W1 (Louise, 3rd year Medicine, ex-Captain of Boats)
W1 started Easter term with a few new faces compared to the Lent crew who for most had their first experiences of not only racing but also bumps. Building up from COVID with not much bumps experience, our crew tried to get experience racing against other crews side-by-side in 99s regatta and getting a win under our belts against a Wolfson crew who had beaten us the week before at Champs Head. My first ever win at Medwards!! This prepared us nicely for bumps in the nice sunshine after most (but not all) exams had finished!!!
On day 1, we tried to build ourselves up not knowing much about the crew ahead, Jesus W2, or the crew behind us, Lucy Cav W1. Convincing ourselves we were faster than Jesus W2 based on race results previously, we were excited for a good bumps campaign, trying to improve on the spoons we, unfortunately, got in Lents #notspoons2022. Ben and Forbes, our coaches, reassured us that Lucy Cav’s starts looked not great, and we definitely had a chance of catching Jesus W2 over a longer race.
Lining up to the start doesn’t get any less daunting even if you have done it a few times before. This time in position 8 we were quite close to the cannon which meant the loudness just added to the atmosphere. And we were off, keeping our heads very much in the boat and trusting our fabulous cox Anna to guide us through the race. One whistle on Jesus off the start gave us the confidence we were gaining but alas we did not hear another. Instead, we had Lucy Cav showing us that although they might have looked messy on the way up, they were speedy (this was shown by the end of the week with them getting blades!). We gave them a good show and held them off all the way to Ditton Corner but unfortunately, we could not hold them off any longer especially with them taking the corners very tight! Although we did get bumped, we had newfound confidence completing the first day of bumps (the first ever for many) and nearly getting to the reach before being bumped, much better than Lents!!!
We came back the next day with a new race strategy, fly or die! Today was the day we were going to be chased by Sidney Sussex W1, a top 5 crew on the river. Therefore, the only choice we had was to try and catch Lucy Cav first. Briefed on how to reset after every 50 strokes we were confident we would have a chance as our starts meant we got half a length up even on the best crews.
We got a whistle then another and another off the start but as this is happening Sidney after a slow start was building their speed to match their reputation! We were 1 length ahead of Sidney going into first post and 1 whistle down. When we had got round the corner it was ½ length and two whistles. In about 10 strokes just into the start of grassy, a ¼ length. Honestly, their kill strokes as we call them, were so scary they were ¾ length down and the next thing we knew we were bumped on grassy. We all gave it our all and unfortunately fly and die didn’t work but we had given it everything so we were not too disheartened and quickly moved on to the next day when we might have a chance of completing #notspoons2022.
I arrived with a newfound excitement without a feeling of impending doom of being chased by Sidney W1, chasing them instead on day 3. We had Wolfson W1, who we had beaten in 99s, chasing us so we had more confidence and had a race plan of rowing over with a tiny chance of an overbump of Lucy, but this was unlikely. Having rowed up to the start, we sat on the start line more confident but still, I felt extremely nervous knowing to never underestimate the team behind, having two previous bumps campaigns under my belt. The cannon went and we were calm as Wolfson gained, warned by our coaches that they probably would at the start. They gained and gained and gained until they got within a ¼ of length looking increasingly ragged as they went. We did not give up hope and started our finishing wind, hoping this would save us and complete #notspoons2022. Suddenly, they caught a crab, a boat-stopping crab, we had got away! We did a push, Wolfson got bumped by Selwyn on first post corner and we rowed away.
I had a slight suspicion this boat-stopping crab might have checkmated the division behind us as they took up the whole river, but our coach told us to race on just in case. We went for it we raced the whole course although it was obvious no one was chasing us, we just hoped that we had done enough to catch someone ahead. It became clear that this was going to be unlikely as we went past Sidney and Jesus bumped out followed by Lucy and Emma, but we were cheered on! We finally got to the bottom finish, all very tired but we had completed our race plan and we had succeeded in #notspoons2022!
