It was the final day of Bumps, with a predicted temperature of about 32 degrees. No clouds, no wind, racing early afternoon in the blazing sun. Yikes! Trying to stay courageous, we focused on tactics for the race ahead. After the triumph of the first day, we had two tough row-overs chasing Trinity Hall W1 and being chased by Newnham W2. The previous day we had a very strong row, with every crew rowing their very best, and today could be no different. The aim was simply to get out there and row like we knew how to row, and to stay on Trinity Hall’s tail until they made a mistake.
Rowing from the marshalling zone, the sun was killing us. Stopping briefly in front of the Murray Edwards alumnae picnic, sympathetic shouts about the heat were encouraging but did little to lighten our burden. For the final ten minutes before the cannon, the crew actually had to get out of the boat and sit in the shade for a bit just to recover some strength. Getting back into the boat, we all tried to focus, thinking that the better we rowed, the sooner we’d be able to get out of the sun. And the cannon went! We started out strong, keeping pace with Trinity Hall, the wind generated from the boat’s speed a refreshing relief. On the corner, however, something didn’t feel quite right. There was a wobble, then another. All of a sudden we passed Trinity Hall! They had bumped Kings W1 ahead of them! And Newnham behind us were really going for it. As we went around Grassy Corner and onto the Plough Reach they were just off our stern, but we wouldn’t let them get us easily. With our remaining strength we kept them where they were for the whole of the Plough Reach, but sadly as we reached Ditton Corner they finally bumped us. We worked hard, but they worked harder!
Rowing back to the boathouse slightly disappointed, we were still pleased with our performance over the Bumps campaign and were proud to have drawn level in the charts. Encouraged by this, we focused on enjoying our last row together as a crew.
Amanda Sjödahl, 7
It was the third day of Bumps for W3, and there was a feeling of apprehension amongst the crew. Our inability to catch King’s the previous day before they caught Anglia Ruskin meant that we now had to face the possibility of being bumped by Darwin from behind if once again we were not speedy enough in bumping. Four of our crew met for a crew lunch at the Fort Saint George, where we discussed tactics with Ying and Reana – essentially, we had to ‘fly or die’.
Our row up went without problems. Theoretically we could pull this off, as we had almost caught King’s, who had caught Anglia Ruskin; therefore, we could catch Anglia Ruskin too. However, as we marshalled, the Darwin coach approached us, asking if we were intending to bump today, and to clear the river quickly after our obstruction of their crew on the Wednesday. Odd.*
Our start was very strong – we got a shout out on Cam FM for best start in the division, in fact – and as the race began our chances looked good. We took a tight corner on Grassy and gained three whistles on Anglia Ruskin, but we were not quite able to seal the deal, and a wide corner later, Darwin came out of nowhere to bump us out of Ditton. However, this was by far the best rowing we had done as a crew, and I was very proud of us.
Clara Percival, 2
*N.B. It would seem that Darwin had been planning to overbump once we had caught Anglia Ruskin, to put them at the top of the division, as they clearly had been holding back on power; this was further emphasised the following day when they caught Anglia Ruskin in under a minute.
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 the second day of our Bumps campaign. We were motivated by the success of the previous day, when we had bumped Fitzwilliam’s W2 in fewer than fifty strokes. Now we were chasing King’s W2, and we knew that this boat wouldn’t be easy prey. However, we were ready to give everything we had to catch them.
The weather was nice, sunny and warm, though there was a head wind blowing downstream and against the direction of the race, thus making our job more difficult. Two of our alumnae, Reana and Ying, followed us to the start and supported us during the whole of the race. The start was nerve-wracking. We waited for the first cannon, then the second, then the third, and then started with our first draw and wind strokes. After a powerful start sequence, we went off at a very firm rate, cutting the first corner, then being very risky on Grassy Corner, going very fast, hearing whistles all the while. Our cox shouted that we were so close, and I wondered how close we actually were. Our power was dropping with each stroke, until we were asked to hold it up. After a moment of confusion, we realised that King’s had bumped Anglia Ruskin, who were at the top of our division. We were so close to bumping them that we had to stop as well, and we were awarded a technical row over.
On the way back to the boathouse, we were not able to calm our racing hearts, or our coughs – the kind of cough that appears after a sprint and which makes you feel like you are tasting blood. Even though we did not bump, it was an unforgettable racing day for me.
Lisa Al-Faradzh, 3
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
W3 arrived at the boathouse on Wednesday, nervous but excited for the first day of our Bumps campaign. We were bolstered by the sight of alumnae Reana and Ying, whose experience and wisdom were reassuring for our crew, composed of still relatively new rowers! Stocked up with sweets and water, we made our way down to the P&E in plenty of time. We watched the first couple of M5 boats come down, but unfortunately then heard that there had been an incident in the division that would delay ours significantly. Not to be deterred, we took the opportunity for a quick photo shoot with the President Dame Barbara, who had arrived to bank party us.
