Furnival Sculling Club

Furnivall Sculling ClubRowing club based in Hammersmith, London. Established 1896

Race report: Oxford City Royal Regatta, 17 August 2013

Sunday, 18th August 2013

Furnivall had possibly one of their earliest starts in memory yesterday when they ventured to the city of dreaming spires on the final pot-hunting expedition of the summer. Sara graciously offered to have an accelerated trailer-driving course and get our boats up the M40 for the criminally early time of 7:15 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Our women's double scull (Sarah & Fiona) were first up to the start line at 9 a.m. in the IM3 event and had a comfortable victory over one of the five Wallingford crews in the draw. This was rapidly followed by more wins for Furnivall in the women's IM3 coxed fours' event: Fran, Emma, Tania, Cathryn and cox Kate saw off Barnes Bridge ladies and Roma, Liz, Meri P, Jess F and cox Julian beat Sons of the Thames.

The rest of the morning was on course to be somewhat chaotic with each of our three crews potentially racing every hour. Add to this the fact that the boats had to be threaded through the CORC car-park at the start and end of each race, which had been transformed into a forest of trailers.

Surprise buoy

The double were first to race in their quarter-final, against another Wallingford crew. A strong start from FSC ensured that they were pulling away at the end of the boathouses' stretch. However, a warning buoy at the start of the Green Bank took them by surprise and the clipping of it took significant speed off the boat. Alas, Wallingford had decided to take a similar line on the race course and nicely cut a corner to end up with their stern on our bow. Furnivall attempted to step back up to race pace but were being impeded by Wallingford who were being repeatedly warned by the umpires. Faced with no other choice, our girls crossed over to Wallingford's original station and attempted to recover their lead down the Green Bank. They crossed the line neck-and-neck however Wallingford were disqualified for severly impeding Furnivall.

Unfortunately our ladies' fours were not quite so successful in their quarter finals and, despite good showings, went out to Landaff and St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. While the crews retired to the comfy sofas in a corner of the CORC boathouse (a.k.a. Temporary Camp Furnivall) to keep our expert trailer driver company, Fiona and Sarah took to the water again to face yet another Wallingford crew in the IM3 2x semi-final.

Strong start

The two crews boated together at 11 a.m. and paddled up through the Gut, so-called because it is approximately the same shape and width as part of the small intestine (of a mouse). In only their second ever regatta in the 2x, our girls were now gaining confidence on the realisation that they were actually reasonably nippy. However, the oppo had a StrokeCoach and therefore had gone a step beyond Q: "what rating are we doing?" A: "ummmm, 30 to the nearest 10?". Unphased by this, FSC had a strong start and were in control coming past the boathouses. The Wallingford crew were the toughest opposition of the draw so far and put in a good push at halfway to come onto the Green Bank. With 400 metres to go, our girls called a somewhat premature wind to the line. Thankfully they were able to maintain this and put their nose over the line fractionally in front, to win by a canvas.

The final beckoned at 12:30 p.m. against City of Bristol. Having stocked up on bananas and hot cross buns, Fiona and Sarah paddled up to the line once again. Alas, the "disco-boat" cruisers were also taking to the water. Succesfully avoiding being mown down by a wedding party, the two crews attached themselves to the stake boats.

After defeat at Peterborough, Fiona and Sarah were determined not to let this title pass them by and executed a strong and clean start. They immediately took over a length off City of Bristol and were able to enjoy the row past the boathouses. At the bend in the river coming onto the Green Bank, the opposition gained some ground back. However, our girls in the green and gold were picturing those pots and put in some power 10s to push the lead back to a couple of lengths.

They increased this by another half a length and crossed the line to claim their first victory as a crew, and the first victory for their lovely boat the Mark Ruscoe. This was somewhat appropriate since the actual Mark Ruscoe had recently stepped in to give the crew some coaching advice - thanks Mark! After a paddle back to the boathouse, it was off back to race control to claim some pots and rather swiftly off to the bar to put the pewter to good use (by this time it was now post - 1 p.m. and therefore perfectly acceptable).

