Captain's log 2016

Here, recorded for posterity, is Simon Emmings' record of achievement over the past (September to September) rowing year.

Boston Marathon, 
Mixed viii -1st, course record.

Autumn Head, 
Im3 -3rd

Huntingdon Head - Simon forgot this infamous event and its incomprehensibly stupid draw.

Vets iv's Head

Christmas Head
First time entered 5 mixed crews, theme Christmas dinner.

Deep cleaned men's viii, over Christmas.

Winter Head
im3 -2nd
Mas -3rd
Nov -3rd

Winter league
First time ever entered 2 men's viiis
Im3- 3rd, 6th overall
Nov-1st, 27th overall

Winter Head to Head
Im3 -1st
Nov -2nd

(WeHORR - not part of men's stuff, but I'll link to it)

HoRR, great success
First time ever entered 2 viii's.
Im3- 25th in Cat, 215th overall
Nov- 9th in Cat, 309th overall

Vet's Head
Mixed viii

Training camp Sabaudia
First ever training camp! Well done Dan!

Oxford Bumps
First time we have entered 1xW and 1xM
Men up two, to 7th
women up 1 to 8th in div 2

Rad Mile
Nov- 2nd

Head of the Cam
Went well.

Spring H2H
Im3 -1st
(I also coxed women..side-by-side from Ditton to road bridge...that was fun)

City Sprints
Im3 iv- 2nd
Single -2nd

Champs Head
Novs -1st

99's Regatta
Novs -2nd

Xpress Head
M1- 1st (2nd fastest town club)
M3- 3rd,(in im3 cat)

Peterborough Spring Regatta
Im3 viii-1st
Nov viii -lost in heat
iv -4th
single-3rd in heat
Im3 viii- 4th
Im3 iv-2nd
single- 4th in semi

First time ever entered viii
Im3- 10th 6:08(winning time ,5:55)

Time Race
M1-2nd overall
M3-2nd in Cat
(W1 and W2 both 1st in Cat!)

Town Bumps
M1 up 9th!(my proudest moment M1's last night bump)
M2 down 34th
M3 up 50th (M3 total joy..Prosecco and a cheese sandwich)
W1 stayed at 10 (after thinking they would get spoons!)
W2 up 1 rowed sandwich 3 times
W3 up 2 to 38
Record number still standing at 8am after party!

Named the iv "Nostromo"

Peterborough Summer Regatta
Nov viii-1st..pot and points for old boys!
Simon Emmings
Paul Holland
Steve O Rourke
Gerhard Smith
Simon Green
Mike PJ
Dave Byrne

Im3 iv-lost in heat
Single-4th in final

Cambridge Regatta
Im3 - 2nd

Great Ouse Half Marathon
Im3 iv -course record

99's Regatta
Pair-lost in heat

Um. This picture is from 2013, isn't it? Still, its a nice picture and it has Simon in it. And it was the last time before 2016 that M1 went up three.

Tabs regatta

After the wild excitement of bumps a period of holidays ensued. The next mark along our endless road to victory was Cantabs Summer Regatta. A slightly curious event which I don't think I've done before. But it was there, so we put in entries for a Men's and Women's VIII, and perhaps even had a practice outing or two, I forget.

 Dan is relaxed. Steve O in despair. Chris and Brian are happy. Lewis is cool, if slightly blurred  - sorry my phone camera often goes into "rubbish mode". Who's the bald bloke at 2? its Paul! And Keith in the bows. Cox was new boy Eric. My headstand-in-boat whilst marshalling drew plaudits.

Dan is relaxed. Steve O in despair. Chris and Brian are happy. Lewis is cool, if slightly blurred  - sorry my phone camera often goes into "rubbish mode". Who's the bald bloke at 2? its Paul! And Keith in the bows. Cox was new boy Eric. My headstand-in-boat whilst marshalling drew plaudits.


The format was, interestingly, like the new BR one: time trials, followed by races. The entries were a bit thin this year - I mean, there weren't very many of them, not that the entrants themselves were particularly svelte, indeed some clearly weren't. Where was I? Oh yes: so Tabs got some of their folk to enter. That meant their men's Senior Squad were in the men's, and I think their women's Henley squad in the women's, which rather dampened our hopes for Ultimate Victory short of throwing Jo Crisall at them, which I believe was the women's plan at one point.

