It’s been just over a week since Summer VIII’s ended and there’s been plenty to celebrate. Not only did our first women’s boat (W1) and second men’s boat (M2) win blades (!), but our club also hit a few milestones during the regatta:
— M1 ended the week higher on the river than they’ve ever been before
— W1 made history by being involved in the first ever division where all crews bumped out on Friday (day 2 of 4)
— M2 earned a place in the fixed divisions, which means next year they won’t have to qualify in Rowing On the week before Summer VIII’s
— Last but not least, our M3 avoided getting spoons (getting bumped all four days) and looked really smashing while doing it (they were sporting Blues – the Oxford Varsity team that competes in the Boat Race against Cambridge – kit)
Unfortunately, our boat – W2 – wasn’t so lucky. The first two days we bumped the crew ahead of us within 20 seconds of the starting canon (which in bumps racing is quick – ideal really, because your legs will be fresh for racing the next day). And so, heading into day 3 we were confident – while we knew the boat behind us was faster than we were, we were faster than the crew ahead of us. If we could catch them quickly as we’d done the first two days, we’d be on for blades the next day. However, only about 30 seconds in and approximately half a length away from catching Keble – the crew we were chasing – our race was klaxoned due to a pileup that had formed upstream from us. While the klaxon (a horn that is blown that immediately stops the race when a crash is imminent, the racing line is blocked, someone is in the water and/or needs medical assistance, etc.) was warranted, we had only needed a little longer to gain on Keble and actually complete the bump. And there you have it, folks: the major downside of bumps racing (it’s far from fair). As disappointed as we were, it was encouraging to know that we otherwise would’ve brought home blades, which is a HUGE accomplishment. Plus, the next night’s party would surely make up for it (at least to some extent – I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still a little bitter)…
Following the end of Summer VIII’s on Saturday – which, after our race, was an entire afternoon spent chatting, laughing, and sharing a few drinks with the thousands of other spectators who were gathered at the river – it is tradition for each college to hold some kind of Summer VIII’s dinner celebrating both the end of the competition and the boat club’s year as a whole. Come 6:30pm, in true Oxford style, all MCBC rowers, coaches, benefactors, family members and friends gathered outside Mansfield dressed up nice to snap some pictures, then headed inside the Chapel for a formal meal, which included toasts and speeches by the boat club’s President and captains. At the end of the night the message was clear: we may be small, but no doubt we’ve shown Oxford just how mighty we can be this year.
As we enter the 7th of 8 weeks in Trinity term, time is starting to fly by faster than ever as us visiting students begin making preparations for our departure from Oxford: completing our last essays, packing, checking things off the tourist to-do list, going to London one last time… Some of us have already left to begin internships, but I couldn’t be happier to stay here through the end of term. While I miss home, I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to Oxford just yet. Besides, there’s still work to be done! We are at school, after all 🙂
P.S. Due to file size limits I’ve been having difficulties uploading photos taken during Summer VIII’s. However, if you’d like to take a look at some pictures of the regatta and Mansfield’s Summer VIII’s dinner, click on the links below!
New Words of the Week
mare n. (informal) – short for ‘nightmare’; an expression of negative emotion towards an object or situation, i.e. ‘we had a mare of a journey and got stuck in traffic’
sticky wicket n. (informal) – difficult, risky or losing situation*
Maccy D’s n. (informal) – nickname for McDonald’s (rather than ‘Mickey D’s’, the Brits refer to McDonald’s as ‘Maccy D’s’)
*This phrase is originally derived from cricket, where unpredictable pitch (playing field, which in cricket is called the ‘wicket’) conditions are called a ‘sticky’ wicket