2020 Tethys Race Report

Putney to Hammersmith, 14th March 2020
Eliza Argyropoulos

Everything went according to plan.

We successfully completed our pre-paddle, a little nervy here and there but that was to be expected. We met our opponents for the first time during the weigh-in, which also went smoothly because Clare, our cox, is an absolute legend. We won the coin toss (tails never fails) and chose the Surrey station – the plan was to hold Cambridge for their Middlesex advantage on the first bend and slowly walk through them in the second half of the race. We were prepared to race bow ball to bow ball for the entire length of the race. We were each willing to give absolutely everything we had for this crew.

The time between weigh-in and boating passed quickly. We went over the race plan again, had some snacks, worried about whether we should eat some more snacks, found our focus, and then it was time to go. Our race started from the land warmup, we went through the motions purposefully, just like any other session. 

One final chat with Nic before we boated – we were ready. 

Final talk before the race

Hands on. We put the boat on the water. I flooded my left welly (classic Tideway). Too late to fix that now, it’ll be fine. We went through our race warmup and paddled past the start to wait for Cambridge. All the ergs, all the seat racing, all the sneaky bursts had led up to this moment. Nic had prepared us for this in ways we didn’t even realise. 

The lack of stake boats on the Tideway meant it took a bit of stopping and starting to get ourselves aligned on the start line. Clare’s hand was up-

“Oxford…Cambridge…Attention..GO!”

We flew off the start, this was it, this was our Boat Race. We had been through the start sequence so many times that it had become second nature to us. We knew the first half of this race would be really hard – it was their bend and we had to hold them. I regained consciousness about 500m in. We were half a length up.

Head in the boat, listen to Clare, breathe.

20 sharp catches into Fulham. Their bend was running out. We were still walking through them. This was the moment all five of us thought, “we could actually win this.”

Crisp, sharp. Time to pull away from them.

The rest of the race was a blur. I remember glancing up at the Cambridge cox directly behind us, sitting in our puddles. The gap was getting larger and larger and the final sprint was here.

“Time to race with your hearts girls,” we hear through the coxbox as we approach the second lamp post from the left on Hammersmith bridge. 

We crossed the finish line 12 seconds ahead of our opponents.

We didn’t hear the finish marshal tell us to stop so we kept racing for another 50 metres or so, by which point we were really hoping Clare would tell us to wind down before our bodies exploded. We finally stopped and all of the emotion could finally escape us.

“We did it guys!” 

We made history. We sent it.

Thank you to everyone who fought for this race, and supported Tethys from the start. It always felt like we had an incredible team of people behind us in our coaches, Nic and Martin, the other athletes, and the alumni who took the time to send messages of support. We are also really grateful to Al Craigie and Peter Haining for volunteering to act as impartial umpires for the Reserve Races. Let’s hope we are the first and only reserve crew to ever race this course – onwards and upwards to the full Championship Course next year!

2020 Blue Boat Race Report

Championship course, 15th march 2020
Amanda Thomas and Charlotte Lee

The 37th Women’s Lightweight Boat Race was the first to take place on the Championship Course in London: a wonderful milestone in the history of OUWLRC. 

After a long trialling season and selection period, having faced flooding, the usual round of injuries and illness, and disruptions in match racing due to winter storms, nine of us had made it into the Blue Boat. With a lot of hard work from our coaches Martin and Nic, our Exec and student committees, and the whole squad in general, we arrived at race day feeling well prepared to face Cambridge’s challenge.

We travelled up to the Tideway on Friday 13th, giving us time for a practice outing on Friday afternoon and a chance to settle in at our host club, Putney High School. Saturday brought a new dose of adrenaline as we had our official ‘practice starts’ outing, as well as the official challenge with our Cambridge counterparts, the reserves crews and the lightweight men’s crews (and some enthusiastic photographers!). On Saturday afternoon we were delighted to see the Tethys 4+ win the Reserve Boat Race.

Then race day was here. We remembered being told in January that it would come around quickly – and here we were, getting ready for our pre-paddle, then weighing in, then lining up on the start. 

The Race

Approaching Hammersmith Bridge

We all knew that racing on the Championship Course could be decided either by the first few minutes or the last few. We were expecting a tough and close race. Charlotte encouraged us to take a breath, and prepare for what we were about to do.  

Cambridge are notorious for their starts so we were mentally prepared to be slightly down initially and then use our rhythm and front end to accelerate the boat past them. To our surprise, we remained level – bow ball to bow ball by the Black Buoy. We found our race rhythm and got into the grind, with Charlotte squeezing every ounce of commitment and energy out of the rowers. Martin’s race plan, for us to go as hard as possible every stroke, seemed to be working, as we gradually inched out ahead of our opponents, enjoying it as Charlotte called the number of every seat she was level with.

