Champs Head 2012 W1 report

Marina Steketee, W1, 5
 
After a very successful Head to Head race for W1 in which we came first in our division, we were determined to end the Champs Head race with even better results. The weather was windier than we would have liked but the presence of the sun was enough to get us fully into racing mode as we rowed down to the lock for marshalling. As we were sat waiting for the division to go off, the wind was getting steadily more powerful, prompting a lot of discussion from the crew as to how we should deal with this during the race. After a long period of waiting, we were finally pushing off and making our way to the start line.

The start was not as clean as we liked. It was definitely not helped by the man who called it; i.e. practically whispered “go” as we were sat at front stops. We quickly regained our focus, though, and fully geared up into our race pace as we approached Ditton Corner. Around the corner we were met with a barrage of wind, prompting Chloe to remind us to sit tall and drive with the legs. Our piece down the reach was messy due to the choppy water, and exhausting, but we kept it up and got ready for a “mental re-start” under the railway bridge. The boat speed visibly picked up at this point, and we kept powering all the way through to the finish line.

Despite being in the windiest division of the day, W1 came second in their division by 2 seconds. This was not the result we had been hoping for, but still proved that MECBC are able to perform in less than ideal conditions. Bring on Bumps!

Results:

W1 – time – 6:03.5

-2nd in Mays 2nd division behind King’s (6:01.5)

-7th of college W1’s behind Downing (5:52.6), Queens’, Christ’s, Emma, Newnham and King’s

                -beat 12 other W1’s (Clare, Pembroke, Jesus, Caius, FaT, Churchill, Selwyn, Sidney, Hughes/Lucy, Robinson, Wolfson and Clare Hall)

-8 of the boats W1 beat today are ahead of them in May Bumps, 7 in the 1st division, 4 are in the top 10, and Pembroke is second from the headship

                                W1 beat a crew who is 21 places ahead of them in May Bumps

-beat 9 men’s crews

-beat last year’s W1 Champs Head time of 6:10.5

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Lent Bumps Day 4 W1

Emma, W1 four

Four starts, three races, two row overs and one bump – a challenging and memorable final day for W1.

Setting out to marshal for our first race chasing Churchill at the top of the second division, the crew had rage – and lots of it, not for Churchill, but for Peterhouse who had narrowly evaded our bump for the past two days. Our revenge plan seemed simple enough – bump Churchill, race again at the bottom of the first division, and bump Peterhouse back down to sandwich boat. Easy. Or not, as it turned out.

As the cannon went for the start of the second division, we powered into our start, eager to catch Churchill as soon as possible. They weren't going to give it us easily though, and the whistles did not come as fast as we had hoped. When three whistles finally became continuous, we pushed into the last few strokes, determined not to let them pull away. They didn't, and we won our second bump of the week.

As we rowed back to the marshalling point for our next race at the bottom of the first division, we were delighted with our greenery, but thinking ahead to our coming 'revenge row' against Peterhouse. After a break of Haribo eating and watching the men's second division race past, it was time for us to row back up to the start – all the way to the lock, since we were now at the end of the division. As we waited for the cannons, there were mixed feelings of nerves, anger and excitement, and as Mark gave us our pre-race talk, we focused on the challenge ahead. The four minute cannon, the one minute cannon, pushing out, coming to front stops, and we were off. We fought hard to gain on them coming out of the start, and were down to a length when confusion set in as Georgie called for us to hold it up. Ahead of us, Selwyn and Peterhouse seemed to have stopped for no reason – what was going on? Nothing, it turned out – and with no warning, the two crews started racing again. We followed suit, but not before Peterhouse had pulled ahead by two and a half lengths. Extremely angry, we channelled our rage into an attempt at a new powerful start, but we had no chance of catching them now.

We stopped racing after they bumped Selwyn and pulled into the bank – feeling cheated at the unfairness of the situation. Mark shared our anger, and after he had had a long discussion with the marshals, it was decided that there should be a re-row.

So back we went, up to the start one more time – cold, wet, and tired, but determined to catch Peterhouse. As soon as the men's division were clear, we were back in the boat and lining up for the final cannon. Pushing out of the start we knew we had nothing to lose, and gave every stroke all that we had – but Peterhouse were stronger and fresher, and bumped Selwyn before we could get within one whistle of them.

So that was that – Peterhouse got away – but only just. We went out fighting to the bitter end, and at least now we won't be chasing them at the start of next year's lent bumps.

