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.
Determined to have a longer race than day 2, we all set off to row up to First Post Reach in high spirits. I had come prepared with jelly babies as we knew today would be a tough race – we would have to be quick to catch up to Catz W2 before Emma W3 caught up to us. We paddled up to the starting stations and awaited the (now increasingly distant) cannon.
We set off, pushing hard to keep Emma off our tail. We made progress towards gaining on Catz – afterwards Mark commented we were only a few feet from a first whistle, which was the closest we’d got to another boat so far. We approached First Post Corner and Felicity got excited at the prospect of using her corner skills for the first time this week, but sadly Emma caught up with us as we were making our way round.
We rowed back home determined to make Saturday our best race yet – we were definitely improving as a crew as the week progressed.
Day 2 of Bumps dawned warm and not too bright. While the rest of W1 gathered at the boathouse, I was coxing W2 in their race, and drama there (an accidental siren causing half the division, including us, to be rerowed) meant that we got back to the boathouse very late, having passed W1 at the Green Dragon. I therefore left W2 in the hands of a very obliging Peterhouse rower who’d turned up early at the boathouse, wished them well, jumped on my bike and sprinted to the P&E.
Sadly, one of our crew, Giulia, had fallen ill and was incapable of rowing. Our perpetual sub, Amanda, had very kindly stepped in and saved the day, but this required a shake-up to the crew order and I found myself on strokeside for the first time in several months, with only a ten-minute row down and one practice start to get used to my new role. When I first took my seat it felt very foreign, but the start helped settle me down and by the time we were parked at our starting station under the bridge I had hope that I might be able to get through the course without crabbing.
I remember practically nothing of the start, the race, or the row home (I’m told we’d had a strong practice start and our rowing in the race itself was magic), but I do know we were bumped by Lucy Cav W1 coming round Ditton Corner. To be bumped for the second day in a row – the fourth time in two days for me – could be quite disappointing, but crew and club morale remained high. Some of W2 cheered for us on the bank and came to commiserate with us after we’d bumped out, which was very touching and very much appreciated by the tired W1ers. In the face of such strong support and boatie love within the club, who cares about winning?
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!
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.
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.
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.