Champs Head Race Report – W2

We were expected to row WELL HARD, having had last year’s crews set the bar high. First race of the term meant we were HUNGRY for SUCCESS. On the warm up, we stayed loose and sharp. Reana on the bank was looking particularly FIERCE that morning, Matt was giving us enthusiastic cheerleading, and I have decided that it is a good day to DOMINATE. Temporarily choosing Beyonce as my role model, I stepped back in the boat, with a crew I knew I could count on, who like no-one else respond to a call for power: with FIERCE DOMINATION. Our Captain, in true leadership manner, was spotting nominations for the OoP, as we gave it a particularly aggressive burst for 10 on the warm up. Was fabulous.

The race went pretty much like this: we gave it all at the start, then we gave it a 10, during which the boat has lifted about 1.5m above the water surface, then we gave it another 10, flew over the bridge, landed, and gave it a last push for 10. Not scientifically accurate but possibly the closest to what it felt like. Flying is painful but satisfying. I heard the time-measurement staff at the finish said ‘wow’ when we crossed. Special mention to Nadia for gaining pilot points.

We won our division, and with this time could have won the one above us if W1 didn’t take the spot. We came 1st of all second boats, which feels sweet, beat a couple of W1s as well, and a couple of men’s boats too. This gave us a great motivation to work hard, practice and give it all in the next races, and try to get better and better. Watch out, Division 3, we’re coming.

Ola Janusz, stroke

Champs Head Race Report – W1

Rowing away from a very crowded boathouse, we warmed up quickly, and had a couple of good practice starts on the row up. Spirits were high and we were all hoping to do better than our previous race, having improved greatly throughout the week. Eager to show this in our race, we got our focus together for the standing start by the Plough, and braced ourselves for the wind on the Long Reach. As Georgie called for a mental restart just before the railway bridge, we were giving it all we had, as we knew there were only about 2 minutes to go. Our finish was strong, and although this wasn’t some of our finest rowing, our efforts were rewarded with some shiny new tankards as we won the Mays second division ! My first tankard to go with my new blazer… so excited about Bumps already !

Laura Desert, 2

Spring Head to Head Race Report – W1

On one of the better row down’s we have had all term, W1 were excited for the upcoming race, despite the fact it was a back to back 2k! The marshalling was interesting, with us bumping into a countless number of boats!

The first of the 2k’s, I feel was quite solid. Which shows when one looks at the timings. With us having already raced, and with the headwind on the way back, our time drastically increased, but we still ended up doing well averagely in comparison with other crews in the Mays 2nd division, despite the awful conditions! It gave us all something to work on in preparation for the next race, and also for bumps in the future! Go Murray Edwards!

Jess Manning, Stroke

WEHoRR Race Report – W2

WEHoRR Race Report – W2

London baby! As we all made our way to the capital, we knew we were set for an exciting weekend – racing on the Thames would certainly require a change in style and a heck of a lot of concentration (whoever chose to run HoRR on a different day – good call). But first, carbs! Hiring out the top floor of Putney’s Pizza Express provided the perfect place to meet some of our lovely alumnae, talk about the race, and fill up on doughy goodness.

Staying in Emma’s beautiful house was exactly what we needed to rest before the race. A mash of stash and sleeping bags, we settled down to watch Little Miss Sunshine (not the suggested Lord of the Rings or Star Wars which would have taken us neatly to the start of the race). Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about the film; I don’t think I made it past the title sequence.

Spoilt again, Saturday started leisurely with a hearty breakfast which set us up for the day ahead. After walking to Thames Rowing Club it was time to find the changing rooms, a task Evie did in style – never wasting a moment for some cheeky talent spotting. Then, after setting the boats up and taking a quick trip to a nearby shopping centre, we were set to go.

If you haven’t rowed on the Thames before, do it. We were lucky; hardly any wind and a relatively warm day made for an enjoyable row up to marshalling. Waiting to spin, we sat next to 203, Sons of the Thames RC B. Little did we know they would be a big part of our journey back to Putney. Now with the stream and tide, spinning was an easy task and before we knew it we were in under the bridge and into our start sequence. Before the race I was apprehensive, personally I’d never raced this distance before and I’d been told it was going to hurt, but all I remember thinking was that Hammersmith Bridge had come up fast. Nadia called for a mental restart and we were with another strong power ten. 203 were close behind, but plenty of calls for ‘legs down’ kept them at bay. Just as quickly as Hammersmith, Fulham Stadium came into sight – we were on the home straight. A final call to ‘empty the tank’ at the black buoy saw us through to the finish, exhausted but happy with our result – 21:19, a solid race and a great day for MECBC!

N.B. from the train journey home: buy ‘MECBC APPROVES/ED BADGES’.

Rowanne Willett, W2, 3

WEHoRR Race Report – W1

It all started on a very cold March evening when we got on the train for London, and met up with everyone at Pizza Express in Putney. Luckily the room we were in was very warm, and spirits were high as we were all excited to be in this foreign land. Dinner was lovely and went by in a flash, as rowers, coxes, coaches and alumnae discussed all things boatie-related over hot food.

