Lent Bumps 2018: Day 2 W3 Race Report

After a bad performance on the first day of Bumps, W3 met at the boathouse at 1pm on a very cold and snowy afternoon. The day before our nerves had got the better of us, during a very frantic standing start that had got us bumped too early. So, on Wednesday, the crew was determined to learn from our mistakes and do much better, despite the weather and the fact that one of our crew was injured. Thankfully Felicity, our coach, subbed in for her, and having a more experienced rower in the boat gave us confidence.

The paddle up was mild at first. However, by the Long Reach it had started to snow heavily again, and a strong headwind, worse than we had ever seen before, slowed us down. Even though Hannah, our cox, was almost completely covered in snow, she encouraged us to press harder and row against the wind. Luckily, the weather quickly improved, and by the time we reached the Motorway Bridge the snow had already ceased.

We arrived at our station only five minutes before the race. Thankfully, Mark was there to push us out and to give us a last-minute pep talk. As we were the first boat of the division, our main objective was not to get bumped (and to row over). In order to do that, we knew that we had to focus not only on getting a good standing start, but on maintaining a strong leg drive until the very end.

The cannon went off, and this time our start was much better. However, we could not get in time, and Emmanuel III was getting closer. Hannah called for a Power 10, but Emma’s crew was faster than us, and so we got bumped.

On our way back to the boathouse, it started to snow again. Despite the disappointing result, I think we all felt a shared sense of achievement. Neither the weather nor the bump got us down, they just made us even stronger. We would be ready for Day 3 of Bumps!

Camila Armirola, stroke

Lent Bumps 2018: Day 2 W2 Race Report

The second day of Bumps for W2 was even colder than the first, and even in more layers than we could count we were still freezing. When we arrived there was confusion in the boathouse: we had two subs for 6 and no cox. Luckily one had coxed before, so could hop into the stern. We followed her calls well to the P&E; the previous day’s race had clearly had an effect on us, as we were more sat than usual. The biting wind was against us as we rowed up, making each stroke more difficult, but we still arrived to marshal in good time.

We decided that there was no way we could catch Catz – they had bumped us so quickly the day before and had even overtaken us in Newnham Short Course. Our game plan was to row over, hoping we could hold off Downing for long enough for King’s to catch them.

Rowing up to the start, the nerves started to show – when Sarah called for a practice start we caught a crab, though we recovered well.

Mark was at the start alone to greet us, and at 30 seconds to go began pushing us out. He counted 20 seconds to go. Then 10. Then “2, 2, 2, 2!”. 2 took a tap and we came forward as a crew, but we had lost track of time and the cannon firing took us by surprise. The first stroke was weak, though our start gained strength and we began to lengthen. It soon became obvious that Downing was gaining on us. Catz were pulling away in front, and it was seemingly only a matter of seconds before we were bumped. We cleared the river quickly (much more cleanly than on Tuesday), and watched on as other crews raced hard past us.

The results didn’t matter too much to us; as usual our spirits were lifted by just finishing the race. And even in the short time we had rowed that day, we could tell that we had improved as a crew. We rowed back in a mini-blizzard, looking forward to a day off before we could exact our row-venge on Downing.

Phoebe Thomson-Bird, 6

Lent Bumps 2018: Day 1 W3 Race Report

It was the first day of Bumps, and for most of the W3 crew, it was our first time participating in Bumps! Our nervousness was palpable but there was also a lot of optimism in the boat, which stemmed largely from our cox, Hannah. As we pushed off to row down to the Lock, we faced the worst weather possible. It initially began with a strong headwind, which forced us to row even harder, and was quickly followed by a blizzard and hail, which made rowing down for the race even more agonising.

We were made to wait until the M3 race was over, which proved to be a relief because we were able to get out of the boat, stretch and bundle up to survive the freezing temperatures. Once we were given the okay to head down to the marshalling zone, we did so, and met our competitors; we were the last boat in the race, with the sandwich boat being Lucy Cavendish and the boat in front of us being Emmanuel W3. We waited nervously at our station as the countdown began, and once we were pushed out, it became a surreal experience. The cannon went, but no one in our boat began ‘drawing’ until Felicity called for us to draw, which partly was the reason for Lucy Cavendish quickly overtaking us. While we had a good few draws, a few people crabbed, which resulted in us having to quickly drop out, and the girls from Lucy Cav were incredible strong, and were able to bump us in less than half a minute.

As we rowed back to the boat house, we were disappointed, but alas, the weather took a turn for the worst again, forcing us to row through another blizzard. When we got back, our boat was completely covered in snow, resulting in everyone getting completely covered in snow when we lifted to heads. Once we got back for a debrief, we put our heads together and lifted our spirits for the race next day.

Even though our race was short, it was nonetheless a sweet experience. Thank you Nadia and Felicity for training us!

