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
After two bumps in as many days, W2 were out to make a comeback as Friday dawned bright and sunny. After some substitute-based palaver earlier in the week, I was to row after all. Thus, we had a full crew ready to race after Newnham W3 and away from St Edmund’s W1.
The row down was solid. We had a clean start in front of the Plough and, after some shouting from Mark, achieved a decent amount of cover with each stroke up to our station. Our station on Friday was on the outflow, but we didn’t let this disrupt our focus on the start.
The cannon went off and we were soon executing our best start of the term. We achieved whistles on Newnham almost immediately – quite an achievement after being bumped by them just after Grassy the day before. The rest of the race saw us at our best. Power tens and a restart helped us keep St Eddie’s at bay as we rowed over the whole of the course.
It is safe to say exhaustion had never felt so good. Despite our row over, costing our cox Alice her voice, the whole crew were incredibly proud to have shown Newnham some real fight and to have beaten off St Ed’s. We rowed so fast that I also managed to catch my train in time. Yay! The row put us in excellent spirits for the fourth and final day of Bumps.
Hope Mason, bow
It was another beautiful day in Cambridge and W2 were feeling confident and ready to get the revenge bump on Trinity Hall. Even though yesterday hadn’t gone our way, we knew with a quick start and hard first minute we were in with a good chance! The row down was solid and flowing well and the boat felt rejuvenated. Our practice start outside the Plough was very quick, faster than most during training, and so we were all nervous but eager to go when we reached our station.
The cannon went and we pushed off hard. The draws and winds came fast and furious, feeling more settled then the day before. Behind us, it was clear Newnham W3 had started well and were creeping up on us. As we all pushed through to lengthen the strokes, Newnham continued to advance up to First Post Corner, gaining two whistles. Out of the corner, despite the boat close behind, our cox Alice called for a restart and took us through the draws and winds again to find a new push. This brought the crew back to a new focus and we drove forward towards Grassy.
Around Grassy, despite the poise and power in our boat, Newnham pushed further up on us, gaining some overlap. This did not stop us though; all of us were determined to keep rowing hard. Unfortunately, just after Grassy, Newnham’s cox took a clean line and managed to get physical contact, and thus a bump on our stern.
The day has not given us the result we had hoped for, but our row was strong and we never gave up. Throughout the race, we all pushed hard but Newnham were just quicker on the day. Tomorrow is a fresh start, and most importantly we have learnt we can keep pushing through in difficult situations and will keep fighting until the end!
Nadia Blackshaw, 7
This was it: it was the first day of Bumps after a long term of training! The sun was shining and the wind was blowing, and it was time to get out Owen, our boat. As we rowed up we were told that, due to carnage in the earlier divisions, our starting time would be delayed by at least 40 minutes, so we waited to marshal just before the Green Dragon Bridge and rested in the shade. Our hopes were high – we were chasing Lady Margaret’s W2, whom we had beaten in Champs Head just a couple of weeks previously.
Even though our coach, Robert, studied at John’s, he supported us completely, and we waited for the cannon with trepidation.
“Draw 1! Draw 2! Draw 3!” The Mays had begun for us! We started off strongly and gained a whistle on Maggie just as we were approaching First Post Corner. Then things got a bit hectic, and a branch in the water caused a mini-crab. Trinity Hall W2 started to look worryingly close. As we reached Grassy Corner, we took the corner too wide and the wind pushed us even further into the bank, so we had to stop rowing and wait for the other crew to come past us.
After the initial disappointment, we resumed our optimism: tomorrow is a new day, and we’re not going to be intimidated by the crew that we’re chasing. We’ve got rid of all the “first day nerves” today, and we’re ready to take our revenge tomorrow. Well hard!
Olimpia Onelli, 3
Today was the first race of the term for W2. After all the rain this week, it was very exciting to see that the sun was out and the weather was very nice. Once everybody was there, we quickly got the boat out and were soon ready to set off. Unfortunately, there was some trouble with the cox box and our cox, Felicity, suspected that the cox box at the boathouse would run out of battery quickly. Luckily, W3 was in the division before us, so we hoped to get their cox box for the race.
We set off, rowed along the boathouses and finally arrived at the lock. We span at the lock and then it was time for marshalling. The time passed very quickly, Izzy came to bring us the cox box, and soon we were about to start our first race of the term. After our first few draw and wind strokes we settled into a very good rhythm and could maintain it over the entire course.
