On the 13th December, after the conclusion of trials and in the festive spirit, ECBC had our annual Michaelmas club day, the Christmas Pudding Races. Three teams were drawn by Mr Edmondson so that they were as even as possible so that as many Colts and Junior Colts got to row with Upper Boats as possible. The format was simple. First, the teams of twelve were split into two teams of six and each had to complete a 2-kilometre relay on the ergos. Each of these six men teams, based on their performance was then awarded a number of points based on their position so that for first place they got 1 point through to sixth place who got 6 points. The twelve-man team with the fewest combined points from the ergs would get to start first on the water leg of the race.
In the end, Team Three, led by Toby McLusky, had the fewest points and therefore were set to start first followed by Team Two and then Team One. The water leg of the race was a much more complex affair than the land leg. Each of the twelve-man teams was split into an eight and four singles, each single crewed by a member of B-E block. Then, starting at the 500m board on the lake, each of the singles had to row 250m with the namesake Christmas Pudding before handing it over to the next sculler to continue. Meanwhile, the eight had to row along side the singles providing support until the final (E block) sculler had rowed their section when the Pudding was handed to the eight for the last 500m sprint into the line. While speed would be crucial, the slickness of the changeovers would be imperative and eventually decisive. To add a little spice to the proceedings, while each of the crews had been assigned a cox each crew decided that in fact the cox should stroke the boat and the stoke should cox.
While Team 3 were supposed to start first, they were penalised for arriving late at the start and therefore were to start last. Therefore, Simon Nunayon (sculling for Team Two), lead of the proceedings quickly followed by Henry Pearson (Team One) then finally Miles Bishop for Team Three. Team One were the first to reach the first changeover point having taken an early lead and performed a flawless transfer of the cargo to Cosmo van Steenis while the other teams floundered with their changeovers. By the end of the sculling leg, Team One had taken a decisive and eventually unassailable lead over the other boats due to a series of efficient changeovers and some very gutsy rowing, especially from Jack Finnis who completed the final leg for Team One in the scull. Even a small slip in the transfer of the payload couldn’t slow down Team One as, stroked by Alex Stansfield, the eight carried Team One over the line in emphatic style.
Further back up the course it was a much closer race. Team Two had led for most of the race however a catastrophic changeover lead to the Christmas pudding being dropped and floating past the stern of the boat meaning they had to return up the course to recover it and allowing Team Three to take the lead which they held onto to the end of the race. However, in a controversial decision, Team Three’s second place was disallowed since they had changed over from the final single scull to the eight before the last 500m’s meaning that they were penalised for the second time that day and ended in third.
The day ended with a presentation of the prizes, chocolate, with each of the teams receiving at least some chocolate. It was a wonderful way to end what has been possibly the most successful Michaelmas Half in ECBC’s recent history with around 20 wins in various boat classes across all the squads. As we move into Lent, Upper Boats are going to Spain for a training camp leaving on 1st January and then, returning to school, the whole clubs focus switches to the meat of the years racing with various eights heads coming up soon after the break.
In Vikings news, the Oxford and Cambridge Eights had their trial Eights over the past few weeks with OE interesting in both crews. Theo Weinberger was in the bow of CUBC Lancelot which was the winning eight triumphing over CUBC Roger by a number of lengths. There were OE’s in both of the OUBC trial eights with Benedict Aldous and Charlie Thurston in the victorious OUBC Flea and Charlie Pearson in OUBC Reggie. The OUBC president and 2016-17 Captain of Boats Felix Drinkall was absent due to injury however is expected race on recovery.
Finally, ECBC wishes all those who have come to support us either physically or in spirit a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!