Onto the final day, where we had another chance of catching Jesus W2, as they had also been bumped by Sidney and Lucy as well! We were also hoping to build on W2’s success of bumping Homerton W2, payback after our W1 was bumped by theirs in lent bumps! This time we were being chased by Selwyn W1, who we didn’t know much about, but they had had several rowovers throughout their campaign.
The cannon went for the last time, and we went off and we got off to a good start a length off Jesus then ¾ length and then half-length and two whistles! Selwyn in the meantime were slowly closing in on us as well. We did our finishing wind going into first post as we saw them weaving from one side to another at our stern. They had overlap when they thought they had caught us, but no our excellent cox once again had ensured they had not had but they held it up while we kept rowing. Unfortunately, we were not as lucky as the previous day as they recovered miraculously by doing a start again and quickly gained the half-length that they had lost from holding it up. Before we knew it, we were bumped on the outside of first post corner with Selwyn clearing into us so we were attached while all the boats passed. Our brief conversation with the Selwyn girls was lovely and they were so happy to bump, hopefully, we see them on the river again next Michaelmas!
Disheartened we rowed back to the boathouse, past my parents who have yet to see me row in bumps always being a corner too late to see me! For 4 of us, this was our last time potentially rowing in an eight, at least at Medwards, so there was a sense of sadness for us. My one goal of bumping a boat while at Medwards was now unlikely to happen with unreliable clinical placements next year.
We made it the best row back we could and the people staying are now aiming to train towards a bump or multiple next year! Having learned so much from this year, building up after covid with half of our rowers in Lent and Michaelmas being novices the term before this was a transitional year with hopes of winning more things next year! Overall, a good group of people meant everyone enjoyed this Easter term and it was a great way to potentially to leave MECBC with such lovely people in my boat.
W2 (Shivani, 1st year NatSci)
W2’s bumps campaign this year has been one to remember. The first bumps for many of the crew, we were excited to get going.
On day 1, W2 were on the chase for Homerton, with Jesus following behind. The race began well. Our bow ball began to overlap with Homerton’s stern on Grassy Corner but Homerton fought back and pulled away, leading to us having to row over, inches away from the bump!
Day 2 saw Pembroke, a formidable crew, on our tails with us chasing Homerton again. It was bump or be bumped. The start cannon blew and Pembroke gained quickly. We pushed hard and maintained a high rate but we were caught within the first 2 minutes.
Following their impressive performance on the previous day, Day 3 saw us row over as we were unable to catch Pembroke who swiftly bumped Jesus.
The final day started with bumps breakfast. You could feel the anticipation in Dome. We were chasing Homerton one last time: this would be our final chance to get a bump.
At the start line we were nervous but focused. The 1 minute cannon blew. It was time. Blades were buried and deep breaths were taken as we sat waiting in the middle of the Cam for the start cannon. And we were off. A high rate, powerful start from the crew pushed us away from Lucy Cavendish. The start felt good, each of us working together to move Owen swiftly through the water. Whistles began to blow – 3/4 of a boat length, 1/2, 1/4. On Ditton Corner I could hear Homerton’s cox shouting to his crew, “Get moving now!”. I yelled to Maya in 2 seat “They’re there! They’re there!”. My blade began to overlap with the stern of their boat: We had bumped! Cheers from the crew quickly ensued as we cleared the river. Spectators on the bank were clapping for us, handing us greenery, taking pictures. Tamzin and Mark, our bank party, were equally elated. We’d never felt so good. I looked towards the rest of the crew, who were now dressed in greenery, and smiled. Our hard work had paid off. To Flo, Sophie, Jess O, Sarah, Jess W, Liv, Amy, and Maya, thanks for a great year and an amazing bumps campaign. Thanks to Alex for amazing coaching, and Tamzin, Mark and Tiarnan for your advice and support. Bumping was the encouragement we needed for next year and I can’t wait to get going again.
All in all, an exciting Bumps week to end the term. We are so proud of all of our rowers this year and are thankful for everyone who has supported us. Bring on Mich 2022!