In the late afternoon, the race results came out, and we were very happy to see that we were faster than LMBC, whom we are chasing in Bumps. We have already improved a lot since the beginning of term, and we still have a few more weeks of training before Bumps. I can see us going from strength to strength and making our performance at May Bumps something to be proud of.
Lisa Kreusser, 2
As a crew it is fair to say we were all fairly apprehensive as we rowed up to the start on day four- knowing we were facing the possibility of spoons. We were hoping that for once the bumps luck would work in our favour. We had a wonderful bank party made of our coaches Robert and Sarah as well as Mark and Emilie Cousin all of whom seemed positive that we would row over. All we needed to do was row solidly for 3 minutes as within that time it was assumed that the strong st catz w2 would bump Jesus w3 leaving us clear to aim to grind down FaT ahead of us. As we set off from the gun we settled into a far better rhythm than that of day 3 and were paying good attention to our cox. Jesus were gaining on us but as predicted st catz were approaching them faster than they were catching us. As the first whistles began to be blown as we came into the first corner we headed for a stride five and pulled away but then disaster stuck and a crab was caught. Jesus kept gaining and so did catz it looked like Jesus were about to be bumped but the st catz cox took the first corner far too wide and clashed blades with a bumped out crew on the far bank. This was the last straw for us unfortunately as the Jesus crew were spurred on by their sudden luck and as we came into grassy the overlap became continuous. This was accompanied by a very abrasive bell being constantly wrung by the Jesus coach and as we pulled out of grassy we had to concede. Getting spoons is a fear of all Cambridge rowers and it definitely wasn’t what any of us were hoping for (it was the first bumps campaign for 7/9 of us) and the mood in the boat was definitely one of dejection and sadness. However when faced with Robert’s tales of his own experiences of being in this position we were reminded that though bumps may be a cruel mistress she is one who will continue to call us back for many years to come. We took out our frustrations with the outcome by forcefully scrubbing and sponging Owen to within an inch of his life in the hope that next time we row in him his gleaming hull will glide faster through the Camb. As we left the boat house our minds were quickly turning to the quickly approaching lent bumps dinner and stories it was destined to produce.
Barley Collier, 7
It was the final day of bumps, the weather was glorious compared to yesterday’s grey rain, and therefore so were our moods! We felt optimistic as we gathered in the boat house and, in anticipation of success, took our crew photo. We set off in high spirits, Robert stylishly sporting my rucksack so that I could make a quick swap out of the boat post race. Having been bumped the previous three days, we agreed that we would not give up and this would be the day we rowed over. With Jesus behind us and Catz behind them, we hoped that we could hold off Jesus long enough for Catz to bump them, and we were relatively confident that with a strong start we could manage this. We marshalled rather closer to the starting canon than the day before, in what was described as a rather difficult starting spot due to strong currents. The race started well and there was a good amount of distance between us and Jesus, and it looked like Catz might be gaining on them. However, soon disaster struck – Catz fell behind and Jesus began to get closer. We kept pushing on but were bumped at grassy, however this was the furthest point we had managed to row to all week! We were all disappointed with the outcome, but despite winning our spoons, we can be happy with the small success that every day we came in with a renewed attitude, and every day we rowed just that little bit further before being bumped. For a crew of mostly novices, I can only see us going up in strength next term, and making May bumps something to be proud of.
Tilly Farmery, 6
W2 arrived at the Boathouse on Wednesday afternoon keen and ready for their second day of bumps, with some nerves present for those of us crew members who had been unable to row on the previous day! Being keen beans, we pushed off with plenty of time to spare, and were the first crew to make it to the P&E to marshal. Having had a moment to stretch our legs, we were soon back in the boat and doing some good practice pieces on the way to the start. At this point, we heard that Eddie’s, the sandwich boat, had failed to turn up! This meant that the head boat, Clare, would be awarded a technical bump, provided they could get past the first post, and so Hughes/Lucy in 2nd would be rowing the full course – unless we could bump them first! The cannon sequence soon started and we got going. We made a strong few starting strokes, however we seemed to struggle with our rhythm and ratio, and soon this translated into our power output. Although we pushed up and got a whistle on the Hughes/Lucy boat, unfortunately Queen’s W2 were very hot on our tails and ending up bumping us around Grassy Corner. We were disappointed, as we know how well we can row together. We hope to come back on Friday after our rest day with renewed focus and prove to ourselves and our supporters the true extent of our abilities!
Jules Thompson, 3