Bluestockings*: The 2016 Women’s Boat Race Trial Eights

Pic 1. The two Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC) Trial Eights crews for the 2016 Newton Women’s Boat Race. The white boat, stroked by Daphne Martschenko, was christened ‘Tideway’ for the occasion while the yellow boat, stroked by Myriam Goudet, was called ‘Twickenham’.
The two Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC) Trial Eights crews for the 2016 Newton Women’s Boat Race. The white boat, stroked by Daphne Martschenko, was christened Tideway for the occasion while the yellow boat, stroked by Myriam Goudet, was called Twickenham.

Tim Koch writes:

Side-by-side, one-on-one racing for 4 1/4 miles on the Thames Tideway in December can be a very testing experience – and it is exactly for this reason that the ‘Trial Eights’ for the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race and for the Women’s Boat Race are usually held on the Putney to Mortlake course at this time. Thursday, 10 December saw the women’s races take place, but these were not Dark Blue against Light Blue contests, they were intra-university races, Oxford v Oxford and Cambridge v Cambridge, each pair of opposing crews made up of what may be the last eighteen who are in line for the nine coveted seats in their university’s Blue Boat for ‘The Big Race’ on 27 March 2016.

While the contenders for a Blue are thoroughly tested in the gym, on the ergo and on the water at Ely or Wallingford, it is only on the Thames Tideway itself that the coaches can see what their rowers and coxswains are really made of, how they cope with nerves and mistakes and also how they react to whatever the most famous and possibly the most unpredictable rowing course in the world throws at them. Old Father Thames may have been playing host to rowing crews for hundreds of years – but he can still take them by surprise.

It is often said that the coaches put out ‘theoretically matched’ crews for the trials but this is not always the case. They sometimes put out two boats, one of which contains more ‘probables’ than the other and, in reality, only one or two seats may be up for grabs. The final line up for the 2015 Oxford Women’s Boat contained five from the winning trial crew, two from the losing trial crew and two who were not in the trials (one of whom was the double Olympic gold medalist, Caryn Davies, who was surely assured of a place). Similarly, the 2015 Cambridge Women’s Crew that raced Oxford was made up of five from the winning trial boat, three from the boat that they beat and one who did not take part in the trials. Perhaps the people most under scrutiny are the coxes. There is only one way to test the ability of a noisy deadweight to navigate the ’S’ shaped course, implement the race plan and to deal with the unexpected – and that is to steer in a race over the 6,779 metres from Putney to Mortlake.

Cambridge

Pic 2. By the end of Putney Embankment the yellow boat on the Middlesex station, ‘Twickenham’, had already established itself as the stronger crew with a better rhythm and was drawing away from ‘Tideway’.
By the end of Putney Embankment the yellow boat on the Middlesex station, Twickenham, had already established itself as the stronger crew with a better rhythm and was drawing away from Tideway.

 

Pic 3a. By Harrods, Twickenham had over a length on Tideway and were washing them down.
By Harrods, Twickenham had over a length on Tideway and were washing them down.

 

Pic 3b. Approaching Hammersmith Bridge both crews were close to Surrey and the Tideway cox, Olivia Godwin, struck a navigation buoy, something which must have further unsettled her already pressured crew.
Approaching Hammersmith Bridge both crews were close to Surrey and the Tideway cox, Olivia Godwin, struck a navigation buoy, something which must have further unsettled her already pressured crew.

 

Pic 4. At Hammersmith, Twickenham continue to pull away.
At Hammersmith, Twickenham continue to pull away.

 

Pic 5. Long before Barnes Bridge, Tideway had started to shorten up, giving Twickenham more distance.
Long before Barnes Bridge, Tideway had started to shorten up, giving Twickenham more distance.

 

Pic 6. Twickenham seemed to cope with the worsening conditions after Hammersmith far better than their opponents.
Twickenham seemed to cope with the worsening conditions after Hammersmith far better than their opponents.

 

At the finish, Twickenham were four lengths ahead of Tideway.
At the finish, Twickenham were four lengths ahead of Tideway.

Twickenham, the yellow boat on Surrey, winner by four lengths.
Bow Dorottya Nagy
2 Imogen Grant
3 Ashton Brown (Blue)
4 Sarah Carlotti
5 Hannah Roberts
6 Fiona Macklin
7 Caroline Habjan
Stroke Myriam Goudet
Cox Rosemary Ostfeld (Blue)

Tideway, the white boat on Middlesex.
Bow Kate Baker
2 Evelyn Boettcher
3 Rachel Elwood
4 Alice Jackson
5 Lucy Pike
6 Alexandra Wood
7 Thea Zabell
Stroke Daphne Martschenko (Blue)
Cox Olivia Godwin

Oxford

Oxford’s race was a contest of two halves and it was also a perfect illustration of the value of the Thames trial eights and also of why match racing on the Putney to Mortlake course is so special.

