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
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
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
Following our rest day on Thursday, and our division being cancelled due to snow on the Friday, when Saturday’s race came along we were all in high spirits, feeling refreshed from our couple of days’ break. This was the last day of our Bumps debut, and our last chance to make an impact as Medwards W2, having been bumped in our two previous races. The whole crew was ready to give it all we had to try and bump Downing.
We had a solid row up to marshalling at the P&E, with our coach Robert back as our bank party, saying we looked like we’d improved following our previous days’ racing experience. We got out of the boat for a team huddle, and as some would argue a slightly humiliating (yet of course very intimidating) hands-in ‘MEDWARDS’ chant, before rowing up to our station for the race. Winding up as we rowed up the Reach and practising our start at the Plough, we felt strong and together.
Sat at our station we de-kitted; despite it still only being about 1°C, it was an improvement from the bitter cold of the other two days racing. Adrenaline started pumping as the cannons started firing and we were pushed out into the middle of the river. The start cannon fired and we were off. We had a strong start and were gaining some water on Downing, but King’s were also gaining on us from behind. Downing managed to bump up very early on and King’s were too fast, and caught us.
However, we managed to row the furthest yet before being bumped, and everyone was happy with our efforts.
We rowed back to the boathouse in our own classic way, belting out tunes from Les Mis, Disney and ABBA, with Robert naming us ‘The Girlband of the River’. Spirits not dampened by the race, we took team photos and finished the week with a trip to the pub for hot chocolate!
It was great being part of such an awesome crew throughout Lent term 2018!
Helena Ascough, 7
The second day of Bumps for W2 was even colder than the first, and even in more layers than we could count we were still freezing. When we arrived there was confusion in the boathouse: we had two subs for 6 and no cox. Luckily one had coxed before, so could hop into the stern. We followed her calls well to the P&E; the previous day’s race had clearly had an effect on us, as we were more sat than usual. The biting wind was against us as we rowed up, making each stroke more difficult, but we still arrived to marshal in good time.
We decided that there was no way we could catch Catz – they had bumped us so quickly the day before and had even overtaken us in Newnham Short Course. Our game plan was to row over, hoping we could hold off Downing for long enough for King’s to catch them.
Rowing up to the start, the nerves started to show – when Sarah called for a practice start we caught a crab, though we recovered well.
Mark was at the start alone to greet us, and at 30 seconds to go began pushing us out. He counted 20 seconds to go. Then 10. Then “2, 2, 2, 2!”. 2 took a tap and we came forward as a crew, but we had lost track of time and the cannon firing took us by surprise. The first stroke was weak, though our start gained strength and we began to lengthen. It soon became obvious that Downing was gaining on us. Catz were pulling away in front, and it was seemingly only a matter of seconds before we were bumped. We cleared the river quickly (much more cleanly than on Tuesday), and watched on as other crews raced hard past us.
The results didn’t matter too much to us; as usual our spirits were lifted by just finishing the race. And even in the short time we had rowed that day, we could tell that we had improved as a crew. We rowed back in a mini-blizzard, looking forward to a day off before we could exact our row-venge on Downing.
Phoebe Thomson-Bird, 6
W2 arrived at the boathouse on a gorgeous snowy afternoon on Tuesday, wrapped up super warm and ready to race. We were all feeling pretty nervous – it would be the first time every member of the boat had rowed in Bumps, and we’d all heard the stories of how fun, but also how intense it is.
Following a gentle paddle up to marshalling and some chocolate, we had a good practice start up on Plough Reach, which boosted our confidence. We arrived at the Motorway Bridge, where we spun and waited for the cannon to go off to signal the four-minute mark. We had been told the cannon was loud, but I don’t think any of us had realised quite how loud it actually was, especially as were right next to it! As the one-minute cannon went off, Mark started pushing us out and getting us into position. The countdown continued. We came forward at 10 seconds, squared our blades at 7, and waited for the cannon to go off.
Our start was good, and we managed to get to within a boat length of Jesus in the space of a few strokes. Unfortunately, the Catz crew that was chasing us also started gaining on us. This threw everyone off, meaning the strong, steady rhythm we had started with became a bit frantic, and we were soon bumped by Catz.
While this was a disappointing start to our first ever Bumps campaign, our spirits weren’t too dampened, and we rowed home keeping spectators entertained with rousing show tunes such as ‘Let it Go’, Hakuna Matata’ and ‘I Dreamed A Dream’. This was duly noted in the Umpires’ Notes and Fines… let the history books remember!
“Murray Edwards W2 – Singing in boat – prepare an opera for Saturday’s race”
Tamzin Byrne, 3 and Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, 2
With a (slightly) painful 7am start on a bitterly cold day in February, a mixed W2/W3 crew met at the boathouse ready to face the Pembroke Regatta course! Following a gentle paddle up to the P&E (and a very cold forty minutes waiting in zero degrees for the start of our race), we moved up to the starting point on the Reach.
Our first race was against Emmanuel W3. As we moved into our standing start positions, the tension in the boat was palpable, especially as it was the first ever standing start in race conditions for a few members of the crew. Unfortunately, our start did not go as planned, and after a few strokes, someone caught a bad crab and we had to stop as a result. However, with some cheering from the marshals on the side and encouragement from our cox, Hannah, we quickly started again, and kept our rowing strong until the finish line.
