May Bumps 2019: Day 3 W2 Race Report

Day 3 started with sunnier skies and hopeful spirits after our row over from the day before. However, the wind was up so we knew it was going to be a bit more of a challenge than the past two days. We paddled up to marshall and got there on time despite heavy traffic leading up to the P and E. We then paddled up to the start, fitting in some great rolling starts along the way. On reaching the start, we got ourselves ready. The cannon went, and we were off! After a strong start, we began to lose Pembroke behind us, and they were soon bumped out by Homerton, leaving us free to chase down Newnham. We remained a solid two boat lengths behind them, but unfortunately upon reaching Ditton Corner the wind caught us and blew us wide. However, the crew didn’t let this faze them, and continued to give it their all, maintaining the two boat length distance all the way. Unfortunately we didn’t catch them, but I was very proud of them for such a strong row over, and hopeful for our last day tomorrow!

Lucy Orchard, cox

May Bumps 2019: Day 2 W2 Race Report

Another rainy day on the Cam couldn’t dampen the spirits of MEdwards W2. Channelling the energy of a spectacular Plough-side bump on day one, we paddled up for day two with high hopes. We were chasing Newnham III, a crew we had met before in a gripping Lent term chase all the way back to the P&E. Although we were closely matched then, we had proven in Wednesday’s rowover that we had the stamina and strength to catch Newnham in a long chase. 

A disappointing start off station 10 saw the chasing Pembroke come within a whistle, but a quick power 10 held them off and brought us within a whistle of Newnham. But before we could gain a second whistle, the race was called to an emergency stop as Hughes failed to row on after bumped by Tit Hall II. Confusion and fury reigned as the umpires began to negotiate a re-row. Most of the division had passed the magical point on the river where technical rowovers are awarded… including our rivals at Newnham! In fact, for reasons not yet clear to us, it was deemed that the four boats ahead of us were all to be awarded technical rowovers. With the rest of the division already having bumped, this left only two boats in the rerow: MEdwards and Pembroke. 

As we took our place on first station ahead of Pembroke at two, the frustration in the air was palpable. With nothing to chase, there was no hope of a bump, and little to keep us motivated. Cox Lucy urged us to channel that anger into productive energy and the well hard ladies of MEdwards provided! A flying start built into a strong power 10 around First Post leaving Pembroke in our wash. Instead of settling into stride, we kept a bumps pace all the way past the Plough and on towards the Reach. As we watched Pembroke fading behind us, we could have wound it down but instead we put on a show for the spectators who were surprised to see us still racing after the earlier confusion.

As we flew under the Railway Bridge several lengths ahead of Pembroke, the marshalling M3 division cheered us on showing the sportsmanship and good cheer which is one of the real joys of bumps. Spurred on by all the male attention (and somewhat confused about which finish line to aim for), we put another length behind us and steamed into top finish with five lengths behind us. We may have been denied the opportunity to catch Newnham but nevertheless we took the chance to show Cambridge what MEdwards women are made of. 

Tamzin Byrne, 4

May Bumps 2019: Day 1 W2 Race Report

Our race day began with a torrential downpour and soggy spirits. Our crew had not had an outing all together in weeks, we were exhausted from exams, and nervous to face Darwin after they bumped us last term. Our aim: try for an early bump, if anything to hold off Darwin just a bit longer.

As we sat in the massive queue on the way to the P&E, though, our hopes changed. It occurred to me that, just a few boats ahead, Darwin looked smaller than we remembered. They were not nearly was beefy as their crew in Lent Bumps were. They were even, dare I say, close to our size. We passed the message down the boat, and though we were soaked and poor Lucy was marinating in the puddle pooling in her seat, we started to feel hopeful. Even though we had no coach, no bank party, nobody besides the marshals so far to motivate us.

As we spun by the motorway bridge, our coach and bank party finally showed. We pushed off and very nearly forgot the bung. It was a stressful couple seconds before Lucy had it firm in her hand and the cannon went off. Darwin gained on us quickly, coming within two whistles shortly after our start. We started to gain on Pembroke, getting within one whistle of them before we all had to hold it up. The crews in front of us had bumped and were crowding the river. It was time for a re row.

We were freezing and soaked, but saw that Pembroke were choking as we neared them. It was going to be a longer race than we anticipated. But we had a chance. For the second time, the cannon fired and we nailed our start. We gave it our power and speed. Darwin gained on us. One whistle. We gained on Pembroke. One whistle. Two whistles. My feet slipped out of the footstraps. Darwin sped up, two whistles away. We were still gaining on Pembroke, more quickly than Darwin were gaining on us. Three whistles. It was tight. In a whirlwind of either us putting the power down, or Darwin losing stamina, they slowed ever so slightly. I found myself beside Pembroke’s cox. He looked wide-eyed. I shot him a terrifying glare (though my face probably was just ugly and contorted from the power ten). Continuous whistle—then Pembroke conceded! We bumped! We did much more than hold Darwin off for more than thirty seconds; we rowed home with foliage in our hair, cheered on by other boat clubs like the heroes we were.

