Hanse Boat Race 2011 – Total Jacobs Domination

The days after the Spring Training camp were quickly passing by and the D-Day was getting closer and closer. Finally Lars sent an email saying 1 day left and everyone realized that it was already Friday morning before the 2011 Hanse Boat Race. Everyone was packing their bags and getting ready for an important weekend ahead; the boats were already on the trailer and five of us drove downtown for a morning radio show in Bremen Vier promoting the Hanse Boat Race and of course our rowing team.

In the afternoon, while the Royal wedding was taking place in London, the Jacobs Rowing Team took the train to Hamburg. While some used the time get an afternoon nap, others were interested in the latest campus gossips. Arriving in the hotel, we didn’t have too much time to chill and got changed into out rowing attire. Considering the sunny hot weather, everyone expected lovely conditions and a smooth outing on the Alster. However, the reality was different as soon as we reached the lake. The strong wind was causing huge waves to splash on the docks and the bank. Most of the team members were exchanging slightly shocked looks and joking about the condition, while others started betting if the outing will take place at all. At the end Lars was convinced that we have to experience the choppy waters (despite rowing was officially forbidden by the rowing club) and this was expected to be one of the most epic outings each of us has ever had. The expectations proved right and by the end of the outing everyone was wet and the boats were almost sinking due to the excessive amounts of water that splashed in. The hot showers were a necessity just as was an abundant pizza and pasta dinner to load the muscles with carbs.

The D-day was planned to start with an early last training before the main act! The boats were on water shortly after 7AM and everyone was satisfied to notice the improved (although still not perfect) conditions. The 3 crews went through the racing distances in a final chance to get used to the rough waters. The morning outing was followed by a very abundant and delicious breakfast in the boathouse of Favorite Hammonia which was bringing nice memories of the FARI cup last year where the HSBA was defeated for the first time this season. The time after breakfast was dedicated to cleaning and polishing the three boats which we were hoping to lead us to three victories in the evening. That was the first time for most of us since the ErgoCup to get into a visual contact with the opponents as they were going out for a final outing.

As the day was progressing, almost everyone found him or herself getting tenser with the Hanse Boat Race just a couple of hours away. Lars took care of a solid motivating speech right after lunch giving instructions to each of the three crews and expressing his confidence in every single team member sitting in a boat that day. With his words still in our ears, we were getting psyched up for the race. After a short nap in the quiet conference room of the hotel, it was finally time to head to the boathouse for the last time before the race.

People were already gathering at the dock of the boathouse and we recognized many familiar faces of fellow Jacobs students and people from the Admin coming to cheer for us. The men’s and girls fours were already warm and ready to sit in their boats. They left shortly one after another and everyone was there to wish them luck.

Mark, Ivo, Egmont and Jan, coxed by Matze (from stern to bow) in “Strandlust” were the first to face their HSBA opponents this weekend. After a strong start, they opened up a lead which was growing with every stroke. As they came closer to the finish line, everyone noticed that they were definitely the better prepared crew. The two lengths (officially mentioned by the organizers, actually the real gap was more like 3 lengths) by which they won was a dominating performance considering that their race stretched only over 850meters. That first race was paving a good way for the rest of the Jacobs crews that day.

The girls quad, Adriana, Anne, Mira and Anika (from bow to stern) in “Lotti” started the female race shortly after. With the confidence from the convincing ErgoCup win, the girls set out to finish what they have started this season already. As they were closing in on the finish line, the second race felt a lot like the previous one. Lotti was clearly ahead in the choppy waters. Crossing the finish line with 2 boat lengths lead gave the bitter taste to the HSBA girls for the second time this season. Apart from the bitter taste of the loss they also tasted some Alster water shortly after the finish :-)

Until this point, the evening couldn’t have been better. Two convincing wins out of two races. There was only one last question for the day – Would it be a total Jacobs domination or would the HSBA rowers get a revenge? Lars organized some last minute boosts to our “Frieda” by taping the riggers and changing the settings of the oars in order to give a bigger advantage to the guys in the eight in the rough conditions. The boys gathered in a huddle before putting “Frieda” on water. “How are we gonna do it”, Stephan asked. “Like a steam machine. Chup! Chup! Chup!”, everyone answered in unison. Everything was set and the first eight left the dock under the massive cheers of all the Jacobs people who made their way to Hamburg this Saturday.

The water, splashing in already after the first couple of strokes, only reminded everyone in the boat about the race strategy. An intermediate stop at the dock of RG Hansa was planned before the start of the race to get rid of all the water in the boat. The last minutes before the start were tense with each of the boats aligning for the 2300 meters race. Lukas, Oliver, Andrey, Kerst, Johannes, Julian, Stephan and Ben (from bow to stern), coxed by Aenne were focusing on producing the best effort in the next 7 minutes. The seconds were ticking away and suddenly the steam machine started working, with Aenne shouting “three quarters, half, three quarters”. Both crews were producing immense amounts of power with the HSBA crew opening a canvas to half a length lead. However, the Jacobs boys stayed in the race and after some power sets at the end of the first third of the race they managed to find their tempo, climbed back and even opened a canvas lead. Keeping up the power from their legs allowed the Jacobs crew to move even further ahead in the second third of the race. What the racing video later showed was a magnificent power 20 right before Rabenstrasse that was literally moving the boat one seat ahead with every stroke! Good strategy by Lars and Aenne and just as good of an execution from the all eight in “Frieda”! The lead suddenly jumped to over a length, which came right on time since both crews were just starting to hit the rough water in the last 700 meters of the 2011 Hanse Boat Race.

With clear water in between the two crews, the Jacobs team was comfortably sitting in front and controlling the race. Even the embassy came as a surprise to Aenne this year with the first cheers from the crowd reaching the ears of the guys in the boat. To that point the lead was up to two lengths and nothing could spoil the race for the Jacobs eight anymore! The finish line was the start of the celebrations both on the water and out of it! In a matter of seconds 4 different people stood up in the boat in a desire to express their excitement. After a lot of water splashing over the whole crew and many wild shouts, the Jacobs crew returned to the dock, where the rest of the team and all the Jacobs people were waiting to congratulate them on winning the big race and completing a Jacobs hat trick (3 wins at the 2011 Hanse Boat Race, 3 wins over the HSBA this season, 3 consecutive wins in the last 3 years). The award ceremony and the cox’s throwing in the water (the whole crew joined in the water as a matter of fact) concluded a perfect day of total domination for the Jacobs University Rowing team.

We’d like to thank all boat club members, and the many other spectators who came along to cheer for their support! We would also like to express our gratitude for all the work happening behind the scenes (let’s name it – thanks Ulf, Verena, Larissa and Michele) without which this year’s successes would never have been possible. Finally, our thanks go to Peter Luerssen for his continuous support and our coach Lars for the amazing job he does teaching us to row.