May Bumps 2016: Day 4 W3 Race Report

As it was the final day of bumps, W3 were in high and hopeful spirits on the row down. Throughout the week, our row downs had been solid and improving with each day; Saturday was no exception. The weather was slightly cooler than it had been for the past week which bode well for the anticipated conclusion of a row-over. Everyone was still relieved, however, that Lulu’s warning of thunder and lightning wasn’t realised.

Race time! Having moved one place further away from being right next to the cannon, we were fully prepared for the bang and as a result we executed one of our best starts yet. We knew our only chance of a bump would be to try and catch King’s W2 before they caught Fitz W2. Unfortunately, despite a terrific start and settling into a strong rhythm, King’s caught Fitz very quickly, causing us to take a wide line around grassy corner. At this point, we knew we were in it for the long run but got much satisfaction from pulling further and further away from Christ’s W3 with each stroke. It was an exhausting row but one to be proud of.

Upon finishing the row over, it is safe to say that the whole of W3 were extremely proud of themselves and the crew, despite not managing to bump King’s. It was the furthest we had ever rowed at race pace (which we kept up with ferocity and pride even as, behind us, Christ’s were eventually bumped). It was a fantastic and satisfying conclusion to the end of an immensely fun and rewarding bumps campaign. Our wonderful coach topped off the afternoon by whipping out the prosecco that we all enjoyed back at the boathouse.

Here’s to next year’s bumps! WELL HARD

Hope Mason, 7

May Bumps 2016: Day 3 W2 Race Report

The sun was out again and perfect rowing weather greeted us today. After yesterday’s strong row-over where we held Trinity Hall at comfortable distance behind us over the whole course we felt confident that this day was OUR day. To finally get our first bump, chasing Christ’s W2, just as our W3 bumped their W3 today.

Our division was delayed due to some carnage and re-row before and we entertained ourselves with some team weight-lifting exercises at our marshalling station (everyone can lift their cox, but we can lift our coach!). Our row-up felt strong, we were winding it up beautifully on the Reach and had a powerful, controlled practise start at the Plough. We felt confident to get that bump on Christ’s, and wanted to get it quickly. We felt the excitement, and the energy from all the Haribos we munched on when waiting for our row-up longer than usual.

To regain the lost time the 4-minute canon went off earlier than we expected, when we were not yet tucked in to our station. Slight panic could be felt in the boat after the 4-minute gun, and nervous excitement in anticipation of bumping today. After the start canon went off, we had a beautiful start with controlled powerful draws and winds. In contrast to Thursday, we didn’t quite manage to find a composed, sustainable rhythm straight away. We gained on Christ’s continuously, but not as quickly as we would have hoped. We had one whistle at first post corner, realised that we had to work harder to bump and finally managed to settle into a more powerful rhythm. We continuously gained on Christ’s from that point on. Encouraged by continuous whistles and the cheering crowd at Grassy Corner we managed to bump up on Christ’s W2 just out of the corner. Clearing away quickly and hugely pleased with our success we watched the division go past and then finally crossed over to get our first greenery and celebrate!

On the row home we proudly showed our greenery, sat up and looked strong, enjoyed the sun and the cheers from the bank. Tomorrow is the last day of Bumps and we are back to where we started from on day 1, station 4 chasing LMBC. We gained on them the first day, so we are confident to catch them today. It will be an exciting last race and we will give it our all.

Anna, now you know how it feels to bump! Let’s do it again!

Manuela Gross, stroke

May Bumps 2016: Day 3 W1 Race Report

The last two days had been tough on our W1 crew and we were especially ready for a revenge bump after the technical bump awarded to Trinity Hall yesterday. This time in our row up, there was a definite focus and will for that bump to come our way today. The weather was beautiful again and we had a nice solid practice start outside the Plough before taking our station between Homerton and Trinity Hall.

Before we knew it, the 4 and 1 minute cannons had gone and we were poised ready for the gun. Bang! Off we went, pushing hard through the draws and winds. Behind us it was clear that Homerton W1 had pushed off to a quick start. After a few strokes, Homerton were still pushing up on us steadily and we, as a crew, began to try and work together to push them away even harder. As we approached First Post corner, Homerton had 2 whistles on us but we were not going to let this go easily. Rowing around the bend, saw them gain a foot, then two, and before we knew it, the bump came just before Grassy.

