May Bumps 2016: Day 2 W2 Race Report

In typical W2 efficiency, we were sat in the boat, ready to push off 12 minutes early. Having had a super enthusiastic number off, we began our classic front stops warm up. Abs were fully engaged, eyes were in the boat; today we meant business. An adrenaline fuelled row down meant we were ready to marshal in no time and did a perfect ‘easy, drop and a hold’. Such was our keenness, we bagged the perfect shady spot, and fuelled up on numerous Haribos (‘sour bears’ are a new crew favourite).

Our practice start was perfect, powering past the Plough and in to our start position. The canon sounded. We all braced ourselves and race faces were on. Canon sounded. Front stops. Blades buried. Canon. And Julia’s voice came booming through, we were drawing and winding and the boat was flying. We then, having decided the chaotic yo-yo technique of day 1 was not efficient, settled to a steady, powerful state. We gained on Caius but they managed to bump too quickly for us to make any significant headway. With Tit Hall visible, we now had to maintain this pace for the entire course.

Having powered round the first corner, we responded to Julia’s favourite call: POWER TEN. Powering out of the corner, to be met with the news we were gaining on Maggie and had the potential of an overbump only made the crew push harder. Coming around to Grassy and a particularly enthusiastic cheer meant we pushed through the pain. Within no time, we were at the reach and the end was in sight. With Tit Hall in the distance, we pushed on and rowed to the crowd as the home straight came into sight. A final power ten saw us glide through the finish line and the crew pant a sigh of relief as we realised we had accomplished the entire course, with substantial cover throughout.
Robert’s comment that “he couldn’t have asked for anything more”, summed up today’s race. We may not have bumped but we gave it all we could and put in a solid performance. Having proven how much the crew are capable of, the bump is definitely going to happen tomorrow. Without question. WELL HARD. (See below if uncertain).

Anna Gibbons, 3

May Bumps 2016: Day 1 W2 Race Report

The sun was up. The wind was high. Visors were brought and lycra was worn. We were all ready to get those fancy tan lines and that mythical bump. We were being chased by a crew coached by ex-Goldie cox Will McDermott and chasing a crew coached by the victorious lightweights coach Dan Janes. Yet we felt confident in our Caius-Medwards-Lady Margaret sandwich. We were going to go out there and row our best today. And most importantly of all, not let ourselves be bumped.

During our practice start, we settled at rate 34. We were nervous and pumping adrenalin a little too high. This reflected in our real start. 4 minute cannon. Our Haribos were taken away. 1 minute gun. Push your oars out. 30 seconds. 10. GUN! Our start was strong but scrappy, our motivation strong. We gained half a length on LMBC W2 by first post corner, but by then they had bumped Christ’s W2. On we had to plough. We made it to Grassy, took a slightly wide corner, my one responsibility, and then Caius started gaining. We did a re-start, they wound it up. Right in front of the pub on Plough reach, they bumped us. We had a strong but slightly too frantic row, and Caius W2 bumped us fair and square. The air kiss from their coach did nothing to make up for our disappointment.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day. And tomorrow, we shall row better. Revenge is the sweetest kind of victory. We bumped you last year, we can bump you again. This is not over yet, Caius.

Simona Sulikova, bow

May Bumps 2016: Day 1 W3 Race Report

It was a very hot, sunny day – the perfect setting for the start of the May Bumps campaign for W3. The row down was focused and calm, showcased by a couple of nice roll-ups, something we’ve been trying to perfect in the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, our practice start was a bit rushed but we tried to make the most of it despite some confusion about the countdown. Although we had done much better starts in the past, it was a good way to relieve some nerves and get used to rowing at race pace amongst spectators.

We were directly under the motorway bridge for our starting position with a bit of crosswind in our area. Therefore, we were pushed out quite late to avoid having to excessively readjust our position, however this meant our start was, again, unfortunately quite rushed, with the boat starting in quite a diagonal orientation. Nonetheless, we still began our start sequence as we normally would and began settling into our racing rhythm. Churchill W2 chasing us got some whistles but did not gain on us a significant amount, but before we knew it we were told to hold it up hard by our cox.

King’s W2 had bumped Sidney Sussex W2, incredibly quickly, but failed to clear the river, which resulted in our crew, as well as Churchill W2, having to stop. Some boats were able to squeeze through the gaps but overall around 4 of the boats were affected in the division. Consequently, we were awarded a technical row over by the umpires, which worked quite nicely in our favour.

