Reading Head 2015 - Novice Men

Saturday morning was a relatively leisurely affair, with the coach trundling off in the direction of Reading at just before 10 o'clock, packed full with two VIIIs worth of keen novice lads. The sun was shining and the guns were out as we arrived at the event; and our days further sweetened with the knowledge that not only had the girls' crews been up since the early hours, but they had completed the rigging of our boats before our arrival. This left the boys with nothing more to do as we each leapt from the minibus onto the lush grass of the Thames riverbank than to don our shades and munch on some malt loaf as we soaked in the atmosphere and sussed out the competition. 

Once finally boated the crews enjoyed a lengthy 5k paddle to the start line of the race. Upon arrival we joined the mass of other shells bobbing about in a chaotic attempt to form an orderly British queue. Both crews having found ourselves in approximately the right place, we proceeded to wait for the promised start time of 2 o'clock to come. Which it did. And in classic rowing style we then waited another 2 hours or so for the actual start time, occasionally fending off accidental attacks from a neighbour's boat or exchanging decent banter with our counterparts in other crews. 

Once finally instructed to spin the boats towards the finish line and head towards the flying start, the adrenaline began to pump and the Nov men were in the game. The 1st VIII pounded their way downstream, passing crews (old men, admittedly) and even finding time to pose for photos. With the added support of the girls crews screaming from the bank in the final sprint the boys finished in a respectable 8th place within a large and competitive field. The 2nd VIII were close behind and fairing well for at least the first kilometre. Unfortunately many a crab was to follow and the crew struggled to keep up the rhythm and momentum they knew they were capable of holding. At one point the crew was down to six rowing, as Will struggled to recover his blade from behind his back. Despite the frustrating setbacks, the crew put in a stoic effort to finish 16th. Props are also due of course to our coxes, Ralph and Emily, steering some great lines and ultimately supporting the teams all the way. 

After a swift derigging it was off back to campus - just in time to celebrate Milbz' 20th with his good friend Jo.