As our party split into groups for the night, we headed over to Emma’s house, where her family greeted us warmly, despite nine of us showing up wet and tired on their doorstep. Although we started to watch Little Miss Sunshine, many of us were too tired to make it to the end of the film, and we slowly filtered off to bed.

On Saturday morning we were treated to a breakfast fit for a King, then, kitted and wellied up, we walked to the Thames Rowing Club boat house, our HQ for the day. After putting Octopussy and Owen back together again, we headed towards a shopping mall for lunch and Clinton’s (it was Mothers’ Day on Sunday…).

Then it was time to get our heads together, and after a very entertaining warm up session led by Emma, we took Octopussy down to the water, for her first encounter with a river that was not the Cam. Pushing off swiftly as there were dozens of other boats queuing up, we quickly got accustomed to the Thames, which luckily wasn’t too rough, as there was barely any wind. As we marshalled, we watched the first crews rowing off, and gradually paddled up to the start. We spun and within a few minutes we were off. As we went under the bridge, we distantly heard the umpire shout “Murray Edwards, go !” and then Georgie confirmed : “And we’re racing !”, getting all our attention and focus in the boat. Already we were set to overtake the boat in front of us, and after settling into a nice rhythm, we did just that. Most of the race was a bit of a blur to be honest, as there was so much going on and so many boats. The main focus about halfway into the race however was Newnham W1 who had done some overtaking of their own, and were hot on our heels. We could even hear their cox giving calls to push into us and overtake, but we never let them get past us, and right until the finish, we pushed as hard as we could off them. I think this mental motivation definitely improved our overall performance, as we went up 10 spaces and rowed the course in 20:55. A good end to a great term !

Laura Desert, W1, 6

Pre-WEHoRR Alumnae meal

Last Saturday MECBC took 2 crews down to London to race in WEHoRR, and met up with some of our alumnae the evening before at Pizza Express in Putney, just a few minutes from the finish line. Attending were 6 W1 rowers and cox, 4 W2 rowers and cox, 3 returning rowers subbing into the boats, 2 coaches and 6 alumnae. Everyone had a great evening, discussing the race, bumps, our Easter holiday training camp in France, boyfriends, missing alumnae and more potential alumnae meet ups. Thanks to all those who came, and well done to those racing, particularly alumna Donna Etiebet who won the Senior Pennant with Thames RC.

Sally-Anne Bennett
Captain of Club, W1

(photo by Eve Bonner)

Lent Bumps Day 5 W1

I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous for a race in my life.  I tried to calm myself down by performing what has now become something of a bumps day ritual for me – finding and rewriting a famous movie speech/scene to make it bumps-centric and posting it on our facebook page as inspiration for my troops.  It didn’t help much.  After our bump on Peterhouse on Friday, we knew they’d be fiercely intent on bumping us back.  They had nothing to lose by going after us in an all-out assault.  We, on the other hand, had plenty to lose – only one more bump was standing between us and blades.  The pressure to catch Tit Hall, our target for the day, before Peterhouse could gain on us was acute.  Before I had to face that contest, however, I had the great pleasure of bank partying our W3 for their last race, and though they were bumped, it was a heroic fight.  I also got to see W2’s victory row home, flying the MECBC flag signalling their blades.

Buoyed by the spirit and success of our lower boats, we had a solid row down to the marshaling stations.  The mood in the boat was intense and determined.  They were so focused that the usual “Can we get a boathouse puppy?”, “No.” conversation didn’t even come up.  As we waited by the P&E, the sun came out and the afternoon turned sparkling and almost warm.

Once we were up to the starting stations, I was full on nervous again, and I don’t think I was the only one.  The flutter you feel in the region of your stomach when the four minute gun goes off, then the one minute gun, which starts the countdown from your bank party is a special kind of delicious terror.  Just hearing someone count down from 20 is enough to send me into a panic.  I don’t think that’s ever going to go away.  Mark gave us another pep talk, advising us to forget about Peterhouse behind and focus everything on Tit Hall.

When the final gun fired, we went hard into our start, and though it wasn’t the cleanest row we’ve had this week, we had a whistle very quickly.  The second whistle followed not too long after, and we took the pressure up.  We seemed to get stuck at three whistles for quite a while, and I wondered if Tit Hall had found some new power and were beginning to hold us off.  Three whistles did eventually become continuous, and we seemed to get a bit stuck there, as well, but we found out later that the Tit Hall cox wasn’t conceding and the umpire had to award the bump.  We finally got the call to hold it up, and after our haphazard attempt at clearing the day before, we were all tuned into Georgie as she directed us into the far bank.  Once the remaining boats had raced past, it started to sink in – we’d bumped.  We’d bladed.  We pulled back over to the towpath to collect our greenery.  I was grinning like an idiot, and, again, I wasn’t the only one.  We were approached almost immediately by a race commentator from Cam FM who asked me how happy we were.  My memory of my answer is a bit hazy, lost in the euphoria, but I think I said that it was overwhelming and that I was so proud of the crew and the club.  Which could not be more true.  The victory row home with our flag and our foliage in the last of the afternoon sunshine was a beautiful cap to the week.