The time trial was decent (I'm speaking for the men here, I don't know about the ladies other than their time, which was 4:10. The course is about a kilometer). The results are here, BTW. We got 3:35, which closely matched Eric's over-the-finish-line estimate of 3:37 (I was dead impressed that he had learnt how to use the RowCoach as a timer, a feat that has escaped Tidy over centuries, but no: he'd used his phone).

And so we ended up in the B final against Champs, with Tabs 1 and Hills Road in the A final. I was a bit disappointed not to have beaten Hills, but we weren't M1 so never mind. The "A" final was a bit odd: Tabs 1 had beaten Hills by 20 seconds so to make a race of it, Hills were given a 20 second head start. They celebrated this by heading off diagonally into the bank in front of Tabs 1 before slewing round and continuing; and apparently won, eventually.

And then it was us versus Champs. They tried to beard us out, but my ragged biblical straggling was clearly superior to their rather manned effort. They tried to get ahead of us off the start, which they succeeded in, because we rather stuffed up the wind somehow; of the six starts we did that day it was by far the worst. However they only got a seat or two up, and after a few hundred metres we started to pull back, as we finally remembered how to row. Eric wanted half a length by the railway bridge by in fact we'd got clear water by then as we settled down and (perhaps) their lack of fitness kicked in; and so on over the line in relaxed style.

Rather later on we got to see the results of the time trial and realised that we'd beaten Hills by 3 seconds; Tabs had misread their results in arranging the finals. Opinions differ as to how much this matters. For me, I'd rather have an interesting race against Champs than be destroyed by Tabs 1. Chris wanted the excitement of a side by side against Tabs; I pointed out we'd only have been side by side for the first 30 seconds :-). The most interesting race would have been us against Hills, but sadly that wasn't possible.

Bumps 2016: day 4

And so we come to the last day... for the records, the weather was good, very little wind, negligible stream, as it had been all week.

W3: up (up 2 overall)

W2: row over, over(up 1 overall)

W1: down (level overall at 10th)

Closing on Robs, but Cows too fast.

M3: up (up 4 overall)

With three bumps under our belts M3 were a crew looking to ensure the week ended perfectly. The final row up was wonderful - long, balanced and connected. 

When the gun went off our start could not have been better. We’d rated up to 40 plus within 5 strokes and were motoring ahead. This bump would prove to be a lengthier affair than the mildly rude and abrupt ones of the previous days so we were not surprised not to get a whistle within 15 strokes - though it did give a moment’s worry. Tonight was the first time we’d had to row full speed through the motorway bridge and outflow - so the novices in the boat had to deal with that for the first time. However, it did not take long for a whistle. It took a few more strokes for a second whistle but once we had that the crew ahead seemed to loose heart and the third whistle came just moments before the bump as we made the final few metres in quick time.

A lovely row home with the crew with a grandstanding start outside the pPlough. We dropped off the boat for M2 at combined to walk back to Queens’ and then cycle to the beer tree for a well earned pint. Chaos then ensued.

M2: down (down 1 overall)

M1: up (up 3 overall to 9th)

Yesterday we got very close to City 2 but didn't quite close them down. Today we knew we were faster than them, and we knew that they knew, and we knew that they knew that we knew. So we resolved to go off just as hard but cleaner, and to focus harder in their wash. And so it proved. We got a whistle on FP reach like yesterday and two on FP corner and the wash was really kicking in, but we held our technique well and didn't get slowed down by bad strokes. We were close past the Plough, and a good corner at Ditton saw us still closing, and finally getting our third whistle. Overlap comes about a minute later. It was beginning to get rather tiring at that point but the wash and the whistles told us we were close and then... the blessed "hold it up!" and we were there.

GPS track. A14 to FP 1:11 (1:08 in 2013 day 4). Glorious bowcam video is here.

Reflections: three up in division 1 is good: we last did that in 2013, when we last finished at 9. Blades would have been better, and unlike 2013 we did have a fair shot at it this time, but couldn't quite close City on Thursday. If we had, we'd have had a go at Tabs 2 who we'd got to 3/4 and 1/2 a length of in 2014; but we're faster this year. But we might not have caught Tabs, and this way we get to finish on a high.