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Lent Bumps Day 3 W1

Reana Maier, W1, seat 5

Day 3 of Bumps, and after yesterday’s gut-wrenching row-over, W1 is facing the unpleasant prospect of chasing Peterhouse W1 again. The day is bright and sunny, however, perfect for our bumping shades. Re-rows in both the M4 and W3 division cause delays, and we spend an unusual amount of time marshalling on the reach. Before finally heading up to the starting stations, we got the pleasant task of giving a raucous cheer to our W2 as they row past, decked out in greenery signalling their first bump of the week.

The row up has a decent lift and good cover, and we’re feeling nervous but determined. We know what we need to do, but we also know that Peterhouse isn’t going to make it easy. When the starting gun goes, we make a good start, then try to settle into the long, powerful strokes that will inexorably close the gap. The row today is more spirited, more controlled and more committed than yesterday’s. We slowly gain on them, getting single whistles, then two, then three, even continuous whistles signalling overlap, but each time we squeeze close, they manage to slip away. By the time we’re on the long reach closing in on the railway bridge, we’ve had continuous whistles three times, but haven’t caught them. We chase them closely all the way to the finish line for another heartbreaking row over. The crew is frustrated and angry, but we know Peterhouse had to fight tooth and nail with everything they had to stay those few inches ahead of us. I have a feeling this is a race that’s going to stick in our minds for a long time.

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Lent Bumps day 2 W1

Georgie Field, W1, Cox

W1 were excited for the second day of bumps, and as it was only my second bumps race I had that feeling of nervous excitement as we rowed down to the start (in our awesome matching sunglasses 😉 ). We were chasing Peterhouse in the race to claim the top spot of the division. The row down was strong and we were getting some nice cover. We did two practice starts on the way down, one technical and one with power to get ourselves ready for those all important first few strokes off the gun.

We pulled in at our station filled with excitement and anticipation- and a slight sugar high caused by copious amounts of wine gums! We heard the one minute gun and prepared to be pushed out. When the final gun fired I dropped the bung and we were off!  The start was looking strong and we gained some ground on Peterhouse and coming onto the long reach had three whistles on them. Unfortunately the dirty water and Peterhouse’s strong will got the better of us and we rowed over, to fight for that top spot another day.
As always I praise Octopussy’s beautiful steering capabilities and secretly hope that through some act of God the sun will come out so that we actually have justification for the sunglasses!

Tomorrow is looking up- we are all fired up and ready to finish off Peterhouse and get into that first division! Remember girls, sit tall and lets show them what we are made of!! MECBC- WELL HARD!

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Lent Bumps Day 1 W1

Amy Crow, W1, 3

On the row down we were all feeling pretty confident as we had had a strong outing on the weekend and were brandishing our ‘bumping shades’ with pride. After a good couple of practice starts and hearing the low-down from Mark on our competition it was just a case of keeping our nerve. Although Girton had a fast start, our length and power saw us gradually close the gap between us until coming out of grassy where we succeeded in catching them (after bow took a cheeky look). After adorning the boat in greenery we proceeded home triumphant ready to face the possibility of joining the W1 division on day 2!

Winter Head 2 Head 2012 – W1 Race Report

It’s barely a week into the term, and MECBC is already back racing on the Cam.  Yesterday was City of Cambridge Rowing Club’s annual Winter Head 2 Head event, a 2x2km timed race from the railway bridge to the motorway bridge and back.  While we’re always excited for a race, there was a little extra anticipation this time – it was our first race in our brand new, and as yet unnamed, boat.  Set to race in the first division of the day, we arrived at the boathouse bright and early to find a very windswept river awaiting us. 

 

Georgie called for our rolling start just before the railway bridge, and as soon as we were onto the reach, it became obvious that we were in for a real fight.  Though the wind was in our favour in the first leg, it made the water on the reach, where there’s no protection from the wind, extremely choppy.  Our blades hit the crests of the waves as we squared, making the boat difficult to balance and giving us all the kind of epic backsplash normally only seen from Marina, our Captain of Boats.  We were soaked within a minute.  Once off the reach, however, and into a bit more shelter, we managed to level things out a little and get some decent lift going, though still not up to the level of finesse and power that we had accomplished by the end of last term.

 

After completing the first leg, we spun and marshalled again, glad of the rest, but not wanting to wait too long before heading off on the second leg – the wind was chilly, and our damp kit wasn’t helping.  Mark warned that, with the wind against us, we’d really have to push hard and push together on the way back, especially once we got back onto the reach.  The mood in the boat was focused and determined as we rowed up to the starting line.

