With what had promised to be a bitterly cold day brightening up, W1 paddled Octopussy (complete with a couple of new pairs of shoes) down to Jesus Boathouse and the start line. Nerves were high, with this being the first time some crew members had ever faced the senior Fairbairns course.
After two strokes we built up to a strong rate, and settled quickly into a sustainable rhythm. Utilising the joint experience of the Michaelmas line up, we battled past the one minute mark, and kept going strong down the Reach. With Newnham nowhere in sight behind us, and as we made a gain on Pembroke W1, Murray Edwards strode to the finish line, bringing it up a couple of pips on the legs past First Post and towards the motorway bridge.
We definitely did ourselves proud, although on reflection we realised that we had saved ourselves a little too much for the final stretch of the long Fairbairns course. Nevertheless, Fairbairns and the rest of the term were celebrated in style at a fabulous Fairbairn Dinner.
Leanne Hagger, 3
Winter Head was W1’s first race of the term and of the new academic year, and being my first race in about a year and a half, it is pretty fair to say that I was dreading the thought of a 2.5km race.
As we rowed up to marshal, we took the opportunity to focus on our timing and balance, with the help of some last-minute coaching from Robert. By the time we reached the Lock, our spirits were high despite the cold and wind, helped by a bag of Haribo sweets being passed up and down the boat.
After a solid, if slightly early start, we settled into our strong, sustainable racing rhythm we had being practising all term. Before long, we were coming around Ditton and onto the Reach, with Robert telling us that Clare were overtaking Caius ahead of us and that he wanted us to do the same. And with Robert and Christina’s encouragement we slowly began to move up on Caius. As we came under the Railway Bridge and Christina called for us to pick it up, we really began to move, reducing the distance between us and Caius with every stroke, crossing the finish line only seconds after them.
Although we didn’t place as highly as we had hoped, this Winter Head was a brilliant chance for us to get some (very promising) racing practice in before Fairbairns, where we hope to do even better.
Maria Rust, stroke
It was the final day of Bumps, with a predicted temperature of about 32 degrees. No clouds, no wind, racing early afternoon in the blazing sun. Yikes! Trying to stay courageous, we focused on tactics for the race ahead. After the triumph of the first day, we had two tough row-overs chasing Trinity Hall W1 and being chased by Newnham W2. The previous day we had a very strong row, with every crew rowing their very best, and today could be no different. The aim was simply to get out there and row like we knew how to row, and to stay on Trinity Hall’s tail until they made a mistake.
Rowing from the marshalling zone, the sun was killing us. Stopping briefly in front of the Murray Edwards alumnae picnic, sympathetic shouts about the heat were encouraging but did little to lighten our burden. For the final ten minutes before the cannon, the crew actually had to get out of the boat and sit in the shade for a bit just to recover some strength. Getting back into the boat, we all tried to focus, thinking that the better we rowed, the sooner we’d be able to get out of the sun. And the cannon went! We started out strong, keeping pace with Trinity Hall, the wind generated from the boat’s speed a refreshing relief. On the corner, however, something didn’t feel quite right. There was a wobble, then another. All of a sudden we passed Trinity Hall! They had bumped Kings W1 ahead of them! And Newnham behind us were really going for it. As we went around Grassy Corner and onto the Plough Reach they were just off our stern, but we wouldn’t let them get us easily. With our remaining strength we kept them where they were for the whole of the Plough Reach, but sadly as we reached Ditton Corner they finally bumped us. We worked hard, but they worked harder!
Rowing back to the boathouse slightly disappointed, we were still pleased with our performance over the Bumps campaign and were proud to have drawn level in the charts. Encouraged by this, we focused on enjoying our last row together as a crew.