We were: James Tidy (cox); Me (stroke), Dan McGreal, Matt Woodthorpe, Conor Burgess, Simon Lloyd, Steve Penson, Brian Stevens, Keith Lee (bow). Of the "great year" of 2013 only James and I survive: James Howard is up North, Andy Southgate has retired to M2, Chris Wood is temporarily holidaying in M2, Ralph is a cyclist, Will Wykeham is a sailor, Ian Foster went to Tabs and regretted it, Dave Richards had a quiet year in M2.


The Waterman for drinks until they shut around 12:30, then the City hard drinking into the small hours. I can't add pictures of that, so instead here's Tabs and City at the prizegiving. Congratulations to them.

And so... then end? Although there's still Peterborough. And Boston. And...

Bumps 2016: day 3

Ah, bumps. The anguish and the glory.

M1: row over.

A good race, at least for the first half. We got a whistle on City 2 surprisingly early - not much past the bridge, perhaps earlier than yesterday. And two at First Post I think. We had good corners for FP and Grassy, and were at three whistles at the Plough. But the chop was really rather choppy, and spaced amongst the good rowing were a few thrown-off strokes that slowed us down. Going into Ditton we were a few inches off, I'm told, but our corner there wasn't so good and we kinda lost it down the Reach. Coming into the Railway bridge they'd pulled away, and behind us was the spectacle of Tabs 3 rowing their guts out to escape Nines 2 who had overlap; but didn't quite close them down either.

M2: row over. Again! These boys like their row-overs.

M3: up, and then up as sandwich boat

A confident M3 set out from Queens’ boathouse on night 3. Running slightly late as Rob had to make his sandwiches for the sandwich boat. Some very good paddling to the start boded well for the race. The Mills & Reeve crew behind had no chance to catch us on the start as we rated up to 40 plus and gained rapidly on the Cantabs 11 crew. The bump came at almost exactly the same spot as the previous evening’s - first post corner. Now, as Dr Doubleday’s snack had foretold, we were Sandwich boat. This meant a nice row down, willow-bedecked, to the finish marshalling point for a rest and then a row back up for the third division. A very nice practice start gave us that invincible feeling and we were ready to go for a ride on the hype-train for a 2nd time in one day. Waiting at Bait’s Bite Lock was a nice change - knowing we had straight-ish stretch to get up to speed. The canon started us of and, well, we went like a rocket. Rating at plus 40 before we knew it and almost immediately we were at one whistle. The crew ahead - an ARM boat, XPress 6 — were rowing nicely but we bumped them within 28 strokes, giving them no time to get into their rhythm Two bumps, one night… sounds like a Youtube sensation. 99s ahead of ARM bumped up again so we can be confident of a good final night.

W1: row over.

The old enemy St Neot's.  Over the last three years they've stayed stubbornly out of reach.  Tonight was to be no different.  Without a cox box seemed only to make them go faster off the start.  They went off like a rocket and Bumped Robs before First Post corner.  City 3 behind were bumped surprisingly quickly behind by COWS.  Champs appeared around Grassy but were bumped out too.  We were left the only crew rowing with everything in front and behind bumped out.  We wound down on the Reach but had a bit of a scare as Nines appeared 12 lengths behind and started to gain.  But we took the rate up and were soon safely out of Reach at the Railway Bridge.

W2: row over and row over

Still in sandwich boat hell.  First a row at the top of Division 3.  A "glorious" row over in clear water with no threat from behind.  Then the second
row.  Chasing Robs 4 in Division 2 from the lock.   They are getting so close, with a 1/4 of a length.  Let's close it down tonight.

W3: up.

Once more at the outflow chasing Cantabs 7 but with Sarah C-Hs fresh legs.  After some discussion between bank party and cox it was decided to push off as late as possible so as not to be pushed out by the outflow.  It was tight but gave the crew little time to get tense.  They had a good start and were soon within a length and gaining fast.  The gap continued to close and the boats were soon overlapping with our bow ball way past the cox, they eventually conceded and "Hold it up" it was all over.  The bow-ball had taken a bit of a hammering but nothing that some tape couldn't fix.  A well deserved first Bump for W3 of the week.

Bumps 2016: day 2

Day 2 dawned hot again, but there are storm clouds brewing to the west. What will the evening bring?

