The Tide is High

“The tide is high, but I’m holding on” – these lyrics from the 1967 hit song were uncannily accurate at points last weekend!

On Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th November, the squad headed to the big city to row in London. For many of us, it was our first experience of the Tideway… and what an experience it was! Quintin Boat Club kindly welcomed us to their wonderful spot on the Thames, just a stone’s throw away from the finishing post of the Boat Race course. Boating itself was easier said than done. We are used to setting off from dry(ish) rafts, and it’s safe to say that not everyone has mastered the welly-wading technique yet! Soggy socks, however, were not going to stop us.

We had a brilliantly productive outing, during which both eights got a feel for rowing on the Tideway. Those of us who were new to the stretch of river also got to know the Boat Race course, thanks to Nic and Tina pointing out significant landmarks from the launch. (Watch out for “Tina’s Tours”, coming soon to a river near you!)

The water had been surprisingly calm on our sightseeing paddle down to Putney. That is more than can be said for the return journey. Part-way through our piece on the way back to Quintin, the wind and waves picked up. It felt like being at sea! Even Nic, Tina and Ines on the launch got faces full of water. But, we sat up, tapped down and rowed on through.

Winds may have been high, but spirits were higher, and we were rewarded the following day with glorious sunshine. On Sunday we had another outing on the Tideway and, as a squad, we were really pleased with the progress that had been made. The outing consisted of more paddling, more pieces, and a spontaneous race-paced burst thrown in for good measure. The afternoon finished with a band of happy coxes, rowers and coaches debriefing together as the sun set over London. How scenic!

Thank you so much for Qunitin Boat Club for having us. We look forward to visiting the Tideway again soon.

Written by: Megan Chester

Upper Thames Autumn Head

This Halloween weekend saw the full squad travel to Henely in for our first race of the season at Upper Thames Autumn Head!

Vicki Reports:
‘On Sunday 31st October, the squad braved the wind and torrential weather to participate in the first regatta ofthe 2021-22 season: Upper Thames Autumn Head, a 3km head race along the Henley stretch hosted byUpper Thames Rowing Club. Despite the weather, the anticipation for our first race as a squad was extremelyhigh. The excitement reached fever pitch when the rain finally stopped and the wind proof gazebo was setup,and then we realized that we were about to face 12 long minutes in the pain cave…twice.
First up was the morning division. We boated an eight and two coxed fours, with all three boats putting on agutsy show against an extreme head-wind! Conditions that we had yet to brave at this point in the season, aswell as racing on an unfamiliar stretch for most of the squad. We claimed an impressive set of results. The 8+picked up 1st place in Band 2, and both coxed fours had strong performances with 7th in Band 2 and the win in Band 3. As the photos show, we were quite chuffed with ourselves at this point (although thesun and cameo puppy appearance probably made a difference as the photos show!

TOP: Full Squad Post-Race Smiles at Upper Thames (Photo: Tina Thomas) BOTTOM: 8+ Morning Div. (Photo: Al Craige)

However, we weren’t done with the regatta yet. Next up, the afternoon division. With the wind somewhateasing, we were ready to repeat the success of the morning and give it everything. The hours spent bothon and off the water paid off and we produced another great set of results. The two fours from the morningcombined into an eight that snatched 5th in Band 1 against a tough set of competitors, including our friends atOUWBC. The eight from the morning split into two fours, one claiming 3rd in Band 1 and the other animpressive 1st in Band 2 – a huge congrats to those athletes for earning two medals across the day.

Both 4+’s Morning division (Photo: Al Craige)

Coming into the regatta, it was a complete unknown what results we would achieve. Our focus was giving thebest performance that we possibly could, and we were all extremely pleased that such great resultsaccompanied that performance. We rounded off the day with a well-earned group recovery meal, feeling veryproud and thankful to be part of such a wonderful squad. We would like to say a huge thanks to all of theother competitors (including fellow Oxford squads and colleges), our wonderful coaches Nic and Tina forputting up with all of us, and, of course, the organisers and volunteers of the event who put on a seamlessevent despite the blustery conditions. We cannot wait to come back next year, but for now look forward tocarrying on this momentum throughout the rest of the season!