W3’s coach, Felicity, then signed us up to take part in a second race to get more practice in for Lent Bumps. This race was against Queens’, and we were determined to do better. Our start was good, and although Queens’ seemed to take the lead in the first couple of strokes, we quickly caught up and overtook them. By the time we reached the Railway Bridge, roughly the halfway point of the course, our boat was a solid length ahead. Seeing Queens’ coming up behind us gave us the energy and motivation to keep going, and to continue pushing hard with every stroke, increasing our lead by as much as we could, until we flew past the finish line.
Overall, while the first race was a little demoralising, the success of the second race boosted the morale of the whole crew hugely, and we all rowed back to the boathouse feeling pretty content with our morning, and with building excitement for Bumps!
Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, 2
It was freezing on the day of Fairbarns 2017, but W2 arrived at the boathouse ready to row our best and show off how much we had improved, both individually and as a crew, over the course of the term. After a quick warm up on the ergs, we quickly got the boat out, only to find out that the race was running late. As we waited for our slot and watched other crews row past, the excitement was mounting.
Finally it was our time! As we had only rowed a short distance from our boathouse to the start line, it took us a few strokes to get into our groove, but we quickly got our legs working as we fought away the cold. At stroke, Beth set a strong, steady pace for us to follow, and Watson and Issy kept us motivated from the bank. Despite the cold, and the fact that this was the longest race we’d done as a four, we managed to keep our rate up throughout, helped greatly by Alice’s encouragement. After a strong start, we began to gain on Girton, and we kept up this good pace for the first half of the race. The fatigue got to us, however, and the Robinson crew behind us began to gain. As we neared the end of course, this in fact proved to be a blessing in disguise, as we rowed our hardest to hold them off.
Fairbarns 2017 was a great way to end Michaelmas rowing. Although the whole crew was suffering from end of term exhaustion, we worked well together and put into practice changes to our techniques that we had been working on all term. Fairbarns Dinner after the race was the perfect way to celebrate our accomplishments!
Juhi James, bow
This was W2’s first race of term and, for two of the crew, their first race with MECBC. W2’s term had got off to a somewhat uncertain start, going from a rolling crew of five, down to four, and back up to a rolling five, before eventually settling as a four – better late than never!
Unfortunately our cox, Alice, and our coach, Watson, weren’t able to be with us for the race, but Christina stepped in to save the day and her boyfriend Tristan gave support from the bank. By the time our division was marshalling, it was clear that they were running behind, resulting in four very chilly rowers, with Tamzin, being Australian, feeling it the most.
The cold was quickly forgotten when we began the race with our five powerful strokes to get us up to race pace. We got off to a good start and quickly pulled away from the Four that was following us. The majority of the race was quiet, making it hard to keep the power on, but Christina’s calls kept us motivated and strong. The most exciting part of the race, and our biggest motivation, was an Octuple scull trying to overtake us towards the end. Despite them having twice as many people and four times as many oars, we gave them a good fight, pushing harder to make it difficult for them. We got to experience Christina going ‘nuclear’, and this was the best we’d rowed during the race (partly out of fear)!
As always, we ended our race with a trip to the pub and a well-deserved pint. We were all really proud of each other for how far we’ve come, with the help of Watson, from where we started. Now we’re even more excited to keep working hard in the run up to Fairbairns!
Saturday for W2 dawned bright, sunny and nerve-wracking, with St. Edmund’s W1 keen to get revenge for the previous day’s row over behind us, and us aiming to bump Tit Hall back after we were bumped by them on Wednesday. We were all hopeful, though, and despite Nadia’s unexpected flat tyre half way to the boathouse (and despite my getting stung by some kind of plant on the bank as we were pulled in), we made it to the P&E to marshal in perfect time with no major setbacks.
The tension was certainly palpable on our row up to the start, but our practice start in front of the Plough was strong and very fast, and we hoped that would put us in a strong position for the real thing. We waited nervously at our station, on the outflow again, and as the four-minute and one-minute guns went off, the rowers prepared themselves to row as hard as they could, while I prepared myself to take the corners as tightly as I could, and to keep the crew motivated and pushing with all their strength.
We were pushed out late to account for the outflow, and it felt like no time at all before the gun went off, and our final day of May Bumps 2017 had begun! Our start was strong, though unfortunately so was Eddie’s, and so was Tit Hall’s. We kept our distance from Eddie’s all the way to First Post Corner, and though they started to make gains around Grassy, a strong Power Ten pushed them further away. We were still staying strong all the way past the Plough, and we got onto the first part of the Reach before Eddie’s finally made contact, and both crews moved to the bank and off the racing line.
Though the result of Saturday’s race was disappointing, the incredible row over of the day before meant that none of us were too disheartened, and the thought of not having got spoons kept us cheery. The crew’s rowing improved hugely with every day of Bumps (and we did the whole of Saturday’s race between rates 35 and a half and 38!), and we were just unlucky in that we had strong crews around us who were just that little bit faster on the day. We’re all nonetheless very proud of our Bumps campaign this year, and hopefully we can bump Eddie’s back next year!
Alice Levin, cox