The House had a good Eights Week with excellent performances across the board and some truly outstanding results, somewhat mitigated by the effects of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune which took something of the shine from the overall victories. However, the sun shone brilliantly throughout and the House crews continued the upward trend of the last several years.
On the ladies’ side pride of place must go to the Women's 1st VIII, who were ably assisted by two returning Blues and who bumped up twice – at the expense of Osler House and Univ – to finish seventh on the River. The 2nd VIII reversed a somewhat difficult Torpids and performed admirably for a largely novice crew, losing only one place and finishing as the second highest crew in their category. The 3rd VIII very narrowly failed to row on – perhaps not altogether surprisingly, given the flooding which so adversely affected novice rowing in the weeks running up to Eights. The results on this side of the club were extremely encouraging overall and clearly show that the prevailing trajectory is now upwards.
The Men's 1st VIII was a very strong crew indeed on paper; with two returning Blues and two Isis men, as well as two for the University triallists, a Princeton oarsman and a Nepthys lightweight, the crew had very considerable potential. However, despite proving beyond reasonable doubt that it was the fastest boat on the River, it did not quite manage to catch Pembroke – though came very close each day – and had thus to settle for third, its starting position. The lesson to be learned from this is that even very high levels of talent cannot quite compensate for an overall shortage of outings as a formed crew. The 2nd VIII, beginning its third year in division two, made three remarkable bumps on the first crews of the Queen’s, St. Peter’s and Jesus and was busy demolishing Exeter on the Saturday when the division was klaxoned on somewhat spurious grounds, denying the crew a very well-deserved blade. All the same, they finished eighth in division two, way ahead of any other second boat, and deserving of much approbation for a remarkable achievement. The 3rd VIII rose another two places and now stands on the cusp of division four – a considerable rise from division six (rowing on) only four years ago. They would probably have risen more had it not been for an incident in the gut which led to a crew dropping seven places and finishing right ahead of them. The 4th VIII fairly creditably lost only one place overall in the rowing on divisions, again reflecting an enforced lack of water time.
Looking back, it is a measure of the very considerable strength of the ChChBC that we can afford to be a little disappointed not to be Head of the River; this was the first rowing year since 2008 without a boat-burning ceremony. There have been times in the not-so-distant past when we would have been mightily pleased with these results – and indeed have every right to be so this year, yet seasoned somewhat with the knowledge that the fullest potential was not quite attained, at least for the Men's 1st VIII. However, the very encouraging results for the Women's 1sts and the Men's 2nds and 3rds remind us strongly that there are other indicators to the health and strength of a boat club long-term than the mere burning of boats.
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