The First Half

Pic 8. The yellow boat on the Surrey side was stroked by Maddy Badcott and was given the name ‘Charybdis’. The white boat on Middlesex was called ‘Scylla’ and the stroke was Emma Lukasiewiez. The names on the two boats came from a Greek phrase meaning ‘having to choose between two evils’ (something that I intend to drop into conversation in the future). Pictured here passing London Rowing Club, Scylla took an early lead.
The yellow boat on the Surrey side was stroked by Maddy Badcott and was given the name Charybdis. The white boat on Middlesex was called Scylla and the stroke was Emma Lukasiewiez. The names on the two boats came from a Greek phrase meaning ‘having to choose between two evils’ (something that I intend to drop into conversation in the future). Pictured here passing London Rowing Club, Scylla took an early lead.

 

Pic 9. At the Mile Post it looked certain that another processional race was in progress and that there could be little doubt that Scylla would win.
At the Mile Post, it looked certain that another processional race was in progress and that there could be little doubt that Scylla would win.

 

Pic 10. By Harrods, no one in the press boat had much doubt who would reach Chiswick Bridge first.
By Harrods, no one in the press boat had much doubt who would reach Chiswick Bridge first.

 

Pic 11. In the men’s race, 80% of the crews first to Hammersmith Bridge go on to victory.
In the men’s race, 80% of the crews first to Hammersmith Bridge go on to victory.

The Second Half

Pic 12. Something remarkable happened after the crews went through Hammersmith Bridge and past St Paul’s School. As often happens around the Chiswick bend, the water conditions worsened and Scylla, now with a two length lead, failed to cope with this change as well as did Charybdis. Further, Scylla cox Antonia Stutter moved too far to Middlesex and her opposite number, Morgan Baynham-Williams, took full advantage of this and Charybdis started to move closer to her opponents.
Something remarkable happened after the crews went through Hammersmith Bridge and past St Paul’s School. As often happens around the Chiswick bend, the water conditions worsened and Scylla, now with a two length lead, failed to cope with this change as well as did Charybdis. Further, Scylla cox Antonia Stutter moved too far to Middlesex and her opposite number, Morgan Baynham-Williams, took full advantage of this and Charybdis started to move closer to her opponents.

 

Pic 13. This picture was taken just over a minute after the one above this. The race was back on!
This picture was taken just over a minute after the one above this. The race was back on!

 

Pic 14. Somewhere opposite Duke’s Meadows, Charybdis starts to draw level. Despite what this picture suggests, there was no danger from the approaching passenger boat
Somewhere opposite Duke’s Meadows, Charybdis starts to draw level. Despite what this picture suggests, there was no danger from the approaching passenger boat

 

Pic 15. Charybdis takes the lead.
Charybdis takes the lead.

 

Pic 16. A minute after the picture above this one was taken, Charybdis have clear water.
A minute after the picture above this one was taken, Charybdis have clear water.

 

Pic 17. At Barnes Bridge, it is clear who is now enjoying the race and who is not.
At Barnes Bridge, it is clear who is now enjoying the race and who is not.

 

Pic 18. The trial must have given OUWBC coach Christine Wilson a lot to think about. However, with the strength in depth of her squad, it would be difficult to make a poor crew selection.
The trial must have given OUWBC coach Christine Wilson a lot to think about. However, with the strength in depth of her squad, it would be difficult to make a poor crew selection.

 

Pic 19. At the finish, Charybdis are in front of Scylla by three lengths.
At the finish, Charybdis is in front of Scylla by three lengths.

The Oxford Trial was a remarkable demonstration of the old rowing adage that a boat race is an event in which two crews race each other until one of them decides that they cannot win. Despite the apparent initial evidence to the contrary, Charybdis would not make that decision and showed exactly the sort of grit that is required to race over the stretch of river that is traditionally and appropriately called ‘The Championship Course’.

Charybdis, the yellow boat on Surrey, winner by three lengths.
Bow Georgie Daniel
2 Christina Fleischer
3 Lara Pysden
4 Emma Spruce
5 Ruth Siddorn
6 Elo Luik
7 Kate Ericsson
Stroke Maddy Badcott (Blue)
Cox Morgan Baynham-Williams

Scylla, the white boat on Middlesex.
Bow Issy Dodds
2 Merel Lefferts
3 Elettra Ardissino
4 Rebecca Te Water Naude
5 Anastasia Chitty (Blue)
6 Joanne Jansen
7 Lauren Kedar (Blue)
Stroke Emma Lukasiewicz
Cox Antonia Stutter

* Bluestocking – an educated, intellectual woman.

One comment

  1. The Cambridge boat was named Twickenham because on the same day, the women’s Varsity rugby match was played at Twickenham alongside the men’s match for the first time.

    Playing on the wing for Cambridge was Caroline Reid, last year’s CUWBC President, who thus became the first person ever to be awarded Blues for both rowing and rugby (traditionally the two most prestigious Blues sports).

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