Approaching Hammersmith Bridge, we were determined to capitalise on our advantage, especially given that we were just over ⅔ lengths up. Both crews were using the neutral water, looking for the famous second lamp post of Hammersmith Bridge. Cambridge was warned for steering and Charlotte saw stroke Clare’s face turn steely as she saw Cambridge approaching us. Cambridge dropped back after an eventful blade clash, but not before they had knocked Clare’s speedcoach out of its holder. 

We entered Hammersmith Bridge, cheered on by the Lightweight Men’s Blue Boat on their warm up paddle, and shot through, meeting a wall of sound of people cheering us on from the bridge. 

Here we found some rougher water, but we had trained in this water throughout the season, helped by the flooding at Wallingford and Martin’s command for Charlotte to never seek shelter whilst we trained on the Tideway. We wanted this water and we wanted to use our rough-water technique to gain valuable inches. 

We began to tire but for a brief beautiful moment, we had a few inches of clear water. Cambridge overall recovered better than us after the blade clash, despite initially falling behind, and started to make up the distance between the two crews. We don’t remember these moments clearly – now, they are not important. What matters is that Cambridge at this moment, had the fitness and moved off together in an admirable push around the outside of Hammersmith Bend, to eventually overtake us. We were drained by the last kilometer, but proud of each other and the race we had. 

We were helped in to land by our squad – their support and presence making it the best way to lose: with people you love. We regrouped together, overwhelmed by the physical and mental effort we had put in, and the emotional rollercoaster of the race.

With so many changes this season, from our coaching team to the race course and more, we are grateful that the love and support we received remained the same. We are proud to have raced for Oxford and joined the long line of women, each who have sat in our seat, and won or lost together. We remain relentless and are comforted that next year, next time, Oxford will go again!

We’d like to thank everyone who helped us get to race day: Head Coach Martin Cambareri and Assistant Coach Nic Thomas, our support team of nutritionist Beth Cragg, physio Will Bourne-Taylor, massage therapists Tamsin, Lynne, and Holly, the ever-willing-to-help Chris O’Hara, our hosts in London, Mortlake Anglian and Alpha Rowing Club and Putney High School, the OUWLRC Executive Committee, and everyone else who has supported the club this season and in the past. 

2020 Crew Announcements

We are excited to announce our crews for the 2020 Lightweight Boat Races, where we will race Cambridge on the Championship Course for the first time.

2020 Squad at MAA Boat Club

2020 Blue Boat:

CoxCharlotte LeeGreen Templeton
StrokeClare LeckieSt Catherine's
7Emily HoogkamerLinacre
6Leah Mitchell (President)Balliol
5Amanda ThomasTrinity
4Sarah RobinsonWadham
3Anne-Fleur JanssenJesus
2Amy HoskingJesus
BowLaura BoddySt John's

2020 Reserve Boat:

CoxClare CockerMagdalen
StrokeEliza ArgyropoulosKeble
3Alice CaddockNew
2Miriam StrickerWolfson
BowLucie Ayliffe-DalyLincoln

We look forward to seeing Oxford supporters in London in just under three weeks!

A word from the Chair of our Executive Committee, Zoe De Toledo, ahead of the Lightweight Boat Races next weekend…

When I took up the role of Chair for the OUWLRC Executive Committee in 2019, I wasn’t quite prepared for the huge period of change that we have seen over the last year. The 2020 Women’s Lightweight Boat Race will be contested on a new race course, with a new coaching team at the helm, and will be the first race for OUWLRC as a full blue sport. This is all on the background of one of the worst winters for rowing weather in recent memory. 

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the athletes of OUWLRC, who have managed all this change with the grace, determination, and passion that I have come to expect as standard from these incredible women. I have been so impressed with your hard work, both on and off the water, to drive the club forward. I’m so proud to be a part of this small but mighty club!

The best of luck to all the CUWBC lightweight athletes in their final preparations to race. You are the only other people who can truly appreciate what it means to get yourselves to the start line of these races, and I hope our clubs can continue their strong relationship, and, dare I say it, further build our friendship, long into the future.

I’m sure all the alumni, friends, and family of OUWLRC will join me to wish our crews the best of luck for racing next weekend, on Saturday 14th(reserves) and Sunday 15th(Blue Boat) March. Please continue to follow our social media channels for more information on watching the races, or email . Thank you all for your support and generosity so far, and we hope to see as many of you as possible on the riverbank next weekend.

New sponsor announced for the Lightweight Boat Races

 

The Women’s Lightweight Boat Race has taken place on the Henley Reach since its inauguration in 1984, however in 2020, for the first year, the race will take place on the Championship Course on the Tideway. This historic move will see all four Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races, and their reserve crews, racing on the same course.

The Lightweight Boat Races are excited to announce a Race Day sponsor of Interactive Investor. The Race date will take place on Sunday 15th March 2020. Keep an eye on your inboxes for announcements of supporter events on the day.

“This is wonderful news. We are hugely grateful to ii for their interest and involvement in supporting the Lightweight Boat Races. I am personally very excited to see OUWLRC race on the Tideway and am looking forward to supporting all the Oxford crews in March.”

