‘Row jet set, row’ sprints and Head of the Charles, Boston, USA
In October, CUWBC travelled to Boston, Massachusetts to compete in the Head of the Charles. The weekend kicked off with a showcase sprint race sponsored by Virgin Atlantic. This spectacular event, featuring a floodlit race course and laser show, suffered from stormy weather conditions as crews tried to find their way in the darkness amongst gusts of wind, rain showers and choppy waves.
The women competed against Radcliffe Alumni, a strong crew of Harvard women. The first attempt was stopped abruptly as 5-girl Jen Reid suffered equipment failure and lost her blade. Holding her blade up in the air convinced the umpire of the gravity of the situation and they called a restart. This time Cambridge surprised Radcliffe by powering to an early lead. Despite the foul weather Cambridge increased the lead as the Radcliffe crew coped less well with the punishing conditions. The race culminated in an unexpected end as the Radcliffe Alumni veered off course as a result of a heavy gust, and crashed into the Cambridge crew a few strokes before the finish line. Stroke girl Kat Lange took her blade in the neck, but was quoted on American television as taking it all for ‘pride and honour’. Despite this setback Cambridge’s lead was enough to cross the line first and take home the Virgin Atlantic trophy.
The main event of the weekend was the Head of the Charles Regatta. This three-mile race is the biggest two day rowing event in the world, with over 1600 boats and 8200 rowers competing from 16 countries. CUWBC competed in the women’s Championship division for the first time, and went off in 35th position. Despite being held up by a slower crew in front, they moved up 10 places to finish 25th amongst some very experienced crews, in a time that would have placed them at the top of the collegiate (university) division.
As the first major event of the new season, Cambridge put in a strong performance on the other side of the Atlantic which bodes well for the months ahead.
Crew: Alice Wordley, Sonia Bracegirdle, Inke Borchers, Ellie Mitchell, Jen Reid, Lucy Wordley, Elly Kingma, Kat Lange with cox Ellie Goodfield