A nervously tense atmosphere hung over the boat house in the morning. After a frustrating and slightly disheartening start to the week, W2 were keen to turn their results around, but unsure whether this was possible now that they were bitterly aware of the notoriously unpredictable nature of bumps racing. Today, it didn’t seem likely that we would catch Wolfson before they caught Caius II, and the chasing boat, Sidney Sussex, were a bit of an unknown quantity.
Despite our nervousness, the solid row up and wise words from Mark at the start – reminding us that unpredictability could work in our favour as well as against us – steadied our minds, and we were determined to prove ourselves in true Murray Edwards style. Off the start, even though it wasn’t our best, we seemed to be holding Sidney off. In the boat all you can hear is a cacophony of splashing, shouts, and whistles, and it’s nearly impossible to distinguish what is going on around you or which boat the shouts and whistles are for. Luckily in the midst of all the noise Mark’s voice broke through – yelling at us to hold it up and saving us from a collision with Wolfson, who had caught Caius II but failed to clear the river quickly.
My heart fell. I could see Sidney gaining and they would surely catch us now. But, as soon as we had space, Nadia called a restart. We snatched back our focus and furiously dug in our heels. A few strokes in, we glimpsed Sidney wedged into the bank. We didn’t know what had caused this, but it didn’t matter to us – with a clear river ahead and behind of us, we knew that we could row a clean, powerful course. This we did, and at one point thought it may be possible to catch Clare II ahead, who had encountered some steering problems and hit the bank on a corner. They recovered however, and whilst we gained a good amount of distance on them, weren’t able to try for an over-bump. A row-over was enough to lift our spirits though, and although tired, our morale was significantly improved by the day’s success and the anticipation of tomorrow.
Cox – Christina Larkin
S – Laura Désert
7 – Sally-Anne Bennett
6 – Emma Jones
5 – Holly Smith
4 – Reana Maier
3 – Polina Ceastuhina
2 – Laurane Saliou
B – Emma Heydon
Coach – Mark Jacobs
Cox: Katie Prescott
S – Catherine Taylor
7 – Olwen Wilson
6 – Manuela Groß
4 – Ana Diac
3 – Freya Sanders
2 – Bekah Holubinka
B – Maria Rust
Coaches: Robert Gardiner, Alex Massey
Cox: Laura Désert
S – Andreea Dogar
7 – Frances O’Morchoe
6 - Augustė Usonytė
5 – Olimpia Onelli
4 - Imarin Kaur-Uppal
3 – Sara Holttinen
2 – Laura King
B – Simona Sulikova
Coach: Thea Stratton
Cox: Jess Manning, Fiona Coventry
Coaches: Katie Miles, Jordan Ward-Williams
On Saturday, W3 met at the boathouse one last time to show that the only 3rd womens’ crew entered in the Lent Bumps 2014 was a force to be reckoned with. A brilliant blue sky only increased our excitement and confidence as we got Greta out, kindly lent by Peterhouse Boat Club. We had a calm row-up, and two strong practice starts. The final scene was set.
Our bank party–coach Thea, Reana and Ying– helped to diffuse last-minute nerves, administering Haribo where necessary. Senior Treasurer of MECBC Dr. Owen Saxton came to wish us luck as we marshalled, and promised to watch the race from just behind the Motorway Bridge. That, as it turned out, was not where events would unfold however.
And then we set off. Very shortly after the start sequence, we heard Thea shout ” TWO WHISTLES!!”, and just as quickly, we had bumped Clare Hall W1–a good distance BEFORE the Motorway Bridge in fact.
Covered in greenery, we enjoyed the last row home, with cox Laura providing hilarious in-boat entertainment, and our own W2 (they, too, boasting bits of vegetation) just behind. Bringing back news of two bumps to the boat house at once is probably my best memory of this day–let’s remember how good it felt as we prepare for Mays!
Henny Schulte to Buehne
On this very bright day, we got to the boathouse to find W2 and W3 all greenery-ed, taking crew pictures and enjoying their victory – pressure got a bit higher, we wanted this last bump so badly, and we knew it was in us!
