May Bumps 2018: Day 2 W2 Race Report

Thursday Bumps gave us a taste of what the Bumps hype is really about. Under the scorching sun, we waited for our turn. With mouths wide open under the railway bridge to avoid being deafened by the cannon, we set off for our nicest start to date.

30 seconds later, as we went around the corner, the marshal’s siren went off, signalling us to hold it up, even though the water was clear. False alarm: a bunch of oars and puzzled faces culminated outside the corner, hitting our dear cox (and our poor Teddy bear mascot), though luckily both seemed quite prepared and unshaken by the whole racket of boats, oars and whisttles.

Determined and closer together than ever, we restarted the race. Mouths wide open again, we enthusiastically got ready for a second count down. Unfortunately, we lost a bit of our motivation as we realised our start was not going as well as the previous one. A crab unsettled poor Ying: it was a Bump coming from Catz. It was over. As we pulled to the side, another crab caught Catz only a few seconds later, to our disappointment. All in all, not our best, but we certainly got a thrill out of the day, and we rowed home more sat and determined than ever, prepared to show Catz what Medwards W2 could achieve the next day!

Caroline Salp, 7

May Bumps 2018: Day 1 W1 Race Report

The crew assembled at the boathouse at 4pm, and we all took part in a crew erg (a novel experience, as normally our pre race activities are more focused on getting a good pic for Leanne’s Instagram). Felicity was coxing W2, so we had Matt (a regular W1 sub and King’s M1 traitor, who is closer to some members of the boat than others…) sit at bow for the row down. I gave a rousing pre-race chat, reminding the crew that this would be a long race and that we needed strong consistency if we wanted success. Arriving at the P&E on time, we swapped Matt for Felicity, made use of the facilities, ate a last minute sugar burst and pushed off. The row to the start was solid, with a surprisingly strong practice start in front of the Plough. However, having seen Darwin’s substantially better times in all the races this term, the race ahead was bound to be hard if they were to be kept at bay.

Lining up at the start on station six, the outflow was also a potential concern, and this turned out to be valid. As we were pushed out the water caught the bow with only seconds to go, not giving Mark time to adjust the position. As the cannon went off, the boat was at a steep angle, and Alice had to call for 2 to give firmer pressure. This unusual call upset the start, as the poor rowers are only simple beings, and change scares them. Going down First Post Reach, the crew kept station with Newnham and then gained a whistle, but it was all in vain, as Darwin had again demonstrated their continued power from earlier in term, and were able to bump us on First Post Corner. Although the crew was disappointed, the result was not wholly unexpected, and everyone was excited to come be able to come back the next day and give it another shot.

Barley Collier, 3

May Bumps 2018: Day 1 W2 Race Report

The first day of Mays was, for many of the W2 crew, the first experience of Bumps. Our boat consisted of a mixture of novices and original W2 members, who had had just a few weeks of preparation together. Understandably there was a significant amount of nervousness in the boat but also a great deal of excitement and motivation from our cox Felicity (the self-proclaimed sassiest cox on the river!).

We had a gentle paddle up to marshalling in preparation for our race at 16:00. Some coaching from Felicity and a practice start en route helped us prepare for our first race. We were starting at station 7 so were sure not to miss the almost deafening canons on the bank right next to us, which seemed to resonate particularly loudly, given we were under the bridge. The final few minutes before the race began seemed to go by very quickly. The four-minute canon went, and then the one-minute canon, and soon we were being pushed out into the river by Mark and preparing for the final canon to signal the start.

Going into the race we knew we were against strong opposition, as we were being chased by Hughes Hall W1 – a crew with significantly more experience and time training together. The start canon went off and we worked through our start sequence somewhat frantically. Our slightly messy start meant that Hughes Hall were quickly gaining on us, and despite an improvement in our strokes through the lengthens, we were unfortunately bumped.

Despite the prompt end to our own racing drama, we enjoyed watching the rest of the carnage unfolding on the river behind us. Safely tucked away in the bushes, we watched on as several boats behind us all came to a halt in the middle of the river, narrowly avoiding any major crashes.

Overall, the crew enjoyed our first day of Mays, and we are hoping to learn from our mistakes and improve throughout the next few days.

Felicity Coan, 5

Lent Bumps 2018: Day 5 W1 Race Report

W1 approached the final day of Lent Bumps with excitement and optimism, enthused by the victory of bumping Christ’s the previous day. While slightly milder, the snow-covered banks served to prove that conditions were still challenging, and we knew that chasing Emmanuel meant that a tough race lay ahead.

Weather-induced cancellations earlier in the week meant this was only our second day of racing, and we quickly settled into a steady pace on the way to our new starting position at 6th. After a slightly rushed start due to technical issues pushing off, the crew recovered well and started to create distance between us and Christ’s. By the time we reached the First Post Corner, it was clear that Christ’s had been bumped by First and Third and that Emma had sped into the distance, and so we adjusted to the prospect of a row-over.

However, as we approached the Reach, Lady Margaret emerged fresh from Girton being bumped in front of them, and hungry for an over-bump! Despite exhaustion, the crew responded well to this new challenge, and – thanks to a few “party hat” calls – were able to maintain a good distance to ensure we protected our victory from the previous day. The crew certainly did themselves proud, particularly while enduring “The Beast from the East”, and enjoyed well-deserved celebrations at Lent Bumps Dinner to reflect on a wonderful term of rowing.

Hannah Forde, 4

Lent Bumps 2018: Day 5 W2 Race Report

Following our rest day on Thursday, and our division being cancelled due to snow on the Friday, when Saturday’s race came along we were all in high spirits, feeling refreshed from our couple of days’ break. This was the last day of our Bumps debut, and our last chance to make an impact as Medwards W2, having been bumped in our two previous races. The whole crew was ready to give it all we had to try and bump Downing.

We had a solid row up to marshalling at the P&E, with our coach Robert back as our bank party, saying we looked like we’d improved following our previous days’ racing experience. We got out of the boat for a team huddle, and as some would argue a slightly humiliating (yet of course very intimidating) hands-in ‘MEDWARDS’ chant, before rowing up to our station for the race. Winding up as we rowed up the Reach and practising our start at the Plough, we felt strong and together.

Sat at our station we de-kitted; despite it still only being about 1°C, it was an improvement from the bitter cold of the other two days racing. Adrenaline started pumping as the cannons started firing and we were pushed out into the middle of the river. The start cannon fired and we were off. We had a strong start and were gaining some water on Downing, but King’s were also gaining on us from behind. Downing managed to bump up very early on and King’s were too fast, and caught us.
However, we managed to row the furthest yet before being bumped, and everyone was happy with our efforts.

We rowed back to the boathouse in our own classic way, belting out tunes from Les Mis, Disney and ABBA, with Robert naming us ‘The Girlband of the River’. Spirits not dampened by the race, we took team photos and finished the week with a trip to the pub for hot chocolate!

It was great being part of such an awesome crew throughout Lent term 2018!

Helena Ascough, 7

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