Wolfson College Boat Club, Oxford

President’s Reflections: 2010 – 2011

Following a fantastic 2009-10 season, both the men and women wasted no time in beginning their summer regatta campaign. Three boats were entered into Oriel Regatta shortly after Summer Eights, and both the women’s VIII and the mixed IV won their events and came away with shiny hip flasks, marking a great start to the summer. The men then put out a great performance at Henley Royal Regatta Qualifiers in the coxed IV, and despite not qualifying for the main regatta, enjoyed a great day of rowing and came away as the fastest Oxford college on the day. The squads then went on to enter many regattas over the summer – Kingston, Maidenhead, Peterborough, Oxford City Royal and Cambridge Autumns – with the crews reaching many finals along the way. Success came for Paul Kelly and Toby Mack in the pair at Cambridge Autumns, where they beat Staines BC in the final of the IM1 event.

We then returned to the Isis for the beginning of the academic season, and the long-awaited arrival of the new freshers. As usual the rowing taster day during Freshers’ Week was a great success, and over 40 novices joined us for the term. The novice women entered Nephthys Regatta and Christ Church Regatta, and won two of their races. The novice men also entered two crews into Christ Church Regatta, but were unfortunate in being drawn against strong crews, so didn’t make it past the first round. All crews, however, showed fantastic determination and team spirit, and we knew we had a great set of novices ready to join the senior squad after Christmas!

Michaelmas Term was by no means a quiet term for the seniors either. Both the men and women trained hard and entered crews into Upper Thames Small Boats Head, where they all raced exceptionally well, beating some university squad crews, and where we saw the epic battle between our two men’s fours – ‘Strength and Honour’ and the charmingly nicknamed ‘Fatties’. Both then went on to race on The Tideway at Head of the River Fours, with both squads again performing very well in surprisingly clement conditions. The seniors completed their first term of racing by entering Isis Winter League B on the Isis, in which both the men and women came in second place. Michaelmas Term was overall a great success, and we all went home for Christmas excited at the thought of what was to come in the following terms’ bumping races.

WCBC women performing strongly at the Head of the River Fours race, November 2010 (From bow to stern: Aurélie Cuénod, Judith Scheele, Nanda Pirie, Megan Robb, cox Lamorna Newcombe)

WCBC women performing strongly at the Head of the River Fours race, November 2010 (From bow to stern: Aurélie Cuénod, Judith Scheele, Nanda Pirie, Megan Robb, cox Lamorna Newcombe)

In the new year, the seniors and novices combined into a single squad, and WCBC began stamping its mark firmly on the Isis. The men recorded the fastest times at the remaining three Isis Winter League races, and the women came in top at IWLD. The second boats also raced at these events, and with each boat getting to race multiple times, we all became well experienced on the bumps course. The highlight of Hilary Term came in the form of Torpids, into which we entered two men’s and two women’s crews. M1 performed exceptionally well, bumping up into Division 1 on the first day, and then going on to achieve blades, moving up a total of six places. M2 also had a great week, moving up four places, despite being bumped on the first day due to an unfortunate technical failure. W1 enjoyed three great bumps, two of which came before Donnington Bridge, and moved up two places. W2 suffered a week of extreme bad luck (including an absent poleman on day 1) and were unfortunately bumped down into Division 4, but showed fantastic resilience and persistence throughout the week!

The Easter break was also an exciting time for the club. Shortly after Torpids, W1 took a trip to London to race in Women’s Head of the River, described at the ‘largest women’s rowing race in the world’. The girls raced well and were ranked 157 out of 297, and 5 members of the crew had their first experience of rowing on the Tideway. The men then followed suit and raced in the Head of the River race a few weeks later, and despite having a slightly different crew from the Torpids VIII, still managed to come top of the Oxford colleges. Both current and past members of WCBC enjoyed a day trip to Henley at the end of March to watch the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Races, and to support the three Wolfson girls who trialled with OUWLRC this year (Amanda Reiner, Ilektra Apostolidou and Jill Betts). Although the result sadly did not go in their favour, the club was proud to see Ilektra in the three seat on race day, along with Jill in the seven seat.

Easter weekend then saw our annual training camp, which was once again held on the world-famous stretch at Henley-on-Thames. As usual, we were very fortunate with the weather and had beautiful sunshine, allowing us to enjoy long days of training and a barbecue on the Saturday evening. Our hosts, Henley RC, provided us with fantastic indoor facilities in which to spend the night, which was a great addition to the weekend. We all came away having trained hard, but also having enjoyed the opportunity to get to know our squad mates a little better.

