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!
Feeling motivated and raring to go after our crew dinner the night before, we arrived to the boathouse ready to push away from Tit Hall and to go and bump Christs. We had decided to take the ‘fly or die’ approach, knowing that unless we caught Christ’s very early on, Tit Hall would likely bump us. Mark cautioned us to make sure that this ‘fly or die’ approach would only work if we rowed efficiently. With this in mind, we pushed off and headed towards the P&E for marshalling.
As we were preparing to race, the excitement and nerves were palpable in the boat. Everyone knew we would have to get Christs as quickly as we could. As we got pushed off, we were reminded to keep the rhythm strong and to keep our rowing efficient and strong. With the cannon going off, we set off very quickly, initially gaining on Christ’s and getting a whistle. Unfortunately, the excitement soon got the better of us, and despite all our efforts, as Tit Hall came ever closer our rhythm got rushier and rushier.
Just before First Post Corner Tit Hall bumped us, and we tucked in, a bit disappointed, both that we had failed to bump Christs and that our rowing hadn’t been as good as it was the previous day. We left the boathouse determined to make the race on Saturday some of our best, most efficient rowing yet, as it would be our final time rowing together as a crew.
We were in high spirits on Friday, ready for day three of Lent bumps. We were glad of the slightly more sheltered conditions and paddled up to the start in plenty of time – we were in the first division of the day and it was rare to have such an open, clear river to ourselves! We made the most of the space – the rolling starts felt powerful and connected, and the long paddle up was a great warm up for the crew. We were the first boat to arrive at the start and it was great to see some family and friends along the way coming along to support us.
We soon spotted our competition – we were chasing Trinity Hall and being chased by Darwin. The upcoming race was largely unknown, but we set off well with excitement and determination. With Ben’s pre-race pep talk fresh in our minds, we had a strong start and accelerated quickly. However, the Darwin crew proved too fast for us and, despite having gained distance on Trinity Hall, we were bumped fairly early on. It may not have been the race we were hoping for, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits – we set off and enjoyed the paddle home, and bow four even had an interesting if slightly frightening (and hilarious) encounter with some flying ducks… Bring on the fourth and final day of bumps!
Day one of Lent Bumps – here we go. After an inspirational briefing at the boathouse, we were all ready to set off and face whatever challenges we’d meet on the river. Admittedly, the weather could have been a bit nicer, but after one term of training in all possible weather conditions (including having to break through actual ice in order to move forward), we were prepared for everything. I think all of us were a bit tense on the way down to the starting position, but we made it, and it was a bit easier once Mark, our coach, was in sight: a known face on this day full of new and unusual (at least for me) events. Thanks to our lovely predecessors last year we were quite high up in the division, 6th place! We pulled into our spot and from there we could only wait for the cannons to sound. I was surprised at how loud these cute little things can be! Then the countdown arrived, and with it the adrenaline infusing our veins. 25 seconds! – pushing the boat out – 10 seconds! – coming forwards, the heart begins racing before we do – 7! Squaring up our blades – 5! …….. GO!!! In contrast to how long these four minutes waiting for the start had felt, the actual time spent racing went by so quickly as if it were only a few seconds. Okay, to be fair, maybe it was because we actually didn’t row that long until we got bumped. Still, I didn’t really notice any of the surroundings during the race. There was some distant shouting, I could see people cycling along with us out of the corner of my eye, but the only thing I could focus on was our boat and our movements. It felt good to push through and finally be moving after building up all this pressure whilst marshalling in the cold, the rain and the wind. We made it just around the corner and then got bumped by Trinity. Never mind, tomorrow is going to be a new day to try again. Because of our great rowing, we were allowed to sing all the way back to the boathouse – Beyonce, the Beatles and ABBA must be so proud. Even though we weren’t able to bump anyone, we didn’t let that put us in a bad mood and still enjoyed rowing together as a team. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring!
Bumps Day 2 for W2 dawned a little gloomier, and a lot
windier than day 1… However, we were feeling optimistic as today, despite
chasing Caius we were being chased by Kings, whom we had almost bumped the day
before. Everyone arrived at the boathouse excited and prepared for a long race,
as we were sure that today we were going to row over. Having packed the toolkit
and 2 cox boxes after the unfortunate bleeping from the previous day, we set
off feeling a little nervous, but ready for another afternoon of racing.
After some pro (and slightly hurried…) paddling down to the P and E, we parked up ready to marshal. Despite the rain and wind, nothing could dampen our spirits as we rowed to our starting position, fitting in a great rolling start along the way.
