Women’s Openweight Trial VIIIs – Mufasa (Surrey) vs. Sarabi (Middlesex)
Racing in extremely challenging conditions, both crews took on whitecaps and water along the boats, where the lead changed four times as athletes and coxes sought to find the right course and manage the tough water. The All-American cox and stroke of Hannah Murphy and Megan Lee led Mufasa to a half length lead as the crews entered the Fulham Bend but returning Blue James Trotman took his crew closer to Mufasa as they both looked for cleaner water. Sarabi’s stroke Jenna Armstrong drove the crew to reduce the margin and the crews exited the bend a third of a length apart, and both crews were warned as five minutes showed on the clock.
Both crews fought valiantly as they worked towards Hammersmith Bridge in what would be a long race as the crews battled a late-turning tide and much land water. Sarabi closed some margin as the crews shot Hammersmith, but Mufasa was able to take advantage of the inside of the Surrey Bend and moved to a length lead as the crews passed St. Paul’s. Sarabi sought to respond, and both crews moved close to a 2k rating as they passed Chiswick Eyot, Mufasa moving out to over a length of clear water as the crews passed under Barnes Bridge.
Not to be overawed, Trotman and Armstrong drove their crew on to use the final bend, and closed to a length and three quarter as the crews passed Duke’s Meadows, but the experience of the U23 World Champion Lee, and the power of her middle 4, showed as Mufasa took the win by two and a half lengths in a time of 22.54.
Chief Coach Paddy Ryan commented after the race that both crews and the full squad took a great amount of inspiration and information out of this race and that he was looking forward to seeing what this crew and squad can deliver.
Women’s Lightweight Trial VIIIs
Off the start both boats battled through worsening chop, but Nala made the best of the difficult conditions and used the inside of the Fulham Bend to their advantage, pushing on to establish a couple of lengths lead over Simba by Hammersmith.
Past St. Paul’s Simba came into difficulty, one of its crew members losing her seat and the race was stopped to permit Simba to fix the jammed seat. The boats were drawn level again in calmer waters and re-started. A second fiery start with both crews being warned ensued, but Nala’s crew were able to maintain their composure and take the lead, pushing out to a 5L verdict as the crews crossed the finish line at Mortlake.
Men’s Lightweight Trial VIIIs
The lightweight men crews, preparing for the 50th Lightweight Men’s Boat Race, were named after two influential figures in lightweight rowing at Cambridge: Richard Bates and Bob Greatorex. Along the boats, Greatorex took on significant water, and started to swamp. The decision was made to cancel the race and Greatorex’s crew made their way back to the boathouses, and a further decision was made to postpone the race until Thursday 14th December.
The re-race took place under much better conditions, with Bates pushing out to an early lead off the start of around a canvas on the Surrey station. The crews stayed neck and neck up to Hammersmith Bridge and around to St Paul’s. Bates then pushed out to a lead of just over 1 length around the Surrey bend. The two crews were then line astern past the Eyot before Greatorex started to push back onto terms, being down just half a length at the Bandstand. Going through Barnes, Greatorex were just one seat down and continued to extend their lead towards the finish.
The final verdict was a five length victory for Greatorex.
Men’s Openweight Trial VIIIs
After seeing Greatorex swamp in the previous lightweight Trial VIIIs race along the boats, men’s chief coach Rob Baker made the decision to start at the race at Fulham Football Ground. He decided that he sought to give his crews the chance of the best water, and give them a chance to produce the best race for his boats. Starting on Surrey, Zoolander coxed by Ed Bracey was given a third of a length start to account for the outside of the bend, causing some discussion between the commentators about the fairness of this measure, but Savannah Adamo’s Hansel was ready to go and a pair of strong British and International crews drove up the Crabtree Reach. Within 25 seconds both crews were warned for their steering as they came close to clashing. Zoolander on Surrey, stroked by Swedish international Martin Amethier, pushed his crew through managed to take three quarters of a length within the first two and a half minutes and was somewhat more composed as the crews got to Hammersmith Bridge where by taking inside of the bend they had the advantage of better water. Cox Ed Bracey was able to move his crew out in front of Hansel and quickly enabled them to take advantage of the inside of the Surrey Bend.
Passing St Paul’s, they led by a length and three quarters, and by the Eyot Zoolander had taken a two-length lead. Both crews were rowing cleanly and with length by this point, with Hansel taking some margin back, although Zoolander would match the push and move back out to their two length lead.
Tom Lynch and Seb Benzecry drove Hansel from the middle of the boat, enabling them to consolidate their rowing as the crews passed the Bandstand but Zoolander was able to stretch their lead to two and three quarter lengths as the crews went under Barnes Bridge. Coming under Barnes, Bracey went wide whilst Adamo cut the corner slightly and took the risk that with so much land water coming down the course and a comparatively slower flood tide she could guide her crew to increasing speed and overturn some of the margin that Zoolander had taken.
Hansel was able to do just that, but it would not be enough to cover the margin already taken, and Zoolander ran out victors by 2.5 lengths in a time of just under 15 minutes.