M3 On Tour 2010: Gunning-it in Galway

Report by Chris and Chris
Result: 2nd placed Novice VIII, 20th overall in Head 3.

Menlo

Training | The River Corrib | Another Disaster?! | Saturday: Race Day | Race Over: Let’s See Ireland! | A Success! | Photos | Links |

  Rounding off an action-packed term of rowing, our sprightly combination VIII of M3 rowers and their LBCs travel to Ireland and the Tribesmen’s Head of the River Race.

Training: A few spanners in the works…

There were hurdles to overcome even before we left Cambridge, when a surprise research trip stole Alex Ritter from the line-up during training. Nevertheless, and thanks to Jon Gregory’s helpful subbing-in, we took a productive few days on the Cam to blend as a crew. On the eve of our departure, things were looking promising!

Promising, that was, until mere hours before the flight when we received some potentially show-stopping news. Having rearranged the morning outing to get his Visa application to London, Nenad realised that in the process he’d personally handed his Passport away to the Kenyan Embassy. Nice work! To Nenad’s relief, the crew had all left the Boathouse by the time this dawned on him, leaving just Chris and I to beat him about the head with our blades…

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The River Corrib

Fortunately, we had planned to take Matt Wraight as a spare rower all along (what luck!) and so the PCBC bandwagon rolled into Ireland as a full eight, ready for two days’ training on the River Corrib in Galway. We were fortunate to be offered the loan of a boat from the local university, NUIG. Once we got the boat off the racks, we discovered a good deal of ‘construction work’ to be done before we could go out (finding shoes and footplates, attaching them without a spanner, searching for backstays… standard stuff!), but in the end we’d pieced together a boat that was rowable, and all was well.

The Corrib proved a whole new experience for our crew; for some this was the first chance to row off-Cam on a river so much wider and, in parts, far choppier than usual. With Rosamund riding high alongside us in a hilariously over-powered launch, we took a leisurely 5km sight-seeing trip to the top of the river and the gigantic Lough Corrib.

Our photos (taken on day 2) show the Lough in fine conditions, when it really was an awesome rowing playground. Don’t be fooled, it’s not always like that! Our first excursion turned into a battle to stay afloat, as some very choppy and windy conditions conspired against our best efforts to spin and get back to sheltered waters. Eyewitnesses commented on a terribly frightened expression from the six-seat…

A calmer outing on Friday morning helped cement our river knowledge, and we then took the afternoon off for some exploration of the City of Galway. To our great surprise, we were reunited with Nenad who’d managed to wrangle his Passport back from the Kenyans, rearrange two coaches and grab a last minute flight! Full credit to you, Nenad; it really was quite amazing that you made it.

Menlo

Friday: M3 take to the ‘rowing playground’ of Lough Corrib.

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Another Disaster?!

As if we hadn’t battled through enough issues already, a friendly game of footy for our afternoon off was to provide yet another upset. Clumsy Chris Bryan, our stroke-man, fell awkwardly on the uneven pitch and managed to sprain his ankle! We made a mental note never again to try our hands at unfamiliar sports the night before a race, and Chris hobbled back to the hostel to rest up.

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Saturday: Race Day

We were racing in the last of three Heads, so had Saturday morning free to nip down to the finish line and watch the earlier races. Meanwhile our cox, Alisdair, was busy with a spot of subbing-in as he headed off to steer an adaptive crew from Castleconnell Boat Club in the first Head – what better opportunity for more familiarisation of the course?

Our racing boat was an Eton Pheonix, lent to us by a friend of Rosamund’s from the University of Limerick RC, plus we’d arranged to borrow a set of blades from Galway’s Tribesmen RC. Our beleaguered crew had finally come together too, with Chris recuperated enough to row and Nenad hopping back in at bow.

The row up to the start was ‘interesting’, but we were hardly expecting perfect rowing in yet another new boat on a fairly new river. Alisdair did well to comply with some strange marshalling arrangements at the top, before we eventually rounded the buoy and wound it up to begin the race.

Menlo

More training on the course: passing Menlo Castle.

Menlo

Nearly over! M3 push through towards the finish.

With just over 4km of race ahead of us, we knew we had to pace ourselves right from the start. Chris B did well in setting a sustainable rating, and we could feel a good deal of power going down throughout the boat. Alisdair kept us informed of progress as we passed the massive fluorescent markers each kilometre. The first 2k seemed to take forever, but nonetheless we kept pushing and quickly passed Menlo Castle, a particularly photogenic halfway point! Alisdair’s rallying calls for pushes didn’t go unanswered, particularly in the middle four, and we did our best to keep long and strong for the closing stages.

Rounding the rather sharp final bend we had 500m to the finish. We stepped the rating up two and emptied the tanks. As we crossed the line and wound it down, gasps of exhaustion up and down the boat proved that we’d given this our all. We’d shown ourselves as more than just stashed-up Englishmen; we’d given the Irish crews a real run for their money.

The results were released in the Student Bar shortly after the race. Finishing 2nd place in the Novice category meant we were beaten by NUIG A, but our crew were happy to settle with that given NUIG’s sizeable home advantage and experience of the river. Pembroke finished 20th overall in Head 3 with a time of 15:22.6 for the approx. 4.2km race distance.

The result also stood to settle something of a coaching grudge-match between Rosamund and her friend Ronan Ivers, novice men’s coach for ULRC. Since we soundly beat his Intermediate 8+, it seems Rosamund is owed a Guinness!

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Race Over: Let’s See Ireland!


Ferry

Setting sail for the Aran Islands.

The next day, newly freed of our rowing commitments, we set about some Irish sightseeing to round off the trip! Six of us took a ferry to the Aran Islands on Sunday, hiring four cycles and a tandem to get us around the sights of Inis Mór. Needless to say, hiring the tandem was pure genius and a fantastic laugh. Plus, for such a small island there was seemingly no end to the list of ‘must-see’ attractions! Visitors to Inis Mór can catch the old lighthouse, the seal colony, one of the finest semi-circular Celtic forts in the world (!), plus (reputedly) the smallest church in the world. What a day!

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A Success!

This inaugural PCBC trip to Ireland was a resounding success, providing a fantastic opportunity to get to know each other as a crew and, once the rowing was over, a chance to wind down from a hectic term.

Many thanks to Rosamund for suggesting the trip and for accompanying and coaching us. Thanks to Alisdair, for his skilful coxing, and to Nenad for the gargantuan effort he made to get to Ireland! We’re also very grateful for the generosity of Charles Doyle – Captain of NUIG BC, Robin Winkels – Captain of Tribesmen RC, and Rachael Meehan – Captain of University of Limerick RC, for the loan of their equipment. Thank you all!

With Ireland done and dusted, who knows where we’ll end up next year?!


More Photos (click to enlarge in a new window):

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Ready for the off…

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Chris Hinde attracted much attention from passing boats…

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Sitting casually in the gigantic Lough!

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Rosamund’s over-powered and unwieldy launch

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A typical stretch of the Corrib, taken from the launch

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A little more room than the Cam?

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Links

Race Results in Full: pdf
Lots more photos:“The Water Edge” Professional Photographers
Tribesmen’s Head: Official Site
Tribesmen’s Head: The Course in Detail
Google Maps: River Corrib Satellite Image

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