Laura Neild, from Champs women’s first boat describes how she got into rowing:
“Before getting into rowing I had run to stay fit, but had never done any competitive sport. A friend who rowed at Champs kept saying I would like rowing, but I was pretty insistent that I just wasn’t a sporty person etc. Then my kids got into rowing and I discovered I was running up and down the tow path yelling my head off, because I found the racing exciting. I went to watch Bumps, again with my friend Belinda, and told her I’d realised I really should give it a go, and how would I go about it?
I signed up for the induction course at Champs the next spring and was in my first race only 3 months later. We were pretty wobbly and slow, but I thought it was really exciting. I had caught the bug. I was having a great time with my crew – such a lovely mix of people from all different countries and a real mix of ages and aspirations. I enjoyed being part of a team, as well as going for breakfast after an outing. At the same time, I was getting fitter and gradually starting to realise that I might be a slightly more competitive than I had previously thought…
After a year I was fast enough to move to senior squad, where I got a lot of coaching and support, which I needed since I really was still fairly new to the sport and had quite a few kinks in my technique to iron out. Last summer, after a few more months and some incredibly helpful coaching, the W1 crew took me to Henley Masters, which was absolutely terrifying, but wonderful. Immediately afterwards came bumps – a crazy week of racing every night, and social events. Champs did really well this year, and I was lucky enough to be in one of the boats who won their blades. I would definitely recommend going to watch the bumps on Grassy Corner to anyone wondering if the might be interested in giving rowing a try. It’s definitely the best race on the Cam for spectators.
My first two years of rowing have made me feel part of a community, have improved my health and fitness (my cholesterol is right down!) and have been massively enjoyable. I have spent 1 year each in the lower boats and senior boats and have met a variety of lovely, warm and genuine people in both. This year I’m looking forward to learning to scull in a single, without feeling like I might go swimming at any moment! And I’ve signed up as joint inductions officer, so if you fancy trying rowing at any level, just get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
A great showing from Champs for Winter League 1 on a sunny and still morning. In total we entered 5 women’s VIIIs, 2 women’s quads -composites with Cantabs and Xpress, 3 men’s VIIIs, one mixed quad, 2 women’s doubles, a mixed double and 5 single scullers as well as a men’s double. A cold but crisp day and lots of good times. The mixed ‘Double Trouble’ with Steve and Trish, were fastest in their Mas D category, the Budapest composite quad were second fastest in their category followed by Quadrangle. W1 were second fastest in Club A category and W2 won their Mas E category. Great to see the Juniors and Development Squad doing so well and look forward to seeing great things from them in future legs of the winter league
This month we have done a special feature on one of our men’s crews the Fearnoughts who are a new crew so great to see they had a good race and we look forward to seeing great things from the men in future as we also have the Argonaughts and Dreadnoughts so will feature them in future posts.
Willian Dulyea says: “We raced Division 1, start time 09:00. We finished 6th in our category. Interesting facts:
We were the second fastest boat in Champs, W1 were the faster if you consider unadjusted times. This race was first time the entire masters crew rowed together.
Tim J, our stroke seat, had this to say:
As a new crew we had rowed few more than 10 strokes firm pressure before the race start. The build up was good and the boat was running well on 29 SPM as the starting klaxon sounded. A spilt time under 2 minutes then was encouraging but even with great motivational calls from Charlotte at cox our boat speed fell off especially as we came out of Ditton Corner into the Reach. Overall stroke rate was consistent at 29-30 but we needed more cover to keep boat speed up. The last 200m was encouraging as we built both rating and boat speed which should augur well for WL2!
Crew:Cox: Charlotte S.
S. Tim J.
7. David L.
6. Will D.
5. Robert A.
4. Graham T.
3. Johnny C.
W1 got the new year off to a flying start with a swift first leg of the Winter League. The crew had been training hard over the earlier winter months and were keen to put all that training into practice. So, despite the bitterly cold morning, the crew dug in early on to deliver a set of punchy corners, having been set up with some beautiful lines by their cox Gemma. With the corners done, the crew settled into length on ‘the Reach’, before committing to a gruelling flying finish. The crew delivered an admirable time of 11:51.5, outperforming the Nine crews surrounding them and making them second in their Club A category, only 27.4 seconds behind the Cantabs second boat. Happy with their time, but never satisfied, the crew are looking forward to getting back into training ready for Winter League 2.
Saturday 7th December 2019, Champs saw another successful day of racing. At Scullers Head on the Thames Carole Mills won the masters E category in her single achieving her first win on The Thames at 24.48.
In Cambridge, Champs made the most of the opportunity to race and dress-up at the same time. We saw 5 women’s 8s racing and some good results. The Juniors were second in the novice category at 8.42 and W1 second in the Club category at 7.54 dressed as Vikings with shields and a dragon made from an old wellie.
