Wolfson College Boat Club, Oxford

Summer Eights 1997

Wolfson had a strong Summer Eights 1997 campaign. Despite injuries and adversity, the crews pulled together for strong performances, and W3 emerged with blades!


Wolfson entered six crews in Summer Eights 1997, 28th – 31st May.

Men’s First Boat

This was always likely to be a difficult year for Wolfson due to the success of the previous year’s crew, but with two of that crew returning and the five of the other six from the first Torpid, the first Eight was relatively experienced. The crew showed some good form early in the training season, but unfortunately one rower quit halfway through the season. This meant pulling someone from the second eight (a member of the first Torpid), which didn’t please them, but they should be thankful that they weren’t Oriel who pulled four of their second eight into the first eight a week before the bumps!

Having finally settled the crew (and nerves) we embarked on a training weekend at Henley, with some excellent coaching by Andy Bizzel, and inspiration at paddling up and down the Henley reach while Redgrave, Foster, Pinsent and Cracknel paddled in the opposite direction. Come the races, we were in with a chance on the first day as we were chasing a rough looking LMH crew. However, we were chased by Queens, hungry for blades and revenge after being denied by Wolfson last year. In a typically manic first day row, we were just bumped by Queens going into the gut, while having closed to quarter of a length off LMH. So close, yet so far. This done, we were in the difficult position of sandwich boat, and while managing to row over twice on the Thursday we were caught by Osler on the Friday and New II on the Saturday. Not a successful campaign, but everyone rowed their hearts out, and a captain can’t ask for more. Thanks should go to Kath Allen for taking more stick than she deserved (“two things Kath, 1, excellent coxing…”) and to Cath Hawkins, our long-suffering coach, who put up with Ned’s constant winging (perhaps if we’d done that three minute piece it might have made the difference, who knows?). Thus, the captain of Wolfson college 1996-1997 retired from bumps racing with a record of 1 bump for and 14 bumps against. Oh well, better than most of England’s cricket captain’s records of winning test matches.

Richard Holland, Men’s Boat Club Captain 1996-97

bow Richard “bad boy” Holland Division III
2 Nick “memory man” The Greek
3 Sean “chicken legs” Ross
4 Olaf “greyhound” Ruske
5 Ned “steam boat” Wakeman
6 Raff “pie man” Perera
7 Andy “politically correct” Briggs
str Phil “anerobic threshold” Biggin
cox Kath “homer” Allen
coach Cath “the grinder” Hawkins

Women’s First Boat

The women’s 1st VIII went into Eights with a great deal of confidence after some useful performances again Wadham (victory by a canvas) and Osler (lost by a length after rating 52 off the start!) at the Wallingford regatta, and an S2 victory at Coate Water Park. However, a last-minute injury caused much moving around in the boat and a sub to be introduced. There was also the slight matter of a crew member being in Barbados on honeymoon (understandably more appealing than rowing). Once we were all together and racing, it finally dawned we were still very confident of progressing up the first division.

On the first day, we struggled to get anywhere near a very fast Teddy Hall 1st VIII and ended up with a row over. This meant that were out of phase with all of the slower crews coming down the division and right in the path of the fast ones coming up. On the second day, we made a reasonable start but once again off bungline 11 — surely the worst on the course — and were caught by LMH going into the gut despite some imaginative attempts to shake the LMH boat off our tail. For some of us, this was the first bump they had ever had against them and morale was extremely low. Despite this, a change to the gearing and a new improved, all-singing, all-dancing start gave us renewed zeal. We led Univ comfortably going into the gut whilst the boats in front bumped out, but a huge push by Univ brought them to within striking distance. Some tremendously gutsy rowing and a huge amount of effort saw us keep Univ at bay and the row-over was ours. That really was our best row and we really deserved our row-over.

On the final day, we chased Brasenose, who had been bumped every day, and with them now on the poor bungline and ourselves on a good one, we believed that we could get them. After a reasonable start, Univ put in an enormous effort to catch us, presumably believing that their only chance was to catch us off the start. We didn’t panic, however, and ten strokes after the stride we had closed to within half a length of Brasenose. They caught a monster crab and we sailed past clipping their blades as we took crash-avoiding action. Much shouting, screaming, laughing, Bruce Lee for ten, and a futile attempt to throw the cox into the river, followed. We were delighted to keep our place within the division after the various problems we had during training and Eights itself. Next year, a serious move up the division looks possible and it is all thanks to what was a tremendously hard working and determined crew. Many thanks to Liz for being hard, Theresa P for jumping around, Zoe for smiling in the face of adversity, Natasha for raw power, Yasmina for honesty, Marilyn for laughing, Theresa S for effort, and Jo for being our “bumper”. It was a pleasure to cox you all. A very special thanks to James “Frog” Hopkins for the magic coaching and the painfully (the next day) good cocktails.

