Magdalene Boat Club’s Year to Date 2019-20
MBC Monster the Loch
Eleven members of Magdalene Boat Club and the Mallory Club took on the challenge of Monster the Loch, rowing the entire 34km length of Loch Ness. With matriculation dates ranging from 2004 to one crew member moving into College for the first time the week after the race, a completely scratch crew of rowers turned up and said “Yeah, why not?”.
A fast 20 strokes before settling into a strong low rate meant they quickly left the fleet behind with only a double kayak for company as GB went off ahead of them. Holding second place until the halfway point, they made a quick pitstop to swap some rowers and take on banana-shaped fuel before setting out to take back the positions lost while pulled in at the beach.
Thoughts turned to the promise of the barbecue and beers at the finish line as they crashed through the breakers. They picked off those crews that had overtaken us, and began sprinting towards the end. Sounds of clapping. Cheering. They turn around and see a giant clock reading 2h 39 as they drove past the pub and onto the beach where all the additional snacks they had pointlessly taken with them were devoured.
After an eventful hauling of the boat out of the waves, they learned their actual time was 2h 30 and they had crossed the finish line 9 minutes earlier than they had thought!
All in all, a great weekend away for MBC members past and present and plans to race again next year are already afoot. If you would like to take on Nessie, or get involved with any other activities throughout the year with the Mallory Club, please get in touch.
Thanks to Will Reiss (2007) for this excellent commentary; full story available at MBC Monster the Loch!
The Next Generation of MBC Novices
A fantastic team from MBC led the boat club recruitment stand at the Magdalene College Freshers’ Fair on Tuesday 8 October. The boat club gathered by far the most interest from the large crowd of freshers in both the JCR and MCR, as well as a significant number of current students who were keen to try out something new this year.
What brought a little bit of extra attention to MBC’s stand was our 100m erg contest, set up in the middle of the fair. We had many brave attempts as various individuals stepped up to top the scoreboard, but the final winner was a very last-minute entry (running into the fair just as everyone had packed up!) A promising set of scores all round for the next generation of rowers.
Learn-to-row Session and BBQ at the Boathouse
Saturday 12 October started off wet and windy; perfect conditions for a British BBQ. Luckily it did not put off the keen new novices, and the determination of a strong crowd of new rowers was evident as (despite the weather), people were desperate to try out the tub, have a go on the ergs and stock up on cremated sausages.
It was a fantastic turnout and the number of people keen to sign up there and then was staggering. A snazzy piece of MBC stash for every new novice (kindly donated by the Mallory Club) sweetened the deal, and certainly was a large factor in our high sign-up rate this year!
With a few late sign-ups trickling in throughout the term (and a couple of keen people hoping to novice in Lent Term too), we are up to 60 new novices who have joined the boat club for the first time this year, which is the most that MBC has had in many years!
It was lovely to then see so many of them for start-of-term drinks. We have been keen to make sure all the new novices feel welcome at all of the exciting social events throughout the term, ensuring an integrated feel to the boat club and a great chance to make new friends within MBC.
A particularly nice thing to see throughout this term was the number of novices kitted up in MBC stash right from the first training session. The classic purple sports tops were being seen not only on the water and in the erg room, but also around college and town too. It does make me wonder whether the new novices were even washing them at all… Thanks again to the Mallory Club for providing these for all the novices this year. They look fab.
University IVs Success
Over the first week of November we entered an M1 4+ into Uni IVs - a race that has infamously tedious scheduling due to the fact it spans a four day period with knock-out rounds, making it very difficult to gather a team who can all be available. However, despite sickness and unavailability of our top men throughout the term, the addition of a second-hand coxed pair to the fleet in October has hugely benefited the training programme ensuring that our rowers and coxes were able to get as much time out on the water as possible. We were able therefore to enter a very strong coxed four, all of whom had been training hard and were ready for their first race of the term.
On day one they thrashed Fitz, and on day two they booted out our boathouse-mates too (Queens’). It got to the semi-finals and due to a dramatic race between Lady Margaret and Pembroke on the day before, it was decided that the semi-final would be a three-way race. Our team were strong and had been progressively improving with each day so they were able to beat Pembroke convincingly, but unfortunately were just not quite able to match Maggie’s time. To get to the semi-finals was still a great achievement and the five boys from the team did a fantastic job.
