The Club's Results
May Bumps 2008
1st men's VIII
Crew list for 1 race:
Coxed by: Ming-Chee Chung
Crew list for 3 races:
Coxed by: Ming-Chee Chung
It's hard to describe the euphoria when you've been training for 263 days for one race and one bump and achieve it so emphatically. We couldn't have been more fired up for this by the time of the start gun, and we set off hard, kept it hard and hit them hard. We expected them to be quick off the start, so were pleased to have taken a quarter of length out of them by the exit of grassy. However, the next thirty strokes really showed the difference between the two crews and we went into Ditton within a canvas of them. Ming postponed the inevitable with a brief encounter with the inside of the corner, but this gave them only a few extra feet and we got them within ten strokes of coming straight.
For the six of us who had been in the boat or coaching it last year, this was the culmination of two years' training and was a satisfying reversal against the same CUBC stern four who had held us off last time round.
Rowed over Head
We had found out on Sunday that Toby would have to leave us to train with his CUBC four, which was racing as the Great Britain second four at the World Cup meeting in Poznan. We decided to keep him for Wednesday and hope that if we could bump Caius with him then we could hold them off without him. Laff agreed to row with us from Thursday onwards, which was selfless of him given how it would have felt if we'd been bumped back. There were worries about how well it would gel with a new rower but he couldn't have fitted in better - we had had subs all term, including Laff, and were used to pulling hard despite any lack of balance or coordination. In Laff, we knew we had someone who would commit fully from first to last stroke in any situation, which was exactly what we needed.
After Wednesday, we were pretty confident but still wary of what Caius could throw at us. We were boosted by the sight of their day-one stroke man on a bike rather than in the boat - apparently he broke a rib in Wednesday's race, so I hope he was ok. We set off as if we were going for another quick bump, left Caius behind easily and were five or six lengths clear when they were bumped by LMBC at the railings. Jesus showed no interest in the overbump and wound it down but, for reasons that I still don't fully understand, we only took it down to a relaxed 5k pace and completed the course in 7:46.
Rowed over Head
We expected LMBC to go off hard, so hit the first two minutes as hard as yesterday, but also expected to have them behind us for the distance, so took the next two minutes in a more sustainable manner. Our suspicions were confirmed as LMBC were still at most two lengths off at Ditton but faded over the second half of the course to finish five lengths off and narrowly avoid being bumped back by Caius. Maintaining a solid 37-38, we raced flat out all the way to the end to make sure that LMBC wouldn't harbour any hopes of bumping us on Saturday, but the stream was stronger than on Thursday and we finished in 7:50.
Rowed over Head
Its not often you get a Mays headship without training for it. I only found out on Monday evening that I would be rowing most of the week with these guys. Having spent the majority of the year out of action I wasnt convinced I was quite ready for 3 row-overs at the top of the division, but sitting in the boat, you could feel the power from the other 7 guys and it was clear if it could be done, they would do it.
They've earned this, everyone who has subbed in over the course of the term knows how hard they trained and my inbox is still full of emails from Flo saying exactly how much he wanted to nail Caius. I dont think I'll ever fully appreciate how tough that week of "super-compensation" must have been, but they definitely came out of it an incredibly strong crew.
Stepping into the boat, the thing that stands out is their motivation - their simmering aggression on the row up to the start, the first 2 minutes when it boils over and they all put everything into every stroke, together, to get away from the crew behind, the fact that possibly the most committed pushes came under the railway bridge, when your entire body is burning and Ming asks you to give it everything for the umpteenth time that day. It was easy to get swept along with the massive desire to win.
Thanks guys for the ride, it was amazing, particularly to Toby, who did the hard work for me! As ever the support on the towpath was immense, especially on Saturday. Having everyone there really does make it all worthwhile. We should also thank the old boys who provided the new equipment this year. The blades definitely make a difference and the Empacher is an absolute pleasure to row, or at least these guys make it feel like that. Also Tom Rose and JPD put in hell of a lot of work to get this crew up to speed, having such talented coaches around was vital to success this term. Finally there's Ming, looking back over his captaincy I think its fair to say the club has completely dominated the river. As he said as we came down the reach, "We're the best, boys" and its pretty much all down to him.
This was the worst row of the week, but no one cared. Adrenaline got the better of us and we maintained an inappropriate minimum rate of 40 until the exit of Ditton. We were slightly surprised by the mild headwind on the Reach, and Fletch generously took us down to 38. Coming into the railway bridge we had four lengths of clear water but we were at best dying and at worst dead. The rate had sagged to 37 and, despite our pushes bringing us back to 38 again, LMBC took a length back by the finish line in an impressive last-ditch push for the headship. There's no doubt that we could have gone significantly quicker with a bit more length, time and technique, but this was all about the result and we still managed 7:56. LMBC and Caius couldn't have been more gracious in defeat; it must be tough to have been in the Caius boat this year or the Lents last year so to congratulate us so genuinely confirms their status as worthy champions over most of the last decade.
Huge thanks to the old boys who gave us the blades and boat: the blades give us an extra pip or two and the Empacher feels like it wants to go much faster than we can manage. Thanks must go to everyone who has been James or Toby this term: James Curran (City), Peter Ford, Dan Holland, Phil Horler, Dan Jane, (Will Laffan,) Colin Leonard (Robs), Nick Morrell (Robs) and particularly to JPD who was Toby for a continuous fortnight. Thanks to James and Toby for fitting in extra sessions around revision, exams and CUBC training. Thanks to Ming, whose results as coach and captain over the last five terms say far more than I can here.
The biggest thanks of all go to coaches Tom Rose and JPD for bringing the dream back to life and turning an incohesive, disillusioned, demoralised crew into a headship crew in five weeks, and for making rowing fun again. This wouldn't even have been close to happening without you.
May Bumps 1st men's VIII results archive
Full May Term 2008 1st men's VIII results
Compare this crew with all May Bumps crews in the archive