 

The rolling start to begin the second leg was more stable, and it quickly became clear that we were moving the boat along with more power and control than we’d had in the first leg.  Counterintuitive though it may be, we almost always row better in a headwind.  In between her usual calls, Georgie gave us the added incentive of closing the gap on the King’s boat in front of us.  As we rounded Ditton corner, we all sat up in preparation for rowing the reach, knowing the wind would be strongest there.  The combination of the headwind and the narrowing gap between us and King’s brought out a palpable fighting spirit in the boat, and we pushed hard toward the railway bridge.  As we drew near the finish line, from behind me, I heard Ola shout, “I can hear them!”, meaning that she could hear the King’s boat’s catches.  We were really close now.  A last set of ten power strokes brought us under the bridge and across the finish line, less than two lengths behind King’s.  Our first race of term and our first race in the new boat was finished.

 

The results posted later that afternoon showed that we had completed the first leg of the race with a time of 7:48 and the second leg with a time of 8:49, for a combined time of 16:37, placing us 1st in Mays Division 2 (a full 40 seconds faster than any other Division 2 women’s boat) and 6th of the college W1’s.  We also managed to beat half a dozen Mays Division 1 boats.  A respectable result, though, as always, we have much to improve upon before our next fight on the Cam.  The prize for topping our division turned out to be glass tankards which we happily used to hold our celebratory drinks later that night.

 

Reana Maier

MECBC W1

Lower Boats Captain 2011-2012

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Day 4 of May Bumps 2011 – W1 Race Report

Day 4 of May Bumps 2011 and Bumps Round-Up – W1 Race Report

It’s Saturday, the last day of Bumps. It’s been an amazing week; both
our boats are on course for blades. Just one more bump each, and our
boat club will have a perfect record. No pressure.

The weather is undecided today, cloudy then sunny, a sprinkle of rain
that moves quickly on. As the crew warms up, we try to listen to the
radio for news of our second boat’s progress, but a mixture of poor
reception and the noise of the ergs means we miss the crucial update.
We get the boat out and are preparing to push off, when we finally get
the word. They bumped! Blades for W2! They’re beaming as we pass
them on the river, decked out in greenery, and we can’t help giving
them a raucous cheer.

Now, it’s all up to us. By the time we’re on our way up to the
starting stations, the weather has decided which way it’s going.
Unfortunately, that way is a steadily increasing rain. Today we
marshall under the motorway bridge which gives us some protection from
the rain, but it also means we’re right next to the cannons. The four
minute warning reverberates off the concrete, and I’m getting really
nervous. Jesus II is our target today, and we’re expecting this to be
our most difficult race so far. One minute cannon. Twisty stomach.
Rechecks. The rain has stopped. Push out.

BOOM. We draw out from under the bridge, and our cox, Akiko, calls
for a big push on the legs after the start sequence. It feels as
though the first whistle is forever in coming, but once it does, the
second and third are not far behind. As with yesterday and the day
before, we don’t need to make it past first post corner before we’ve
caught them. We clear the river, and it starts to sink in. Day four
and bump four. We’ve done it – blades! We adorn ourselves in foliage
once again and break out our boat club flag for the victory row home.
More people line the bank than previously in the week, and our
greenery and flag draw cheers and well done’s not only from our
friends in the crowd.

When we get back to the boathouse, champagne, crew photos and the
traditional swim in the Cam follows. We even managed to throw our
coach in. Sucker. The celebrations will continue tonight and
tomorrow morning at our Bumps Breakfast. I think we deserve it.

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Day 3 of May Bumps 2011 – W1 Race Report

Day 3 of May Bumps 2011 – W1 Race Report

The third day of Bumps is windy, cold and wet – a rather miserable day
for mid-June. But Bumps doesn’t stop for something as trivial as
inclement weather, and my crew and I have a boat to chase.

We gather in the boathouse, discussing the weather, the race ahead,
the possibilities for tomorrow. We know that our W2 rowed over at the
top of their division earlier in the afternoon, and we check for
updates on their race to secure a spot in the next division up.
Success! Eager to keep the boat club’s spotless record intact, we get
the boat out and head up to the marshalling station.

The wind has really picked up, and it’s colder than it has been the
last few days. Delays because of a re-row mean an extra long wait,
but eventually we row up to starting stations. We’re getting closer
and closer to starting near the cannon, which means the four minute
warning causes my heart to skip a beat again. Last minute checks.
One minute cannon, countdown and push out.

