At first, we were losing hope of taking part in the Getting-on Race. Almost all of our bowside rowers were struggling with either illness or exams. It wasn’t until Thursday evening that we knew we could have a go, thanks to two people subbing in and Constance spontaneously forgetting about her imminent exams.
Of course we were determined to qualify for Bumps and to redefine the meaning of W4, which used to be a term for a rather disorganised bunch of individuals. But we still had our coach and captains believing in us, and several members from higher crews stepping in as coxes and making us believe that in fact we weren’t that awful. After all, Laura agreed to do her first race as a cox with us!
It was a hot and sunny afternoon when we pushed off for adventure. With 11 boats fighting for 10 spots, we knew we could stand a chance even with our heavy Winston. There were no major mishaps on our way down to the start, and the minor ones happened out of the sight of our rivals! But could we really make it through the race without catching crabs or crashing into the bank?
After spinning at the lock and a short break, we soon found ourselves in the middle of the river again, hearing Laura’s first call for a power ten. It seemed impossible to respond to it when our arms and legs had turned to jelly. But this was serious now. We settled at a pace that made me almost regret leaving the cool shadow of the Motorway Bridge behind. But very soon, our bank party started shouting that we were catching up with Jesus IV, which gave us that extra bit of power and prevented our energy from melting down all too quickly under the relentless sun.
In the final 100m, we eagerly responded to Laura’s call for emptying our tanks, already guessing that we had “got on”. That feeling didn’t deceive us! The very fact that we’re going to take part in the May Bumps is a happy end by itself, but moreover, we’re now determined to translate our new crew spirit into the language of whistles and bumps. The story of W4 must go on!
— Annelies Haemmig, W4 bow