Overall: M1 up, M2 over, M3 up. W1 over, W2 up-and-over, W3 over.

M3: up. A rapid close on Press 7 as boat 2, and the bump was concluded on First Post.

Relaxed mayhem cold describe the short and fast bump we achieved. Today’s crew included Ondrej and Mike Prior-Jones in place of Stuart and Will. It was Ondrej’s first bumps and what a row he had!
A great start left the crew behind with nothing to chase and we swiftly gained on the crew ahead - gaining our first whistle in a twenty or so strokes. The rating didn’t drop much below the start of 41, even as we hit choppy water and a few duff strokes messed with the balance.
At one point a single whistle could be hear for the X-Press 7 (Mills & Reeve) boat ahead - suggesting they were gaining on the Cantabs 11 in front of them. This gave us a momentary scare but we were reassured immediately as two whistles sounded for us, swiftly followed by three.
As we hit first post corner we hit the crew ahead and that was it - a bump in front of the pavilions and willow for all. Barney’s proud parents were there to cheer for him and Lorraine got the foliage for us. A quick stop at the beer tree was mandatory. So - day three holds the tantalising promise of becoming the sandwich boat. Whoop.

M2: row over

 Are we nearly there yet?

Are we nearly there yet?

M1: up on Tabs 3

Tabs three put up more of a fight than Nines two: perhaps they knew we are fast and so sprinted. But despite another good start we didn't get our first whistle until half way down FP reach, and I was starting to wonder what was happening. Nonetheless we kept going - we are capable of getting at least to FP in good form - and got two whistles on FP; after that they perhaps tired because we closed to three in the gut and overlap and then the bump on Grassy. Which is excellent because someone must have videoed us from the bank. Bumping too early is bad from a photographic viewpoint.

Feast yourself on the exciting bowcam video.


W3: row over.

The crew settled into their stride and started to gain coming out of the first-post corner.  They were a length off Tabs 7 and at times made up some
ground.  They stayed within a length but were unable to make up the distance by the end of the course.  Coming out of Ditton Corner they definitely looked the stronger crew so should have confidence to bump tomorrow.

W2: up.

Bumped Champs 6 at grassy taking them up to Sandwich boat but were unable to Bump the pesky Robs juniors to secure a position in Div 2.  Sandwich boat tomorrow.

 W2 hold it up the ladies way.

W2 hold it up the ladies way.

W1: row over.

So it was St Neot's.  They've stayed elusively in front of us for the last two or three years, slowly making their way up the first division as have we.  We
had a good start but not with the same dynamism as yesterday, we stayed with them but over the course but they gradually stretched the lead.  We took it all the way to the Top Finish only winding down as they crossed the line.

Other views:

Cambridge News: "Chesterton mowed down Cantabs III on Grassy Corner" and "In women's Division Three, Chesterton, stroked by Meg Richard, bumped Champs VI to climb into sandwich boat position. They then chased Rob Roy's juniors, stroked by Freya Sutcliffe, all the way over the course in their second row, finishing just a quarter of a length behind at the line."

Bumps 2016: day 1

The day was hot but so were we. Woof! Is that an oar in my one-piece or am I pleased to see you? Overall results:

  • W3, M3, W2 and M2: row over.
  • W1, M1: up.

M1: the full story

A blistering[*] start peaking at 45 got us our first whistle on Nines 2 really very soon - I distinctly heard John shouting "one whistle and I really mean it". Under the bridge and outflow it got rather choppy but we closed down to two and then three whistles (listening to the video we clearly get two whistles before the bridge wich is pretty damn leet). Then it got really choppy - or perhaps we weren't quite as sharp as we should have been[+] - because we rather stuffed up the "kill" call, which we misinterpreted as "row badly for a bit". Fortunately we soon recovered and pushed on through the overlap to get Nines at First Post corner.

[*] Not literally. It's a metaphor.

[+] And maybe Mr T steered for the bump just the teensiest bit...

M3: row over

It was a row over for M3 at the top of the fourth division. We came close to a bump but sadly our third position meant we were vulnerable to the fact that 99s ahead of us only had to be better than the boat ahead. Which sadly they were and we were left to row along a clear river to the finish. We were within station of them when they got their bump so the 2nd night should be a good one for us - provided some real river detritus doesn’t float down from division 3 as 99s also bumped up when they were sandwich boat. It was a good row and we hope to catch the crew ahead by the gut tonight.