Reana, 5, W1

Lent Bumps Day 4 W3

W3 awoke on Saturday in a positive frame of mind and for once, it wasn’t just the thought of brunch that enticed us out of our beds.  The day marked the culmination of our Bumps campaign, which, despite lacking the outright success of our club’s more senior crews had definitely shown a gradual improvement. Thus, we felt that the elusive bump we had chased all week could surely be within our grasp; a hope that was supported by our incredibly complex but (not entirely) reliable statistical analysis of the results so far – the simple fact that having been bumped, technically bumped and rowed-over the only feasible outcome would be to continue the upward trajectory and bump today.

It was with this in mind that we came to front stops and sprang into a strong start; leaving Darwin to trail behind us as we were greeted by the encouraging sound of whistles. However, no matter how hard we seemed to push, the Catz boat remained an inch ahead; taunting us in the same way its feline namesake taunts its prey. Perhaps we had been over-zealous in our consumption of bananas and had finally succumbed to potassium poisoning, or maybe the fact that a wing (or, more specifically, foot plate) had detached itself from our galactic craft was partly to blame, but either way we found ourselves unable to convert our overlap into a bump. Then, amongst the chaos of the chase we felt a shadow fall across us as we realised that Darwin had exploited our weakness and pulled back from three lengths to nudge alongside; bumping us before we could push ourselves around Ditton and to safety.

Although we never quite managed to win ourselves some greenery, W3 gained a lot from what was, for all but our cox Christina, our first ever Bumps – including countless awful photos, an unnatural sense of excitement at the sound of canons booming and the knowledge that our performance in Mays will only be better.

Felicia Lane, 6, W3

Lent Bumps Day 2 W2

The sun, for what felt like the first time in weeks, had decided to make an appearance for Bumps today, and it was with warmer fingers and an optimistic outlook that W2 paddled up to the Loch for the second day of racing. The prospect of bumping Wolfson W1 however was not so sunny, especially when parked in the chill underneath the motorway bridge waiting for the cannon to go off only a few feet away. Having heard ‘defend your ears!’ for the third time as the start gun blasted, we gained three whistles quickly with a good start but their cox refused to concede and a few 100m in, our legs protesting at every stroke, the boat speed started to drop, allowing Wolfson to gain another half boat-length round First Post corner. Then, Peterhouse W2 bumped and didn’t manage to clear the river in time for Wolfson to take the best line round Grassy, allowing our brilliant cox Nadia to guide the boat round to take the advantage off Wolfson and allow the crew to regain three whistles on them. We finally caught up the now tiring pack of wolves soon after the corner in true ‘well hard’ style. Another day of chocolate chip cookies well-deserved W2!

Siena Carver, 5, W2

Lent Bumps Day 3 W3

We where starting to think that we were punching above our weight. We were a 3rd boat in the midst of a 2nd boat game. We’d played our cards. We’d lost twice. First fair and square – King II were fast; second by a mere technicality, Queens II had got the luck of the draw.  The grit, the goal, the determination of the galactic unit that once was Murray Edwards III, was it to waver once more? We stood together in the boathouse, revenge in our eyes. No. Not this day, we said. This day Darwin II cannot snatch the elusive victory from us.

With the canons absent, it was a scramble at the start. Time had to be collected; stopwatches synchronized. The start was shouted from the core of the coaches and marshals; no gun was to fire today. And so Murray Edwards III was not to be shot down.

We were off the start fast, pushing, pulling, driving away from Darwin; the fire within raging. Carnage was to ensue before us; Queens II caught Catz, like a lion upon a mouse. Kings II seized Churchill II. After weaving and meandering across the river we bid farewell to the elusive bump, all that was left was the abyss until the end caught our fall.

Or so we thought.

We were complacent, sloppy, we had already unleashed the tiger within and it had drifted off behind us. The survival of the fittest had come to take us down; Darwin II had appeared like the grim reaper tapping our collective shoulder. A whistle shrill, cold as as our imminent demise pierced the air.  They crept up on us; two whistles arose from the bank – canvas. We where thrashing, panicky; the end was nigh and yet so distant. We drove through, pulled away a morsel of water between us – but was it too late?

Ditton came to save us, as angelic as a corner can be. We had the faster line; Darwin was as wide as a hippopotamus’s bottom. We crossed the finish line with full speed, and full power, in galactic warp drive once again. The risk of spoons had finally been obliterated.

Tomorrow, with the prospect of a forthcoming “spoon-barge”, the taste of success clings to the air.  But we cannot be complacent; we must row hard and we must fight well.

One must learn how to lose before one can triumph. Tomorrow; we bump.

Christina Larkin, cox, W3