Having been bumped by Caius the day previously, we all arrived at the boathouse keen to prove ourselves. Our first priority was to get a revenge bump on Caius, and failing that, to row over (with Fitz positioned behind us). With sunny weather and not too much of a headwind, the conditions were good and we were all in high spirits.
When the canon sounded, we leapt into our start sequence, which was much more together and controlled than the day before – the cannons seem less scary the second time round… Clare (our coach) reminded us to ignore at the boat behind as it’s much further away than it looks! Some whistles early on around Grassy meant that Fitz were close, and it wasn’t clear whether we would be able to hold them off. With the two boats both ahead of us and behind having bumped out, the only option was to row over and make sure Fitz didn’t catch us. We added some up 2s, then put more power down on the Reach and, by the finish line, had left Fitz with no chance of catching us.
This result was a huge morale boost, as we knew that we could do a powerful start and settle into a good rhythm for the whole course, and hopefully get a bump the following day.
Gina Edney, 4
Finally, the day was here – the first day of Lent Bumps and the first Bumps ever for most of our crew. Buzzing with excitement and anticipation, we paddled down to the marshalling point with the knowledge that Caius would be chasing us. As the 1 minute cannon sounded, Alice (our cox) and Clare (our coach) reminded us to keep our heads in the boat before pushing us off. Before we knew it, the start was upon us, and we leapt out of the start at an unbelievably powerful rate 44! A somewhat dodgy cox-box (and admittedly the sight of Caius slowly closing in) got in the way of our stride, with us only managing to settle on rate 37, but we held on as well as we could. Eventually, the whistles started to sound and the excitement got the best of us. Caius bumped us and we pulled in to congratulate them and catch our breath before paddling home. Our first taste of Bumps as a crew was over, and while we had been bumped, we rowed well, and were ready to take on the rest of the week with a clearer head.
Anastasia Price, bow
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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