For tomorrow’s race, we are hoping for a bump! We will aim to push out slightly earlier on in the countdown, giving us more time to establish a stable platform for our start, which will hopefully give us a good opportunity to catch up to Sidney Sussex W2 before Churchill W2 make any progress towards us.

Sushmita Ramanujam, 6

Lent Bumps 2016: Day 4 W2 Race Report

Today was the last day of Lent Bumps and so spirits were high, especially when we had sporadic spurts of sunshine. We knew we had a tough row ahead as Wolfson weren’t going to give us an easy bump! However, pumped on Robert’s pep-talk and the copious amounts of sugar we were gulping down in Haribos, fizzy colas and chocolate buttons, when the final canon went we had a great start. We kept the momentum up and pushed through HARD. We were however facing a cross-wind which made the catch more challenging than we’d anticipated. We caught a few crabs and a few shipwrecks but we charged through to the finish line. As Wolfson managed to bump before we bumped them, we had a smooth row-over the finish line. It was the toughest of the four races we’ve rowed in but ultimately we remained un-bumped over the course of Lent Bumps and therefore we are undefeated! Our cox Julia was also potentially the greatest driving factor in how well we’ve done- her energy and dedicated coxing definitely got us those bumps! All-in-all it has been a really enjoyable experience and has brought the team much closer together.

Sofia Akhtar, 6

Lent Bumps 2016: Day 3 W2 Race Report

We set off on a grey Friday afternoon, determined to have another good race. We were excited but nervous at the prospect of taking on Queens II for the second time, only this time we would only have one and a half boat length between us. We rowed confidently down to our position and arrived in good time. We took the time to warm up, experience Julia’s intriguing face painting skills and to gorge ourselves on Haribo. The cannon went off for the first time and we all jumped into the boat.

We went off to a good start taking the rate up to 40, however Queens II had an equally good start, we knew we were going to have to fight for our bump. We then settled into a strong rate 34-35 and started gaining on Queens II, spurred on by the whistles, we knew we were getting closer. Unlike yesterday we didn’t let the rate rise and channelled our excitement into strong and controlled stokes. Queens II had no escape and we bumped them!! We pulled into our usual spot on the bank and the whole boat exploded with happiness, excitement and relief.

We then rowed down and Robert proceeded to denude a whole tree to present us with our well-earned foliage. We made our way back to the boat house, concentrating on our rowing.

We know that our last race will be the hardest, Queens II will be up for revenge and will be on our tail. Additionally, we will be attempting to bump Wolfson, a very strong crew, before they bump Clare II (whom have rowed over 6 times already this week). We will put into practice everything we have learn this week and will at the very least give Wolfson a good scare.

Audrey Bellis, stroke

Lent Bumps 2016: Day 2 W2 Race Report

We boated in good time to head up to the first checkpoint where we waited in the sun, eating many a Haribo on the bank. We were all in high spirits as the boat was being sat beautifully on the row to the checkpoint, so much so that Julia was even pleasantly surprised when we sat it at easy there, one of the most menacing things a boat can do to stir up the opposition. Then, with a good few race starts on the way down (which in total lasted longer than our actual race) we felt confident.

And we were off! We started off at rate 40, which we have done in training. What we did not do however was relax the rate and settle as we normally do, sure we went down to 35 at some point but then straight back up to 40 despite poor Julia’s calls to slow the slide down. It was probably a combination of the glucose, adrenaline and the whistles telling us we were close and gaining still. There was this unanimous, unspoken decision to keep the rate up and give it everything and when we found out we had bumped the atmosphere within the boat was indescribable.

What will stay with me was the Newnham College passing by, and we cheered them on, call it all girls solidarity if you will. They smiled and pushed on… into another boat. For some reason the Newnham cox didn’t ask to hold up until it was too late and the cox of the other boat, and stroke received a smack to the head with a blade. It was incredibly tense but all seemed to be okay afterwards. I will also never forget discovering the tree tradition, it just adds a touch of fun (and foliage in hair that refuses to come out) to the whole event.

I can only hope that the next bumps is just as successful or, should it not be, that we row with the same amazing quality, focus and determination that we did on Wednesday, as I had not felt anything like it this term… perhaps it was Dame Barbara’s lucky bear and its magical powers.

Elodie Burton, 7

Lent Bumps 2016: Day 1 W2 Race Report

Bumps began for W2 on an unusually sunny February afternoon – some say it was warmer here than in Morocco, but I wouldn’t go that far. There was excitement, nerves and apprehension in the air as the majority of the crew faced their first ever bumps campaign. The more experienced members of the crew shared their wisdom with the less experienced as we prepared ourselves for the afternoon of pain that was to come.