Delighted to see Denise Williams racing again after an injury last year and she and Trish Reed, our captain won their Mas F race in a double in 8.17 adjusted time.
The men’s crews included our ‘young’ Fearnoughts who were second in their championship catagory at 7.20 dressed as Hipster Lumberjacks followed by the elf Argonaughts at 7.49 adjusted time and the Dreadnoughts who looked very cool as the Blues Brothers with a nun Sister Lynn in the coxing seat (8.08 adjusted time).
Carole Mills finishes the year with a fantastic win at the Scullers Head. Winning Womens Masters E category with a time of 24:48.20. Well done Carole! We are so proud of you.
Sculling school takes places most weekends on a Saturday or Sunday. Will Kocur talks about his experience learning to scull with Champs in a double with Rowan Sugden:
“We both had experience with sweep rowing before joining the sculling school at Champs, but it was the first time we’d ever sculled. Since we started, we’ve really enjoyed sculling with the club and being part of its fun and supportive community. The school is informal, but supported by a team of very friendly and committed coaches who put in a lot of time to make sure everyone receives individual feedback throughout outings. We’ve been rowing together in a double for just under two months and are excited to start racing in the next few. Hopefully we can match some of the success of Champs’ experienced scullers (or failing that, just not fall in)!”
Anna-Louise describes how “two brave crews left Cambridge at the crack of dawn wondering what the Tideway would hold in store for us in late November. We boated from Furnival who were very welcoming and had a great welly rack! Benign conditions met us – mild, calm with no wind but a Victorian pea-souper which swathed Hammersmith Bridge, lifted as we went through the start line enabling both crews to do ourselves proud.” Well done to Champs Womens Masters C Quad, and a Mixed Champs/Chesterton Masters E Quad.
David Levien: “Saturday 16th November saw the Peloton crew reunited for the first time since the bumps, so after a cold and early start expectations were modest. We needn’t have worried though – Catherine encouraged (whipped) us into shape in no time and we eventually remembered where to sit and which end of the blade to hold onto. After a good start, Tim at stroke ably held us at a metronomic 31 SPM all the way down the calm course to the finish. We were the fastest Vet E crew on the day, so perhaps Rob’s offering of nine Chunky Kit Kats did the trick (other chocolatey treats are available).”
On Sunday 3 November a trailer full of Champs Boats set off to Ely for the 5K Head Race. We were relieved to see the weather gods were smiling on us and blessed by no wind OR rain! Rachel Newell made her maiden voyage as trailer driver and all the boats arrived safely. W1 ‘Dawn raiders’ did a very good time and were second in their category of 7 completing the race in 21.52 and ended the race with a rousing finish of ’10 for John’ cheered by our wonderfully committed coach John Welton and President Keith Benton.
Carole ‘David Beckham’ Mills did 3 races in: a) a single and won, b) a mixed Budapest quad with Cantabs which was fastest in their category of 1, and c) a double with Phil Jones. There was also a double for Steve Millar and Trish Reed, our club captain, and William Dulyea in a single with a time of 24.08. Steve and Phil also fought it out in the singles category! All good times and all happy and great preparation for head race season as 5K is a very decent distance.
William Dulyea recounts, “After having been off the racing circuits for a few years now this was a very nice race for me to pace my level. I have trained for months now with plenty of erg time and the ease of the first half of this race reflected this. The second half got a bit more challenging as the fatigue started to settle in. To keep myself motivated I was lucky enough to be chased by Phil Jones (our sculling guru from Champs) who managed to make noticeable gains on me up to the finish. I had to work hard to stop him from coming by so I will need to up my training. Overall a fun race and it was nice to work with the rest of the Champs crews and help out.”
The joy of this race is the wonderful stretch of river and the relaxed marshalling as well as of course the cakes- both Ely’s usual amazing cake stall and Laura Neild’s tin of home made birthday doughnuts. As ever with these events its not just the rowing that counts but the cakes, the chat, the jokes that make the loading and unloading process go faster and mean we all went home happy and full of Ely air. Big thanks to the Isle of Ely rowing club for making us welcome as always.
I’m hugely excited to say that The Champs kit room is now open for orders at: https://www.crewroom.co.uk/collections/champion-of-the-thames-rc The case sensitive password is available on the Champs Kit page on the members website. 5% discounts will be applied on checkout for JL unisuits, Long Sleeve JL Tech tops, Crewroom leggings, Tundras, Zephrs and Hoodies. And even more excitingly, we now can order custom Champs rowing bra tops!
Deadline 5th November so get those orders in.
Good opportunity to stock up the winter kit cupboard in time for the Winter League racing.