Wolfson College Boat Club, Oxford

Fairbairns Cup 2014

The women’s portion of this race report was contributed by Edward Mills, cox.

The women’s four of Sofia Hauck, Amelie Hartmann, Fuchsia Hart and Charlotte Diffey, coxed by Edward Mills, started 28th in the fours division. Issues with trailering meant that the crew had to borrow a shell, but thanks to the help of Robinson College they arrived confident of being able to race.

As the crew learnt, Fairbairns is a unique course, covering many of the Cam’s tightest bends and, at 3.4km for the fours course, is equivalent to twice the rowable distance of the Isis. Faced with a very short marshalling area and having come together only a little while before the race, the crew nevertheless put in a respectable performance. Rating 28 through the course, the four approached each third as a separate race. The first third set up a strong rhythm, after of which the crew moved into Chesterton, and the second third, with a series of pushes on the quads. The rhythm held strong through to the Railway Bridge and onto the Long Reach, even as the length of the race started to make itself felt.

In the final third, the crew’s unfortunate position in the draw proved a drawback, as they were overtaken on the Long Reach by a rapid Peterhouse first four who would go on to finish second overall. Nevertheless, the crew didn’t let this faze them, picking it up on the catches, taking the tighter line into Ditton Corner, and even beginning to close the gap during the last 20 strokes.

The overall result certainly wasn’t what the crew would have desired, finishing 12th out of 14 women’s fours. Nevertheless, the crew came out of the experience in high spirits, having learnt a great deal about race psychology and endurance in the process and experienced what was, for a majority of the crew, their first taste of off-Isis racing. This “appetiser race”, as Sofia put it, has left everyone keyed up for Hilary Term and hungry for more progress in future weeks.

The men also fielded a four, coxed by Stefany Wragg. We can only presume they did well.