As we marshalled we took the time to fill up on Haribo and jelly babies, a well-known recipe for success. The journey to the start line was focused until our practice start drove us straight towards the bank. We recovered and another start settled us and brought back our confidence in that we knew what we were doing.

When the start cannon finally went, we did what we had trained to do. We worked our way through the start sequence and finally settled to the sound of a whistle. Darwin had gained half a length on us. But we were gaining on Wolfson so that didn’t faze us and we pushed harder. Moments later some confusion went through the boat as we passed Wolfson and FaT. They had bumped out in what must have been no more than 30 seconds. A restart or a jump 10 as Robert calls it brought the focus back as we had a new target. Many of us in the boat were not aware of this new target as we were so focussed on our own boat. But this new target was Queens W2. We went through our start sequence again what felt like the hundredth power 10, which closed the gap further between us and we pulled away from Darwin. We were going for the over bump. The boat started to become unsettled as we came into their dirty water but we got the focus back and fell in line again with stroke. The sound of the Whistle and the excitement from the bank kept us powering on. Darwin were chasing us but they had failed to gain further were falling back with every stroke. One more restart and we were within one length of the over bump. We could feel the dirty water from their boat and the excitement from the bank.

Then we crossed the finish line and it was over.

We pulled into the bank and the whole boat began to realise how close we had been. We almost did what many cannot even dream of and we would have done it had the race been longer. Another minute and we would have had them.

We may not have bumped today but we know now what we can do. Tomorrow is another day…and FaT W2 better watch out!!

Taine Ranaghan, bow

Pembroke Regatta 2016: W2 Race Report

W2 set off early on a cold windy morning for our first race of term. We had already won our first race as Robinson scratched, probably in fear of having to face us. We ended up being rather early for our division so Mark took it as the perfect opportunity to get a couple of pieces in and so we headed on to the lock. With a sub in the boat who had never done a standing start we thought we would be best practising some of those and get warmed up with some high rate work.

When the time came to race Pembroke we lined up on the start line. The countdown started but alas our Cox box did not. We began the race with only the sound of the oars in their gates and the Pembroke cox pushing the opposition on. The lack of sound made the start sequence somewhat of a challenge and as a crew we struggled to properly lengthen the stroke. We began the race rating 37 and maintained this excruciating pace for longer than any of us would have liked and becoming somewhat frantic at times. However we got it together and held off Pembroke for the first half the race pulling ahead at times before they stated to pull away from us for definite.

We may have lost but that will never take away how we worked together and never gave up. We fought until the very end that is the fighting spirit we need for a successful bumps campaign. Pembroke W2 may be 10 places ahead of us and in a different division this bumps but they should still watch out because you never know what the Well Hard ladies of MECBC are capable of.

Taine Ranaghan, Bow

Winter Head 2015: W2 Race Report

During the row down, the boat was slightly unsettled and unbalanced – not the impressive low rate firm paddling that we’ve been working on in our outings. The weather was cold and windy and the river was chaotic with boats and colours from so many different clubs and universities. But we started the race well, winding up to a 29 rate which we kept quite consistently throughout. As we got to the reach, Emily called for more pressure on the legs and the boat started moving really well with lots of cover. Unfortunately we were unsettled from our rhythm by a couple of experienced crews overtaking us and then hitting the dirty water they left behind, so the end of the race was not as composed and powerful as we may have wanted. Overall, the race was a good experience for us in our preparation for Fairbairns, highlighting both technical and fitness points that we need to focus on for the next couple of weeks.

Chloe, stroke

May Bumps 2015: Day 2 W2 Race Report

Day 2 brought with it hotter weather and a more determined feeling to W2. The row up started solid and we returned to our starting place all ready to finally make up the last foot on Trinity Hall. The last few minutes were tense, with the sun beating down and Robert giving us some last encouraging advice.

The canon went off! As an eight, we surged forward through our start sequence, much more together then the first day. Before we knew it, we had one whistle and Joaquina, our cox, called for another power ten. Within another 30 seconds we had the second whistle and the third came soon after. The whole crew, encouraged by our swift catch up, pulled harder and just as we reached the first corner, the continuous whistle came and finally the complete overlap. It was spectacular as we pulled into the side cheering and overwhelmed. We had bumped Trinity Hall 2 in less than 3 minutes! All of the first days pain was worth it and now that we have experienced success, we are all ready for tomorrow and another bump!

Nadia Blackshaw, 3