It was the second day of our Bumps campaign. We were motivated by the success of the previous day, when we had bumped Fitzwilliam’s W2 in fewer than fifty strokes. Now we were chasing King’s W2, and we knew that this boat wouldn’t be easy prey. However, we were ready to give everything we had to catch them.
The weather was nice, sunny and warm, though there was a head wind blowing downstream and against the direction of the race, thus making our job more difficult. Two of our alumnae, Reana and Ying, followed us to the start and supported us during the whole of the race. The start was nerve-wracking. We waited for the first cannon, then the second, then the third, and then started with our first draw and wind strokes. After a powerful start sequence, we went off at a very firm rate, cutting the first corner, then being very risky on Grassy Corner, going very fast, hearing whistles all the while. Our cox shouted that we were so close, and I wondered how close we actually were. Our power was dropping with each stroke, until we were asked to hold it up. After a moment of confusion, we realised that King’s had bumped Anglia Ruskin, who were at the top of our division. We were so close to bumping them that we had to stop as well, and we were awarded a technical row over.
On the way back to the boathouse, we were not able to calm our racing hearts, or our coughs – the kind of cough that appears after a sprint and which makes you feel like you are tasting blood. Even though we did not bump, it was an unforgettable racing day for me.
Lisa Al-Faradzh, 3
It was another beautiful day in Cambridge and W2 were feeling confident and ready to get the revenge bump on Trinity Hall. Even though yesterday hadn’t gone our way, we knew with a quick start and hard first minute we were in with a good chance! The row down was solid and flowing well and the boat felt rejuvenated. Our practice start outside the Plough was very quick, faster than most during training, and so we were all nervous but eager to go when we reached our station.
The cannon went and we pushed off hard. The draws and winds came fast and furious, feeling more settled then the day before. Behind us, it was clear Newnham W3 had started well and were creeping up on us. As we all pushed through to lengthen the strokes, Newnham continued to advance up to First Post Corner, gaining two whistles. Out of the corner, despite the boat close behind, our cox Alice called for a restart and took us through the draws and winds again to find a new push. This brought the crew back to a new focus and we drove forward towards Grassy.
Around Grassy, despite the poise and power in our boat, Newnham pushed further up on us, gaining some overlap. This did not stop us though; all of us were determined to keep rowing hard. Unfortunately, just after Grassy, Newnham’s cox took a clean line and managed to get physical contact, and thus a bump on our stern.
The day has not given us the result we had hoped for, but our row was strong and we never gave up. Throughout the race, we all pushed hard but Newnham were just quicker on the day. Tomorrow is a fresh start, and most importantly we have learnt we can keep pushing through in difficult situations and will keep fighting until the end!
Nadia Blackshaw, 7
W3 arrived at the boathouse on Wednesday, nervous but excited for the first day of our Bumps campaign. We were bolstered by the sight of alumnae Reana and Ying, whose experience and wisdom were reassuring for our crew, composed of still relatively new rowers! Stocked up with sweets and water, we made our way down to the P&E in plenty of time. We watched the first couple of M5 boats come down, but unfortunately then heard that there had been an incident in the division that would delay ours significantly. Not to be deterred, we took the opportunity for a quick photo shoot with the President Dame Barbara, who had arrived to bank party us.
Eventually, it was time to make our way down to the start, and after another slight delay, the one-minute cannon was fired. Pushed off the bank and coming forward to front stops, we anticipated the start cannon. Off it went, and the crew began our new start sequence developed by Gen, our coach this term. Albeit slightly messy, we held the start together and then settled into a nice, if slightly fast, rhythm. Before we knew it we heard, one, two, three, and then continuous whistles – we had bumped Fitz W2 in no time! We pulled into the far bank at first post corner – which somewhat awkwardly was full of Fitzwilliam supporters! Nonetheless, we celebrated a successful first day, and rowed home with smiles on our faces, ready to do it all again tomorrow!