TOP: Photo of the Weekend goes for passionate coxing (Photo: Al Craige) BOTTOM: Beautiful foggy sunrise for trailer unloading and squad Tabata run in Wallingford. (Photo: Helena Pickford)

Preseason 2021

The squad has welcomed plenty of new faces as we now come to the end of preseason training. Athletes have completed erg testing and developed boat skills in preparation for the term ahead. We’re excited to work with the OUWLRC coaching and support team in the new season.

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Misty morning at Wallingford

The start of academic term brings new challenges but we’re excited to get underway with training. Our upcoming events are UpperThames Autumn Head (31st Oct) and Fours Head (13th Nov), come along and give OUWLRC a cheer!

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Coaches Nic and Tina on the launch. Photo: Al Craigie

Summer Season 2021 Round Up

With the 2021 Boat Race campaign wrapped up, our squad moved on into regatta season, kicking everything off with a storming performance at BUCS Regatta in Nottingham.

OUWLRC athletes competed across a range of categories, with an impressive set of results! Hazel Wake claimed a bronze medal in the Intermediate Lightweight 1x, and we saw gutsy performances from the Championship Lightweight Quad (Hazel Wake, Katie Wellstead, Katherine Ferris and Rosie Thorogood) who raced to 5th in the A final, as well as one of our three Championship Lightweight doubles (Laurel Kaye and Amanda Thomas) who raced to 6th in their A Final.

Our Intermediate 4+ (Amanda Thomas, Harriet Thomas, Helena Pickford and Laurel Kaye; cox- Emily Watson) placed an impressive 5th in the A final of the open weight event, and our Intermediate 8+ (Katie Wellstead, Laurel Kaye, Amanda Thomas, Kate Dicker, Helena Pickford, Harriet Thomas, Katherine Ferris and Rosie Thorogood; cox- Emily Watson) marginally missed out on the A Final by just over one second in the open weight category.

With some of our athletes packing in over 10 races in the three day event, BUCS 2021 was filled with all the highs and lows of the regatta season we’d missed so far! It was now time to move on to our next challenge: Henley Women’s Regatta.

Three scullers (Hazel Wake, Katie Wellstead & Rosie Thorogood) competed in the lightweight intermediate 1x at HWR. All three athletes began their campaigns on the Friday Time Trials, with Hazel Wake and Katie Wellstead making it through to the heats.

After a tough match Katie was knocked out in her Friday afternoon heat, but Hazel progressed to the Saturday.

Unfortunately Hazel missed out on progressing to Sunday’s final after a loss against the eventual champion from Surrey University. We’ve no doubt Hazel will be back in the future, chasing down the victory, and her true speed was shown when time trial results revealed she had been the fastest intermediate lightweight 1x time-triallist.

The 2021 Boat Race Report

Rosie Thorogood                                                                                                                                                 

On the 18th of May 2021, the 38th Women’s Lightweight Boat Race was held on the River Ouse in Ely, Cambridgeshire. 

It was safe to say, the run up to the race had been unlike any previous Boat Race. The challenges of COVID had significantly limited our water preparation, but the 21 weeks of lockdown ergs had definitely brought its advantages through fitness and mental toughness. 

In a year where social contact had been cut to an absolute minimum, our squad still managed to pull through and find an inner sense of community. Every single one of us, from the blue boat, the reserves, to the incredible coaches (Nic & Tina- without whom we 100% would have never made it to the start line), and the blues performance team, had put everything into the race, and this common goal really united our whole squad. The strength of the community and sheer determination to even get a race this year was overwhelming. 

