And on the 7th weekend, they faced the colleges.
30mph winds greeted the 48 nervous UCLBC novices as they arrived at their first regatta on the 25th of November. With the fear of that second stroke in the racing starts, and catching the “inevitable ejector crab” the organisers were expecting, the six beginner men and women’s crews eyed up their competition and tightened every screw, ready to face the colleges.
With the girl’s 1st and 2nd boats straight through to the semi finals, the boys kicked off the heats with UCL 1st beating King’s 2nd boat by a sufficient 4 lengths, King’s 1st getting their revenge and beating UCL 3 by a mere canvas, and UCL 2 racing themselves as LSE, for the first of many times that day, failed to show. As the women’s 3rd crew prepared to boat, news came that King’s had scratched their 2nd crew, so through to the semi finals the third girls boat went.
Without a chance to show the other colleges just what all of those ergs, outings, and burpees have done, crew 2 and 3 of the women’s squad cheered raucously on the bank for crew 1, who faced their rivals, Kings 1sts. Fortunately for us, the race was anticlimactic, as the UCL girls soared through King’s splashy start and beat them by 4 lengths. On the boys side, another LSE no show saw the boys 1st boat raring to race, but straight through to the finals. Kings 1st were put back in their place by UCL 2, who beat them by 2 lengths, and comfortably set up the men’s side for a UCL vs UCL final. Already confronting familiar faces, UCL’s 2nd and 3rd girl’s crews met in the semi finals, resulting in a calm and collected win for the 2nd crew, and preparing everyone for yet another UCL vs UCL final.
As the other colleges lined the banks in awe, 4 sets of purple and blue blades took the stage in what was going to be, two eventful final races. Great starts from both crews saw UCL women’s 1st and 2nd boats speed into the distance, preparing many eager ears for the result – which was to be the victory of the 1st boat. Punctuated by a couple of crabs, a whole crew easy, and a few furious 1st boaters, the men’s final was a little more dramatic. After a tough race, and many gritted teeth, the men’s 1st boat rightly and finally received their medals, and claimed their place as the fastest beginner men’s crew.
Armed with Cambridge Winter Head’s 1st and 2nd place, followed by two UCL vs UCL finals, the Novice men and women will confidently put on their newly washed, and now extremely rare, ‘UCL Novice’ tshirts, load up on pasta, and tighten their top-nuts, as they prepare for Allom Cup this Saturday, and hopefully draw closer to the purple and blue hat-rick on the horizon.
Freya Bronwin, Novice Women’s Captain