pace is a lot faster than Teddy’s and similar to Keble’s. Lets get that bump back!
Despite the less-than-summery conditions, W1 have been excited to prove ourselves out on the water this year. Inspired by a couple of confident practice laps which shook out the first-time nerves for a number in our boat, we were in good spirits as we took our place on the start line.
After a fantastic start which took us well clear of Merton, we were able to keep pace with Univ, keeping with them beyond the gut. With clear water behind us we had a confident row-over today, and are feeling good about our prospects – tomorrow, we‘ll throw it all on the line to catch Univ!
Helen Carswell – Stroke
A confident M2 lined up outside the erg room at quarter to three, waiting to warm up; while the stroke stepped up for the ancient Hertford pre-race ritual. After a short prayer and a Spartan rally call, M2 took to the erg room to push themselves to the limit, in preparation for what was to come.
After a swift changeover of cox from W2 to M2, we were onto the water and rushed to the start line. The starting gun went off. The crew was ready – the stroke was not. In a split second, the stroke crashed off his seat, still keeping the rock over in time with the crew – what a mug. When the stroke finally figured out how to sit on a seat, the crew fell naturally into a rhythm, only to be obstructed by Lincoln refusing to clear their path. Clearly there was more than one idiotic person out that day.
The crew was furious for being held up – they had trained all year round. This was their destiny, their moment in the spotlight, their chance at glory. Fired up, the crew returned to a solid rate of 32, ten huge power strokes followed by rhythmic calls to bring them together. Every individual had learned the key concept from the pre-race ritual: that pain is temporary. That success comes to those who believe. The crew, the elite, had finally come together for their moment in history.
And then we rowed over….
Dan Heasman – Stroke
Sitting at the top of Division IV going into the first rainy day of Summer Eights, the Hertford Women’s 2 boat faced tough competition. After a fast start, W2 strided it a bit too early, chased by University College’s strong W2 boat. Despite a valiant fight from Hertford, Univ slowly gained on the Bill Atkinson II and bumped us going into the Gut. Tomorrow we’ll be digging deeper and giving it our all as we attempt to retake our top spot!
Yet to submit a race report. Report to follow.
With every outing, we had experienced marked improvement in our rowing, but we nevertheless approached Rowing On with a silent pang of dread. Our anxiety was not helped by the delay, nor by the weather.
In the preceding minutes, as we sat there in the torrential rain, cheese jokes did little to assuage our angst. In the minds of at least two of our number, memories of the previous year’s performance did little to allay our fears, even as they determined us that there would be no repeat performance.
Yet, before we knew it, we were away. Almost as if in an instant, the cold droplets of rain replaced by a warm ocean of sweat, the bite of the shivering cold swiftly substituted for the twinging pain of the stroke – the juxtaposition of apprehension and implementation.
The race was not without its tense moments: a splash here, a flail there – that loud sense of cluttering dread as the blade does not connect with the water. The crew ahead of us seemed far out of earshot, yet the crew behind were distant: this was different from last year. We had obtained speed, we were holding our own, morale remained high, and we were sweeping through the pain. We did not panic, and we did not waver – we pushed on. But would it be enough?
As it turned out, it would be. We have no intention of sacrificing that which we have gained. On to Eights!
– Alex Stronell, Bow
After weeks of planning and training that wasn’t without incident and injury, the Hertford Hugh’s Hall super VIII arrived to a glorious sunny day in London ready to do battle with the Tideway. The crew welcomed into its ranks Graham Baird and Ben Wedd, both presidents of their respective clubs, Teddy Hall and St. Hugh’s (hence the name).
Also returning from rather lengthly injury absences were Chris Jones and Simon Zieleniewski. We boated from Furnivall to rapturous applause from the spectating hordes and joined the masses of boats paddling down to the start. By Barnes bridge we waited and entertained ourselves by urinating into Oasis bottles and watching with great amusement as Jesus College Ox were spun by the tide causing a huge panic in the marshalling area. On we waited as the big boys rowed past until eventually as about crew number 90 passed us, we were informed that boats were sinking at the finish due to high winds against the tide, so the race was being abandoned. We paddled back to Hammersmith and thus ended our Head of the River race for another year. This year we actually got onto the Tideway, but alas, it was not to be once again. Instead, we made rapid progress to the Blue Anchor where heavy drinking commenced and stories were regaled of how Molesey and Leander got away with one again. Hertford still remain unbeaten in three years of Head of the River.
On to regatta season we head.
– Simon Zieleniewski, Men’s Captain
We couldn’t have asked for a better day for WEHoRR this year – the beautiful early spring sunshine meant Hertford’s ladies were in high spirits whilst boating for, for most, their first race on the Tideway.
It’s been a difficult term for rowing in Oxford – floods have meant the Isis has been on permanent red flag until last week. However, a rigorous land training schedule, and outings at Radley and Eton Dorney meant Hertford’s W1 was fit and ready for the challenging course. Whilst welcoming Hertford Alumnus Natalie McDaid and our W1 Coach, Olivia Faull, into the boat, we also had the fantastic opportunity to bring on our most promising novices – high-stakes racing experience is invaluable in inspiring confidence for the
imminent Summer Eights.
The race itself got off to a strong start, with the crew quickly settling into a confident rhythm. The crew was able to take advantage of a strong stream, with the team closing the gap on Twickenham RC during the first half. The crew were encouraged by the loud cheers for Hertford under Hammersmith Bridge, and were able to pull together for a last push to Putney, managing to hold-off the chasing crew for the entire course. Overall, the crew placed 56th of 112 crews in IM3 – a huge boost to a crew which has experienced setbacks both from injuries and from the lack of water time this term. Despite the long row back against the stream, the crew were in high spirits and enjoyed the afternoon in the glorious weather. Summer Eights, here we come!
HCBC W1 placed 152nd in Women’s Eights Head of the River – finishing 56th out of 112 in IM3. Race report and photos will follow – watch this space!
Congratulations must also go to HCBC alumna Zoë Lee, for winning the Head for the second time – this time in a new record time of 17:42.21, in the Army RC/Gloucester RC/Imperial College BC/London RC/Minerva-Bath RC/Oxford Brookes University BC/Tees RC composite.