Professor Alison Salvesen, Senior Member for OUWLRC

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Joint statement from the Lightweight Boat Races and Interactive Investor:

The organising committee of the Lightweight Boat Races is pleased to announce that the 2020 races will be sponsored by interactive investor. This sponsorship agreement ensures the event can continue to go from strength to strength and also supports the move of the Lightweight Women’s race to the Tideway for the first time. The CULRC vs OULRC and CUWBC Lightweights vs OUWLRC races will take place on Sunday 15 March 2020. 

interactive investor (ii) is a fast-growing and multi-award winning UK investment platform, providing investment tools and insight to investors who take direct control of their financial future. With over 300,000 customers with £30 billion of assets invested, all for a simple monthly fee, ii is the UK investment platform of choice for the engaged investor (www.ii.co.uk/sponsorship).

“We are delighted to partner with ii. Their support allows us to continue to build the profile of the Lightweight Boat Races, and lightweight rowing generally, in this special year where we will have both the men’s and the women’s races on the Tideway for the first time.”

Ben Crystal, Chairman of the organising committee of the LBR

“We are thrilled to be supporting The Lightweight Boat Races. It is a fantastic event where the clubs and athletes involved work tremendously hard all year to perform their best on race day. We wish them the best of luck.”

Richard Wilson, Chief Executive, interactive investor
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Trial Eights 2019

On Friday, two OUWLRC matched eights headed to the Tideway for this year’s Trial Eights race, the first ever to take place on the Championship Course from Putney to Mortlake.  The crews were named “Puppets” (racing in white tops) and “Parrots” (racing in dark tops).

Puppets won the toss and chose to race on the Surrey station, giving Parrots the Middlesex station.  Both crews got strong starts and stayed level for the first part of the course, with some exciting side by side racing.  Coming under Hammersmith Bridge, the headwind against stream made for some challenging conditions and Puppets pulled ahead to open up clear water before Chiswick Eyot.

The race was not over yet, however.  Parrots fought back over the straight between Chiswick Pier and Barnes Bridge to reduce Puppets’ lead.  After a last push from both crews to the finish, the final verdict saw Puppets win by 2 ½ lengths.

Crews:

 Puppets Parrots 
CoxClare CockerMagdalenCharlotte LeeGreen Templeton
StrokeClare LeckieSt Catherine'sSarah RobinsonWadham
7Emily HoogkamerLinacreAmanda ThomasTrinity
6Leah Mitchell (President)BalliolLaura BoddySt John's
5Miriam StrickerWolfsonAnne-Fleur JanssenJesus
4Amy HoskingJesusLucie Ayliffe-DalyLincoln
3Alice CaddockNewHelen StarkGreen Templeton
2Eliza ArgyropoulosKebleJessie MorganKeble
BowAlice EvansUniversityLucy ManlyNew

OUWLRC New Assistant Coach

OUWLRC are delighted to welcome Nic Thomas as our new assistant coach. Nic comes to us after coaching at a number of local schools and Magdalen College. She was also involved in the King’s Cup UK Armed Forces squad. We are excited to have Nic joining us and look forward to working with her over the coming season.

IMG_6198
Nic with some of our athletes at Wallingford this weekend

Applications open for assistant coach position

OUWLRC are looking to recruit a part-time assistant coach for the 2019/2020 season and beyond.
This would entail around 2-3 weekday sessions and 3-4 weekend sessions, both on and off the water, attendance at races and training camps throughout the season, and a small amount of administrative work to support the Head Coach.
Mini-bus driving and trailer towing (or the wish to learn these skills) are desirable, but not mandatory.

Assistant Coach Announcement

JBetts

It is with great sadness that we announce that OUWLRC Assistant coach Jill Betts has taken the decision not to continue in her post for the upcoming 2019-2020 season.  Jill has been involved with OUWLRC for nine years, with the first two as an athlete, competing in the 2011 and 2012 Lightweight Boat Races in the Blue Boat. After her two seasons as an athlete, she continued to be involved with the club as Assistant Coach as well as a member of the Executive Committee.

 

Jill’s continued and unwavering commitment to OUWLRC has always gone far beyond her formal role. With one of her main priorities as a coach being athlete welfare, Jill could always be relied on to provide a friendly face or a word of encouragement. On the water, she is famous for some launch dancing (usually while sporting a particularly cosy wooly hat), questionable drills (that always seem to do the job), and suggesting that it might be time to stop faffing and “proceed”.

 

She will continue in her position on our Executive Committee, and will revive the post of Senior Welfare Officer, a post close to her heart that she has previously held for several years.

 

From athletes past and present, and the rest of the Executive Committee, we want to thank Jill for her dedication to the club and wish Jill all the best for her final year of medical school. We look forward to sharing many more years supporting OUWLRC by her side, now from the banks rather than on the river.