It’s infamously the most painful experience every novice goes through in their first term of rowing in Cambridge, but ultimately it is less a serious competition and more a bit of fun and excitement for the club! Queens’ Ergs happens every year and is primarily aimed at giving new novices their first taste of competitive rowing, with each crew member performing a single leg of the 8x500m relay sprint on the erg.
The enthusiasm this year for what is really just 2 minutes of pure public torture was fantastic, as three teams of MBC novices competed in divisions spread throughout the afternoon and evening on Sunday 10 November. Although we can’t claim to have taken any prizes, we certainly came high up the rankings in terms of spirit, enthusiasm and support, all without coming (too close to) last place!
It didn’t stop there though - for the first time in MBC history we entered a “Coaches’ Team” into the senior division! By the time the division started (9pm that night…) the enthusiasm of this team’s members didn’t quite match the example set by the novices earlier. However, once they had entered the arena to see a huge crowd of MBC supporting from the balcony, they knew they couldn’t back out now! (Although some had already tried to multiple times…!) After a sudden chest infection took down Perran (who was going to be our secret weapon) there was worry that we would never find a replacement. Luckily Alex Shaw stepped up to the challenge and performed an epic double leg of the erg relay, but there were incredible performances all round from the entire team including former erg-champion Paul Knights (who received the biggest cheer from the entire crowd out of anyone).
Thank you again to the whole team for giving in to the peer pressure, and also to all the people who came to support!
Emma Sprints and Clare Novice Regatta
Our novices got their first taste of racing on the water when, on Sunday 24 November, they tackled the infamous Emma Sprints; the novice race where fancy dress is encouraged! Although it was a chilly day with lots of the usual faff and chaos, the spirits were high and it was all about having fun as a crew in what will be these new rowers’ first of many exciting races on the Cam. The novice men were certainly cooking up a storm in their chef hats, and giant-hot-dog-Cameron-Griffiths was served as the finest cox-cuisine on the Cam. An army of mushrooms in the novice women’s division were led by their fairy queen to the long reach as well. As is tradition, Emma Sprints is more a battle of avoiding the bank than racing the fastest, but both teams gave it their all and (hopefully) had fun doing it too.
The following weekend brought them Clare Novice Regatta and we also entered two eights. The boys were instructed to “give it some welly” which they certainly did, although some misfortune involving falling off slides resulted in them unfortunately losing to Maggie A. The girls were also fighting a Maggie boat and were winning all the way until they were narrowly beaten in the final stretch. Considering that this was the first ever race for many of the rowers involved, it was a great result and everyone put in fantastic effort and enthusiasm.
The annual Fairbairn’s Races took place over the 5 and 6 December 2019 and it was an absolute triumph for MBC. We entered 3 men’s senior fours and 2 women's senior fours as well as 2 men’s novice eights and 2 women’s novice eights. With the novice races taking place on the Thursday, it was fantastic to see not only great enthusiasm and excitement from the novices (in their final race of the term before officially “graduating” to the senior team) but the number of other members of the boat club who demonstrated their support for the new generation by supporting on the towpath or waving them off from the boathouse. We are looking forward to bringing the (now) ex-novices into the senior training programme which kicks off in early January with the pre-lent term training camp in Cambridge. My greatest thanks go to our head LBCs Gareth Hart and Rosie Bevan, both of whom have worked tirelessly all term to train up a fantastic new cohort of MBC rowers. Thanks must also go to the other LBCs and members of MBC who have helped along the way, and also to alumni Hugh Begley and Will Reiss who were invaluable in the final few weeks of term.
Friday 6th was the big day - the day of the senior races, and MBC well and truly cleaned up! Winning the title of the fastest M4+ on the river, our first men’s boat not only beat all of the other college fours but also beat the CULRC boat, making this a truly monumental victory for MBC. We did not stop there though; our second men’s four went on to take first place in their division too, making this the third year in a row in which we have won both these titles. As the only college who had entered a third men’s four this year, we demonstrated the impressive number of dedicated senior rowers MBC has this year. This boat went on to beat several other second and first fours too! It was a great day of racing on the women’s side too, with our first four placing in a respectable position and our second four placing above two college first boats (despite having two rowers who noviced this term).
Our training and racing has significantly benefit-ed from the addition of two brand new Stampfli fours for our top crews on each side. These new boats have revolutionized our racing this term and the results demonstrate this. Our greatest thanks to the generous donors who have contributed to the boat purchases this term, stay tuned for naming! Huge credit must also go to our dedicated coaches; George Wallace, Perran Ziar, Susannah Cass and Alex Shaw, and also to the fantastic captains; Hugh Hudson, Isabel Wilson-Scott and Tonia Kefala. We are also extremely grateful to the Mallory Club and also to our sponsors.
