Torpids 2016

Characterised by Rob Smillie and Chris Wharton’s contribution to the capsizing of the empacher, the launch of the SPCBC 2015 Torpids campaign left a little to be desired. By contrast, our 2016 began in a surprisingly strong fashion, with the men’s side taking four days out of 0th week to travel to Eton Dorney for some high(er) intensity training. Each day’s crew would do two back-to-back water sessions before finishing with a 5km run, culminating in a straight 1500m race against New and a 7-man Univ on the final day.

Given our position two divisions below both crews, holding New to half a length and leaving Univ several lengths back brought optimism for the coming term. Lo, the weather did not. Several weeks of cold temperatures and heavy rain followed, taking Godstow and the Isis to Amber flag and beyond, and leaving us searching the depths of Oxford College Rowing for any charitable senior coxes when the river would occasionally dip into a safe depth.


M1 Day III

© César Manivet

Training didn’t stop however, with the men adopting an early morning routine at Iffley track while the women ground out ergs in the gym. With the novices improving their fitness but not receiving the required water time, the question of M2 and W2 qualification was shrouded in uncertainty, expected to be prey to the crews’ relative fortune on the day.

As seems to often be the way for St Peter’s Boat Club, Lady Luck did not visit us, instead we came up against what proved to be a lethal combination of a strong cohort of competition and a few seating malfunctions, at least for M2… For those with the erg time and form on the water to make the first boats, chances looked good. With both the men and the women arguably below where they should be in the divisions and benefitting respectively from a higher average weight and enthusiasm than usual there was potential to make something good of this campaign.


© César Manivet

Indeed this looked to be the case on day 1, where the boats accumulated 3 bumps between them, the men overbumping Christchurch 2 as well as bumping Oriel 2 and the women humiliating St John’s 2.

Thursday brought further success to the men, seeing off Corpus Christi, while the women held firm between Exeter and John’s.

Hilda’s overlap in the last 500 meters that W1 were able to pull away from but were eventually caught in the last two lengths

Unfortunately Friday brought an end to both crews aspirations, as the men failed to catch Exeter, thereby losing out on blades, and the women were caught by a soon-to-be-blades-winning Hilda’s crew.

Saturday held at least a modicum of redemption, with the men rowing over once more and the women squeezing in a bump on Merton, much to Rosie’s delight. And so the campaign ended with the club securing a net of +4 and both crews ending up higher than where they started, not the ambitious +8 we were hoping for, but positive nonetheless.

Chris Wharton

Men’s Captain 2015-16

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