Wolfson College Boat Club, Oxford

Cambridge Autumn Regatta 1996

Wolfson had a frustrating but eventually excellent day out at the Cambridge Autumn Regatta. This is a short 600-metre sprint regatta. A number of Wolfson and Wolfson/composite boats were entered: Mixed S2 4+, Mixed S3 4+, Men’s S3 4+, Women’s S3 4+, Men’s 2x (James Hopkins) plus a Queen’s/St. Anne’s Men’s pair that hitched a lift on the trailer. Then of course there were numerous other crews that Mary New ended up subbing in (eg. Furnival S3 8+, I don’t think she can remember the names of the others).

It was a glorious day – the sun was shining and so was Wolfson’s luck it seemed. All the boats got through their first races with relative ease. The Men’s S3 4+ were particularly pleased to beat Beccles by 3 lengths because, as readers will recall, this was their first race at S3 level. Mary New hopped from crew to crew, rowing as bow in 2 boats and coxing another. It made for some tricky moments and a thick pad of numbers on her back – she coxed one race still panting from the last!

All of the Wolfson boats made it to the finals of their events and all were beaten. A good day’s racing, it has to be said, but a little short of pewter on the return journey. Nevertheless it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Mary New had the last laugh – her two Wolfson crews were knocked out so she ended up being the only pot winner of the day with the Furnival 8 whom she only met in the car park (that’s the sort of girl she is). She brings to mind the wisdom of the old saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ (or even ‘the rats desert a sinking ship’!!?).

The boats were driven to City and rowed back along a peacful, moonlit Isis at 9 o’clock that night. All went well until a certain Sean Ross, an inexperienced Scottish boatman who speaks only a little English and has trouble with concepts like gravity, pulled his blade in whilst he was the only bow-side blade in a four. Needless to say five people took a quick dip. The river was much warmer than expected (yes I was one of them) and there are even those who stood upon the bank who were able to find some humour in the situation.