We had a strong row up in the sun, with a kick-ass practice start! Parked at station 12, Coach Mark gave his last advices, and we got ready for the count down, under the scrutiny of the College’s president.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, … GUN! Off we got, with a strong powerful start, determined not to let LMBC catch up on us at any point, and focused on the bump we were rowing towards. We got our 1st whistle before the Motorway Bridge, spirits got lifted, and so did our beloved Octopussy. Pembroke, in for Spoons, was determined to hold us off and we knew we’d have to grind them down. The rhythm never really stabilized, as we were pushing harder and harder, stroke after stroke, eager to hear the next whistles:
“Push for the President!”.
“Push for all those spectators cheering and screaming!”
“Push harder, stronger!”
Finally, continuous whistles! The boat got faster, and sitting at 2, I started seeing the tip of Pembroke’s stern in my peripheral vision. Race faces on, we got angrier, and before I knew it, my blade was on their stern!
“AND BOOOOM: WE STRIKE AGAIN!” (I thought)
We pulled in at First Post Corner, and Mark got deforestating one last time for this Lent Campaign. The beloved greenery in our hair, we rowed back blissfully.
I cannot tell whether it is because it is my first Bumps campaign, or if it simply is happening to every rower, but bumping makes me freaking ecstatic (it happens to all of us. The editor.), and I have been all pumped up for the past three nights! Today was especially fantastic, with the sun out, and all those people gathered on the bank to cheer. It was also a beautiful race, one that my muscles will remember, that’s for sure. We unleashed the fire (Christina’s coxing calls are pretty amazing), and gave Pembroke all we had.
To finish off, I think it is also important to recognize how much good Lent Bumps as done to MECBC: we all come out stronger, as a unified boat club. There has been some intense crew- and boat club-bonding going on & our Facebook group has never been so active, with all those motivational speeches, playlists, and pictures!
This calls for a song.
“It might seem crazy what I’m ’bout to say
Sunshine’s here, you can take a stroke!
– that being said, we’d take it anyway if it was raining/snowing etc
– nothing stops us
Because Imma boatie
Smack your blade if you feel like bumping is the truth
Because Imma boatie
Row along if you know what rowing means to you
Because Imma boatie
Row along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”
Well, I am HAPPY, and I will now proceed to some happy dance moves!
After a disappointing start to what were the first Bumps for many of us, we were quite optimistic that today would be the day that we finally bumped. Having mentally and physically prepared ourselves, with motivational team talks and a collection of our favourite stretches, we were ready to hand Caius some spoons as we rowed down.
As the canon went, we got off to one of our strongest starts of the week, getting our first whistle on Caius during the start sequence. During cox Katie’s calls for a power 10, we saw that Queens had been bumped, and knew that all we needed to do was to keep chasing down Caius. Despite our cox’s calls to lengthen out and settle, a very determined stroke decided that we were just going to power through, and soon we were getting more and more whistles! After a final push for 10, we gave Caius ‘a firm tap on the rear’, as our classy coach Robert Gardiner would say.
Rowing back to the boathouse just behind W3, both of the crews covered in greenery, was the best way to end Bumps!
We rowed up in the cold and wet, knowing that the bump was in us – just as long as nothing ahead got in our way. And even if it did, the overbump was an option. Marshalling was miserable, but that’s not the important thing in bumps. As Emma H says “It was raining? Really? Didn’t notice cause we were a little busy”.
The gun went off and we got off to racing with a strong, balanced start. King’s got a hopeful whistle on us, but we soon pulled away from them and I watched Peterhouse close and bump. In the meantime, we got a whistle on Maggie and they got one on Queens. Then Queens bumped Pembroke and we knew we had the whole course to wind LMBC in. We ground them down slowly, always inching closer. We were on a whistle, then two-thirds of a length, then two whistles, then three whistles (it took much, much longer than that in the actual race). Finally, we had continuous and that quickly became a bump as we went into Ditton.
As Mark said, that was the first MECBC bump in 5 years of the ‘just grind them down’ type (I think that means he was proud of us!) and as Reana says, “BUMP, BUMP! That was, without a doubt, my best ever bumps race“.
Sally-Anne Bennett, 7
If yesterday hadn’t gone quite to plan, then today went even better than planned. Everything today just felt right. Ok well, there was the moment when 4 numbered off and then realised that actually she hadn’t put her blade in her gate…Minor details, everything else was right! Rowing up to the Lock we engaged in some serious psychological sparring with our boathouse-mates, making it very clear that we had no intention of letting them catch us today.
