As we congregated at the boat house at 12 o’clock, with the sun blazing down on us it tricked us into a false sense of security as we stripped off our layers and began our tranquil row down the river. We quickly realised that we had been fooled – the weather quickly turned on us, and the wind almost blew us away.
We arrived at the P&E and were met by Dame Barbara (Our President) and our coach Ben at the bank. Our spirits and determination were high as we waited for our division to move on. As the division before us came racing through, the heavens opened. The torrential rain began to dampen the moods of all the boats as we knew this wasn’t going to be an easy race.
We knew going into this that a row over was our aim. We knew Darwin were going to be hard to catch, but that our race with Newnham was going to be a close one. We hadn’t seen much of them on the river but we thought we were quite evenly matched. It was going to be a long day.
As we rowed up to our station we did a standing start and it felt powerful, our paddling throughout the week had been improving and improving and we knew this was the best we had ever rowed as a crew.
We pushed off from the bank with 30 seconds left to go before the final cannon, all of us ready to go when our line went taut and Lucy had to think fast. Mackenzie and I acted quickly when Lucy told us to take a tap, and just as I finished my stroke the cannon went.
We were off to a great start and within a few minutes we had already rowed past a lot of boats that had already bumped or been bumped. Seeing them all cheering for us made us all even more motivated. Lucy kept our spirits high throughout and was cheering us on constantly. The pure joy felt in the boat when we made our first corner was unparalleled – we had all promised Lucy we’d get her to a corner and to achieve this really was inspiring.
Moving on from this we made our way through corners with Lucy making an amazing turn around a boat which had stopped in the middle of the river. She made sure our rhythm didn’t alter and she never indicated to us that there was any reason to be worried, we always have complete faith in her and here she showed us why.
The race kept going and we could see Newnham behind us, Fiona kept up an amazing pace for us all the follow, as we reached the Plough there were lots of Medwards supporters cheering us on. As we turned the corner we got hit by a massive gust of wind which threw us off our rhythm, but we quickly got it back.
As we rowed down the windy reach, Newnham were starting to catch up to us, slowly but surely, and before we realised it, Newnham were on 2 whistles and about the catch us. With Lucy’s constant reassurance that we could do this and that we were almost there we managed to begin to pull away. Just as we did this Newnham behind us caught a crab and rowed straight into the bank.
Using this as motivation we carried on rowing, with our coach Ben screaming at us from the sidelines that we were only 300m from the finish (SPOILER: he couldn’t have been more wrong), we kept up our pace and rowed under the bridge to where we thought the finish was. We started to slow down until we heard all the M3 Division boats shouting at us to keep going, we were confused. This was the finish, wasn’t it? It turns out no, no it was not the finish.
With Fiona thinking quick on her feet and screaming at the rest of us to keep rowing we did eventually pick up the pace but not before Newnham were hot on our heels again.
We rowed past all the M3 division boats up until the P&E where STILL no one told if the race was over, finally after another 30 seconds someone did indeed tell us to wind down. The race was over – we had rowed over and we couldn’t have been more proud of ourselves. We had worked hard all term and to finally get the row over we all knew we deserved was amazing. The whole crew gave it our all and it showed that our hard work really did pay off. What a way to end Lent Bumps.
Beth Holmes, 2