Thaneesha Raveendrakumar, 3

Lent Bumps 2018: Day 1 W2 Race Report

W2 arrived at the boathouse on a gorgeous snowy afternoon on Tuesday, wrapped up super warm and ready to race. We were all feeling pretty nervous – it would be the first time every member of the boat had rowed in Bumps, and we’d all heard the stories of how fun, but also how intense it is.

Following a gentle paddle up to marshalling and some chocolate, we had a good practice start up on Plough Reach, which boosted our confidence. We arrived at the Motorway Bridge, where we spun and waited for the cannon to go off to signal the four-minute mark. We had been told the cannon was loud, but I don’t think any of us had realised quite how loud it actually was, especially as were right next to it! As the one-minute cannon went off, Mark started pushing us out and getting us into position. The countdown continued. We came forward at 10 seconds, squared our blades at 7, and waited for the cannon to go off.

Our start was good, and we managed to get to within a boat length of Jesus in the space of a few strokes. Unfortunately, the Catz crew that was chasing us also started gaining on us. This threw everyone off, meaning the strong, steady rhythm we had started with became a bit frantic, and we were soon bumped by Catz.

While this was a disappointing start to our first ever Bumps campaign, our spirits weren’t too dampened, and we rowed home keeping spectators entertained with rousing show tunes such as ‘Let it Go’, Hakuna Matata’ and ‘I Dreamed A Dream’. This was duly noted in the Umpires’ Notes and Fines… let the history books remember!

“Murray Edwards W2 – Singing in boat – prepare an opera for Saturday’s race”

Tamzin Byrne, 3 and Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, 2

Lent Bumps 2018: Day 4 W1 Race Report

It was Day 4 of Lent Bumps, and Medwards W1 made our way to the start line for the first time this week, after our first two races were cancelled due to the snow.

The start cannon went, and we worked through our start sequence with our race plan in mind. It was the classic fly-or-die, bump-or-get-bumped kind of day, and we had no intention (or hope) of making it much further than Plough. However, after the start sequence finished and we lengthened out we began to realise how naïve we had been – Emma were about to absolutely destroy us and we would be lucky to make it to Grassy! Their whistles began to come thick and fast and we hadn’t even made it to head station. Mark was screaming fractions at us (as if this was a time for us to be doing maths!) as we began to gain on Christ’s, but did it really matter? As we approached First Post Corner, Emma had overlap, and their bow ball getting ever closer to our cox.

However, Alice called for a Power 10 and something in the boat seamed to click, maybe as we realised how embarrassing getting bumped before First Post Corner is (especially if you only started at station 7), and my god we gave it a power 10. For 10 strokes we connected, and we sent together as we refused to give up – that’s just not something Medwards gals really do! And in that moment, as we worked together and pushed around the corner, the gods of rowing looked down on us and gave us their blessing as Emmanuel W1 caught a mighty crab. We watched as their 4-seat blade swung round and they began to drop back. Had we just defeated the beast that was Emmanuel W1? As they struggled to regain control of their crab we realised there was no way they were going to make it round the stroke side corner, and clearly so did they, as we watched all 7 remaining rowing blades stop rowing and restart.

Before we had time to process what had happened, Mark’s shouts returned but with a different tone: we had two whistles on Christ’s and were gaining fast. However, the excitement clearly took control of the crew and we began to panic. Moments ago, bumping Christ’s had seemed like a distant dream but was suddenly going to become a reality, and we clearly just couldn’t handle that as we fell to pieces. The next few strokes to follow were probably some of the worst rowing we had ever done as we struggled to control our excitement. As we approached Grassy we hit overlap and the continuous whistle began.

Suddenly disaster struck as our 4 seat caught a crab. Or had it? Like a ninja, Hannah’s blade was back in and we powered on. Emma were fast approaching again, and we knew we had to make our next move. Alice called for another Power 10 and we got our rhythm back. As we approached the Plough, Emma had closed the gap of about three lengths to just one and their whistle began, but that didn’t matter any more as we heard Mark’s calls to hold it up.

The excitement spread through the boat as nobody was quite sure what had just happened. Had we actually just bumped Christ’s? Had we really just escaped Emmanuel W1? The answer, to everyone’s amazement was in fact YES, we most certainly had!

Tomorrow we will return (weather and ice permitting) and prove what Medwards really can do. Unfortunately, we will now be chasing Emma W1, who went on to over-bump FaT. However, as we just proved, the nature of the beast is that in Bumps, anything can happen… 😉

Taine Ranaghan, 7

Pembroke Regatta 2018: W2/W3 Race Report

With a (slightly) painful 7am start on a bitterly cold day in February, a mixed W2/W3 crew met at the boathouse ready to face the Pembroke Regatta course! Following a gentle paddle up to the P&E (and a very cold forty minutes waiting in zero degrees for the start of our race), we moved up to the starting point on the Reach.

