Given the diet of consistent success over the last five years enjoyed by almost the entire Club, losing the Headship in Torpids certainly came as a blow. However, to dwell too much upon this would be to lend a disproportionately gloomy air to the wider Torpids event, and to ignore the excellent performances laid down by the Club in general. Inevitably, after three straight years of holding the Men's Headship (two of them matched by that in Summer Eights as well) anything less looks – well, less, and can be viewed with some disappointment. It is fair to say, though, that the lens of the Headship can distort one's vision of the Boat Club as a whole, obscuring much that is good. Certainly this year provides an opportunity to look at the wider picture – which comes across as extremely healthy and positive. Pride of place must surely go to the Ladies’ 1st Torpid which gained three bumps in the First Division, more than adequately reversing any previous downward trend. Their victims were Saint Catherine's, Oriel and – agreeably – Pembroke, leaving the House with a fifth-place finish overall. Given that so many of this crew were relatively inexperienced novices, then this augurs very well indeed for the future prowess of the women's side of the Club. The Ladies’ Captain of Boats, the redoubtable Ellie Darlington, gained her blue with OUWBC – a noteworthy achievement, as did Susanah Hancock with OUWLRC - her lightweight colours being elevated from the usual half-blue to full blue status as a result of her victory against Cambridge. Since this formidable duo has now returned to the Ladies’ 1st VIII, we have considerable hopes of a result in Eights at least the equal of that in Torpids.
The Men's 1st Torpid were bumped off the Headship by a very well-drilled and determined Pembroke crew (who had been trying hard to achieve this outcome since the spring of 2008, and who now finally did so.) However, the men of the House – who had trained with rigour for two terms – held on doggedly to second position on the River, and will no doubt be very ready to reverse this outcome some months hence. The Men's 2nd Torpid were an exceptionally fast crew for Division III – and were certainly unfortunate to pick up only two bumps – on Merton and on Keble (the latter a resoundingly spectacular overbump) in racing. This was almost entirely the fault of an ill-timed klaxon on the Wednesday which ended the entire division just before they hit Somerville. This left the 2nd Torpid lying third in Division III, with only one second boat still higher. More tangible success was gained by the valiant 3rd Torpid, a crew which contained four novices who had only had one term of previous experience and which, overall, made up in spirit and aggression what it lacked in size. After four days of highly successful racing, the thirds had made no fewer than six bumps, won blades, and had re-entered the fixed divisions (at twelfth in Div. V) for the first time in a number of years, with only one third boat still higher. Once again this notable level of success among the lower boats is of great significance for the future development and well-being of the ChChBC.
Overall, then, a good Torpids – in spite of the most obvious loss – and one which shows that the Club remains in good heart and still striving for yet further success. As Summer Eights now approaches the crews are making their final preparations to race – and, hopefully, improve further upon these Torpids results. The Ladies – as mentioned – have two returning blues; the men also have two, and two men (Justin Webb and Geordie Macleod) from the victorious Isis crew as well. Needless to say, everyone in the ChChBC sympathises greatly with Hanno Wienhausen and Alex Davidson, our blues, who were so rudely and needlessly cheated of a good Boat Race and likely victory by the misguided actions of one self-advertising oik. We are hopeful that their return to the House 1st VIII will allow them the opportunity at last to gain a worthy victory, this time in bumps.
Recent heavy rainfall and incipient flooding have made heavy inroads into the available rowing preparation time in the run-up to Summer Eights, but with a week to go before racing it now appears that the event will be able to go ahead without too many restrictions and caveats – which is good news for the two women's and three men's crews who will certainly be competing, and one more of each who will be attempting to do so via rowing-on.
Start order: Wednesday 23rd May 2012
M1 – third in Division 1
W1 – ninth in Division 1
M2 – twelfth in Division 2
W2 – ninth in Division 3
M3 – seventh in Division 5
We hope to see many old members lining the Isis in support of the House crews during Eights – and we will take this opportunity to remind everyone of the upcoming Boat Club Dinner in Hall on Friday, June 15th, and of the Henley Royal Regatta drinks party taking place in Lion Meadow on Saturday June 30th – to both of which events old members are cordially invited.
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