We arrived in Ely the day before the race, to settle at the Cambridge Boat House, and get used to the unfamiliar stretch of water. An afternoon paddle was followed by a trip to our house for the three day stay, where we could unpack and get prepped before a final evening outing. The last session on the water was almost surreal- the boat was running smooth, we were all in good spirits, and there were even some dramatic stormy skies followed by a beautiful rainbow to finish the session off. 

The evening before the race, we all sat down to discuss final race preparations and open good luck cards from each other and Blue Boat Alumnae. It was so special to receive so many messages of good luck, especially from people who had sat in our very positions before. An early night followed, to get some much-needed rest before the big day!

The Race

Going into the race, we all knew what our goal was- to make sure our bow was the first to cross that finish line, and we all had our race plan etched in our minds. 

We fought, and pushed; locked on, and sent, with all we had. The final 1 kilometre was when things began to unravel slightly. Coming into an almighty head wind, we were more phased than Cambridge who knew the water, knew exactly where they were and how to tackle the change in conditions. The gap was beginning to show but we weren’t going to make it easy for them. The last 500m were very tough. Going from being ahead and having the thoughts that we might actually be there, we could actually do this, to having the other crew slowly inching back on you was gut-wrenching. In the end, Cambridge knew the push points and began to ramp it up; once they got that clear water things began to shift. The final few 100ms were painful, knowing you couldn’t have given more but it might not be enough, and the final race verdict was a 2.5 Length victory to Cambridge.

Off the start we knew we had to push hard; the notorious speedy Cambridge starts were not going to phase us, and we showed this, taking the edge right off from the start line. The first half of the race was gutsy and tough. Cambridge pushed, we pushed back; we pushed, Cambridge pushed back. It was inch by inch work. Cambridge came right through us at one point, and we worked our way back right through them, seat by seat. We were determined not to give them that clear water we knew would give the mental edge. 

Coming across the line we knew where we stood, and those first few thoughts really were tough to manage. It was crushing and overwhelming, but we knew we had pushed the hardest we could, and really had just rowed the race of our lives. 

A real gutsy, strong race. We’d given Cambridge a real fight, and that’s something to be proud of. 

After the race, we spent time with the Cambridge athletes; this became something rather special, as of all the people in the world, we suddenly realised that those nine athletes, who had raced alongside us, were the only nine who really understood exactly what we had been through to get to the start line. The uncertainty over the race date, the restricted water training; everything we had sacrificed to get to this day was common to both crews, and a real sense of the lightweight rowing community sprung up on both sides. Immediately we began talking, laughing, and chatting over our own individual experiences, and it was something quite incredible to feel so listened to and understood by your opposition! 

All the hours of erging alone at home and in between our bed and desk in our college rooms, all the hours of online strength & conditioning and months of not knowing whether we would even be allowed to race culminated in one unforgettable experience. We are so thankful to Nic & Tina for their dedication to our training and the race; the squad as a whole have all gotten so close this year, and it’s a real privilege to be part of such an amazing group of athletes and young women. 

We also look forward to next year and our 2022 Boat Race campaign. We know that next year we can make the victory a dark blue one.

Hazel at the World Indoor Rowing Championship

“Another race: alone, on the erg. After racing at BRIC in December I qualified to race at the World Rowing Indoor Championships. The first day was the 2k, I had a plan. Felt pretty good from the start then settled down onto the splits I’d planned. I went through the halfway mark in 5th place but pretty close with 5m between the athlete ahead of me and behind me. I planned to step it on but didn’t manage to and the splits started coming up. About 1200m in started to drop off more and got overtaken. Went through 1500m in 6th place. 1800m in got overtaken again, tried to save it in the sprint but didn’t manage it. Finished 7th in 7:40.1, pretty disappointed but still had another race to go.

Next day, 500m. 2k is pretty different to 5k but 500m is even more different. Didn’t really pay too much attention to my position in the race this time, just bashed it along at 45. The plan was just to go hard and try not to slow down too much. Splits started rising, strokes short so tried to length out with 150 to go. Dropped the rate down to 38 for a few strokes, then back up, bashing it along again. Finished the race in 5th place, a lot happier than the day before. :)”

Hazel Wake, St. Edmund Hall

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The squad absolutely loved the opportunity to get excited watching some competitive rowing from one of our own this season!