Our first race was against Emmanuel W3. As we moved into our standing start positions, the tension in the boat was palpable, especially as it was the first ever standing start in race conditions for a few members of the crew. Unfortunately, our start did not go as planned, and after a few strokes, someone caught a bad crab and we had to stop as a result. However, with some cheering from the marshals on the side and encouragement from our cox, Hannah, we quickly started again, and kept our rowing strong until the finish line.

W3’s coach, Felicity, then signed us up to take part in a second race to get more practice in for Lent Bumps. This race was against Queens’, and we were determined to do better. Our start was good, and although Queens’ seemed to take the lead in the first couple of strokes, we quickly caught up and overtook them. By the time we reached the Railway Bridge, roughly the halfway point of the course, our boat was a solid length ahead. Seeing Queens’ coming up behind us gave us the energy and motivation to keep going, and to continue pushing hard with every stroke, increasing our lead by as much as we could, until we flew past the finish line.

Overall, while the first race was a little demoralising, the success of the second race boosted the morale of the whole crew hugely, and we all rowed back to the boathouse feeling pretty content with our morning, and with building excitement for Bumps!

Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, 2

The Neptunes January 2018 Volume 9 Issue 2

Find out what we at MECBC got up to in Michaelmas Term 2017! Featured in this issue are articles by rowers from every stage of their training, a coach’s perspective on the term, and lots of dates for your diaries for this term.

Fairbairn Cup 2017: W2 Race Report

It was freezing on the day of Fairbarns 2017, but W2 arrived at the boathouse ready to row our best and show off how much we had improved, both individually and as a crew, over the course of the term. After a quick warm up on the ergs, we quickly got the boat out, only to find out that the race was running late. As we waited for our slot and watched other crews row past, the excitement was mounting.

Finally it was our time! As we had only rowed a short distance from our boathouse to the start line, it took us a few strokes to get into our groove, but we quickly got our legs working as we fought away the cold. At stroke, Beth set a strong, steady pace for us to follow, and Watson and Issy kept us motivated from the bank. Despite the cold, and the fact that this was the longest race we’d done as a four, we managed to keep our rate up throughout, helped greatly by Alice’s encouragement. After a strong start, we began to gain on Girton, and we kept up this good pace for the first half of the race. The fatigue got to us, however, and the Robinson crew behind us began to gain. As we neared the end of course, this in fact proved to be a blessing in disguise, as we rowed our hardest to hold them off.

Fairbarns 2017 was a great way to end Michaelmas rowing. Although the whole crew was suffering from end of term exhaustion, we worked well together and put into practice changes to our techniques that we had been working on all term. Fairbarns Dinner after the race was the perfect way to celebrate our accomplishments!

Juhi James, bow

Fairbairn Cup 2017: W1 Race Report

With what had promised to be a bitterly cold day brightening up, W1 paddled Octopussy (complete with a couple of new pairs of shoes) down to Jesus Boathouse and the start line. Nerves were high, with this being the first time some crew members had ever faced the senior Fairbairns course.

After two strokes we built up to a strong rate, and settled quickly into a sustainable rhythm. Utilising the joint experience of the Michaelmas line up, we battled past the one minute mark, and kept going strong down the Reach. With Newnham nowhere in sight behind us, and as we made a gain on Pembroke W1, Murray Edwards strode to the finish line, bringing it up a couple of pips on the legs past First Post and towards the motorway bridge.

We definitely did ourselves proud, although on reflection we realised that we had saved ourselves a little too much for the final stretch of the long Fairbairns course. Nevertheless, Fairbairns and the rest of the term were celebrated in style at a fabulous Fairbairn Dinner.

Leanne Hagger, 3

Winter Head 2017: W1 Race Report

Winter Head was W1’s first race of the term and of the new academic year, and being my first race in about a year and a half, it is pretty fair to say that I was dreading the thought of a 2.5km race.

As we rowed up to marshal, we took the opportunity to focus on our timing and balance, with the help of some last-minute coaching from Robert. By the time we reached the Lock, our spirits were high despite the cold and wind, helped by a bag of Haribo sweets being passed up and down the boat.

After a solid, if slightly early start, we settled into our strong, sustainable racing rhythm we had being practising all term. Before long, we were coming around Ditton and onto the Reach, with Robert telling us that Clare were overtaking Caius ahead of us and that he wanted us to do the same. And with Robert and Christina’s encouragement we slowly began to move up on Caius. As we came under the Railway Bridge and Christina called for us to pick it up, we really began to move, reducing the distance between us and Caius with every stroke, crossing the finish line only seconds after them.

Although we didn’t place as highly as we had hoped, this Winter Head was a brilliant chance for us to get some (very promising) racing practice in before Fairbairns, where we hope to do even better.

Maria Rust, stroke