The Club's Results

Lent Bumps 2013

1st women's VIII

Coxed by: Yining Nie
Coached by: Peter Ford, Thomas O'Neill, Peter Summers,

Wednesday
Rowed over
We were in high spirits coming off what was probably our best outing of term Tuesday (was it only yesterday?) morning. Decent paddling on the row up and some clean and length-ful practise starts looked promising for our first day of bumps.

A blade stuck in the water disrupted our start slightly but we recovered immediately, pushing out our previously massive rhythm change to an unprecedented but clean 38. We quickly lengthened out again, taking a reasonable line around First Post while moving up on Emma. Our first whistle from Iain came along the Gut and took us all by surprise, especially as Emma were taking a predictable push out of First Post. We closed in steadily around Grassy and committed to our big Plough Reach burn out of the corner.

Almost too soon we heard two whistles, brought in our back swing and suddenly we had three feet of overlap coming towards the pub. We launched into our bumps push but things began to fall apart and Emma were able to pull away. Ditton was incredibly difficult and we gave them half a length of clear water as we blew up. Pure psychology kept Emma going down the Reach, but the girls were able to recover enough to take our well-rehearsed wind to the line, finishing at about station.

A hard race today but we have proven that we are faster than Emma. Day two tomorrow. Bring it! (Yining)
After moving up strongly through the corners, the 1st women gained overlap on Emmanuel at the entry to Ditton. Sadly as both crews turned for the corner, the overlap drifted away and Emmanuel moved away down the reach to leave us several lengths behind under the railway bridge. We'll be back tomorrow! (Peter)
Thursday
Bumped Emmanuel
After yesterday's lesson on the importance of staying calm and technical during bumps, we came into the race today determined to focus on building boat speed as best we could, regardless of our surroundings. Today's result reflects that commitment. Once we had dealt with Jesus, I was pleasantly surprised by how effortlessly we closed on Emma - there couldn't have been a bigger contrast between yesterday and today. I'm beginning to be convinced that you can indeed make a boat go faster by rowing cleanly!

Looking forward to tomorrow and Saturday, as I still have some unfinished business with Ditton Corner. Even having bumped Emma today, I'm still hungry for that elusive perfect race... (Quick Hands Early Hands)
After the race, Fordy rightly asked me not to publish too much detail on our heavily trafficked website, in case it gave Downing a clue as to what we were planning for the next two days. However, most of the crew had no idea what had been going on either in front or behind, and asked for a detailed race plan, so this is what I wrote at crew pasta immediately after the race, and what I will publish after racing on Saturday.

Thursday was a terrible day for me. I dreamt about a murderer chasing me through a graveyard shooting at me, woke up at 6.30 and couldn't get back to sleep, had to evacuate from Hall partway through breakfast, re-did a lot of my work in the lab, and flicked the (very greasy) chain off my bike on my way to the boathouse. After all this, I knew we were going to bump today. It was the only reasonable outcome.

Marshalling was interesting, with Emma and Downing pre-emptively pushing off around the corner and creating a pretty weave of W1 and M2 blades across the river at Chesterton. I was promised 26 mph gusts, but they didn't appear. Our practice starts were sharp, and we sat on Jesus' stern for the purposes of psychological warfare, while Emma lagged far behind. A brief sojourn into a tree/reeds while spinning at our station made me even more positive that after all this chaos, a bump was surely in our future. I've never been in a FaT crew that reacted well to everything going well.

The start was so much better than yesterday, sharp and crisp. The wind felt solid, and though I was meant to be on Jesus-watch I resolved to really lock into Eva's rhythm for the first 30 seconds of the race. The rhythm change at the lengthen was massive, we strode to a beautiful 34 and began 'our race' in earnest.

Going down first post reach, Jesus began to gain. When they reached what I thought was half a length at the end of first post reach, I started looking at their bank party, confused that they weren't getting any whistles. I mistook a camera for an airhorn, and then had to readjust my expectations when listening for their whistles. I was relying on 10 years of piano lessons for an ability to tell the tone of their whistle from that of Iain's. Turns out they must have bought them at the same place, as there was no discernable difference. Badger. Jesus gained strongly around first post corner and I screamed 'YINING! JESUS!' as we had agreed. When she made the call I had the distinct impression that we were sat in a business meeting, discussing future strategies, rather than at a critical point in a hell-for-leather race with hoards of screaming cyclists. The cool, collected call was 'Ok. Lift.' Perfect delivery, perfect execution. I didn't feel any change in rhythm, there were no personal pushes, just a resolve to squeeze on the legs and move the boat faster. The boat complied and we pushed Jesus away, earning us our first whistle on Emma coming out of the Gut.

At Grassy, we were well and truly in a sandwich. Stern 3, who could see behind us, were using the closing Jesus bows as motivation to push away, and bow 4 and Yining used our approach of Emma's stern to drive us on. We took Grassy well, as we usually do, took some distance back from Jesus here, and got 2 whistles on Emma. Coming out of the corner, before we got back up to speed, Jesus gained again, coming to about a metre off our stern. At this point I heard an impassioned shout from Daisy behind me, but I was no longer worried about them. We had this in hand. They were sticking in the wash generated by stern 4's massive puddles, and we had just got 3 whistles from Iain. They then drifted out to take a wide line, and seemed to zig zag across the course, making it very hard for me to judge distances, so I gave up. Our plough reach burn called for big legs, and by this point the boat was flying. Outside the Plough we heard our overlap whistle and continued grinding them down with a strong rhythm and cleanly technical rowing. Someone screamed '2 feet!' and I'm told by practically everyone that we then bumped Emma (kissed their stern was the lovely phrase someone used) and that the umpire was trying to call it, but neither crew was willing to stop at such uncertain calls. Emma must have called a push after this 'near miss' as we fell back slightly. Coming up to Ditton we knuckled down and prepared to fix our mistakes from yesterday. Iain gave us 3 whistles again, swiftly followed by overlap as we took the corner, and once we were straight Yining (and everyone on the bank) was screaming for us to hold it up. Jesus had fallen back to about 2 metres off our stern at this point and kept moving back. With not much going on behind our little 3 boat race, they decided not to attempt the carnage and tucked in for a technical row over.