We truly are in an excellent position to approach the exciting next term to come.
Mallory Club Update
Much has been happening since our 2019 Summer Update. The excitement generated by the men's 1st VIII rising to second on the river for the first time in MBC's history caused several Members and alumni to ask if there was anything that could be done to increase the chances of taking the Headship in 2020. The answer was quite simply 'Yes, faster boats please'.
The spontaneous generosity has been simply extraordinary and already enabled the purchase of a new Stampfli coxed four, an Ayling coxed pair for training and MBC's first Empacher eight to be delivered in the near future. Combined with the new Stampfli eight and another Stampfli coxed IV for our women, financed in the past year by two other generous Mallory members, MBC will soon be one of the very best-equipped College boatclubs on the Cam. Huge thanks to one and all.
The investment has already brought returns. In the Fairbairn senior 4+ event the men's A crew in the new Stampfli were not only the fastest Cambridge College for the third successive year but also took the overall title for the first time by beating the Cambridge University Lightweights.
Mallory Club at the Fairbairns Cup
Friday 6 December was not just a great day on the Cam for MBC, the Mallory Club also put in some excellent performances in a men's Alumni 8+ and Women's Alumnae 4+. The men were up first, after a bit of a delay due to mysterious 'obstructions on the course', time which they put to good use intimidating the opposition.
Since Fairbairns is raced from Jesus boathouse, marshalling space is tight, the eight taking their first all-eight strokes as they crossed the startline. Nonetheless they quickly settled into a long and steady rhythm under the masterful direction of Andrew Probert. In fact the coxing was so good it was almost unfair on the other crews, with Andrew's line shaving a good 100m off the course distance for the Mallory Men! The crew were quick to gain on the preceding boat, and performed some classy overtaking on the Long Reach before pushing for home through twists and turns of The Gut finishing a very respectable 3rd among the Alumni 8s and beating several M1 crews in the process.The Alumnae Women's afternoon started eventfully with a light case of boat-napping after a slight mix-up over boat borrowing from Cambridge '99s. However, all ended well and despite not quite achieving the aim to 'row it like you stole it', the crew survived a successful paddle and even managed to beat a couple of college first 4s in the process. Thanks again to Andrew Probert for doubling up in the cox's seat - we hope you've finally warmed up again!
Most importantly the Mallory Club were also well represented later in the evening at Fairbairns Dinner. From what anyone can remember it was a great night, and thanks go to the MBC for kindly inviting us to join their celebrations.
Fifty shades of... lavender
Those who remember Richard Hamersley (1963) may recall his quest to discover Magdalene's authentic Lavender and Indigo colours. Research shows he was on the right track with historical evidence suggesting the Lavender of earlier blades was both paler and more distinctive than the colour presently in use. The Stewards and Senior Committee have therefore agreed revised colours to be introduced over the coming season.
In future, Magdalene crews should be distinguishable not only by their superior technique and style but also by more easily identifiable blades which are less likely to be confused with Catz, Downing and King's.
Anyone wanting to see MBC in action and who cannot easily come to Cambridge can expect to see crews at:
- Bedford Head - Sunday 9 February 2020
- WeHoRR (London) - Saturday 7 March 2020
- Bedford Regatta - Saturday 9 May 2020
Mallory Club Members interested in racing should keep the following dates in mind. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest in racing.
- Pembroke Regatta - 16 February 2020
- City Sprints - 3 May 2020 (TBC)
Looking further ahead to the May Races we anticipate a massive turnout of supporters especially on Saturday 13 June. One point to note is that the times of the Men's and Women's Divisions will henceforward alternate so this year Women's Div 1 will be the final division of the day racing at 5.45 pm; Men's Div 1 will be at the earlier time of 5.00 pm. We look forward to Members and Alumni joining the crews for Boat Club Dinner in Hall. There will surely be keen interest in places for the Dinner so please mark the date and watch out for our announcement in April regarding booking arrangements. Mallory Club Members can, as usual, expect some priority when booking.
We hope you have enjoyed hearing about the latest exploits of the Magdalene Boat Club and the Mallory Club
See you on or by the river in 2020!
By Floss Willcocks (2017) - Captain of Boats