The row had been short and we had all put everything we had into it, but today Homerton were just faster and more efficient. It was another hard day for us, our third time being bumped but we are Murray Edwards W1 and will not go down easily. Tomorrow is a new day and now we have even more passion and drive to push through for a bump or a row over. We will not let the past days hold us back or give in to our disappointment. No, we are going to go hard or die trying tomorrow and remind everyone who we are and what we can do. Well Hard!!!

Nadia Blackshaw, bow

May Bumps 2016: Day 3 W3 Race Report

From the start we had been warned that we should expect a longer race than the last couple of days and, feeling confident from yesterday’s bump, we focused on facing up against Christ’s.

We began with our usual warm up and sank into a rhythm during the row up. Just before the practice start we managed to keep tapped up with a sat boat and were pleased with our perfectly lifted blades on the ‘easy there’. Most importantly, we landed a resounding SMACK on the water as the drop was called, hailed with a cheer from Reana and with all nine of us grinning in the boat. Best drop yet.

The practice start was promising and we were encouraged to keep pushed away from Christ’s who were just behind us. We were excited to finally not have to start underneath the bridge to be deafened by the cannons, and instead were washed up near the outflow which threatened to throw off our starting position. Luckily, Mark was ready to engineer a way to get us straightened out, which involved Ying leaning precariously over the edge of the bank and holding onto bow’s blade until just before the 10 second countdown. We decided we didn’t really like this new position after all and would really prefer to swap with Christ’s.

On the plus side, we christened Bill the dragonfly who must have been a good omen because after our start we steadily gained on Christ’s with every stroke. A flurry of whistles came from the bank a little later, and after yesterday’s confusion with the calls we heard an assuring “these are yours, girls!”

That was when we pressed hard with our power fives and panic began to rise within the boat as the calls and whistles seemed to get louder. With Emily our cox almost inaudible now we got messy near the end and caught a couple of last minute crabs. These made no difference though, as just then we were told to hold it and quickly clear the way. Confused, we desperately asked what had happened as there was a chaotic pile up of boats on the river. Fortunately, we had managed to bump Christ’s and not be affected by the re-row- and so we finished our day by proudly rowing home with tree branches stuffed in our hair.

Anthea Chui, 2

May Bumps 2016: Day 2 W3 Race Report

Yesterday’s result was slightly anti-climactic, especially for the rowers of W3 who had never rowed in Bumps before. But, since the race was very short, everyone was fresh for a new start today.

Since King’s had caught Sidney in such a short space of time, and we held station with King’s for the few strokes we managed to row, we were fairly confident that we could catch Sidney fairly soon as well. However, Reana, our coach, was very clear that we still had to actually race, and to not get complacent and over-confident. Churchill behind us were strong competition, and they were definitely out for blood.

Like yesterday, the row down was strong and confident, with everyone making an effort to show off their best rowing as we came past the previous men’s division on the Reach. In front of the Plough, we had a very quick countdown (an angry umpire yesterday ensured that we would NEVER take a whole 15 seconds to count down again…), and the start, while slightly rough around the edges, got the boat moving, and once we hit our rhythm, we hit a solid race pace.

Once we had spun at our station, under the bridge, we were told that, because the boats further down the river hadn’t been able to hear the cannon yesterday, that they would be using stronger gunpowder. Unsurprisingly, we were less enthusiastic about the idea, which made the idea of bumping even more appealing!

The actual start: the cannon was very loud, but we did not let it phase us. Since Mark had pushed us out earlier and straighter than yesterday, I didn’t have to use as much rudder, and so the start was much cleaner and more sat up. We got the boat moving and were quickly moving up on Sidney, and once we had whistles on them, I called for power strokes on the legs. Despite the excitement of potentially bumping, the girls never shortened up or started rushing, but instead kept their strokes long and confident, and we hit Sidney in style.

We also demonstrated that we are better at clearing the river than King’s were yesterday, and wrapped up the day with collecting greenery and rowing home to the tune of applause and lots of cheers from the bank.

Emily Busvine, cox

May Bumps 2016: Day 2 W1 Race Report

Despite not having the start to May Bumps we were hoping for yesterday, we all arrived at the boathouse ready for a new day and a new race. We knew a bump was bound to happen in front of us, but we didn’t know if we would end up chasing the bump or overbump. Either way we knew we were in for a long fight today.

