The men’s side of SPCBC has had a great term. After a successful start, winning Worcester Regatta in a coxed four, the club began training hard for the main event of the rowing year, our Eights campaign.
Operating from their base down at Radley, the 1st VIII started their days with 5.30 wake ups for a 6.am start, doing practice sprint pieces in the early morning sun. Coach Moss Ruiseal, in his first year at the club, was aiming to go up at least 2 spots in the Bumps charts, and had the VIII doing lung busting 6 minute sprints down on the Radley stretch, in the beautiful new Hudson boat, ‘The Francis King Family’, which was generously donated to the club this year.
The club took to the water on the Wednesday of Eights full of confidence. The 2nd VIII faced a tricky task in their division, with the prospect of rowing twice in one day as sandwich boat on the minds of all. However, despite being bumped on 3 of the 4 days, the M2 rowed over exultantly on Saturday, holding off St. Hilda’s 1st VIII.
The 1st VIII hit Division 2 with a frightening determination and focus. Revenge against Somerville on day 1 came after only around 500 metres of racing, and an even shorter distance was required on Thursday, as they bumped Christ Church II by the CORC Boat House. Friday proved a sterner test, as Exeter in front went off at a sprint, aiming to bump Jesus before Peter’s, stroked by a snarling Ollie Bristowe, eventually caught them on the Green Banks with Exeter feet from bumping Jesus, keeping dreams of Blades alive.
Saturday came, and the 1st VIII boater in front of hundreds of Peterites with the mission of becoming the first SPCBC 1st VIII to win blades in Eights for over 20 years. Jesus was the opposition, coached by Peter’s alumnus Nick Fulton. The ensuing race was more than possibly could’ve been imagined. Jesus held the VIII off for the whole course, with inches separating our bow from the Jesus stern. Cox Caroline Roden desperately tried to bump by the University College Boat House, but for all her efforts, and the deafening roar of the home support, the elusive crew in front evaded the Francis King Family. It was only after the normally stoic Karl Hudspith, of Boat Race fame, called for a late charge with a few strokes to go that I heard Benjamin ‘Dr. Bow’ Hunn break his usual composure with a joyous whoop as the familiar clunk of boat on boat confirmed that we had, by the skin of our teeth, secured the ultimate prize.
It was the perfect end to the SPCBC careers of Bristowe and Hudspith, who bow out now after rowing not only for the Club, but also for OUBC. Freshmen Douglas Smith, Sooraj Mahesh and Guy Thomson enjoyed the best possible start, showing that despite not rowing at all before University or during the long, flooded winter months, they are top class oarsmen and have very bright futures ahead of them.
The entire team, both old (Mark Hugen, the 4 seat of the 2nd VIII, is 52 at time of writing) and young enjoyed what can only be dubbed a fantastically loose Boat Club Dinner, and celebrations carried on long into the night. This year has been a very special one. It will not be forgotten.
Anders Jay, Men’s Captain