Squad members enjoying an evening trip to the pub during training camp in Henley-on-Thames (Left to right: Aurélie Cuénod, Megan Robb, Gregers Bangert, Michael Lutteropp, Chris Prosser, Miriam Driessen, Valerie Gorman, Jill Betts, Raffaella Facchini, Morgan Di Rodi, Susan Graham, Dieuwertje Kooij, Katherine Henson, James Kirkbride, Danny Parton)

Squad members enjoying an evening trip to the pub during training camp in Henley-on-Thames (Left to right: Aurélie Cuénod, Megan Robb, Gregers Bangert, Michael Lutteropp, Chris Prosser, Miriam Driessen, Valerie Gorman, Jill Betts, Raffaella Facchini, Morgan Di Rodi, Susan Graham, Dieuwertje Kooij, Katherine Henson, James Kirkbride, Danny Parton)

M1 and W2 went on to enter Oxford City Bumps in late April, a tough day of racing in which the usual four days of bumps racing are crammed into one! The men combined the forces of their two fours into a new team, ‘Fat and Honour’, and performed very well, bumping four times to win (miniature!) blades. The women were unfortunate in being bumped by a blades-winning crew in the first round, before racing three very solid row-overs. The men then completed their Easter campaign by sending two eights to Bedford Amateur Regatta. Both crews enjoyed a great day of racing, with M1 posting the fastest time in the first two rounds before being forced to scratch from the semi-finals.

The crews rounded off the season with a fantastic Summer Eights week. W2 unfortunately continued their astounding run of misfortune and had their races klaxoned on three out of four days, meaning they moved down one place overall. W1 had their hopes of blades dissolved on day 1 when their race was klaxoned, but then went on to achieve three great bumps and finished on bungline 3 in Division II – the highest the women have been in 10 years. The men fielded a record four crews, although M4 sadly missed out on qualifying by a few seconds. M3 moved up one place over the course of the week, and in some nail-biting races, M2 narrowly missed out on blades but achieved three bumps and secured a well-deserved place in Division IV. M1 had an outstanding week and bumped Balliol, St Catherine’s and Hertford before testing all of our nerves and saving their final bump on Univ for 10 strokes from the finish line on the final day. The crew won well-deserved blades, almost unheard of in Division 1, and ended the year on bungline 4, which is the highest position the men have held in the history of the club!

M1 win blades once again and enjoy a swim! (Left to right: Chris Prosser, Duncan England, Philipp Becker, Nanda Pirie, Mario Recker, Cliff Sofield, Cory Kampf, Paul Kelly, Jeremy Howick, Christian Bell)

M1 win blades once again and enjoy a swim! (Left to right: Chris Prosser, Duncan England, Philipp Becker, Nanda Pirie, Mario Recker, Cliff Sofield, Cory Kampf, Paul Kelly, Jeremy Howick, Christian Bell)

As well as the great successes of our crews on the river, the 2010-11 season has been very successful behind the scenes. In September we welcomed our new Senior Member, Christina Redfield, who has been a wonderful addition to the club and invaluable in providing advice and guidance throughout the year. We also added a new position to the committee, the Media/PR Officer, which has been instrumental in the advancing of our alumni network and our search for a new sponsor. We have held several alumni events over the course of the year, and have increased our database of contacts almost exponentially, as well as forming an alumni committee. We have also made major updates to our website, including the addition of an alumni section. Anyone reading this who would like to get back involved with the club, or indeed who would be interested in sponsoring us, please do get in touch!

We have had an unfortunate year in terms of equipment, with the other colleges seemingly intent on destroying as many of our boats as possible. Tara, Weapon X and Phwoarsome all underwent repairs (some somewhat significant), and some of our members went for a surprise swim along the way. Following an unfortunate trailering accident and major refurbishment, a generous anonymous donation saw ’Nice Pair’ renamed ‘The Wolf’. The Wolfson erg room also underwent major refurbishment at the beginning of the year, and we now have a great facility within college with some magnificent artwork on the walls, thanks to our very own Aurélie.

Members of the committee gather for the grand opening of the newly refurbished Wolfson erg room (Left to right, standing: Chris Prosser, Valerie Gorman, Amanda Reiner, Rebecca Schneider, Jill Betts, John Dale, Belinda Platt; seated: Aurélie Cuénod, Christian Bell, John Fluharty, Michael Lutteropp, Iana Alexeeva)

Members of the committee gather for the grand opening of the newly refurbished Wolfson erg room (Left to right, standing: Chris Prosser, Valerie Gorman, Amanda Reiner, Rebecca Schneider, Jill Betts, John Dale, Belinda Platt; seated: Aurélie Cuénod, Christian Bell, John Fluharty, Michael Lutteropp, Iana Alexeeva)

I would like to thank the members of the committee for their hard work and dedication throughout the year – without them, the club would not have seen the success it has. Many thanks also go to both Wolfson and St Cross, and in particular to Tracy Fuzzard, Ed Jarron, Bryan Sykes, Hermione Lee and Christina Redfield for their continuing support and assistance. I would like to finish by thanking each and every squad member for showing the enthusiasm and team spirit that sets us apart from all the other clubs on the Isis. ‘The Wolfpack’ has become a force both feared and envied across the university, and it is one of which I have been very proud to be a part.

Jill Betts
WCBC President 2010-11