Eventually, it was time to make our way down to the start, and after another slight delay, the one-minute cannon was fired. Pushed off the bank and coming forward to front stops, we anticipated the start cannon. Off it went, and the crew began our new start sequence developed by Gen, our coach this term. Albeit slightly messy, we held the start together and then settled into a nice, if slightly fast, rhythm. Before we knew it we heard, one, two, three, and then continuous whistles – we had bumped Fitz W2 in no time! We pulled into the far bank at first post corner – which somewhat awkwardly was full of Fitzwilliam supporters! Nonetheless, we celebrated a successful first day, and rowed home with smiles on our faces, ready to do it all again tomorrow!
Jules Thompson, 5
Bumps was finally here! Slightly later than it should have been, due to carnage in the M5 division resulting in a re-row of the bottom eleven boats. After a confident paddle down we marshalled at the P&E in beautiful warm sunshine and started munching Haribo. Because of the delay there were no practice standing starts, but we had a couple of rolling starts on the Reach and at the Plough. We spun and parked without incident at our station on the Outflow, and then we waited. And waited. A barge was coming down the course. Hfff.
Finally, the one minute gun! Mark started pushing us off and suddenly everything felt scarily real. This was happening, we were actually racing Bumps, we had less than fifteen seconds before the start. No time to panic. I came forward, squared, checked my posture, looked up, listened.
Draaawww 1! The boat crashed down on the recovery and my blade hit the water. Draaawww 2! Next stroke was better. One more draw and now wind! Quick hands! Stride it out, find the rhythm – 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 – blade in, lever through, big finishes, don’t slam forwards. Newnham weren’t gaining but the boat felt very heavy and the strokes were taking forever. “What’s the rate?” I asked. “36.” Oh. I’d stop worrying then. But where were our whistles?
We finally got our first whistle – about five strokes after we should have, since Mark was being mean – and gave a push for ten. Two whistles followed shortly after – this was progress! Starting to round First Post Corner, we’d barely heard our triple whistle before Emily started shouting, “OVERLAP! OVERLAP!” A few strokes more and Christina called to hold it up. We’d done it!
Felicity Parker, stroke
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
With the weather on our side, it was set to be an enjoyable and successful race. However, with eight minutes until marshalling time, Murray Edwards W1 were still at the boathouse. Not only were they still at the boathouse, but they had no stroke. In fact, our stroke was still coxing the ME W2 boat to success in the previous division. With the return of W2, Felicity (stroke) hastily leaped from one boat into another, immediately pushing the boat out to begin our firm (and indeed swift) paddle down to the marshalling zone. Short of time, we span ahead of the motorway bridge, arriving at our station (just) in time for the start of the race.
The start of our race was strong, courtesy of our start sequence training over the past few outings. Whilst the marshal left little differentiation between our ‘go’ and the instruction for Newnham to approach the start line, we refused to be distracted. Instead, we stormed into Ditton corner with a tight line as we approached the Reach. With the first minute behind us it was time to storm through the pain and maintain high pressure.
As we headed under the railway bridge we moved into our final few strokes. It was time to give it all that we had left. With our increase in power and determination, we surged towards the finish line, only to hear a premature klaxon moments before we were to complete the race. Though this bewilderment threatened to derail both cox and rowers, we retained strength to end the race as powerfully as it had begun!
Joanne Skinner, 2
Cox – Christina Larkin
Stroke – Felicity Parker
7 – Amanda Sjödahl
6 – Emma Roth
5 – Leanne Hagger
4 – Emilie Cousin
3 – Barley Collier
2 – Joanne Skinner
1 – Taine Ranaghan
Coach – Mark Jacobs
Cox – Alice Levin
Stroke – Natalia Hussein
7 – Nadia Blackshaw
6 – Katherine Wong
5 – Clarrie Pettit
4 – Chloe Legard
3 – Olimpia Onelli
2 – Lisa Kreusser
Bow – Hope Mason
Coach – Robert Gardiner
Cox – Emily Larcombe
Stroke – Issy Pearce-Mason
7 – Holly Philipps
6 – Tilly Farmery
5 – Jules Thompson
4 – Beth Cross
3 – Lisa Al-Faradzh
2 – Clara Percival
Bow – Frieda Dobler
Coach – Genevieve Bouchard
Cox – Hannah Dyball
Coaches – Taine Ranaghan, Issy Pearce-Mason