Amanda Sjödahl, 7
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
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
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
After the somewhat accidental success of the first day of bumps, the Medwards W1 crew was eager to show off our skills properly. While fending off death-stares from the angry Girton crew during marshalling, and some heat from a none-too-happy Churchill crew behind them, W1 pondered their race tactic. We were chasing Pembroke; they were catchable, but could we do it without first getting caught by Girton bent on revenge? The answer was clear: trust ourselves! Propelled by the success the previous day, our paddle home had been one of the strongest of the term. We had found a rhythm and a confidence that had been at times elusive to the crew, but that everyone could feel now. So the tactic for the race was simple: ignore Girton, focus on chasing Pembroke. The gun went, we were off, and soon found a steady rhythm for the race. Girton, fuelled by anger, went hard off the start and appeared to be gaining on us. We followed our tactic and ignored them. Instead, every single stroke we focused on grinding it down in pursuit of Pembroke. At the first whistle Christina called for a power ten and the crew responded amazingly; we could really do this! After no more than 20 strokes we had gained another half a length, and Girton was nowhere to be seen. We caught up with them at grassy corner – it was a proper and well deserved bump! We were very excited, for some of us it was our first proper bump. Maybe a bit too excited in fact, as we for a few seconds forgot that we had to swiftly clear the river… Some carnage was caused, mistakes were made and we went away happy that no one got hurt but with a hefty fine, and maybe even fewer friends in the boats behind us than we had before… But all the while pleased with a job well done.
Amanda Sjödahl, 5
The third day of Lent Bumps started on a high after MECBC W1 bumped Girton W1 and Pembroke W1 on the two prior days. The crew were mentally prepared for the possibility that it was going to be a longer race than the last couple of days, and were up for the challenge that was going to be bumping First and Third W1. After maintaining distance all the way until grassy, MECBC W1 started closing in on FaT W1 till the two boats were about a length apart, and constantly moving in and out of this distance, as we approached the corner to the long reach. But the race had been going exactly as planned since the crew knew that if we were to bump FaT W1, we would have to stay strong and stay consistent with our pace and determination, especially as we came up along the Long Reach. However, just as we took the last corner, FaT W1 closed in on Emmanuel W1’s boat ahead of them, a little faster than we had anticipated, and bumped them, thus leaving us with a long row over. However, the crew were able to sustain the same rate and continue rowing strong in spite of a head wind and no one chasing us, and this truly showed the progress we had made as a crew over the entire term.
Neeraja Bhamidipati, bow
Wednesday was the first day of Lent Bumps for W1. It also was their first Bumps race for three of our crew members, making the day even more exciting. We arrived at the boathouse full of positive energy and determination. We knew it would be a tough day, but we were ready to fight! After a confident warm-up, a few decent practice starts and encouragement from President Barbara, we were finally ready for the race. After the canon went off, we had a solid start that propelled us at a good race pace, keeping Churchill W1 away. However, Churchill constantly reminded us every stroke counts by slowly gaining on us, getting one whistle on us after the first post corner. In the meantime, the distance between Girton W1 in front of us and our boat didn’t seem to shorten. We had a good rhythm and lengthened our strokes to try to reduce the gap. Suddenly, as we approached grassy corner, Christina said in the cox box she was about to overtake Girton! Everything went very quickly from there. As there have been no whistle for us, we were very confused to see Girton’s cox surrender. We then realised they made an unforgiving bad line on grassy corner and crashed their boat. Christina’s perfect steering finished them off: it is a bump!
Emma Roth, 7
Having had a few more weeks of training since the Head to Head race that started the term off, W1 arrived to the boathouse in good spirits, ready for a solid race against Churchill in the Pembroke Regatta. The paddle down was promising, and the crew remained positive and cheerful as we marshalled at the P&E, then by the railway bridge. There was some excitement as other boats raced past us, but as we paddled up to the railway bridge the focus was back in the boat, and we had an encouraging practice start.
The nerves started to kick in as we lined up next to Churchill at the beginning of the reach – as a relatively inexperienced crew this was the first time a few of us had raced alongside a crew, but we were determined not to let that faze us.
After what seemed like a very quick line up, we were off. Our wind strokes were not as quick as they might have been, but we settled into a solid rhythm, which with lots of encouragement to sit up and “put some spring in our step” from the banks we managed to maintain all the way. However, try as we might, it was not quite enough, as Churchill inched away from us up the Reach to finish just over a length ahead of us.
Although ultimately a disappointing result, the whole crew came away from the race with plenty of individual points to work on, safe in the knowledge that we can do better – and that we will do better- when it comes to Bumps.
Lily Stratford, stroke