The Club's Results
Lent Bumps 2007
1st men's VIII
Coxed by: Andy Wong
Row was not too bad, but a good result. No reason to be happy yet though.
Surprisingly, I was more nervous for this race than I have been for at least the last three years. The start wasn't great. They held you well and I was having doubts. But along plough reach you were incomparable. A great result that you guys thoroughly deserve.
Well I'm excited even if you're bloody not! RA RA 1st and 3rd!!
Got the bump pushing out of Ditton. Dan - doubts? Even coming into the Gut I thought there was no doubt. The roars of triumph through the crew at the moment they got them were awesome! Yes there are three days to go... but it was a fantastic sight.
The wind conditions were probably the worst I've ever rowed in. The start wasn't affected as badly as I thought it would be, but as we rounded First Post Corner the wind got worse and progress down the Gut was really quite slow. Plough Reach was pretty calm and we really stormed up on Caius whilst rating around 36-37. Rounding Ditton we were less than a canvas off their stern, but when we hit the 30mph headwind the boat more or less stopped. I was struggling to get the blade in the water at all, and everyone was rowing half slide at best. At this point a number of us thought we'd thrown it away, but somehow Caius struggled more and we hit them about 10 strokes later. They then just sat in the middle of the river with our bow wedged under their stroke man's rigger whilst we celebrated (read, 'acted like total dick heads'). They looked devastated, and probably hated us for all our shouting, but they managed something resembling a three cheers (more than I think I would have been capable of in their position) - a great display of sportsmanship.
The fact that we dominated all term, took the headship and comfortably held onto it still amazes me. We had no 'superstars' in this crew, unlike Caius last minute addition of last years CUBC president (there was a rumor Jesus also dropped in a 2006 Goldie rower, but I don't know if that ever actually happened), and only three of us had ever rowed in the 1st VIII before. This was also pretty much the same crew that took a beating from 4 other Colleges in Fairbairns, and so at the start of term I really thought that our training would be an exercise in damage limitation. We worked very hard all term, binned almost all commitments to get quality water time, and reaped the rewards. However, there are a number of people without whom we would have struggled: Rachel and Pia for excellent captaincy last year, putting the club back on the winning road; Ming for his incredible coaching all term; Neil Talbott for making us believe we could do it; Richard Church for his words of wisdom from a man who's done it all many times before; Iain Law for being generally great and Clare BC for making us realise (in Pembroke Regatta) that every race is a fight.
"We had no 'superstars' in this crew"
For 'no', read 'nine'.
Phil's report definitely strikes a chord with my own experience in the crew of 2000. We similarly had only three previous 1st VIII rowers, had been well off the pace at Fairbairns, and decided to bin everything to get quality water time. I think the only major difference seems to be that we certainly didn't dominate things all term!
Perhaps this sort of thing is what makes good bumps crews? I've often felt that trust, commitment and determination count for more than rowing ability in these bizarre races. Where better to find these things than in a dedicated crew who have trained together for two solid terms, made sacrifices together, and who have learned what it means to have to fight?
An echo to Neil's comment - you are all legends.
Rowed over Head
Overall an okay row, but a little scrappy in places. We could, and should, be rowing better.
An excellent row to Ditton was rewarded with a substantial lead over Caius (see pictures) - i.e. 5 or 6 lengths. A relatively relaxed Reach saw this reduced to c. 3 lengths by Top Finish.
Rowed over Head
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes......
No pressure from behind. Controlled row-over.
We were more relaxed in the first half, having rowed over once already. Jesus got Caius coming round Ditton, and were probably inside station on us at Grassy. Some stops will need to be pulled out tomorrow.
Rowed over Head
Listening on the radio ... RA RA!!
Will write a more complete, and upbeat, race report later. Though I am really happy. :-) Dinner and the smell of burning wood...
Coming into this term, the crew was pretty much unchanged from Fairbairns. Graham was taking time off rowing, but we had ample cover with Will. Who despite the teasing is still taller than me :-) Based on Fairbains VIIIs results, it was all looking pretty even at the top of M1. We'd ended up 7 seconds of the pace of Jesus, down in 5th place, so the potential was there for a bit of change at the top of Lents... To be honest, I was also considering taking it easy this term with regards to rowing. An extra-Cambridge girlfriend, PhD turmoil, the cold and wet campaigns of Lents 2004 and 2005 and starting to feel very old at the club being the primary reasons. Still, as Ming says, rowing is more important than girls. (Claire, if you're reading this, I don't agree, despite the last few weekends :-) And I wanted to bump Caius.