After a slightly scrappy, but strong start we struggled to find our rhythm and Tit Hall slowly began to gain on us as we came around First Post corner. As we came through Plough reach we really began to hit our stride, however, at this point Tit Hall had moved up on us and had overlap. Even though Tit Hall were pulling up beside us, we refused to lay down and die. If they wanted this bump they were going to have to fight for it.

Coming around Ditton, we had a big push and not only began to pull away from Tit Hall, but also managed to get a whistle on Fitz in front of us. Unfortunately, Fitz were closer to Selwyn than we were to them, meaning we had to hold it up to avoid any broken boats. Tit Hall, still going for the bump, hit poor Octopussy and our cox quite hard.

But the drama was not over yet! As we were clearing, Emily, our boat club captain and bank party, dived to grab a blade, missed the edge of the bank and ended up in the river! As much as we enjoyed watching our captain taking a quick swim in the Cam during a Bumps race, we quickly refocused on figuring out what our result actually was – there was talk of technical results or rerows. Despite our hope of a rerow, CUCBC decided to give Tit Hall a technical bump due to the separation when we had to stop.

As we rowed home with a substitute, soaking wet cox sat on the canvas of our boat we vowed that tomorrow we would avenge our broken stern and injured cox.

Maria Rust, stroke

May Bumps 2016: Day 2 W2 Race Report

In typical W2 efficiency, we were sat in the boat, ready to push off 12 minutes early. Having had a super enthusiastic number off, we began our classic front stops warm up. Abs were fully engaged, eyes were in the boat; today we meant business. An adrenaline fuelled row down meant we were ready to marshal in no time and did a perfect ‘easy, drop and a hold’. Such was our keenness, we bagged the perfect shady spot, and fuelled up on numerous Haribos (‘sour bears’ are a new crew favourite).

Our practice start was perfect, powering past the Plough and in to our start position. The canon sounded. We all braced ourselves and race faces were on. Canon sounded. Front stops. Blades buried. Canon. And Julia’s voice came booming through, we were drawing and winding and the boat was flying. We then, having decided the chaotic yo-yo technique of day 1 was not efficient, settled to a steady, powerful state. We gained on Caius but they managed to bump too quickly for us to make any significant headway. With Tit Hall visible, we now had to maintain this pace for the entire course.

Having powered round the first corner, we responded to Julia’s favourite call: POWER TEN. Powering out of the corner, to be met with the news we were gaining on Maggie and had the potential of an overbump only made the crew push harder. Coming around to Grassy and a particularly enthusiastic cheer meant we pushed through the pain. Within no time, we were at the reach and the end was in sight. With Tit Hall in the distance, we pushed on and rowed to the crowd as the home straight came into sight. A final power ten saw us glide through the finish line and the crew pant a sigh of relief as we realised we had accomplished the entire course, with substantial cover throughout.
Robert’s comment that “he couldn’t have asked for anything more”, summed up today’s race. We may not have bumped but we gave it all we could and put in a solid performance. Having proven how much the crew are capable of, the bump is definitely going to happen tomorrow. Without question. WELL HARD. (See below if uncertain).

Anna Gibbons, 3

May Bumps 2016: Day 1 W2 Race Report

The sun was up. The wind was high. Visors were brought and lycra was worn. We were all ready to get those fancy tan lines and that mythical bump. We were being chased by a crew coached by ex-Goldie cox Will McDermott and chasing a crew coached by the victorious lightweights coach Dan Janes. Yet we felt confident in our Caius-Medwards-Lady Margaret sandwich. We were going to go out there and row our best today. And most importantly of all, not let ourselves be bumped.

During our practice start, we settled at rate 34. We were nervous and pumping adrenalin a little too high. This reflected in our real start. 4 minute cannon. Our Haribos were taken away. 1 minute gun. Push your oars out. 30 seconds. 10. GUN! Our start was strong but scrappy, our motivation strong. We gained half a length on LMBC W2 by first post corner, but by then they had bumped Christ’s W2. On we had to plough. We made it to Grassy, took a slightly wide corner, my one responsibility, and then Caius started gaining. We did a re-start, they wound it up. Right in front of the pub on Plough reach, they bumped us. We had a strong but slightly too frantic row, and Caius W2 bumped us fair and square. The air kiss from their coach did nothing to make up for our disappointment.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day. And tomorrow, we shall row better. Revenge is the sweetest kind of victory. We bumped you last year, we can bump you again. This is not over yet, Caius.