Due to the lack of cannon, we were counted down using a stopwatch, but nevertheless got off to a strong start. The girls really gave it their all and we quickly pulled away from Kings. The strength and stamina shown by everyone in the boat was very impressive, but unfortunately a few minutes into the race the majority of the boats around us had to be stopped, due to a crash up ahead. However, we were pleased when we were told that we had been granted a technical row over, thanks to everyone’s determination and drive to pull away from Kings! We were all a little disappointed that we didn’t get to row further as things were going so well, although perhaps the rowers were a little more relieved not to have to row the whole way than myself! Oh well, hopefully we’ll get some corners in on Friday, and we all feel optimistic at our chances of chasing down Trinity Hall.
Well done ladies for such brilliant (if short-lived) rowing, keep up the good work! Thank you to everyone who bank-partied us today, we really appreciate it.
First day of bumps for us W2 rowers. We knew we were chasing Kings W2 who we’d beaten in Robinson head but were being chased by Caius W2 who looked pretty scary. We arrived at the boathouse with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. One of our crew members, Beth Holmes, also arrived having just been hit by a car on her cycle down. This was cause for much concern and we scrabbled around for any knowledge of concussion that we might collectively have. With some of her scrapes patched up and like the champ she is, Beth decided to soldier on with the race. We hoped her collision wasn’t a bad omen for being bumped by a different, more water-ey, vehicle in around half an hour. (and also hope she is feeling better now!)
We had a good row down to the motorway bridge, fitting in a few starts along the way which felt balanced and fast. Once in our starting position we were treated to a rousing speech by Ben, our coach, who had made the unfortunate fashion choice of wearing a Caius one-piece for our big race day (for which I’m not sure he’s been forgiven?)
The canon went, the race began, and we got off to a quick start, pushing our heels into the footplates. The other thing that began was a constant bleeping from the cox box, which some of us mistook for uninterrupted and aggressive whistles from the bank. Nevertheless, we powered on gaining on Kings. We got a whistle on them, and then a second but Caius were rushing up behind us. In a matter of seconds and only inches away from Kings, Caius started overlapping with us; we’d been bumped. The race had gone so quickly that it felt like only 10 seconds had passed, although we were assured we’d been rowing for about two minutes.
The result was disappointing, especially because we had been so close to bumping but as a crew we’ve got a taste for it now and will be back for day 2 of bumps with even more determination.
It was a warm day, spring was nearly around the corner. We gathered at the boathouse. Most of the crew had had an excellent Medwards brunch and were ready for the races ahead.
We paddled downstream to begin our first race against Magdalene. Once in race positions against Magdalene, side by side, our oars square and still in the water, sitting tall, we set off! We quickly got a good head start of about a boat length on Magdalene. We kept the gap between us constant until our lovely Bianca caught a crab. The gap closed and we rowed on side by side. Suddenly the umpires called stop. Disorientated we wound it down and looked behind us. A rogue houseboat had arrived and was coming towards us! We spun around and rowed it back towards the start so we could race again. Tired but determined from an impassioned and inspiring speech given by Mark we got back into positions. And we set off! After 3 draws, 5 winds and 2 lengthens we were up to our race pace and gliding across the water. We overtook Magdalene and once again held a strong lead. Heeding Mark’s words we focused to keep on hitting the key parts of the stroke and the pushing through the legs. Before long we came into the finish ahead of Magdalene!
Our second race (or 2.5th) was against Downing, we did not have high hopes of winning but our morale was high, we now knew what we could achieve as a team. The race passed in a blur. Downing won our race. Both Downing and Magdalene rowed very well and we had a fun races against them both. Despite losing to Downing we had a great time and improved a lot as a crew.
Despite the extreme
weather conditions, W2 arrived enthusiastic, if slightly terrified, to the
boathouse. High winds and the fact that it was our first race as a crew meant
we didn’t know what to expect!
An eerily quiet row down
to the start gave us time to adjust slightly to the wind and rain, expertly
guided by our cox Felicity. After a chilly wait for our timeslot and a surprise
appearance from our coach Ben, we were off! Immediately it became clear that
the wind was much stronger than us, but we weren’t going to give up easily.
Barely a minute into the race and Haley of us caught a crab, injuring her arm,
but with determination she pushed through the pain like a champ and we picked
the pace back up again.
With helpful shouts of
encouragement, we fought against the wind and kept going, holding tightly onto
the blades that the wind was trying to steal from our hands. At stroke, Fiona
kept an amazing pace which we managed to hold for the rest of the course. The
whole boat felt really connected, and as a crew we felt more in sync than ever.
After what felt like only
a few minutes, we were passing the finish line, exhausted and exhilarated,
thoroughly drenched by the splash and the rain. Even with the weather, we’d set
a respectable time and come second in our division!
While the race could have been awful, our camaraderie meant we stayed in high spirits throughout, and it was definitely a bonding experience for all of us – bring on Bumps!