‘Is there anything this girl can’t do’

‘Another challenge, another victory!!’

Hazel Wake, OUWLRC, Bottom left corner

Racing at BRIC

First race as OUWLRC: alone, in my bedroom, on the erg. Not ideal. On Saturday, I was racing in the LW U23 2000m. After a slightly stressful weigh in, I started warming up. Even though the vibe wasn’t the same as a normal race day as soon as the starting sequence of Attention, Row flashed on the screen it felt like racing again. I had a race plan but did get a bit caught up in the excitement of seeing the distance between me and the other rowers. I settled into a rhythm, rate 34, pretty consistent splits, little bit of drift. 4th place through 500m. 4th place though 1000m. Into the last 500m, I was still in 4th place but only 7m behind 3rd place. It was time for the sprint. Started pushing the splits back down. I could see the distance to third place getting smaller and smaller and in the last 250m I just managed to move into 3rd place. Big wind in the last 250 to hit r45 and finish in 3rd place 0.8s ahead.

Sunday afternoon I was racing in the LW U23 500m. I felt pretty unprepared having done a lot less sprints. Didn’t really have much of a race plan. Just go hard. I went off and found myself in the lead 100m in. Then over the next 400m increased the distance between me and the other rowers to finish first 20m ahead.

Overall, 3rd, 1st and a place at World Rowing Indoor Champs, pretty chuffed.

Hazel Wake

Coaching Announcement

OUWLRC are delighted to announce our new coaching team for the 2020/2021 season and beyond. Nic Thomas, formerly Assistant Coach, will now take the reins as OUWLRC Head Coach. After coaching the victorious Tethys crew last year, Nic is looking forward to extending success to both boats this season. She will be supported by our new assistant coach, ex-GB U23 Lightweight Tina Thomas (no relation to Nic!). Tina brings great experience and enthusiasm to the role and is already making a strong contribution to the club through her visual interpretations of Nic’s coaching points!

OUWLRC would like to thank former Head Coach Martín Cambareri for his passion and dedication to the club over the last year. Martín will be taking up a position with Swiss Rowing, for which everyone at OUWLRC wishes him the very best of luck.

Development Squad 2020

In certainly one of the most bizarre Trinity terms Oxford has seen, the UK lockdown saw the entire student body make a valiant effort to continue their studies from home. The oddity of zoom tutorials and pre-recorded lectures was one thing, what proved much more difficult was continuing some semblance of a university experience. OUWLRC’s development squad turned out to be a bit of a beacon of hope in such a monotonous and frustrating time. Ploughing ahead despite the opposition we faced in access to equipment, space and communication, they somehow managed to run an extremely comprehensive and fulfilling training programme. Not only were we given amazing advice on how to make the most out of what we had at home to stay active and make progress, but zoom circuits, nutrition, physio and s&c seminars gave us a wealth of information about all aspects of being an athlete. Bi-weekly challenges kept us accountable and competitive and the squad as a whole, girls and staff alike, provided a positive and understanding community to both support and push us over the months. I am extremely thankful for the whole experience and everyone involved. In these confusing times, I think dev squad was more valuable than anyone could have anticipated.

—Gabriella

It was safe to say I had not expected my last term of year 13 to consist of online schooling and virtual training, but when this enabled me to join the OUWLRC Dev Squad in March, it was a brilliant opportunity to meet so many other talented female athletes and rowers and to get to know some current Oxford students! It was really inspiring to be able to train with some current OUWLRC Squad members and hear about their experiences rowing at Oxford, as well as be able to participate in proper physio and mobility sessions, S&C training and circuits sessions with the girls over zoom. I’ve loved being a member of the Dev Squad, and it’s made me very excited to finally meet everyone in person at the start of term and get out rowing on the water again!

—Rosie