May Bumps 2019: Day 3 W1 Race Report

Following two days of rowing over, we returned to the boathouse feeling confident that we would be able to hold off Sidney, and hoping for a bump on Wolfson, who had gone down every day so far. The rain was finally clearing, and although the winds were still reasonably high, we were very excited. 


Our practice start was one of the strongest starts this term, and while our actual start wasn’t quite as strong, we soon heard Mark shouting from the bank that we were gaining on Wolfson. We got our first whistle indicating that we were a length off Wolfson around first post corner, which we narrowed down to three feet through the gut. In the gut, however, Wolfson clearly made a push, as they continued to hold us at three feet until grassy.


Coming out of grassy, and thanks to Christina’s excellent line and calls, we came together for one final push. We could hear Mark shouting from the bank … THREE FEET … TWO FEET …. and then the continuous whistle to mark overlap. A few strokes later, Helen’s blade hit the stern of the Wolfson boat, and Wolfson conceded moments later. 


We pulled in, put foliage in our hair, and started to row home, very excited for the next day and the opportunity to get Lucy Cav!

Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, bow

May Bumps 2019: Day 2 W1 Race Report

After the long row over behind Emma yesterday we knew today was going to have to be a fast bump or another long row over.

We arrived on station to find Mark wrestling with the bung which seemed very determined to stay underwater. Unfortunately, Mark’s recent return to rowing did not mean he was strong enough to beat the bung yet. After being given a new chain we focused in and got ready for our race.

As the cannon went we had a strong start but Sidney also went hard off the start and moved inside station, knowing they weren’t able to catch us over the whole course the previous day. With crews bumped out on the inside of Grassy corner, Christina was forced to take a wide line, allowing Sidney to move down to a length away from us. We didn’t let this get to us though. With a big push down Plough Reach and an excellent line around Ditton we started to move away from Sidney. As we raced down the Reach into a strong headwind we really began to put distance between us and Sidney as we moved away with every stroke. Eventually we crossed the finish line 5-6 lengths ahead.

We rowed home pleased with our race and rearing to chase down Wolfson tomorrow!

Maria Rust, 6

May Bumps 2019: Day 1 W1 Race Report

After a strong but damp row down to marshalling, W1 were excited to put into practice all we had learnt since Champs Head a few weeks previous.

W2’s mighty re-row earlier on in the day meant our division was behind schedule and there was no chance for a standing start at The Plough. Nevertheless, when the cannon fired, we pulled our strongest start so far this term. A high rate meant that it didn’t take us long to pull away from Sidney and gain a whistle on Emma.

Christina’s excellent line around Fen Ditton pulled the boat yet further away from Sidney and closer to the bump. Only three-quarters of a length away from Emma by the end of the reach, the decision was made (by Mark and Christina) to continue racing past bottom finish in an attempt to grind them down.

W1 gave it all we had, bringing down the split and causing Emma to fumble; maintaining our single whistle to the very end. We didn’t get the bump, but our strong and stable row over across top finish was definitely something to be proud of! We now know that we can maintain a high rate and a low split, in adverse conditions, over the entire course. Aching but determined, W1 are ready to face day two with vengeance.

Leanne Hagger, 7

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 4 W1 Race Report

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!

Phoebe Thomson-Bird, cox

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 3 W1 Race Report

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.

Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, 2

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 2 W1 Race Report

Having been bumped on day 1, despite being faced with rain and wind speeds of 40mph, our determination was high. We were preparing to try and row over and the extreme headwind was going to force us to row long and strong. After a cold wait at marshalling, we rowed up to the Reach through literal waves and as we wound it up to race pace it was tidy and together. Our practice start at the Plough also left us feeling ready to take on the race ahead. We lined up on our station right by the cannons and as they started firing, the adrenaline started pumping and we were off.

We had a fairly good start but Christs had managed to gain water on us. With pressure on them from Pembroke behind it was clear they were going to give it everything to try and catch us. With the three boats in quick succession we didn’t give up and pushed through, settling into a nice rhythm. We managed to hold Christs off long enough for Pembroke to eventually bump them, giving us a nice bit of clear water behind us. We kept pushing, kept focusing and kept our finishes strong and patient, something Mark had really concentrated on throughout the term. Despite all our efforts, as we came round Ditton and onto the Reach the wind hit us, and we didn’t respond as strongly as Maggie behind us. We held them off for as long as we possibly could but they eventually caught us… we’d been over-bumped.

Even though this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, the majority of the race was some of the best rowing we’d done this term and personally having always being bumped out by First Post corner both last Lent bumps and on day 1, to row 1.5km of the course was a real feat. Returning to the boat house soggy and a little disappointed we could all still be proud of how we’d rowed as a crew. With true team spirit we met up a couple of hours later and ate a shedload of pasta, ready to come back with a vengeance tomorrow.

Helena Ascough, 7

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 1 W1 Race Report

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!

Emma Steinbach, 6

Pembroke Regatta 2019: W1 Race Report

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.

Up next: Bumps.

Helena Read, bow

May Bumps 2018: Day 2 W1 Race Report

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?

Felicity Parker, 2

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