Bumps was finally here! Slightly later than it should have been, due to carnage in the M5 division resulting in a re-row of the bottom eleven boats. After a confident paddle down we marshalled at the P&E in beautiful warm sunshine and started munching Haribo. Because of the delay there were no practice standing starts, but we had a couple of rolling starts on the Reach and at the Plough. We spun and parked without incident at our station on the Outflow, and then we waited. And waited. A barge was coming down the course. Hfff.
Finally, the one minute gun! Mark started pushing us off and suddenly everything felt scarily real. This was happening, we were actually racing Bumps, we had less than fifteen seconds before the start. No time to panic. I came forward, squared, checked my posture, looked up, listened.
Draaawww 1! The boat crashed down on the recovery and my blade hit the water. Draaawww 2! Next stroke was better. One more draw and now wind! Quick hands! Stride it out, find the rhythm – 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 – blade in, lever through, big finishes, don’t slam forwards. Newnham weren’t gaining but the boat felt very heavy and the strokes were taking forever. “What’s the rate?” I asked. “36.” Oh. I’d stop worrying then. But where were our whistles?
We finally got our first whistle – about five strokes after we should have, since Mark was being mean – and gave a push for ten. Two whistles followed shortly after – this was progress! Starting to round First Post Corner, we’d barely heard our triple whistle before Emily started shouting, “OVERLAP! OVERLAP!” A few strokes more and Christina called to hold it up. We’d done it!
Felicity Parker, stroke