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
After a week of being bumped every day, we were determined to make the last day of bumps still count. We thought we could hold off Churchill for long enough to pull ahead and were aiming to row over (as Trinity Hall in front of us had proven to be quick off the start the day before, we didn’t think we could catch them). As we settled at the start before the 4-minute cannon, our numerous bank parties encouraged us. We had two previous rowers there to cheer us on, and Dame Barbara had come to see us off.
Too soon, the 1-minute cannon sounded, and soon our last race start as a crew was upon us. We had had a strong practice start on the way up, and this one proved to be even more controlled. My calls of ‘patience at the finish’ which I had forgotten yesterday in the heat of our ‘fly or die’ strategy worked today – off the start we were rowing with more control and power than we had all term. I was amazed by how fast our boatspeed was, while still maintaining the relaxed slide. Despite the strong platform the rowers were giving, Churchill started gaining on us, and as we approached first post corner they started overlapping us. As we took the corner, their bows approached 7’s blade and I conceded.
We pulled into the opposite bank to the towpath in the wind, and a man waiting in his garden kindly stepped forward to pull us in. Though we had been bumped every day, we had rowed excellently today, and I thought that Mark would be proud of us. I thought it was a strong way to finish the term as a crew. And now we had spoons to show for our week of pain!
Phoebe Thomson-Bird, cox
Cox: Phoebe Thomson-Bird
Stroke: Maria Rust
7: Helena Ascough
6: Emma Steinbach
5: Anna Ryan
4: Bianca Belli
3: Izzy Rhodes
2: Giulia Bollen Gandolfo
Bow: Helena Read
Coach: Mark Jacobs
Cox: Lucy Orchard
Stroke: Fiona Amery
7: Haley Rice
6: Rachel Brown
5: Aasta Kendall
4: Helen Caldwell
3: Virginia Manzano
2: Beth Holmes
Bow: Mackenzie Kowk
Coach: Ben ‘Swanny’ Swan
W3 (Rolling IV)
Cox: Jury van Egmond
Coach: Felicity Parker
Feeling motivated and raring to go after our crew dinner the night before, we arrived to the boathouse ready to push away from Tit Hall and to go and bump Christs. We had decided to take the ‘fly or die’ approach, knowing that unless we caught Christ’s very early on, Tit Hall would likely bump us. Mark cautioned us to make sure that this ‘fly or die’ approach would only work if we rowed efficiently. With this in mind, we pushed off and headed towards the P&E for marshalling.
As we were preparing to race, the excitement and nerves were palpable in the boat. Everyone knew we would have to get Christs as quickly as we could. As we got pushed off, we were reminded to keep the rhythm strong and to keep our rowing efficient and strong. With the cannon going off, we set off very quickly, initially gaining on Christ’s and getting a whistle. Unfortunately, the excitement soon got the better of us, and despite all our efforts, as Tit Hall came ever closer our rhythm got rushier and rushier.
Just before First Post Corner Tit Hall bumped us, and we tucked in, a bit disappointed, both that we had failed to bump Christs and that our rowing hadn’t been as good as it was the previous day. We left the boathouse determined to make the race on Saturday some of our best, most efficient rowing yet, as it would be our final time rowing together as a crew.
Giulia Bollen Gandolfo, 2
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
Having been bumped on day 1, despite being faced with rain and wind speeds of 40mph, our determination was high. We were preparing to try and row over and the extreme headwind was going to force us to row long and strong. After a cold wait at marshalling, we rowed up to the Reach through literal waves and as we wound it up to race pace it was tidy and together. Our practice start at the Plough also left us feeling ready to take on the race ahead. We lined up on our station right by the cannons and as they started firing, the adrenaline started pumping and we were off.
We had a fairly good start but Christs had managed to gain water on us. With pressure on them from Pembroke behind it was clear they were going to give it everything to try and catch us. With the three boats in quick succession we didn’t give up and pushed through, settling into a nice rhythm. We managed to hold Christs off long enough for Pembroke to eventually bump them, giving us a nice bit of clear water behind us. We kept pushing, kept focusing and kept our finishes strong and patient, something Mark had really concentrated on throughout the term. Despite all our efforts, as we came round Ditton and onto the Reach the wind hit us, and we didn’t respond as strongly as Maggie behind us. We held them off for as long as we possibly could but they eventually caught us… we’d been over-bumped.
Even though this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for, the majority of the race was some of the best rowing we’d done this term and personally having always being bumped out by First Post corner both last Lent bumps and on day 1, to row 1.5km of the course was a real feat. Returning to the boat house soggy and a little disappointed we could all still be proud of how we’d rowed as a crew. With true team spirit we met up a couple of hours later and ate a shedload of pasta, ready to come back with a vengeance tomorrow.
Helena Ascough, 7
Day one of Lent Bumps – here we go. After an inspirational briefing at the boathouse, we were all ready to set off and face whatever challenges we’d meet on the river. Admittedly, the weather could have been a bit nicer, but after one term of training in all possible weather conditions (including having to break through actual ice in order to move forward), we were prepared for everything. I think all of us were a bit tense on the way down to the starting position, but we made it, and it was a bit easier once Mark, our coach, was in sight: a known face on this day full of new and unusual (at least for me) events. Thanks to our lovely predecessors last year we were quite high up in the division, 6th place! We pulled into our spot and from there we could only wait for the cannons to sound. I was surprised at how loud these cute little things can be! Then the countdown arrived, and with it the adrenaline infusing our veins. 25 seconds! – pushing the boat out – 10 seconds! – coming forwards, the heart begins racing before we do – 7! Squaring up our blades – 5! …….. GO!!! In contrast to how long these four minutes waiting for the start had felt, the actual time spent racing went by so quickly as if it were only a few seconds. Okay, to be fair, maybe it was because we actually didn’t row that long until we got bumped. Still, I didn’t really notice any of the surroundings during the race. There was some distant shouting, I could see people cycling along with us out of the corner of my eye, but the only thing I could focus on was our boat and our movements. It felt good to push through and finally be moving after building up all this pressure whilst marshalling in the cold, the rain and the wind. We made it just around the corner and then got bumped by Trinity. Never mind, tomorrow is going to be a new day to try again. Because of our great rowing, we were allowed to sing all the way back to the boathouse – Beyonce, the Beatles and ABBA must be so proud. Even though we weren’t able to bump anyone, we didn’t let that put us in a bad mood and still enjoyed rowing together as a team. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring!
Emma Steinbach, 6
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