Committee Oxford Social Training

Men’s Report 2019

Annual report 2018-19 – Men’s squad

The rowing year began for the men’s side with the senior squad training towards the Fairbairn Cup on the river Cam and the novices training towards Christ Church Regatta. Our Fairbairn crew would finish in a respectable 14th place and the first novice crew was unlucky to be knocked out in the thirdround. The success of the novice programme under the leadership of Ty Rallens (Kellogg, 2012) was evident from the fact that by the middle of Michaelmas a handful of novices were regularly joining senior squad outings, and two would join the First Torpid in Hilary term.

In Hilary term, the men’s squad ran a system of matched eights, with the rowers in competition for the first and second eights training together and entering all three Isis Winter Leagues. Strong results from both crews were early evidence that this would be a successful year. Despite the disappointment of qualifying only two men’s crews for Torpids, the bumps campaign would turn out to be an unprecedented success, with both crews bumping every day to win blades. This is the first time in MCBC history that the First and Second Torpids have won blades in the same year, leaving the First Torpid on bungline six in Division 2 and the Second Torpid on bungline two in Division 5.

At the end of Hilary term, the first boat entered the Head of the River Race for the second year running, this time placing 114th in a time of 19 minutes and 40 seconds. Notably Merton was the fastest of 24 Oxbridge college crews racing that day, besting Trinity, Balliol and Brasenose as well as a host of Cambridge first division crews.

Over the Easter vac, we returned to the Amstel for our second annual training camp. Generous support from College and from our host club Willem III made for an extremely productive week’s training and set up our Trinity term well.

For only the second time in the last 20 years, Merton fielded four men’s crews in Summer Eights, a real achievement that highlights the depth of the club. Overall results were mixed during Eights Week. The Second Eight fell two places, having lost two of their most experienced rowers from Torpids to academic commitments, but put on a sterling performance on Saturday to close on Wolfson II before a klaxon cut the race short.

The First Eight had a disappointing Wednesday of racing, narrowly missing out on catching Mansfield after tactical errors, a crab in the Gut and a klaxon which stopped the division when Mansfield was a mere canvas away. The crew showed real discipline by regrouping to come back and bump Mansfield with composure on Thursday, and caught Worcester in a mere 21 strokes on Friday. The First Eight rounded off the week with a bump on Hertford in the Gut to finish up three places and leave the crew within sight of the first division.

Since the end of Summer Eights the first boat has continued training hard and will attempt to qualify for the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta on 28 June.

Written by Dylan Gutt (2017)
Men’s Rowing Captain 2018-19

Committee Oxford Social Training

Women’s Report 2019

Annual report 2018-19 – Women’s squad

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.

Written by Matilde Soares da Silva (2017)
Women’s Rowing Captain 2018-19

Committee Oxford Social Training

Women’s Report 2018

Annual report 2017-18 – Women’s squad

The strength of the Merton women’s squad continues to grow year on year. Michaelmas saw a lucky windfall of keen novice rowers who have proved very enthusiastic members of the boat club. Through their hard work, and the support of senior rowers and our coach, who committed themselves to running a demanding novice training programme, the women’s novice boat finished fourth in Christchurch Regatta, continuing a solid run after last year’s victory. With this behind them, it looked to be an exciting year for women’s rowing, with the development squad making progress on the water at Godstow. At the end of the term, four of the dev squad made the trip to Cambridge to compete in the Fairbairn Cup, a long 3.4km race down the Cam.

It was testament to the commitment of the squad and the invaluable help of committee members that we were able to make it through a tough Hilary term, during which bad weather and illness cancelled weeks’ worth of outings. Come Torpids, however, W1 and W2 were looking impressive, putting in some very decent performances during that term’s Isis Winter League races. Indeed, so much so, that the local rumour mills put W1 on ‘blades watch’ for Torpids. Sadly, it was not to be, as bitter cold, wind and snow cancelled racing on the second and third days of racing, leaving the crew heartily disappointed. An unfortunate race left W2 with one bump on the first day, but W1 were at least proud to come away with bumps on Queen’s and Wadham II.

On such a trajectory, it was fantastic to be able to keep up the momentum among the squad on the first training camp that Merton has seen in a number of years. Travelling to Amsterdam, eight rowers and a cox were worked hard with three outings a day for five days on the gorgeous Amstel river. Such an opportunity to row together, with fresh coaching in a new environment, meant the crew developed well together ahead of the Eights campaign.

Trinity rowing saw W1 return to Godstow and, alongside the gleaming new launch, dedicate themselves to five outings a week. Another run of illness saw the crew cycle through rowers at an alarming rate, finally finding a crew the weekend before Summer Eights began. The infamous four-year spoons streak loomed large over the crew, but they were quietly confident having made great improvements in technique all term. Impressive commitment from all ensured that W1 did indeed break with tradition, finishing the week on -3 (rather than -4) thanks to a lucky escape from St Anthony’s on the second day, as they took a course into the bank in the Gut. If that wasn’t enough cause for celebration, W2 put in an even stronger show. Having struggled to put together a crew for outings all term, they rowed remarkably well to bump Green Templeton III, Somerville III and Pembroke IV.

It has been a pleasure to see Merton women’s rowing continue to progress and we look forward to another exciting season next year. Thanks should definitely go to the whole MCBC committee for their work and especially to our coach, Ian Smith. Matilde Soares da Silva (2017) has proven an exceptionally committed member of the squad and as the incoming captain I’m sure she’ll do great things for the women’s side.