Simona Sulikova, bow

May Bumps 2016: Day 1 W3 Race Report

It was a very hot, sunny day – the perfect setting for the start of the May Bumps campaign for W3. The row down was focused and calm, showcased by a couple of nice roll-ups, something we’ve been trying to perfect in the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, our practice start was a bit rushed but we tried to make the most of it despite some confusion about the countdown. Although we had done much better starts in the past, it was a good way to relieve some nerves and get used to rowing at race pace amongst spectators.

We were directly under the motorway bridge for our starting position with a bit of crosswind in our area. Therefore, we were pushed out quite late to avoid having to excessively readjust our position, however this meant our start was, again, unfortunately quite rushed, with the boat starting in quite a diagonal orientation. Nonetheless, we still began our start sequence as we normally would and began settling into our racing rhythm. Churchill W2 chasing us got some whistles but did not gain on us a significant amount, but before we knew it we were told to hold it up hard by our cox.

King’s W2 had bumped Sidney Sussex W2, incredibly quickly, but failed to clear the river, which resulted in our crew, as well as Churchill W2, having to stop. Some boats were able to squeeze through the gaps but overall around 4 of the boats were affected in the division. Consequently, we were awarded a technical row over by the umpires, which worked quite nicely in our favour.

For tomorrow’s race, we are hoping for a bump! We will aim to push out slightly earlier on in the countdown, giving us more time to establish a stable platform for our start, which will hopefully give us a good opportunity to catch up to Sidney Sussex W2 before Churchill W2 make any progress towards us.

Sushmita Ramanujam, 6

WEHORR 2016: W1 Race Report

After a week full of bumps and celebrations, we had to do a full mental reset to face a whole different challenge, the Women Eights Head of the River Race. For this 6.8 km adventure, we headed down to London, some of us the night before, some of us bright and early that very same morning. The crew had slight changes from the W1 we were used to – including two rowers and the boat itself – and the atmosphere had a mixture of excitement and fear in equal doses.

The tideway is nothing like the Cam, it’s tidal (go figure!), busy and quite impressive. As a cox new to those waters, I attended a couple of very helpful seminars about it and prepared better than I have for any race ever. Easier said than done! Despite our plans and all the advice we got from our Captain for Boats and alumnae familiar with boating in the area, we all managed to get completely soaked while getting into the boat. Immediately after, our boat started drifting into another one while I was still trying to connect to cox box so the crew could hear the instructions. I finally got it connect and started shouting instructions, an activity that continued nonstop for the next 3 hours.

Being 319 out of 320 was far from a pleasant experience. During those 2.5 hours of marshalling we experienced first hand the four British seasons, from sun to hail. We marshalled to our position carrying out our regular warm up, rowing all 8 square blades, so the crew could feel they had enough control, even in the tideway. We slowly gained confidence and got ready for the race. However, the race start was still 2 hours away. The tideway gives you only a few seconds of break at a time before someone has to paddle back into position. At the risk of exhausting bow and two, we tried to alternate and share the burden, while eating away all the sugary food we brought.

Still freezing from being soaked and stationary, the rowers grudgingly de-kitted and we got ready to race. Despite the long distance, the next 22 minutes and 58 seconds passed by very fast. It was soon clear we would have to pass the crew in front of us, the moment came right at Barnes Bridge. I communicated our approach to the rowers and told them we would do it right after the bridge. It went pretty smooth, taking the racing line after the crew nicely moved to the side. But that was not going to be our last overtake of the day.

We encounter rough waters but the crew remained calm and strong, gaining a lot of distance of the next crews ahead. As we approached Hammersmith Bridge I was trying to find my reference point, that famous second lamppost I had heard so much about in the seminars, when I realized we had three crews just in front of us, all trying to pass each other. We quickly came to a boat length distance with very little space in between them for us to come by. With no desire of crashing oars in the Thames, I told the rowers we needed a very stable boat and pressure and they responded immediately.

After that, we headed to the last part of the race with a big push off of the bridge, while the rowers looked up at the, by now disappearing, crowd. Getting tired but at good rhythm, we made it through the finish line. Our landing was graceful as our pushing off but everyone worked efficiently to end a day full of excitement, cold and good rowing.

Joaquina Delas Vives, cox