Following two days of rowing over, we returned to the boathouse feeling confident that we would be able to hold off Sidney, and hoping for a bump on Wolfson, who had gone down every day so far. The rain was finally clearing, and although the winds were still reasonably high, we were very excited.
Our practice start was one of the strongest starts this term, and while our actual start wasn’t quite as strong, we soon heard Mark shouting from the bank that we were gaining on Wolfson. We got our first whistle indicating that we were a length off Wolfson around first post corner, which we narrowed down to three feet through the gut. In the gut, however, Wolfson clearly made a push, as they continued to hold us at three feet until grassy.
Coming out of grassy, and thanks to Christina’s excellent line and calls, we came together for one final push. We could hear Mark shouting from the bank … THREE FEET … TWO FEET …. and then the continuous whistle to mark overlap. A few strokes later, Helen’s blade hit the stern of the Wolfson boat, and Wolfson conceded moments later.
We pulled in, put foliage in our hair, and started to row home, very excited for the next day and the opportunity to get Lucy Cav!
Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, bow
Another rainy day on the Cam couldn’t dampen the spirits of MEdwards W2. Channelling the energy of a spectacular Plough-side bump on day one, we paddled up for day two with high hopes. We were chasing Newnham III, a crew we had met before in a gripping Lent term chase all the way back to the P&E. Although we were closely matched then, we had proven in Wednesday’s rowover that we had the stamina and strength to catch Newnham in a long chase.
A disappointing start off station 10 saw the chasing Pembroke come within a whistle, but a quick power 10 held them off and brought us within a whistle of Newnham. But before we could gain a second whistle, the race was called to an emergency stop as Hughes failed to row on after bumped by Tit Hall II. Confusion and fury reigned as the umpires began to negotiate a re-row. Most of the division had passed the magical point on the river where technical rowovers are awarded… including our rivals at Newnham! In fact, for reasons not yet clear to us, it was deemed that the four boats ahead of us were all to be awarded technical rowovers. With the rest of the division already having bumped, this left only two boats in the rerow: MEdwards and Pembroke.
As we took our place on first station ahead of Pembroke at two, the frustration in the air was palpable. With nothing to chase, there was no hope of a bump, and little to keep us motivated. Cox Lucy urged us to channel that anger into productive energy and the well hard ladies of MEdwards provided! A flying start built into a strong power 10 around First Post leaving Pembroke in our wash. Instead of settling into stride, we kept a bumps pace all the way past the Plough and on towards the Reach. As we watched Pembroke fading behind us, we could have wound it down but instead we put on a show for the spectators who were surprised to see us still racing after the earlier confusion.
As we flew under the Railway Bridge several lengths ahead of Pembroke, the marshalling M3 division cheered us on showing the sportsmanship and good cheer which is one of the real joys of bumps. Spurred on by all the male attention (and somewhat confused about which finish line to aim for), we put another length behind us and steamed into top finish with five lengths behind us. We may have been denied the opportunity to catch Newnham but nevertheless we took the chance to show Cambridge what MEdwards women are made of.
Tamzin Byrne, 4
After the long row over behind Emma yesterday we knew today was going to have to be a fast bump or another long row over.
We arrived on station to find Mark wrestling with the bung which seemed very determined to stay underwater. Unfortunately, Mark’s recent return to rowing did not mean he was strong enough to beat the bung yet. After being given a new chain we focused in and got ready for our race.
As the cannon went we had a strong start but Sidney also went hard off the start and moved inside station, knowing they weren’t able to catch us over the whole course the previous day. With crews bumped out on the inside of Grassy corner, Christina was forced to take a wide line, allowing Sidney to move down to a length away from us. We didn’t let this get to us though. With a big push down Plough Reach and an excellent line around Ditton we started to move away from Sidney. As we raced down the Reach into a strong headwind we really began to put distance between us and Sidney as we moved away with every stroke. Eventually we crossed the finish line 5-6 lengths ahead.
We rowed home pleased with our race and rearing to chase down Wolfson tomorrow!
Maria Rust, 6
After a strong but damp row down to marshalling, W1 were excited to put into practice all we had learnt since Champs Head a few weeks previous.
