It’s been a fantastic term at DCBC. Both the First men’s and women’s crews have won numerous events helped by many returning seniors, while over 75 freshers have joined the boat club!
The season was kicked off in style in only week 2 of term at Rob Roy Autumn Head, with wins in the Men’s College 1st 8+, Women’s IM3 8+ and Women’s IM3 4+.
This momentum was transferred into the University IVs Competition, which along with Lent and May Bumps is one of the three official University competitions in the year. We fielded four crews, a big improvement on recent years reflecting the strong numbers in the senior squads. A rather cobbled together M2 made it into the semifinals; despite Matthew French’s best efforts in the stroke seat, they narrowly lost to the eventual winners. W1 and W2 both lost closely fought finals against Lady Margaret,W2 frustratingly having issues with the river side foliage after gaining 120m on their competition.
M1 managed a fantastic win in the Coxless Four category, leaving it to the last 500m to come back and row through Clare and win by a comfortable 5 seconds. Credit must go to Jack Pearce in the bow seat, who gained some valuable seconds by steering some exceptionally tight lines, putting his claim in for the W1 May Boat coxing seat, which typically needs no weight limit.
As the men’s squad returned to the VIII, W1 continued in the four, racing at IV’s Head over the boat race course on the Thames. As the only Cambridge college entered, the competition consisted mainly of club and University crews. Sporting some psychedelic Camenae All-In-Ones and offensively visible trousers by Stephen Harris, they placed a very impressive 25th in the IM2 4+ category, beating both Wolfson college Oxford and Warwick University, showing what Downing can do on the big stage!
Both senior squads were back into the VIIIs for Cambridge Winter Head for a final opportunity to race before the Fairbairn Cup. M1 had a solid race, beating some University and club crews and winning their morning division, but unfortunately losing out to Jesus and Christs College M1s who raced in the afternoon division under slightly more favourable conditions. W1 won the Senior Women’s category with a strong performance. The event gave the opportunity to enter two novice-senior composite crews in each gender. This allowed the novices to gain experience racing over a longer distance, while attempting to break the backs of the senior squad as they raced against each other with at least 250kg of dead weight in the boat. Despite some last-minute fishing for crustaceans before the start, all the crews had a great race and it was brilliant to see the novices enjoy their first taste of racing! A special mention must go to Charlie Slater for his incredible chat pre-race, before then awkwardly losing in his composite by 19 seconds.
The penultimate weekend of term brought Clare Novice Regatta. With six crews entered over the two-day regatta, side by side racing withdubious coxes and a low blanket of fog reducing visibility, it promised to be a high paced and exciting event. All Downing crews performed well making the Quarter Finals of their respective competitions. A special mention must go to the mighty NM2 with Barney Walker setting the rhythm in the stroke seat. The beat 4 crews on the way to the final, narrowly losing by a length to a fresh Caius NM2, who had a remarkably easy day with only 1 previous race.
The term ended with the Fairbairn Cup, with both novice and senior crews competing. The novice men put in strong performances: NM1 were the 9th first boat, NM2 were the 3rd second boat, and NM3 were the 9th third boat. The novice women performed similarly well, with NW1 8th in their class and NW2 12th in theirs.
The seniors performed very well in Fairbairns: W1 came 2nd of the senior collegiate eights, only missing out to Clare. M1, on the other hand, were the fastest Cambridge college, beating second placed Jesus by 14 seconds and only denied the trophy by 5 seconds by a visiting crew from Oriel College, Oxford.
We’re now looking forward to our training camp in Banyoles, Spain in January, and training for Lent Bumps in March. All in all it’s been a fantastic term of rowing, which bodes very well for both the upper and lower boats after Christmas!