On Saturday 11th March, 5 Cantabs crews took to the Tideway to race the Women’s Head – a record number of crews not just for Cantabs but for any Cambridge club, and a number only surpassed by Lea’s 6 entries this year. The A crew, of athletes from the Senior Women’s Squad, finished 14th of 305 crews, and won the Provincial Pennant.
The Thames course is notoriously difficult to navigate, particularly for clubs unfamiliar with its waters, so the Provincial Pennant recognises the fastest crew which isn’t based in London or on the Thames. As the fastest Provincial crew for the last 16 years, Nottingham RC started as favourites, but the Cantabs A crew knew they had what it took to beat them, spurred on by finishing as the 2nd fastest women’s crew behind Nottingham at Head of the Trent 2 weeks ago.
Not only did Cantabs A win the pennant, but they were also 2nd overall in the intermediate category, behind Tideway Scullers A. Racing in a brand new Filippi thanks to money raised through kind donations and Cambridge Winter Head profits, Cantabs’ time of 19:18 made them, by far, the fastest crew from the East of England.
Head coach Tom Copeland said, “The fact that we are a small club based on a relatively short and crowded river goes to show how remarkable this crew are for beating so many high-profile clubs with British Rowing funded high performance centres. They attacked the race from the first stroke with confidence and belief, and bravely responded to Esther’s calls for more throughout the race as they overtook 4 crews in the process. We’re now looking forwards to a successful regatta season, which will reach its climax at Henley Women’s in June.”
Not only did the A crew beat their previous club record of a 25th place finish set in 2015 by finishing 14th, but the B and C crews also both smashed previous Cantabs records. The B crew finished 59th overall, making them the 11th fastest B crew in the event. This meant they beat their target of finishing higher than the 65th place the Cantabs A crew achieved in 2014, showing how far the club has come in a short time. The C crew achieved their target of finishing in the top 100 by coming 96th, beating the club’s previous best finish position by over 100 places. Furthermore, the B and C crews were the fastest B and C crews from Provincial clubs.
Cantabs entered a D crew for the first time, with a crew from the Intermediate Women’s Squad finishing a respectable 246th. The club was also able to field a crew of juniors from Hills Road in Cantabs E, who used the race as preparation for Schools Head of the River in 2 weeks’ time.
Women’s Captain Ellie Darlington said, “I’m immensely proud of every single one of the crews who raced today. For us to take 45 athletes to an event like this shows just how much Cantabs has grown in recent years, thanks to not only the hard work of each athlete who took to the water, but also to the tireless work of their coaches. Tom, Jon, Sam and Leanne put in hours and hours of their spare time, unpaid, to coach us and it’s wonderful for us to be able to come away from this race with results which do them all proud.”
The crews were:
- Cantabs A (14th, Provincial Pennant, 2nd intermediate crew)
Millie Perrin, Ellie Darlington, Jordan Bruce, Eve Caroe, Megan Lloyd-Palmer, Bailee Stratton, Harriet Cross, Georgia Vann, Esther Momcilovic (cox)
- Cantabs B (59th, 11th B crew)
Anita Holender, Cecilia Collins-Taylor, Clare Hall, Hannah Stewart, Merodie Rose, Emma Dalrymple, Alice Brownjohn, Judith Weik, Leanne Fiddian (cox)
- Cantabs C (98th)
Gill Cooper, Sue Hakenbeck, Hatty Haysom, Hana Lango Allen, Marie Guingouain, Sue Waterhouse, Paivi Pirhonen, Catherine Watson, Isabel Nimmo (cox)
- Cantabs D (246th, first ever D entry for Cantabs)
Debbie Morley, Liz Jamie, Sally Hames, Megan Leoni, Jessica Santos, Marjon Hilgenga, Emma Siragher, Rebecca Cicolecchia, Lilith Scott (cox)
- Cantabs E (288th, first ever E entry)
Ellie Stephens, Anna Norgett, Alex Howard, Kiah Conroy, Elise Burgess, Becca Durrant, Alice Haddow, Beth Bradshaw, Ben Whitelaw (cox)
This is the third pennant that the Cantabs women have won on the Tideway so far this season, after wins at Pairs Head and Vet Fours Head. The Senior Women’s Squad have won every single race they’ve entered on the Cam, along with plenty of races outside of Cambridge. If you are interested in joining any of the Cantabs women’s squads, please contact the women’s captain.