The start was a bit ropey - particularly given some of the fliers we’ve had, but we soon settled into a rhythm and it was commendable given that: we are the third boat and, let’s be honest, they don’t always fly; we’d practiced for this which again is unusual; and three of the crew have not been rowing for long and this was their first experience of bumps.

The crew were: Tidy as cox, Simon E as stroke, Paul H, Rob, Barney, Steve, Will B, Stuart and finally Lewis at bow. A fine evening gentlemen.


Women's side

W1 went up, fairly soon, around First Post I think. Also, I do know that they caught a fish, which is remarkable. Further details:

Our zen like race preparation was punctuated by the combative narrative from our trusty bank party.  The start came all too quickly but we had a good start and surprisingly quickly we heard a whistle, Jo reassured us from the bank that it was “Our whistle”.  Champs behind, who we’d feared, didn’t come up and we were soon hearing we were ½ a length off.  Then it went a bit quiet…”Oh no!” had they got away.  But no the calls of “1/2 a length” returned and we battled on as we hit choppy water.  Then it was our bow-side vs stroke-side push for the Bump followed by “Hold it Up!”.  We’d Bumped City 3 going into first-post corner.  Much over-excitement followed we were now at Station 9 – single figures!     

W3: row over.
First Bumps for many of the crew, and yes the canon’s really do exist and are loud!  The crew set off well and remained in sight of Radegund 2, however Rad 2 quickly gained on Cantabs 7 and rowed a ¼ of a length off them for the first half of the course.  Just going into Grassy it seemed like Rad 2 might have missed their chance but with a final push out of Grassy they finally Bumped leaving W2 with nothing to chase.  Dave did some good manoeuvring to row through the crews Bumped out in front as the crew rowed on for the row over.  Nines 5 behind did a final push on the Reach but had left it too late. 
W2: row over.
Sandwich boat beckoned.  The crew rowed well initially gaining on the pecky Robs J15s but by Grassy a first night row over was on the cards.  There was no danger from behind so as Robs IV bumped down Champs 6 as sandwich boat the crew are in a good position for the rest of the week.

CRA officials; please avert your eyes from this video, it is Naughty.

The day in pictures

The naming of boats

The club named its new IV and finally settled on a name for its old IV today (Saturday, July 16). In an unusual show of democracy the names went up for the vote. The new IV was named, fittingly after the beloved cafe the club (and many other rowing clubs on the Cam) frequents after Saturday outings - Tishka. The Chesterton Road cafe is named after an area in Morocco which the owner’s family is from and refers to a pass between mountains. Cafe owner Eddie Touchent poured prosecco over the boat during the ceremony (he was meant to - it wasn’t some weird protest or anything) and said his father would be very proud. He joked that he was grateful to all the rowers for their business though without them he’d actually get to have a rest on Saturdays. Simon Emmings - club captain, said in a press release (he had his spin-doctor cook up the words for him): “Tishka is an essential pit-stop for many Cambridge rowers after an outing. Owner Eddie and his staff are always cheerful and helpful – often having your regular order ready for you as you approach the counter. As a club founded by the PYE company more than 75 years ago we’re really conscious that we have close links to the community and Tishka is a fantastic community meeting place. We are really pleased to be able to thank Eddie in this way.”


The old IV was almost named Rocky IV after the classic film and its classic rocking motion. It was that or its folk-name The IV of Death, but in the end another film reference tipped it and it was named Nostromo after the spaceship in the original Alien movie (apparently there’s a posh book by some bloke called Joseph Conrad too but that had no part in the naming). As this had been club member Chris Wood’s idea he poured the booze on the boat. The naming of the men’s VIII was delayed due to a mix-up in lettering, or something. 

Time Race: Ladies Night

M1 and 3, and W1 and 3, turned out for the CRA Time Race on the eccentric new wildlife friendly course form the Plough to Peter's Posts. The results are available in a confusing format - I do like to see some of the old traditions upheld. M1 came second only to Tabs 1, beating Tabs 2 by six seconds which is nice. W1 won Mas A/B/C pots; and W3 won Nov pots. M3 came second in the Nov category, beaten only by the really-rather-good-for-novice Nines crew that started off 3rd.

