It has been yet another great year for women’s rowing at Merton. Even before the start of the year we came across the excellent opportunity to be sponsored by Swift Racing. We had the pleasure of rowing in one of its Elite shells for the duration of the year, which undoubtedly contributed significantly to the success of the women this year.
While our returning rowers trained in their superb shell at Godstow, the freshly recruited novices were learning all about rowing through our extremely successful novice programme. At Christ Church Regatta, the women’s novice first boat finished fourth overall, marking three consecutive years of Merton women finishing in the top four. The keenest of the novices joined a few of the seniors to compete in Fairbairn Regatta in Cambridge at the end of term, which proved a valuable experience for the whole crew.
In Hilary, W1 put up great performances in the Isis Winter Leagues, catching the eye of many on the river. W2 persevered through some cancelled outings and saw great improvements throughout term. After being tied with St Benet’s for the last qualifying spot in Torpids, and because of poor availability for the races, W2 formed an unofficial composite crew with St Benet’s competing as the first-ever St Benet’s Women’s First Torpid. ‘Benerton’ ended their Torpids campaign winning footship spoons, but having had great fun racing together. W1 had a hopeful start to the campaign with a bump on the first day, but a series of unfortunate races left them on -5 at the end of the week.
During the Easter vacation the squad returned to Amsterdam after last year’s training camp’s success. Training three times a day for a week, it was a great way to build up momentum for the start of term and the Eights campaign, and the squad developed together very rapidly.
W1 came back even more fierce and competitive than before. Training at Godstow five times a week, it was clear they were getting ready for a successful Summer Eights. On the Isis, W2 was also training enthusiastically despite sometimes struggling to fill all the seats. In a testament to the depth of Merton women’s rowing, 15 Merton students and alumni rowed with W2 throughout Eights Week. The crew finished the week on -3, after a klaxon on the first day as they were a few strokes away from a bump put an end to what could perhaps have been a very different campaign.
However, the dedication of W1 really did pay off with the historic results they obtained. After six years of not bumping once, W1 went on to bump a record-setting five times over the course of the week, winning blades for the first time since 1999 for a Merton women’s first boat. It was the best way possible to end a fantastic season of women’s rowing at Merton.
Thanks must be given to the incredibly hard-working MCBC committee, as well as our coaches Ian Smith, Stan Billington and Daniel Sadler. I am very excited to see what the future holds for Merton women, and I wish Sanne Van Den Berg (2018) the very best for her captaincy.
Matilde Soares da Silva (2017)
Women’s Rowing Captain 2018/19