So first race, Head-2-Head. Not very special, despite coming 2nd of College VIIIs, were some 25 seconds off the pace of LMBC. Still, this was early in the term, and we'd not quite figured out how to deal with the windy conditions yet. Thanks to Andrew Lewis for subbing. Richard was still keen for lectures, so ended up winning a pot with M2 in another division. But something to work on.
Our next race was Head of the Nene. Solid row, in surprisingly pleasant weather conditions. We sent off quite hard, and showed a good level of fitness over the 5k course. The last half was pretty choppy, probably due to the concrete banking on both sides of the river. Ended up faster than the other college boats (though obviously, a bit off the overall lead), 15 and 18 seconds ahead of Jesus and LMBC. Which pretty much stated our intentions for the rest of term.
Geared up a touch after the Nene. Note: three pieces is not ideal the first outing after you've moved up three notches. Won the Robinson Head, though I was taking this result with a few large pinches of salt. Jesus, LMBC and Downing hadn't raced, and Caius' time was so laughable, I figured they were just pissing around. Conditions still notably good, which they have been all term really. Also, very pleasant to avoid early mornings altogether, as we opted to try and fit in outings when the river was as clear as possible. This has probably helped us a lot, along with a good steady state that Tom has been setting all term. Got a new boat at this stage, some teething problems getting used to sitting it. Took longer to settle than I liked, and briefly wondered whether it would be better to keep the old one.
Onto Pembroke Regatta, which was good practise for us. Thus far, we'd done well in head pieces, but starts are pretty crucial in this and Bumps. The first couple of rounds were relatively easy. The third with Clare, almost caught us out. Where we were lethargic off the start, they blasted it, out to maybe three-quarters of a length by the railway bridge. (We were on the meadow side.) We came back at them slowly through our corner. It would have been very close, from there to the finish had it stayed a clean race. I would not have been confident about calling the result. As it happens though, Clare (quite rightly) tried to move onto our line through the railway bridge, I made use of our side of the river. After clashing for around ten strokes (good job kepping it together, bowside), Clare lost their rhythm and we rowed past. Still Clare gave us the kick up the arse we needed. Last two rounds much better. Maybe a couple of seats down on Jesus in the first half (meadow side again), but took plenty of distance at the bridge and over the line by about a length. At this point, we were starting to consider Caius and Jesus as the main opposition for Bumps, so this was especially pleasing, though I believe Jesus were missing a couple of rowers.
The last week before bumps was less than smooth, as a few people were away or ill. Thanks are due to Dan Jane, Graham Sills, Neil Copland, Karthik Tadinada (Christs) and Richard Mott (Sidney Sussex). Richard managed to sub in when we were sparring with M2, going on to getting bumped by M2 in bumps... Also, Clare agreed to spar with us. Very useful practise, 'bumping' them on Ditton from station and putting into perspective how bad we had been in Pembroke, when we weren't switched on.
