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Rowing On – 27th May 2011
The first test of Summer Eights 2011 came on the Friday before the main event with Rowing On. Only three Lincoln boats have places in fixed divisions for Summer Eights, so W2, M3, W3, M4 and W4 were all rowing to qualify for their places in Eights. On the Men’s side M3 overcame the disappointment on missing out on Torpids, qualifying comfortably to take their place in Men’s Division 6. An inexperienced M4 crew were unfortunate to just miss out on qualification. For the women, Lincoln W2 and W3 both qualified easily, as the third and sixth fastest qualifying crews respectively. However, perhaps the most impressive performance of the day came from W4, who were one of only two women’s fourth boats to qualify for Summer Eights.

Summer Eights 2011
Summer Eights is the culmination of the Oxford rowing calendar and LCBC approached it with a mixture of nerves and excitement, knowing that these four races were what we had been building towards all year. Everyone had been training hard, and the successful performance of the lower boats in rowing on gave us confidence but we were all aware that in bumps racing anything can happen!

M1 approached Summer Eights with mixed feelings. They had put in some great and some not so great performances in training, and hoped that their mercurial rhythm would return under the pressure of race day. They would be chasing close rivals Wadham, with whom the crew had clashed on a number of occasions. On the first day, M1 produced a rapid start, shooting off the bungline and closing to within a quarter length by the gut. It seemed that all was going well, until the rudder jammed at the worst possible moment, sending the newly named Timothy Taylor careering towards the bank. The crew were forced to disentangle and push off quickly, sprinting across to the other side of the river to escape from a closing Jesus crew who would have relished a fortuitous bump. Despite having a considerable amount of overlap, Jesus quickly fell back as M1 found the rhythm again, and rowed over vowing to make amends on the next day. Unfortunately on Thursday, Wadham would be chasing an incredibly slow Exeter crew, and despite another fast start from M1, they bumped out leaving Lincoln with a comfortable row over. On Friday, M1 were chasing Exeter, who were looking set for spoons. Loathe to deny them of this, M1 took just twenty strokes before easying under Donnington Bridge, the bump secured and their work done for the day. Saturday would prove to be the showdown. Lincoln vs Wadham once again. This time Wadham were ready for M1’s start, and managed to hold off the initial charge. However along Greenbank, the crew began to eat into Wadham’s advantage, and sought an epic bump along the boathouses as they closed with every stroke. Unfortunately they ran out of river, and despite having a small overlap at the finish, Wadham were able to hold off. Nevertheless, Lincoln M1 finished up 1 overall, and 4th in Division 2, their highest position in six years.

W1 went into Eights feeling positive, having won blades in Torpids and with the crew strengthened by the return of Nicole Scheumann from OUWBC and a shiny new boat to row in. They began 5th in Division III, chasing Jesus W1. Lincoln had overlap by the gut, but Jesus were chasing down a Brasenose crew, and caught them seconds before we made contact. LCBC had planned for this eventuality, and were fully prepared to chase for the overbump, but were slowed down by Jesus and Brasenose blocking the gut, forcing W1 to a standstill before they could begin chasing again. We were not defeated though, and were closing fast on Trinity when a steamer in the middle of the river caused the race to be klaxoned. No one could quite believe what had happened, while we knew that bumps racing was unpredictable, this was taking things to new heights. While they had missed out on the chance of blades, W1 returned on Thursday determined to show that they were one of the best women’s boats on the Isis. Frustration from the day before caused them to explode off the start line at rate 42, and Brasenose were bumped within 30 strokes. Friday was a similarly easy day, with Trinity bumped before the gut. However, women’s division three seemed cursed by bad luck, and another klaxon brought the division to a standstill not long after Lincoln got their bump. The chain of bad luck continued on Saturday, with the division klaxoned again, although this time we played a slightly more active part. We were confident that we could catch St Hugh’s, and had made contact within a few strokes. However, an unfortunate angle meant that the St Hugh’s cox was hit on the head by one of our blades, and the race had to be stopped for safety reasons. W1 returned to the boat house happy to have got the bump but subdued and unsure about what had happened. All in all it was a mixed eights for W1. While they finished up three, having got three quick bumps, the constant klaxons in their division were frustrating for what is by far the strongest women’s crew Lincoln has put out in recent years. However, the crew finished second in Division III and are well set to aim to move up a division next eights.

M2 went into Eights full of confidence after their excellent performance in Torpids, but the recent successes in the past few years meant that they had to fight it out in a strong 4th Division. Despite closing on Keble II in front of them on every day, getting within a quarter of a length on the Friday, the superior strength and fitness of the crew in front ultimately told, as they would pull away in the second half of the course, leaving M2 to row over each day, never troubled by crews behind. Still, it is a marker of the recent success of LCBC that staying level overall is a sore disappointment, and there is determination across the board to come back stronger next year.

W2 began eights with their confidence boosted by their high position in rowing on. However, in some ways bumping was more necessary for W2 than for any other crew as only one boat separated them from our W3, and no one wanted a Lincoln boat to be looking to bump another Lincoln boat. The first three days of eights were relatively easy, with Queen’s II, St Anne’s II and Exeter II falling before the gut. However, some dodgy poling and a strong wind on Saturday meant that W2’s usually powerful start took them straight into the bank. Suddenly the emphasis changed from bumping Oriel II to evading Exeter, who were looking for revenge from the day before. By the time we had escaped from Exeter, the two boats ahead of us had bumped out, leaving us to chase for the overbump on Trinity II who were also on for blades. This was something that none of W2 had anticipated, but the crew dug down deep and by Boat House Island had closed to within a few lengths of Trinity. The cheers from the Lincoln Boat House energised the crew further and a final push gave us the bump, just a few strokes ahead of the finish line. This incredible effort meant that W2 had risen six place, winning blades for the second Eights in a row and finishing second in Division V, just two places short of the fixed divisions.

M3 were eager to mount a strong showing with a relatively inexperienced crew. Having rowed over on the first day, they were bumped on Thursday by a strong Balliol crew. On Friday, however, they put in a strong showing to hold off the Jesus Vikings over the length of the course, only to be caught by them on the Saturday to finish down 2 overall. Nevertheless, the strength of the lower boats is promising, with the squad expanding year on year, and we remain in a good position in division 6 as only the 7th M3 boat on the river.

W3 had been described by some as “the most overcoached boat on the Isis”, with regular coaching from an OUWBC blue and an International rower and guest coaching by a blues’ coach. They proved that this coaching had paid off; bumping Christ Church III on Wednesday to become the highest placed third boat in Eights. This success was followed by bumps on Queens II, St Anne’s II and Exeter II, and Lincoln women’s third set of blades for this year.

W4 were all racing in bumps for the first time and had already achieved great things by qualifying for the competition. A klaxon on the first day meant that they were chased on Thursday by a very strong Jesus II crew and were unfortunately bumped early on. The division was again klaxoned on Friday but on Saturday the crew rowed strongly, putting up a good fight against Green Templeton III who caught them at the gut. Overall Lincoln finished fifth in the bumps chart, with good performances on both the Men’s and Women’s side. The competition was rounded off with a very memorable Eights dinner, at which the first ever Blockley Rowing Scholarship was presented (see report). Summer Eights rounded off another strong year for LCBC, and the large number of rowers remaining for next year leaves us confident that our climb up the bumps chart will continue in 2012.