 Who are all these people anyway?

Who are all these people anyway?

Somewhat later, down the Waterman:

I'm sure you all want to see the GoPro of M1:

Emma the Howard dug out some old timed race results from the CRA; its here for reference.

Marlow regatta

After the glory that was Peterborough, the next step was The Big Time: Marlow regatta on Eton Dorney. Sadly, this was more Peterborough-Sunday than Peterborough-Saturday.

We needed to be there to race for - I forget; but it was early; say 8:30 - and so elected to stay overnight "somewhere nearby", which turned out be be a very nice Airbnb place. Watching Die Hard was the ideal pre-regatta preparation. After a good night's sleep we got up - still early - and got to Dorney with not-really-quite-enough time to be fully settled before it was time to boat for the time trials. For Marlow was being run on the Newe Systeme, in which the various entries in each class are sorted via time trials into A, B and so on finals. Note that Met, or so I'm told, takes this even further, and puts all IM3, 2 and 1 VIIIs together; that would have suited us as we were faster than some IM2s.

Anyway the format of the time trial wasn't quite clear to us - it was over 1900 m, we knew that - but it turned out to be that we were started, errm, near the start and then timed from crossing a mark at 100 m, to the line. With crews started at about 30 second intervals it meant we had someone behind us, ish; who gained on us a little, but not too much. We had a decent row which I felt fairly happy with; but alas when it came to the times we were last and hence in the B final.

Come the final itself: a fair but not perfect start, and we were soon about 1/3 to 1/2 length down on Marlow; with Lea lost out in front. But we kept at it, and managed a push back in the middle of the race and took a few seats off them; but they didn't crack and in the end we lost by 1.8 secs: 6:24.8. Hey ho. That may well be a club record for 2 k, though; anyone know any better?

Peterborough Spring regatta

We took two men's VIIIs, a four and a scull; and a women's VIII, to Peterborough Spring regatta on the 4th and 5th of June. The men's VIII (stroked by your humble correspondent) won IM3 on Saturday to our glory; and the rest was reasonably good too. This post will be thin on details on anything ut the IM3 VIII, and mostly pictures.

There was a mild headwind on both days. In the heat, the IM3 VIII beat Fitz (who were head of Div 2, and ended up going down two in Mays) and a slow crew from Nines. That left me rather nervous / dreading the final, because it wasn't clear how good the other crews would be. In the end we got a good start and a good race and with a strong effort over the first half were able to beat Fitz again, a rather better Nines crew, and UCL "comfortably", i.e. by more than half a length (1.7 seconds say the results). That's my second BR point. Had we but known, we could easily have had a third: we won IM3 in 3:17, IM2 was won in 3:24.

There's a Riggercam video of Nov VIII on Saturday because I coxed them: Notice the buoys appearing by the boat after about 4-5 strokes; that's because there was an explained swerve off towards strokeside at the start. And one of IM3 VIII:; from the side,

Note: the official results gave the IM3 VIII 2:56.3 in the final. That would be glorious, but it isn't true, as the videos show. I contacted Peterborough to point this out, but I got no reply. The true time is 3:16. Even corrected, it was the fastest time of the day.

Results, Saturday:

* IM3: win in the final (crew: William, Dan, Matt, Conor, Simon L, Brian, Keith)

* Nov: 3rd in heat by 1.5 seconds to UCL and Leeds (crew: William; Simon E, Steve P, Steve O, Lewsi G, Ondrej, Mike PJ, Stuart, Lewis C)

* IM3 IV+: beat Sudbury in heat, 4th in final (Steven Andrews, Conor Burgess, Simon Lloyd, Dan McGreal; James Tidy)

* Nov 1x (Keith Lee): 3rd in heat



If only we'd won enough points to be forced up to IM2 it would have been great, because again our times would have been good enough to win IM2. The IM3 VIII (now with Chris swapped in for Matt, I think) won our heat (York, a City crew, a Nines crew) but were clearly the slow heat; in the other, Warwick and Wolfson were faster. And when the final came round, something didn't click and we ended up 4th. The women's IM3 VIII lost in their straight-final. The IV came second in their heat, and then second to City of Oxford in their final.