By James Martland
The much anticipated Novice Cup Regatta returned to the River Wear in Durham last weekend. This is the largest regatta of the year in Durham, with 400 novice rowers competing for the very first time, with each representing their college. This year, Durham College Rowing changed the format to increase the number of races and challenge the technical skills of the crew even more than before. A time-trial, during which crews stop and spin 360˚ mid-course, took place on Saturday, followed by side-by-side regatta-style racing on Sunday. This lead to some very entertaining and competitive racing. The river height has been in normal range for several weeks now, so there was no repeat of the cancellation in 2013, so the weekend was able to go ahead as planned.
As mentioned, Saturday saw the novice rowers face a time trial. Despite the increased complexity, however, some very impressive results were still achieved. The Men’s time trial resulted in there being a clear winner, far ahead of the chasing pack. John Snow’s crew with cox Mohammed comfortably finished ahead of Cuth’s containing Kumrai-Woodruff and Johns’ including Harris by a full seven and eight seconds respectively, setting a time of 3 minutes 50 seconds. These three crews were the only ones to finish inside of four minutes. Nevertheless, the standard of rowing was still very high, with twenty-seven crews completing the course in under seven minutes. Cuths, Hatfield, St Hild & St Bede, Johns and Stevenson all performed consistently in this group, with many of their crews finishing strongly.
The Women’s’ time trial also saw an impressive standard across the board. Here, however, Johns and John-Snow outperformed other colleges, with the former collecting all of the first three places and the latter, fourth and fifth. Once again, in this time trial, there was a clear standout performer; Johns’ crew led by cox Davenport won the competition by an even more impressive margin, finishing the course in 3 minutes 53 seconds, a full eighteen seconds ahead of teammate Chilver Vaughan, whose crew clocked a time of 4 minutes 21 seconds. In the women’s trial, sixteen crews finished inside five minutes, with two more ending with a time of five minutes exactly.
Sunday’s racing saw similar to results to those of the day before in both the men’s and women’s competition, as the same crew who had won on Saturday both won the maximum ten points available in their respective groups. In the Women’s racing, the same three Johns crews finished in exactly the same position once again, highlighting the college’s superior performance in the women’s competition throughout the weekend. It was also a similar situation in the men’s competition, with St Hild & St Bede’s crew led by cox Humphreys pipping Harris’ Johns outfit into third spot, with the later finishing in fourth.
Next on the Durham rowing circuit is the Senate Cup, which kicks off at 10 am this Saturday. This sees senior college crews compete against each other. Many of the crews will have competed in the Novice cup in their first year and will use it is a vital learning curve going into this coming weekend. In this competition, the crews will boat together before time-trailing. A draw has been made, but offers little information, because a separate draw will be made for side by side racing one each crew has been ranked. However, it promises to be an equally absorbing weekend as the Novice Cup.
Photograph: Sally Lanora Svenlen