Many perplexing questions may present themselves to the mind of the uninitiated when contemplating the noble tradition of college rowing. What possesses a man to wake up, cycle a 26 km round trip in the bitter cold, repetitively place an oar into water for an hour, and return before the rest of the world has stirred? What mysterious quality allows an oarsman to meet this Sisyphean task with such equanimity? At what point does rowing become fun? Do rowers ever think (and speak) of anything else? In a season of uniquely trying circumstances the men of Merton College Boat Club may well have struggled to find answers to these questions themselves. However, it is a testament to the character and spirit of our members that these challenges were met head on.
For our returning rowers this season marked a change in training location from Godstow to Abingdon as well as the hiring of new head coach Adam Donaldson. Eager to emulate the success of recent years and establish Merton as a force to be reckoned with on the college rowing scene, we enthusiastically committed ourselves to early morning sessions and the 26 km round trip commute to Abingdon. Unfortunately, Michaelmas proved to be one of the rainiest terms in recent memory and we often had to resign ourselves to our fate of indoor sessions on the dreaded erg; if necessary for months, if necessary alone.
This year’s influx of novices were shown the ropes by our capable Novice Captains Colin Robertson and Paris Jaggers. Although the persistent poor weather prevented much water time, our novices were swiftly acquainted with indoor training and survived a term’s trial by erg seemingly undaunted. Christ Church Regatta, the traditional first racing event for a novice college rower unfortunately had to be cancelled, but our novices proved their mettle by coming a more than respectable second place in the replacement consortium ‘ergatta’ event.
Before the rain gave way to global pandemic and put paid to rowing entirely, the boat club ran an inaugural club-wide ergatta that pitted teams of novices and seniors alike against each other in a brutal relay event on the erg. The event was a resounding success and among the strewn, gasping bodies of rowers questioning life decisions, it could distinctly be felt that the spirit and engagement of Merton College Boat Club had not diminished. We look forward to next term when we can regain the water and climb ever higher on the bumps charts.
Matthew Drake (2018) and Maxwell Geurts (2018)
MCBC Men’s Co-Captains 2019-20