A brief respite in TCF now ensued before the afternoon races, which was full of sleeping and eating rowers and coxes. Liz and Sol were first up in their first ever race, in the mixed elite double sculls. The sharp bend mid-way down the course, which was claiming many of the coxless boats, unfortunately interrupted Liz and Sol's flow. After recovering, they came down the Green Bank looking very evenly matched in style and speed with the opposition from City of Cambridge but the bend had caused them to loose too much ground. However, they did us proud and we hope to see them racing again soon!

Class of 2012

Our ladies were up next at 4 p.m. in the IM3 VIII. The crew of Roma, Fran, Meri P, Paulina, Cathryn, Jess F, Erika and Tania, coxed by Julian, was somewhat of a reunion for girls who'd (incredibly) started rowing together only a year ago. Erika takes up the story: "This was a race that we were looking at with both anticipation and trepidation, as it was essentially a ‘scratch’ crew that  had not actually rowed without subs due to holiday availability. It was the first time that we would be racing in that crew, and it was a bit nerve-wracking to say the least!

Our nerves stayed with us as we rowed up to the starting dock alongside our opposition, our Hammersmith neighbours ‘Sons of the Thames’. When the marshal shouted “Attention . . . GO”, our nervous energy exploded into a less than perfect start, allowing Sons to get a bit of an early lead. For the next few minutes , it was unclear (to myself, at least) where we were and where Sons were. It was only until Julian said, “I have their stroke seat . . . I want their seven seat” that it became clear that we were rowing through them. Even when the horn blasted at the end, there were questions of ‘Did we win?’ echoing through our boat. We had – by a whisker. We were through to the semis!

After a quick debrief and an obscene amount of sugar consumption, we were back on the water with a new zen attitude. The nervous energy of the previous race had pretty much dissipated, and we were focused on being relaxed and being better off the start. This zen attitude was mildly tested when we were nearly knocked down by a barge.  The semi-final started much more calmly than the previous race, and it became evident by the half-way point that unless we messed it up, we were going to win the race and move into the final. We had progressed further than any of us had actually thought we would.

Longing for bananas

We paddled back to the club, where we were told that we were going to stay on the water and race immediately. This prompted slight discontent in the boat and some whimpers of  “Food . . . toilet . . .” but nothing was to be done. We had some delusions when we saw Sarah waving to us on the bank, thinking she had bananas for us, but it turned out to be the banana that she was happily eating herself [sorry... - Ed.]. We rowed back up to the start, lined up with little drama and began our final race of the day. We had a clean start and settled into a good rhythm soon, but Curlew had an early lead on us that we could not catch up on. So we raced the best that we could, focusing on the images of food and toilets to get us through and relishing the cheers of “Furnivall” from not only Furnivall members, but also the Sons and Bristol crews that we had previously raced.

Our expectations of what we could accomplish in our previously un-rowed crew were much exceeded. We made it to the final, and our success was made even sweeter by the fact that the crew was entirely composed of rowers who came into the squad through the Beginners 2012 course, or shortly thereafter. When we think back to where we were a year ago, we could not be more proud of how we ended the season!"

The pain of the single sculler

Mike raced next in the IM3 1x event, at 16:42, and cleanly dispatched of his opposition from Oxford Academicals. Understandably though, it would have been a bit cheeky for Mike to repeat the "Reading fly-by" and give the crowds a wave as he passed. The final race of the day at 6 p.m. (note: 14 hours after our lovely trailer driver had woken up) saw Mike race in his final against opposition from Medway Towns. It would have given us no greater pleasure than for Mike to finally kick his novice status out of the park. However, despite another textbook demonstration of sculling technique, our man went over the line second. You'll get that pot Mike, we believe in you!

After yet more threading of boats through the world's busiest trailer park, the boats were lovingly de-rigged and placed safely back on the trailer. The rowers and coxes were also lovingly fed, watered and photographed and placed safely back in the cars and down the M40 to end yet another successful season for Furnivall.

Thanks again to captain Sara and Little Captain for stepping in at the last minute to get our boats to Oxford. And thank you also to our lovely coxes Kate and Julian for making long trips to steer our crews.

That's it for the 2012/13 season, see you all again in September for some head races!



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