Jules Thompson, 5
Bumps was finally here! Slightly later than it should have been, due to carnage in the M5 division resulting in a re-row of the bottom eleven boats. After a confident paddle down we marshalled at the P&E in beautiful warm sunshine and started munching Haribo. Because of the delay there were no practice standing starts, but we had a couple of rolling starts on the Reach and at the Plough. We spun and parked without incident at our station on the Outflow, and then we waited. And waited. A barge was coming down the course. Hfff.
Finally, the one minute gun! Mark started pushing us off and suddenly everything felt scarily real. This was happening, we were actually racing Bumps, we had less than fifteen seconds before the start. No time to panic. I came forward, squared, checked my posture, looked up, listened.
Draaawww 1! The boat crashed down on the recovery and my blade hit the water. Draaawww 2! Next stroke was better. One more draw and now wind! Quick hands! Stride it out, find the rhythm – 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 – blade in, lever through, big finishes, don’t slam forwards. Newnham weren’t gaining but the boat felt very heavy and the strokes were taking forever. “What’s the rate?” I asked. “36.” Oh. I’d stop worrying then. But where were our whistles?
We finally got our first whistle – about five strokes after we should have, since Mark was being mean – and gave a push for ten. Two whistles followed shortly after – this was progress! Starting to round First Post Corner, we’d barely heard our triple whistle before Emily started shouting, “OVERLAP! OVERLAP!” A few strokes more and Christina called to hold it up. We’d done it!
Felicity Parker, stroke
This was it: it was the first day of Bumps after a long term of training! The sun was shining and the wind was blowing, and it was time to get out Owen, our boat. As we rowed up we were told that, due to carnage in the earlier divisions, our starting time would be delayed by at least 40 minutes, so we waited to marshal just before the Green Dragon Bridge and rested in the shade. Our hopes were high – we were chasing Lady Margaret’s W2, whom we had beaten in Champs Head just a couple of weeks previously.
Even though our coach, Robert, studied at John’s, he supported us completely, and we waited for the cannon with trepidation.
“Draw 1! Draw 2! Draw 3!” The Mays had begun for us! We started off strongly and gained a whistle on Maggie just as we were approaching First Post Corner. Then things got a bit hectic, and a branch in the water caused a mini-crab. Trinity Hall W2 started to look worryingly close. As we reached Grassy Corner, we took the corner too wide and the wind pushed us even further into the bank, so we had to stop rowing and wait for the other crew to come past us.
After the initial disappointment, we resumed our optimism: tomorrow is a new day, and we’re not going to be intimidated by the crew that we’re chasing. We’ve got rid of all the “first day nerves” today, and we’re ready to take our revenge tomorrow. Well hard!
Olimpia Onelli, 3
With the weather on our side, it was set to be an enjoyable and successful race. However, with eight minutes until marshalling time, Murray Edwards W1 were still at the boathouse. Not only were they still at the boathouse, but they had no stroke. In fact, our stroke was still coxing the ME W2 boat to success in the previous division. With the return of W2, Felicity (stroke) hastily leaped from one boat into another, immediately pushing the boat out to begin our firm (and indeed swift) paddle down to the marshalling zone. Short of time, we span ahead of the motorway bridge, arriving at our station (just) in time for the start of the race.
The start of our race was strong, courtesy of our start sequence training over the past few outings. Whilst the marshal left little differentiation between our ‘go’ and the instruction for Newnham to approach the start line, we refused to be distracted. Instead, we stormed into Ditton corner with a tight line as we approached the Reach. With the first minute behind us it was time to storm through the pain and maintain high pressure.
As we headed under the railway bridge we moved into our final few strokes. It was time to give it all that we had left. With our increase in power and determination, we surged towards the finish line, only to hear a premature klaxon moments before we were to complete the race. Though this bewilderment threatened to derail both cox and rowers, we retained strength to end the race as powerfully as it had begun!
