This Saturday saw the first day in a bumper fortnight of fixtures between BROOKES|Rowing, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race crews and other local opposition. This acts as invaluable racing experience ahead of the upcoming Tideway Heads of the River.
Brookes I vs. OUBC Blue Boat
The 1st VIII raced against the Oxford Blue Boat which will race in the Boat Race in a few weeks. The fixture consisted of two pieces from the Boat Race start to St. Paul’s.
The overriding factor in both OUBC fixtures was the river conditions, where the incoming tide was met with a strong westerly wind causing very rough water both at the start and on the bend following Hammersmith Bridge.
On the first piece, within a few strokes a loss of a seat in the Brookes crew required the crew to briefly stop- giving Oxford an initial advantage of slight clear water. However, Brookes used a strong rhythm and the Middlesex bend to their advantage and by the mile post had pushed ahead by almost a length. Conditions deteriorated as the crews moved past Harrods and Oxford fought back strong and dealt with the rough water better, enabling them to push back through and to a lead of half a length of clear water by the finish.
In the second piece, the crews switched stations. Due to worsening conditions at the start, the crews started at London RC. This time, both crews avoided problems in the rough water and remained level throughout the initial stages of the race. Brookes settled onto the faster rhythm and as the bend stretched to Middlesex were able to push out to a lead. Coming up to Harrods, Oxford started to move back into the race but after a brief clash, Brookes were able to break out to clear water. This was extended by Hammersmith and by the finish Brookes led by 3 lengths.
Brookes II vs. Isis
Brookes II faced Isis, the Oxford reserve crew, in two pieces which also ran from the Boat Race start to St. Paul’s. Brookes won the toss and chose the Surrey station for the first piece.
Brookes had the faster start and within a minute had moved out to almost a lengths advantage – as the crews came past Barn Elms. Through the Middlesex bend, Isis put in a push and came to within half a length of Brookes, however Brookes were able to find better conditions as the river turned to Surrey and regained their 1 length advantage, which they maintained through to the finish.
The crews switched stations, and it was Oxford this time who pushed out to an initial lead of half a length as the crews passed the black buoy. The crews were within a canvas at Fulham FC but Isis’ stronger rhythm meant they were able to push out a length advantage and hold this round the Surrey bend. Despite a late push by Brookes, Oxford finished the piece 3/4 of a length ahead.
Brookes III vs. Molesey
The 3rd VIII had raced on the ebb tide earlier in the day and ran two pieces against Molesey Boat Club from the Boat Race finish to the Hammersmith end of Chiswick Eyot. This enabled racing in good conditions for both pieces.
Brookes won the toss and started on the Middlesex station for the first piece. Molesey pushed out to an initial lead with a faster start, but after the first minute Brookes were able to push through to a small lead. As the Brookes advantage ended, they had just under a length and were under pressure from a strong Molesey crew. Brookes however had another gear and were able to capitalise on this and finished well clear and moving away.
The crews switched stations for the second piece. Brookes pushed out to an early lead and looked in control, an unfortunate injury in the Molesey 6 man meant Brookes had to complete the piece alone.
Brookes IV vs. St Paul’s School
The 4th VIII ran the same pieces as the Molesey fixture and rowed on the Surrey station for both pieces.
On the first piece, Brookes took an initial lead of a couple of seats and extended this to half a length at the end of the first minute. By Barnes Bridge, Brookes led by a length and broke to clear water by the Bandstand. As the crews moved past the Eyot, Brookes held a lead of two lengths of clear water, and finished some 3 lengths clear by the finish.
St Paul’s started the second piece with a 3 length advantage, and held this advantage to the Bandstand, where Brookes came level. The crews remained level through the next period but Brookes were able to push out to a 3/4 length lead by Chiswick Eyot. By the finish, Brookes had a good margin of clear water.
BROOKES|Rowing return to the Tideway this coming Sunday, 1st March, for their annual fixture with Cambridge University Boat Club. Provisional times are as follows:
15:45 Brookes II vs. Goldie (CUBC Reserves)
16:15 Brookes I vs. Cambridge Men’s Blue Boat
All photos courtesy of AllMarkOne