Keith Spencer, Women’s 1st VIII cox

bow Jo (?) Division I
2 Theresa S (?)
3 Marilyn (?)
4 Yasmina (?)
5 Natasha (?)
6 Zoe (?)
7 Theresa P (?)
str Liz (?)
cox Keith Spencer
coach James “Frog” Hopkins

Men’s Second Boat

This 2nd VIII didn’t really have much time to come together as a crew. Last-minute resignations from the 1st VIII meant that rowers were poached and the crew was only finalised one week before Eights with, Christine Schams coming into the boat as the only female member (well, we’re not sure about Malc). The 5th is a tough division, and this boat had some tough races. The first-day’s bump on St. Peter’s II was easy. The next day involved chasing Hertford II, which proved to be too much and they rowed over more than three lengths ahead. By this time confident of their ability to at least compete in the 5th division, the crew started the 3rd day with the ambitious Merton II behind. In the panic, the 7 seat caught a massive crab and Merton were there before there was time to recover. The cox was forced to concede. The last day was by far the best performance. Chased by Wadham II, themselves chased by Trinity II (both on for blades), the fight was tough. Coming out of the gut, Wadham were a 3rd of a length off when the cox (who had been concentrating on catching Hertford II) noticed the situation and a valiant push held them off until Trinity bumped them by the boat houses.

Overall, the crew maintained their position in the 5th. This was in a difficult year for the men’s boat club and the crew should congratulate themselves.

Derek Kennet

bow Rob Everson Division V
2 Andreas Fuentes
3 Paul Thirtle
4 Christine Schams
5 Derek Kennet
6 Nils Pedersen
7 Malcome Finn
str Jamie Harle
cox Renee Menezes
coach Rich Holland

Women’s Second Boat

The women’s 2nd VIII really enjoyed Summer Eights, not only because we got blades (well deserved!), but also because the atmosphere was always very nice and friendly. Not that it was easy: Anna, stroking the boat, got injured on Sunday before VIII’s, which made the whole crew breathe quietly during the whole week. All available people in an area of 50 miles from Oxford were asked to sub for Anna, unsuccessfully. Under extra doses of pain-killers, carefully chosen by our head coach and expert in those (The Frog), Anna resisted all 4 days and, believe it or not, smiling! (do *not* try this at home!). Anna is our hero, and example to be followed for the rest of our lives!

A careful exam of photos taken during Eights ended up suggesting that the probable cause for Anna’s injury was that she was sharper than anyone else in the boat, especially on her side! Well, at least this is the theory our cox, John Pinot de Moira (who has been investigated as having vast vineyards and not telling us anything about them!).

Renee de Menezes, Women’s 2nd VIII

bow ? Division IV
2 ?
3 ?
4 ?
5 ?
6 ?
7 ?
str Anna (?)
cox John Pinot de Moira
coach “The Frog” ?

Men’s Third Boat

This crew was originally formed to continue the great Wolfson 3rd-VIII tradition. Last year, this boat was one of the highest risers on the river – going up 5 places and narrowly missing blades. Alas, this year’s crew was but a pale shadow of the former dedicated athletes. With a unique rowing style developed over a long hard winter of training (well two outings and the rowing on actually) in order to bring out the crews’ strengths (over-weight, unfit, very relaxed under pressure and at all other times), the boat went on to do better than many had predicted (eg. ‘They’ll be bumped to f***’ – Coach).

Carefully rowing on in a time intended to disguise their true potential, they were beaten by the School’s VIII and became Wolfson IV in the 8th division. Coxed by Jon Woolf Mk I (with long curly hair) they at least managed to keep their sense of humour. On the first day, they were aware that they had to bump up to avoid the very fast Linacre School’s VIII two places behind. In characteristic style, they completely failed to do this and started the second day resigned to the bump which came just out of the gut. The third day meant a cool-headed ‘nerves of steel’ row over with slightly-faster Lincon IV behind so that the original starting position could be maintained with an easy bump on Mansfield II on the last day. This was achieved, and Mansfield II were caught close to Donny Bridge almost too easily.

bow Tom Theuns Division VII
2 Simon Cassasus
3 Colm O’Reardon
4 Jose thingmyjig [sic]
5 Phil Lohan
6 Kaare Bangert
7 Joe Hoffman
str Fausto Brito e Abreu
cox Jon Woolf
coach No one accepts responsibility

Women’s Third Boat

The Women’s 3rd VIII almost didn’t happen. Firstly, one of our rowers was “promoted” to the 2nd VIII, to fill up an empty seat there. Then, when I just thought I had the team together, our coach dropped out. Fortunately, Zoe and James agreed to coach us and therefore, three weeks before Summer Eights, we started training in earnest. This also included teaching two absolute beginners to row. But thanks to the excellent coaching of Zoe and James, both of them picked it up very quickly. After rowing on, we waited anxiously for the result to find out whether we had made it, and we were very relieved to find that we had just got in. In Summer Eights, we started in the final division at bung line 13 chasing Trinity II on the first day. Thanks to our wonderful bungline man, who pointed our boat perfectly in the right direction, and the excellent coxing of our novice cox Mike, we bumped Trinity II after about 30 strokes and therefore achieved the first bump of Summer Eights ’97. The next day, we were chasing Jesus III. They were an even easier target for us: 17 strokes and they conceded. Friday, we started behind S.E.H. III, which we bumped just under Donnie Bridge. Saturday we were all out for blades, only one more bump! Brasenose II were our target, and again, just after Donnie Bridge they had to concede, which gave us the first blades of Summer Eights ’97.

Sabina Heinz, Women’s 3rd VIII Stroke

bow Kat Henson Division V
2 ?
3 ?
4 ?
5 ?
6 ?
7 ?
str Sabina Heinz
cox Mike (?)
coach Zoe and James (?)