BOOM. Three strong draws get our start sequence underway, and we’re
winding up to close the distance between us and Robinson quickly. We
get our first whistle just out from under the motorway bridge, which
is followed not long after by two whistles. Two whistles again, and
we push harder. Three, then continuous, then we get the call to hold
it up just before first post. Third bump! Greenery all around.
Though enjoying the cheers and well done’s from the spectators, the
rain has started in earnest, so it’s back to the boathouse as quickly
as possible.

Tomorrow is the last day. If we bump again, we have blades. If not,
we’ve still had a great week, one we can be proud of.

No, forget that. We want blades. Day 4, we’re coming for you.

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Day 2 of May Bumps 2011 – W1 Race Report

Day 2 of May Bumps – W1 Race Report

With yesterday’s victory still fresh in my mind, I’m cautiously
optimistic. I’m not a terribly superstitious person, but allowing
myself to imagine a second bump this afternoon too confidently seems
like tempting fate. I note with some dismay the gloomy weather,
thinking how miserable it will be to marshall in the rain.

Fortunately, the skies clear somewhat as I listen with friends to
radio commentary for the women’s 4th division in which MECBC’s W2 is
racing. Another terrific performance from them, bumping Addenbrooke’s
with ease, puts them at the top of their division and has us cheering.

The wind picks up a bit, but the rain holds off as W1 departs from the
boathouse to head to the marshalling stations, then up to the lock.
We’re chasing Anglia Ruskin today, and I’m sure they’re intimidated by
our practice starts as they follow us up the river. Yeah.
Intimidated. Not that I actually see their faces or anything because
my concentration is, naturally, in the boat, but I assume.

Four minute cannon scares the bejeezus out of me. Forgot how close we
were to it. One minute cannon, and the countdown starts.

BOOM. Bit of a shaky start, but nothing we can’t smooth out as we
wind up. Today, we actually finish our start sequence before we get
our first whistle. We’re gaining. Single whistles, and the water is
starting to get choppy. Two whistles, followed quickly by three, and
the water is really bouncing us around in the bows. Fortunately, we
didn’t have to cope for long as we catch them at first post. Woo-hoo!
Another bump! We collect and arrange our greenery, and then take
another gratifying victory row home.

Halfway there. Carb up and sleep well, ladies. Day 3 awaits.

Reana Maier

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Day 1 of May Bumps

Day 1 of May Bumps – W1 Race Report 

Here is the long and short of my history with the Bumps: popped gate, broken boat, row of shame, spoons and finishing at the bottom of the bottom division. Not terribly auspicious. But that was last term, and it’s time for a fresh start. Hello, Bumps. I’m Reana. Let’s try to like each other.

Having moved up a crew this term into the first boat (who got blades in the Lent Bumps, no pressure), I’ve been helpfully reminded that there are a few girls in the boat who have never been bumped before (no pressure). I anxiously tuned in to CamFM to see how the second boat, my boat last term, fare in their division. Yes! An impressively quick bump (just over a minute, no pressure), and Darwin II are out of the way.

Thanks to delays, marshalling takes what feels like forever, though thankfully the clouds that kept threatening rain never followed through. It’s incredibly humid. Nerves build. Finally, we’re on our way up to the starting stations, squeezing in a couple of practice rolling starts along the way. In a somewhat poetic twist, we are also chasing a Darwin boat, their W1. We’re not long at the starting
stations when the four minute cannon goes. De-kit and recheck gate. Stomach is quite twisty now. One minute cannon. We push off at twenty seconds, and get into position. Front stops, blades buried, back straight, tension radiating off every one of us.

BOOM. Draaaaaw 1, draw 2, draw 3. Did we just get a whistle? Already? We’ve barely finished our start sequence, and the whistles are going like mad, two then three then continuous. It doesn’t even feel like we’ve settled into a race pace when we’re getting the call to hold it up, and we pull off to the side as quickly as we can. The whole thing is over in less than a minute.

After all the build-up, do I wish it had gone on longer, that I really had a chance to savour it? Uh, no. No, that’s fine. I will not look a quick-bump-gift-horse in the mouth. Besides, if savouring is what we were looking for, there was the entire victory row back to the boathouse, adorned with our foliage, basking in the cheers from the spectators. Not gonna lie – that didn’t suck.

Bumps, this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Bring on Day 2.

Reana Maier

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