Mackenzie Kwok, bow

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 4 W2 Race Report

As we congregated at the boat house at 12 o’clock, with the sun blazing down on us it tricked us into a false sense of security as we stripped off our layers and began our tranquil row down the river. We quickly realised that we had been fooled – the weather quickly turned on us, and the wind almost blew us away.

We arrived at the P&E and were met by Dame Barbara (Our President) and our coach Ben at the bank. Our spirits and determination were high as we waited for our division to move on. As the division before us came racing through, the heavens opened. The torrential rain began to dampen the moods of all the boats as we knew this wasn’t going to be an easy race.

We knew going into this that a row over was our aim. We knew Darwin were going to be hard to catch, but that our race with Newnham was going to be a close one. We hadn’t seen much of them on the river but we thought we were quite evenly matched. It was going to be a long day.

As we rowed up to our station we did a standing start and it felt powerful, our paddling throughout the week had been improving and improving and we knew this was the best we had ever rowed as a crew.

We pushed off from the bank with 30 seconds left to go before the final cannon, all of us ready to go when our line went taut and Lucy had to think fast. Mackenzie and I acted quickly when Lucy told us to take a tap, and just as I finished my stroke the cannon went.

We were off to a great start and within a few minutes we had already rowed past a lot of boats that had already bumped or been bumped. Seeing them all cheering for us made us all even more motivated. Lucy kept our spirits high throughout and was cheering us on constantly. The pure joy felt in the boat when we made our first corner was unparalleled – we had all promised Lucy we’d get her to a corner and to achieve this really was inspiring.

Moving on from this we made our way through corners with Lucy making an amazing turn around a boat which had stopped in the middle of the river. She made sure our rhythm didn’t alter and she never indicated to us that there was any reason to be worried, we always have complete faith in her and here she showed us why.

The race kept going and we could see Newnham behind us, Fiona kept up an amazing pace for us all the follow, as we reached the Plough there were lots of Medwards supporters cheering us on. As we turned the corner we got hit by a massive gust of wind which threw us off our rhythm, but we quickly got it back.

As we rowed down the windy reach, Newnham were starting to catch up to us, slowly but surely, and before we realised it, Newnham were on 2 whistles and about the catch us. With Lucy’s constant reassurance that we could do this and that we were almost there we managed to begin to pull away. Just as we did this Newnham behind us caught a crab and rowed straight into the bank.

Using this as motivation we carried on rowing, with our coach Ben screaming at us from the sidelines that we were only 300m from the finish (SPOILER: he couldn’t have been more wrong), we kept up our pace and rowed under the bridge to where we thought the finish was. We started to slow down until we heard all the M3 Division boats shouting at us to keep going, we were confused. This was the finish, wasn’t it? It turns out no, no it was not the finish.

With Fiona thinking quick on her feet and screaming at the rest of us to keep rowing we did eventually pick up the pace but not before Newnham were hot on our heels again.

We rowed past all the M3 division boats up until the P&E where STILL no one told if the race was over, finally after another 30 seconds someone did indeed tell us to wind down. The race was over – we had rowed over and we couldn’t have been more proud of ourselves. We had worked hard all term and to finally get the row over we all knew we deserved was amazing. The whole crew gave it our all and it showed that our hard work really did pay off. What a way to end Lent Bumps.

Beth Holmes, 2

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 3 W2 Race Report

We were in high spirits on Friday, ready for day three of Lent bumps. We were glad of the slightly more sheltered conditions and paddled up to the start in plenty of time – we were in the first division of the day and it was rare to have such an open, clear river to ourselves! We made the most of the space – the rolling starts felt powerful and connected, and the long paddle up was a great warm up for the crew. We were the first boat to arrive at the start and it was great to see some family and friends along the way coming along to support us.

We soon spotted our competition – we were chasing Trinity Hall and being chased by Darwin. The upcoming race was largely unknown, but we set off well with excitement and determination. With Ben’s pre-race pep talk fresh in our minds, we had a strong start and accelerated quickly. However, the Darwin crew proved too fast for us and, despite having gained distance on Trinity Hall, we were bumped fairly early on. It may not have been the race we were hoping for, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits – we set off and enjoyed the paddle home, and bow four even had an interesting if slightly frightening (and hilarious) encounter with some flying ducks… Bring on the fourth and final day of bumps!

Aasta Kendall, 5

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 2 W2 Race Report

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.

Lucy Orchard, cox

Lent Bumps 2019: Day 1 W2 Race Report

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. 

Fiona Amery, stroke

Many Bumps 2018: Day 3 W2 Race Report

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.

Sarah Martin, 3

May Bumps 2018: Day 2 W2 Race Report

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!

Caroline Salp, 7

May Bumps 2018: Day 1 W2 Race Report

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.

Felicity Coan, 5