W2’s mighty re-row earlier on in the day meant our division was behind schedule and there was no chance for a standing start at The Plough. Nevertheless, when the cannon fired, we pulled our strongest start so far this term. A high rate meant that it didn’t take us long to pull away from Sidney and gain a whistle on Emma.
Christina’s excellent line around Fen Ditton pulled the boat yet further away from Sidney and closer to the bump. Only three-quarters of a length away from Emma by the end of the reach, the decision was made (by Mark and Christina) to continue racing past bottom finish in an attempt to grind them down.
W1 gave it all we had, bringing down the split and causing Emma to fumble; maintaining our single whistle to the very end. We didn’t get the bump, but our strong and stable row over across top finish was definitely something to be proud of! We now know that we can maintain a high rate and a low split, in adverse conditions, over the entire course. Aching but determined, W1 are ready to face day two with vengeance.
Leanne Hagger, 7
Our race day began with a torrential downpour and soggy spirits. Our crew had not had an outing all together in weeks, we were exhausted from exams, and nervous to face Darwin after they bumped us last term. Our aim: try for an early bump, if anything to hold off Darwin just a bit longer.
As we sat in the massive queue on the way to the P&E, though, our hopes changed. It occurred to me that, just a few boats ahead, Darwin looked smaller than we remembered. They were not nearly was beefy as their crew in Lent Bumps were. They were even, dare I say, close to our size. We passed the message down the boat, and though we were soaked and poor Lucy was marinating in the puddle pooling in her seat, we started to feel hopeful. Even though we had no coach, no bank party, nobody besides the marshals so far to motivate us.
As we spun by the motorway bridge, our coach and bank party finally showed. We pushed off and very nearly forgot the bung. It was a stressful couple seconds before Lucy had it firm in her hand and the cannon went off. Darwin gained on us quickly, coming within two whistles shortly after our start. We started to gain on Pembroke, getting within one whistle of them before we all had to hold it up. The crews in front of us had bumped and were crowding the river. It was time for a re row.
We were freezing and soaked, but saw that Pembroke were choking as we neared them. It was going to be a longer race than we anticipated. But we had a chance. For the second time, the cannon fired and we nailed our start. We gave it our power and speed. Darwin gained on us. One whistle. We gained on Pembroke. One whistle. Two whistles. My feet slipped out of the footstraps. Darwin sped up, two whistles away. We were still gaining on Pembroke, more quickly than Darwin were gaining on us. Three whistles. It was tight. In a whirlwind of either us putting the power down, or Darwin losing stamina, they slowed ever so slightly. I found myself beside Pembroke’s cox. He looked wide-eyed. I shot him a terrifying glare (though my face probably was just ugly and contorted from the power ten). Continuous whistle—then Pembroke conceded! We bumped! We did much more than hold Darwin off for more than thirty seconds; we rowed home with foliage in our hair, cheered on by other boat clubs like the heroes we were.
Mackenzie Kwok, bow
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
After a week of being bumped every day, we were determined to make the last day of bumps still count. We thought we could hold off Churchill for long enough to pull ahead and were aiming to row over (as Trinity Hall in front of us had proven to be quick off the start the day before, we didn’t think we could catch them). As we settled at the start before the 4-minute cannon, our numerous bank parties encouraged us. We had two previous rowers there to cheer us on, and Dame Barbara had come to see us off.
Too soon, the 1-minute cannon sounded, and soon our last race start as a crew was upon us. We had had a strong practice start on the way up, and this one proved to be even more controlled. My calls of ‘patience at the finish’ which I had forgotten yesterday in the heat of our ‘fly or die’ strategy worked today – off the start we were rowing with more control and power than we had all term. I was amazed by how fast our boatspeed was, while still maintaining the relaxed slide. Despite the strong platform the rowers were giving, Churchill started gaining on us, and as we approached first post corner they started overlapping us. As we took the corner, their bows approached 7’s blade and I conceded.
We pulled into the opposite bank to the towpath in the wind, and a man waiting in his garden kindly stepped forward to pull us in. Though we had been bumped every day, we had rowed excellently today, and I thought that Mark would be proud of us. I thought it was a strong way to finish the term as a crew. And now we had spoons to show for our week of pain!
Phoebe Thomson-Bird, cox