Joanne Skinner, 2
It was W3’s first race of the term, and as we warmed up on the ergs and practised our start sequence, we were feeling confident and ready to go. The weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed a leisurely row up to Baits Bite Lock before marshalling just upstream of First Post Corner. Having arrived with plenty of time to spare and being one of the last crews in the division to race meant we and could sit back enjoy the sun. As the division started, we made our way up to the starting buoy (following a heated discussion with coach Gen about the pronunciation of the word buoy). After coming to frontstops, we stormed out of the blocks with the best start we’ve ever managed as a crew, and this gave us the confidence to put the power down and keep the rating up. We approached the finish line with a strong power ten and finished in 4th place in our division, a result we were extremely pleased to have achieved, and which puts us in a fantastic position for Bumps at the end of term.
Issy Pearce-Mason, stroke
Today was the first race of the term for W2. After all the rain this week, it was very exciting to see that the sun was out and the weather was very nice. Once everybody was there, we quickly got the boat out and were soon ready to set off. Unfortunately, there was some trouble with the cox box and our cox, Felicity, suspected that the cox box at the boathouse would run out of battery quickly. Luckily, W3 was in the division before us, so we hoped to get their cox box for the race.
We set off, rowed along the boathouses and finally arrived at the lock. We span at the lock and then it was time for marshalling. The time passed very quickly, Izzy came to bring us the cox box, and soon we were about to start our first race of the term. After our first few draw and wind strokes we settled into a very good rhythm and could maintain it over the entire course.
In the late afternoon, the race results came out, and we were very happy to see that we were faster than LMBC, whom we are chasing in Bumps. We have already improved a lot since the beginning of term, and we still have a few more weeks of training before Bumps. I can see us going from strength to strength and making our performance at May Bumps something to be proud of.
Lisa Kreusser, 2
After a very long and tough row-over the day before, W1 were determined to end our bumps campaign on a high. We knew what it felt like to get a hard-earned bump from Day 2 with Pembroke and we knew that Bumps luck was on our side from our Day 1 bump on Girton. However, we also knew that Emma were tough; a crew to be reckoned with. It was all or nothing. So we gave it our all!
After a smooth start we began the long grind, gaining distance little by little. As we approached Grassy Corner we really started moving on them, the whistles started increasing and we began to get excited! The crowd on grassy started cheering as we brought it to three whistles and this was where we decided as a crew to not let the exhaustion take over but to push through together and finish this off in style. We dug deep and had overlap by the Plough, really racing for the crowd and Neeraja at Bow won us the Bump with her blade hitting Emma’s stern at the perfect moment. What a fantastic end to W1’s 2017 Lent Bumps campaign in front of all our family and friends supporting from the bank. We celebrated and donned our greenery for the victory row home. Well Hard Ladies.
Heather Dudley, 4
It was the last day of Bumps and, actually, the first time during the campaign we rowed as a complete crew. The race results table showed our record as a straight line which meant that we were not bumped but also that we did not bump either. This time we definitely wanted to catch the boat in front of us and all the augurs were in our favour.
Rowing to the starting point, the boat was sat and moved so smoothly that we were all much encouraged. I thought that being with the crew with which you spent so many hours on the river and off it really makes a difference. While waiting for the starting canon, we went out of the boat, ate lots of sweets, made photos…and felt a bit nervous when the shots rung out marking the start of the men’s crews race.
Our starting sequence was effective and very soon our cox, “the queen of the corners”, begun to tell us that we are very close to our rivals. The only thought I had was “How close is this very close?”. Before the start we decided that our coach, Paivi, will shout “Tequilla” to call upon all our power to push the boat harder and bump. Even if I did not hear this call, I pushed with all my might, hearing the whistles, people shouting from the bank, but I did not understand what was happening and where we were, I was just pushing hard. Everything happened very quickly and we bumped Lucy Cavendish/Hugh Hall W3 just after the Newnham bridge. “That is it?” was my first thought after Paivi called us to hold it up. After some minutes of confusion, we moored to the bank, made photos and felt very happy and proud.
Lisa Al-Faradzh, 5