Trial Eights 2012 in Henley -'S’ vs ‘M’

On Sunday 16th December, 'S’ and ‘M’ took to the water in Henley-on-Thames for OULRC's Trial VIIIs, umpired by Sir Matthew Pinsent. After a week of freezing fog, torrential rain and high winds, both crews were grateful for the fair conditions – mild, dry, with just a slight breeze down the course. Both crews were expecting a fast race in the high stream. Having won the toss, S took the Bucks station, looking for the early advantage off the start.

As it happened, it was M who got away cleanly, capitalising on a poor start from S to immediately take a 2-seat advantage. This lead was extended to half a length at the 500m mark as M strode out into a nice rhythm, striking 35 to S’s 32. Passing Upper Thames, M made a push, buoyed by the Oxford support, but by this time S had recovered from their poor start, and having settled into their own rhythm were beginning to claw back M’s advantage.

At the halfway point, M still held a three seat lead, although S were starting to look the stronger crew, having conserved some energy up to this point with their lower racing rate. Coming into the final 500m, M still had their 3-seat lead, but it was clear the race would come down to the final sprint. Seeing this, both crews started their sprints early – M, hoping to extend their advantage over S, started to push on, but S picked up to a 36 and started to move up on the leading crew. With 250m to go, the crews had drawn level. Having gained the momentum, S picked it up again, to a rate of 39, and started to take the lead from M, at this point striking 38.

Coming into the island, both coxes moved to get the most of the stream, steering very close lines which resulted in a clash of blades. S, slightly ahead at the time, fared better and pushed their lead out to 6 seats. Heads in M never dropped and they managed to draw back 2 seats before the finish line, but ultimately lost out. The final verdict after a very tight race was S from M by ½ a length.

The OULRC would like to thank everyone who helped make the racing possible. In particular, we would like to thank Sir Matthew Pinsent for umpiring, Hugh Richardson for organising the day, and Upper Thames Rowing Club for hosting us once again. We very much look forward to returning in March for another good day's racing.