Lent Bumps 2016: Day 4 W1 Race Report

With an injury this term, I have had a new perspective on Bumps, seeing races from the bank, and boy, was it exciting! Beyond expectations (see video of today’s race…).

Today was the last day of Lent Bumps 2016, and the first day I was able to bank party W1. Spirits were high at the boathouse. As, W2 was just finishing their campaign, thrilled to be going up two and to be eating crêpes, W1 arrived, ready to give this last race their all. They had opted for a classic: the “fly or die” strategy, where the race would be short either way, and they were planning on going for a revenge bump on Churchill before the green machine Girton got to them.

Peterhouse M2 coming back to the boathouse with only 6 rowers and 7 riggers should have tipped us off: an especially eventful day of racing awaited us!

The ladies set off early, and had a nice chunky paddle to Chesterton. Being one of the first boats to get to the marshalling area, they had plenty of time to relax, and enjoy a ray of sunshine. Some were eating Haribo, others gossiping about ejector crabs in earlier divisions, or even napping in the boat. Everyone was essentially chilling, when the situation took a turn for the worse when we realised our cox had forgotten her life jacket, just when the umpires were starting to get crews back in their boats. Far from ideal.

After asking a few boats for a spare one with no luck, I decided to rush back to the boathouse to get one. This cycle definitely makes the Top 5 Most Stressful Moments from my captaincy. I had no idea what the time was, whether it was still worth cycling like a crazy woman, whether I could take the time to stop and breathe, but the last thing I wanted was for W1 not to be able to race for a damn life jacket, so I kept pedalling, coxing myself through it – “Heels down, Heels down”. Zig-zagging at full speed on the towpath on the Saturday of Bumps is never a good idea, but from the bottom of the reach, I could see a boat waiting for their practice start on Ditton corner, and I knew I still had a chance. I finally got to station 11, literally seconds before the 4 minutes cannon went off, exhausted and barely able to catch my breath, only to find out the crew had found a life jacket. Oh well! & What a relief! We were good to go! The President was taking care of the countdown, while Mark pushed the crew out, and I got my camera ready, determined to get the first stroke in this time.

The start cannon fired and the ladies flew off. They had another very strong start of theirs, and were inside station going under the Motorway Bridge. They were inching in, pushing hard on the legs, when all of a sudden they started gaining a lot faster. Very startled, I realised Churchill in front had caught a crab, and were struggling to recover. The ladies, blissfully unaware of the situation, were very focused on getting their legs down, and were still storming down the river. Unhelpfully, our coach had forgotten his whistle and was unable to signal the progress to the crew. Within a few strokes, they closed in on Churchill, bumped, and didn’t quite realise until properly hitting Churchill’s boat (RIP Octopussy’s bow). Extremely confused, they cleared the river as fast as they could, to allow Girton & co to plough through. I was absolutely ecstatic, not really registering, and still very emotional from that horrible cycle; our President gave me a hug, while we waited for the crew to cross the river and come park on towpath side so we could get them all greenery-ed. It was the first bump of the week for them, and the first bump ever for a few of them as well, and the girls were grinning. So was I.

The crew pushed off to row home, in the setting sun, cheered on by the joyous crowds, and in the generally happy, festive atmosphere, characteristic of Bumps Saturdays, with flags and victory laps.

Once again, this shows the magical “randomness” of Bumps, that unpredictability that makes this week oh so exciting. I cannot wait to get back into a boat, and for May Bumps to come around. Thank you for the entertainment this week rowing friends, it’s been real!

Lulu, Captain of Boats