Bumps, the first day was a bit of a head wind down the Reach(clams on). Our plan was simple, we'd go off hard from the start, race to the Railings, and then count on our fitness (which was pretty good) to grind out a result down the Reach. Caius had reinforced, though obviously hadn't been rowing together as long as we had, so we could expect them to be less strong in the wind and over the distance. It turned out pretty well, maybe a length off out of Grassy, really motored down Plough Reach, our ten unsustainable strokes going into Ditton closed up massively, and the bump happened just after Ditton. Sorry Iain, the bows got a bit of a dent, either from their stroke's blade or rigger. There were a few dodgy strokes at the end, understandable given the conditions, but overall a good performance. Pleased to get Caius, as were Tom and Pedro especially. Tried not to let people get too carried away, the week was yet young. Thanks to our bank party for collecting greenery, and apologies for not coming over the river to collect it. Wanted to get people back to the warm, and thinking about the next race. Used the same plan on Thursday (and in fact on every day). Weather was calmer(clams off), still a slight head wind. Was wary of complacency, since Caius would be that much stronger for their race practise, but in the end a comfortable lead by Ditton, which we held onto to the finish. Maybe lost a length or two from Railway Bridge to Top Finish, though not an issue by then. Caius put in a determined row to row over in front of Jesus. Strong committed row, though a few bad strokes with people getting caught out at the finish by the slightly choppy water. Dealt with it well, but better if we didn't have them in the first place. Friday, same plan, maybe marginally slower off the start, but much more controlled, looked and felt relaxed. Jesus moved quicker today, catching Caius just out of Ditton. Relaxed rowover, almost a warm down on the last half of the course. Saving energy for the last day. Saturday: first time I've felt particularly nervous in bumps for at least a couple of years. Woke up early, calmed nerves by reading about C++. We knew we ought to be faster than Jesus, but there's always that uncertainty when there's a new crew chasing you instead of one you've already comfortably rowed over in front of. Probably not the only nervous person in the crew. Still we knew we were better than Jesus, we had the results to back it up, all we had to do was prove it again. Expected Jesus to go hard off the start. They might have done, maybe inside distance on First Post corner, but thereafter falling behind. Easily the best row of the week. Fast yet relaxed rhythm. Some observors on the Reach thought we didn't look like we were trying very hard, which is a good commendation on the rest of the crew. In the end, somewhat less stressful than anticipated, and clearly showed our speed over the rest of the division. A pleasing week's, and term's, work. Good to see what looked like the entire club, past and present, gathered at the P&E and the end of the Reach. Your support has been greatly appreciated. Good bit of champagne and beer on the way home. PS: It IS tricky to steer while holding a flagpole (not just me being grumpy, honest). Very nice rowing side-by-side up the reach with W1, the other headship crew.
Boat burning was good, thanks to all those who helped to carry the Fair Maid, Magnus and myself back. There were a few hairy moments that first corner and down Chesterton Road...
As part of the enormous contingent waiting at the Pike and Eel, I listened in on Neil's portable radio. The commentary was almost indecipherable, but we heard "First and Third... storming start" followed some tense minutes later by "First and Third pulling away". The boys came into view to huge cheers from the bank and we could see immediately that they had taken a couple of lengths from Jesus, rowing over comfortably.
It isn't always the fastest crew who end the week at the Head of the River, but today there is noone who can dispute it.
The culmination of an amazing term's rowing. All the way down the course the support was unbelievable, passing the P&E, hearing the massive cheer and realising we were going to make it to Chesterton was a great sensation that I will remember for a long time to come.
I'd be lying if I said that I'd enjoyed much of the past week up until about 4:48pm on Saturday. My first feeling on crossing the finish line was just relief after the pressure we've been under since we unwisely started winning stuff this term, but as time passes by the realisation of what we've achieved starts to sink in and the satisfaction is incredible.
If it's a sad testament to the quality of college rowing that a crew of such limited talent and experience could come from a disappointing Fairbairns result to such a successful Lent Term, then it's an even sadder testament to the quality of CUBC's selection process that we ended up with Ming coaching us this term. Without him, we'd have finished down this week. We should have been disqualified for having ten men in the boat. In his own words, while marshalling next to Caius on Friday, 'I find it amusing that they're better rowers, a head taller, have an international at stroke and you still bumped them'. Fortunately not the motivational words he used on Wednesday...
I think it wouldn't be fair not to mention how sporting Caius and Jesus have been. Despite our slightly over-exuberant celebrations on the first day, Caius were always friendly during the week. We only had one chance to race directly against Jesus but they were (nearly) the first to congratulate us when we crossed the line and again back at the boathouse. It's nice when rival crews share a mutual respect for each other that unfortunately often isn't there in the rowing community...
Finally, I'd like to echo Will's thanks to all our supporters. It felt like everyone from the club who took part in Bumps and then some was waiting for us at the P&E and the noise was deafening. And of course our travelling support - I can't believe so many of you made the effort to come! You really put the Jesus fans to shame at Ditton and we're all incredibly grateful that you all came out to support us.
It's been an amazing term - we'll enjoy it for a couple of days but then it's straight back into training for Head of the River and the Mays! This is just one step towards our ultimate goal of beating St Pauls on the Tideway...
Link to boat burning video I took last night. Sorry it's such poor quality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaJ51dQG3aw
Lent Bumps 1st men's VIII results archive
Full Lent Term 2007 1st men's VIII results
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