Bumps Oxford Social

Eights Dinner 2016

Eights and Alumni Dinner


Our annual Eights Dinner was, as ever, a very enjoyable way to round off the week of rowing. On top of the usual drinks reception and dinner, we celebrated the contributions of Old Mertonian Dr Chester White MBE to the Boat Club. Chester came to Merton in 1952 to read Medicine and was a keen rower. His crew mates included Harry (Hugh) Quick, after whom our men’s first shell is named. Chester has since been at Darwin College, Cantab., where he founded and is President of the boat club. Nonetheless, he has been a constant figure in Merton College Boat Club, sitting on the Friends’ Committee for many years and supporting us generously.

Chester was invited to christen the ‘Chester White’ as part of the drinks reception, the second boat in his personal fleet (the other being an eight at Darwin). The boat was purchased at the beginning of Michaelmas Term and can be rowed both as a 4- and as a 4X-. It has given the Club greater flexibility with training and is in excellent condition, after a small renovation and repainting by boatman, Mark Seal.

The dinner was rounded off by speeches from the Warden, Sir Martin Taylor, from Chester, and from the Men’s and Women’s captains, Edward Thomas and Kailan Sierra-Davison. A fantastic time was had by all.

Bumps Oxford Regatta Social

Final round up of the year

Final round up of the year

Summer Eights finished off the traditional rowing term, we are looking back at a fantastic dinner and great fun on the Isis. Thank you to all those who have supported the Boat Club over the last year. Same as for all previous years, both Eights and Torpids crews can be found in our crew archive. To round off, the reports below are from the outgoing Men’s and Women’s Captains and were originally published in the Postmaster

Overall summary for this years Summer Eights:

M1: RO/-1/RO/+1 [overall level]
Start: 6th Div III
Finish: 6th Div III

M2: -1/-1/-1/RO [overall -3]
Start: 11th Div IV
Finish: 1st Div V

M3: RO/RO/-1/RO [overall -1]
Start: 4th Div VII
Finish: 5th Div VII

W1: -1/-1/-1/-1 [Spoons]
Start: 1st Div II
Finish. 5th Div II

not fielded, -4 for next year


Men’s Rowing

Michaelmas began with a strong push to recruit novices, with rowing drinks and taster sessions. Both were a success, and the year began with almost as many novices as senior rowers. At the end of the year, half of each of the men’s first and second boats were made up of students in their first year of training. Our new coach, Ian Smith, came with high recommendations and proved to be an excellent asset. We also retained an impressive roster of oarsmen from the previous year, with 20 senior rowers – including two who trialled with OULRC in Michaelmas. The term mainly consisted of extensive technical outings geared specifically towards racing in Autumn Fours, which was the first chance for us to witness the progress of our returning senior rowers. Our men’s Four beat LMH in the first round of Autumn Fours. Unfortunately they lost in the second round to a strong Balliol crew. The other half were back in a double for more racing, sweeping aside a strong boat from Brasenose to storm into the final by three boat lengths. Sadly, they were defeated in the final by a pair of lightweight blues rowers.
In Hilary, crews were sent to the Isis Winter League D in an Eight and a coxed Four, with the Eight coming 17th of 39 in their class and the Four coming third of four in their class. Torpids brought great results for the men’s first boat. An unsatisfying first day, with a technical row over, was followed by four bumps in the other three days, bringing M1 firmly into Division II. The men’s second boat had less success, dropping from Division V into Division VI.

Trinity left us with just enough numbers for two permanent men’s boats, but sadly two rowers suffered unrelated injuries and couldn’t make the racing. M1 recovered well, bringing up an M2 rower who responded quickly to the challenge. This left M2 training up two fairly inexperienced rowers in the fortnight before Eights racing.
Errors in racing technique surprisingly caused M1 to row over on the first day and be bumped on the second day. The crew battled off a strong Linacre crew on Friday and then bumped Somerville on Saturday past Boat Club Island. The final result was no change in position; the first time Merton’s
M1 has not dropped since 2010. M2 did better than expected given the last-minute changes in crew, managing to avoid spoons. Unfortunately they still dropped from the bottom of Division IV to the top of Division V. Overall, the crews were fairly happy with their training and results this year, with the Men’s first crew moving up four places in Torpids and holding their position in Summer Eights. Our coach Ian Smith has been key to this success.
Ongoing training and recruitment should help us build on the base that has been built in the Boat Club. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve over the coming years.

Jaime Valdemoros Gomez (2013)
Men’s Captain 2014-15

Women’s Rowing

This year’s women’s boat has been made up of a great group of girls and I do not think anyone can deny the sheer amount of hard work, commitment and good humour that has been put in!
We started well in Michaelmas Term with our freshers’ boat successfully winning both their first and second races. Our most enthusiastic freshers then continued into Hilary Term and joined W1 in training for Torpids. Some icy cold stints on the water, as well as gruelling gym and erg sessions, were rewarded with great improvement. We must also thank Ian Smith, our wonderful coach, for his dedication and never ending patience. All of this combined meant that on the day itself we achieved a bump – something we were all very proud of, as for many of us, this was the first time.

Trinity Term provided more time on the water and arguably more enjoyable sessions, given that it was even occasionally sunny. This training led into a great Summer Eights’ Week, when fun was had by all. As I said in my speech at the dinner that finished the week: ‘Yes, we got spoons, but we
got spoons in style!’ I think the girls this year should be very proud of everything they have achieved; the crew was mostly very inexperienced and they performed well under pressure. I expect great things next year when, with more experience, I am sure the boat will go from strength to strength.

Sally Bolton (2013)
Women’s Captain 2014-15