Then came the cannons. Four-minute cannon, check gate and footplate. One-minute cannon, check again. And BANG! Nerves disappeared, because now we were racing. After a strong start we quickly settled into a smooth, solid rhythm. The first whistle came about half way down First Post Reach, roughly where we hoped to hear a whistle. From one whistle to two always feels like a long slog, but the calls of “3/4 length” then “2/3 length” from the bank provided encouragement. And then it all happened in a blur. Two whistles, became three whistles and then continuous whistles at such speed and rowing in the bow I could suddenly see purple out of the corner of my eye. And as Christina steered us around the start of First Post Corner we did it – MECBC W1 BUMPED KING’S W1!!
Rowing back with greenery in our hair and huge smiles on our faces even the sudden downpour on the Reach wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of W1. And tomorrow? Tomorrow we chase LMBC W1 again. And you know what? I quite like greenery in my hair…
Emma Heydon, Bow
W1 had an interesting row-up to the marshalling point, with two very kind subs filling in for Reana and myself, as we were busy coxing/bank-partying for W3. We jumped in at the P&E and had a strong practise start under the Railway Bridge, then settled into some good paddling up to the start.
Just as we heard the first cannons we were slightly worried at the amount of wind, but this did not phase us. Our start was solid and controlled, and we quickly gained a whistle on LMBC W1. An unfortunate crab meant that we lost the advance we had, but we managed to refocus and crept back up towards Maggie. Round the corners we sat up and pushed harder, determined to get the whistles back. However, as we passed the Plough it was clear that LMBC had caught up to King’s in front of them and had bumped out.
After having to stop because a crew failed to clear the river ahead of us, we did a quick restart, and were soon flying down the Long Reach. Although by this time we knew it was going to be a row-over for us, we did not give up, and kept powering through to the finish, spurred on by Christina’s calls for aggression.
Spirits were high when we pulled in at the boathouse : although we didn’t catch LMBC, we had a good race and it felt like we couldn’t have pushed harder. I look forward to three more successful races with this great crew.
Laura Désert, Stroke
It was bright and breezy on the Cam as a boatful of excited Medwards ladies rowed up to marshall in Owen for the first day of Lent Bumps 2014. Four of the crew and the cox had never been in a Bumps race before and this was the day we had been anticipating all term.
We had a good practice start just after the Plough and the boat felt powerful and balanced. As the cannons counted us down we got into our racing mindset, and by the time the final one blasted we were as prepared as we were ever going to be. We had a fast, smooth first few strokes, but unfortunately it did not last long. As we completed the winds in our three draws, five winds, power ten sequence, the bows realised they were headed into the bank and the rest of the boat soon followed. As we attempted to disentangle ourselves from the reeds, a sluggish Clare boat bumped us and our collective hearts sank.
The true test of a woman is how she holds herself post-defeat. We had indeed been defeated, but the ladies of MECBC were not ones to be ashamed. We cheered Clare’s good fortune with the loudest “hip hip hoorays” the Cam has ever heard and rowed home with straight backs and vengeance in our hearts. Tomorrow, we would row again. And when we did, we would row WELL HARD.
Olwen Wilson, 7
It was the first day of the first Bumps of my life. The only 3rd boat in the division, having beaten several 2nd boats, we felt pretty awesome. With nothing behind us to be bumped by and the bright sunshine in our eyes during the row-up, it seemed that nothing could stop us from bumping.
The four minutes, then one minute cannons went off; the butterflies in our stomachs were released. Sitting at bow, I felt the additional anxiety of what would happen if I missed an order and crashed our boat. The start: Our slightly make-shift crew set out beautifully, we closed in ‘half a length on Darwin W2’ that was in front of us. The wind pushing against us, our legs and wills were pushing harder, much harder.
What seemed like just a couple seconds into the race, though, some carnage seemed to be occurring in stern pair. Why aren’t the ores moving? Two crabs and a seat that came off. But we got it back together, powered on – and then held up. Darwin W2 stopped in the middle of the river – but then they started to move up again. Our second start and power ten was, however, definitively quashed by a signal from the umpire. We were awarded a technical row-over.
One of the shortest races, although the first day of Lent Bumps did not exactly hold up to W3′s hopes, it was a great preparation for what’s to come – the next three days of Bumps.
Simona Sulikova, Bow