Newnham Head

On Saturday 5th February, three CCBC crews were out racing on the cam in Newnham Head – W3, M2, and M3’s first race in their new crews. M1 and W2 were supposed to be racing Head of the Nene, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough water in the river… Below are the race reports!


W2 – Echo, 4 seat

Newnham Head is the first major race for W3 as a crew! The weather was quite windy, which created difficulties, especially when we need to against wind…. But I guess we can’t really complain considering the heavy rain on Friday. At least we can stay dry. Also, before the race, Amy and Kieran helped us stabilise the rigger. Morgan helped us fixed the foot plates and changed the blade for Bell. Really appreciate all these efforts, which prepared W3 for the race!

Although W3 hadn’t really rowed in all eights with the speed of a race in previous outings, we had a very good start thanks for the practices on the way to marshalling (which seems to have immediate effect). W3’s timing and power put much momentum in Jim. The wind still blew quite hard. But, despite the wind, everyone worked to sit tall, squared early, and had quick shots as well as long, powerful strokes. The skilful coxing of Alex and techniques of every crew member helped W3 got around many corners safely and quickly even with the presence of the wind. Not crashing into any bank definitely saved us much time. Along the way, Hei Li and Morgan, together with numerous friendly strangers, cheered passionately for Churchill. It must be tiring to yell so loudly in such a strong wind, so BIG THANKS to them. Unfortunately, we got slightly overtaken by a boat near the finishing line, but W3 neither was discouraged nor slowed down. Instead, we passed the finishing line in full speed and power (Yeh, faster than the wind!).

Massive thanks to Elre and Nat for coaching W3 and giving useful advice in previous outings. Also massive thanks to Hei Li and Morgan for being awesome bank parties. Your supports and encouragement helped us get through this race! Through the brief conversation after the race, we learnt a lot about our strength and weakness, and W3 is ready to train hard and smash Lent Bumps!



M2 – Kirill Kaliteevskiy, 4 seat

We all arrived at the boat house exactly the time specified by Ben – 8:15. Not a minute early, not a minute late.  Enthusiasm was in the air as we all went in to prepare for the oncoming challenge. Excited for the race, hesitant about the competition, but as always full of confidence in the fact that no matter how things go, we will give it all that we got and nothing less than that. If we want to perform the best we can, we need to channel all the advice Tom and Nii Djan gave us to make our technique impeccable – drop your hands at the finish, slowly recover, square the blade early, open up the back, put pressure on the legs, finish strong on the arms and stay in time.

Once we got into the boat (still wet from yesterday’s rainy outing) we rowed down to the starting line, as we prepared to have our first race as the glorious M2. Then, it was apparent that one of us had committed a rowing crime – reckless Sean did not tighten his gate properly and his oar jumped out of its place. We were glad that we spotted this early, however, in the moment our bodies tensed up and our minds were troubled. What if that happened during the race? Would it even be possible to recover in such a scenario? If that were to happen during the race, will we go down in history as “the crew that forgot to close their gates”? In an act of panic, everyone checked that they did not make the same mistake and began to focus their mind on what lies ahead. We pushed of the bank, straightened out the boat, then we began the rolling start. We surpassed the start line and the merciless clock began. The pace increased. Our hearts, fuelled by adrenaline, began to pump more and more rapidly. The cold morning air rushed in and out of our lungs, leaving behind a slight tingling sensation in the throat. Things were now in motion – we were headed for the finish line and there was no stopping us now. We powered swiftly through the corners, all thanks to Vincent’s unrivalled steering ability. Tension built up in the body – wrists were burning, palms were sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy…

Unfortunately, Sean had to isolate for the 5 days prior to the race and in that time the skin on his hands become exceptionally delicate during that time; consequently, the rough grip of the oar tore away at his pale skin to the point where he began to bleed, staining river Cam with the blood of an Irishman. However, our troubles did not end there, soon a tragedy took place – we crabbed. We crabbed twice actually. Nonetheless, we prevailed and continued rowing, all thanks to our unquenchable desperation for greatness. Having re-established our rhythm, what lied ahead was the final stretch of the race. We knew we had to finish strong. Guided by the growling screams of Nii Djan and Chris we dashed to the finish line, using up every last drop of energy that we had. Finally, we finished the race and calmly went back to the boathouse.

Some may say that our timing was slightly off or that our rowing was “a bit messy”. Some may say that we lacked “synergy”. However, we finished second in our division and at the end of the day what matters most is that we gave it our very best shot.


M3 – AJ, 5 seat

Coach Kieran, wearing his highly reflected sunglasses, watched over the M3 crew as we lowered Cannon into the water. The weather was overcast with a strong wind cutting across the Cam. The crew began to check over their foot plates making sure every screw was tight but would soon find that they should have been more diligent. The sun was starting to pierce through the clouds as we pushed off from the boat house and fell in behind Churchill’s W3 crew. Our Cox skilfully navigated us to the marshalling point as we made our way down the river. That is when our first foot plate came lose. Luckily, we had plenty of time to fix it as we waited on the bank. However, as we made our way to the starting point another footplate come completely off. As we rowed in 6s, seats 3 and 4 did some under way maintenance and reattached the foot plate. Finally, we made it to the lock and lined up to start with a boat filled of 9 souls, and 8 secured foot plates.

Following the Trinity Hall’s M3 crew we crossed the starting point at a rate of 26. The crew settled in at a rate of 28 and worked on keeping the boat set as possible. Doing much better than we had in our morning outings the crew worked on catching together as Coach Kieran yelled from the bank. Our Cox and Bow four did an excellent job at taking us around the bends and keeping the wind from throwing us into the bank. Coming down the reach into the last 500 meters, we bumped the rate up to 30 and sprinted for the finish.

All in all, it was a good learning experience for the boat. While we have a lot to work on before bumps the crew has high spirits and looks forward to the grind ahead.


M1 – Chris, Men’s Captain

Churchill M1 are very happy to report after 3 years, we are still reigning champions of Peterborough Head of the Nene!


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