Mike Valli: Wk 2

Two months into the Boat Race campaign and we’ve been dodging unconventional obstacles. The most impressive name in our squad is owned by Winter Mead III (Christ Church). Winter failed to show for training one morning and wasn’t seen for two weeks, much to our collective surprise. News reports that the US government had extradited him on outstanding criminal charges were proved false and in fact his visa had simply expired. A late night visit by the Foreign Office saw him rapidly deported him back to the states.

It’s like the satisfaction of watching a child learning something for the first time – our American colleagues are slowly understanding English culture and how to look after themselves (Winter excluded), but there are still some lapses. Colin Keogh (Oriel) thought he had to learn Latin fluently in order to complete matriculation. After studying Loeb Latin texts for days, he was alerted to his mistake.
In Week 1 we lent our support to the Oxford Rugby boys in their match against Brookes. As the only twenty supporters for Oxford Uni in the grandstand, we were slightly outnumbered by the one thousand Brookes supporters. They were merciless in directing war-cries at us and as the scoreboard swung between the two teams, we were even pelted with beer cans. This behaviour was totally unprovoked by us and had nothing to do with our shouts of support. Thankfully our side won with a last-minute drop goal to steal victory.

It’s not all fun and games. Recently we have done a lot of physiology training at the OUBC building on Iffley Road Sports Complex. It involves rowing hard on an ergo followed by the coaches taking blood samples from our ears (seriously). Sounds harmless enough, but some staff take sadistic delight in stabbing us with needles far more than necessary. When arriving for such a test, rowers are confronted by something like a scene from the movie Hostel.

Related  From the Boats to the Goats

There is blood sprayed over the floor, rowers staggering dazed with half-missing ears and coaches cackling like lunatics and chasing them with syringes. Apparently this is all necessary for our training.

We have shared several more crew dates, including with the Oxford Athletics Club girls. Kukui generously hosted us for the evening. Yet many of our guys are still unlucky in love and we are hoping to be approached by other clubs for crew dates. Preparations have begun for the Boat Race Ball and it is shaping up as an outrageously great event.