This was a very personal race for me, a bump a year and a day in the making. We came so close to them last year and were denied. We came so close yesterday when panicking cost us the bump. Today we were calm and strong, we rowed our race, coolly dealt with pressure from Jesus, and delivered the performance we had been preparing all term. Thank you to everyone who helped us get to this moment. It was very sweet. I'm so proud of the girls for keeping their heads, for following the plan, and for pressing the water away every stroke, every outing.

Now we get to bring the game to Downing. This is what we've been waiting for. (Julia A.)
An exciting race.
As W1 rounded Grassy, there was just half a length separating them from both Emma (infront) and Jesus (behind). I couldn't bare the tension and so spontaneously broke into a run chasing the crews down Plough Reach. The gap between all crews tightened but as Ditton approached the girls finally got overlap on Emma with Jesus still a third of a length off their stern. The rest was all pretty confusing. Firstly, Jesus were unsure whether or not a bump was happening between FaT and Emma and after steering wide to avoid FaT, then began steering back in for the bump. The umpire then raised their hand to signal a bump but all three crews continued to race. The crews finally stopped and despite protests from Emma, the umpire's declared that they had witnessed the bump on Emma through Ditton and were awarding Jesus a technical row-over.

Well done girls on a great performance. A very composed race given the circumstances.
FaT Bottomed Girls, you make the rockin' world go round! (Douglad)
As textbook as it gets. We believed in our rhythm and we made the boat fly, clean and natural. Simple lifts kept Jesus at bay and reeled Emma in; "keep calm and bump" was never executed so perfectly. Great work, girls - looking forward to more tomorrow! (Yining)
Wooohey, well done holding up the good old tradition of bumping Emmanuel!! Next one: Downing! :-D (Ulrike)
Yeaaaaaahhh Girls! Finally we got them!!! Well done for an amazing result and now go get us a boat to burn. (O. Skilbeck)
After yesterday's frantic dash to oblivion and a missed bump, the plan was to stay calm and row Emmanuel down in control. Unfortunately, the first "Jesus!" call came as we came straight in the gut; with a much sharper start than I was expecting after watching their practise, Jesus were pushing up hard and a lift in the pressure was called for.

With far more control than at any point in yesterday's race, the girls pushed Jesus back down the Gut, took a clean Grassy, and at the start of Plough Reach it was clear we were in a true sandwich; we had another shell within a few feet of both ends of Valkyrie. The FaT girls held it together and came out of it best, moving away from Jesus down the Plough Reach and clipping Emma's stern as we turned in for Ditton.

Unfortunately the contact was gentle enough that although the Peterhouse umpire was calling for both crews to stop rowing, neither crew believed it had happened and (all three crews) raced round Ditton before easying.

I think Jesus, other than the disappointment of failing to bump, appreciated not having to chase the overbump on Downing (!) as they tucked in behind us and held it up. (Peter)
Delicious. (Mark)
Wooohoooo!! Well done everyone! (Liz)
Good luck for the 2 remaining days.
Edit 19 March 2014: Possibly the day that won the 2014 headship. With hindsight, having Emmanuel chasing W1, due to a successful day in 2013, may have changed the eventual winner. A testament to the effort of going head being more than having a single good year.
(Thomas)
Friday
Rowed over
I arrived at the P&E happy to have finally made it round the bridge ahead of the girls. However this turned out to be because Julia's seat had lost a wheel on the paddle from our newly elevated marshalling position round the corner. Ian Watson kindly assisted us to put it back together, and we paddled down to the start without feeling too frantic.

When the start gun eventually went, we were expecting to be pushed from behind, but Emma and Jesus quickly dropped back to leave us concentrating on the crew ahead.

We stuck with them for some time, but they drew away down the reach to leave us with too much of a gap to close coming into the finish. (Peter)
Today's catastrophe took place just after pushing off from Chesterton, when I heard an ominous clunk from my seat and began scraping up and down the slide. I swore, and Daisy told me my wheel had come off. Yining steered us to the side and I shouted to Fordy that my seat was broken. Our bank party dispersed to notify umpires (though I can't believe they didn't hear my hearty yell) and we attracted the attention of Ian Watson as well. As we pulled in I was scrambling to try and put my seat back together, but was sure I was missing pieces. Luckily the other half of engineer pair, at 6, was able to explain the mechanics of it to me. A big thank you to Ian Watson for calmly taking control of the situation, convincing me that I did not need a nut, but in fact just the bolt I was holding, and for fixing my botched repair job. Thank you also to Fordy for the set of allen keys he had just scolded me for not having, as an engineer, not an hour ago in the boathouse. Disaster averted.

Despite arriving out of order, we managed not to hold up the division and put our jitters aside for a clean, powerful start. We moved effectively away from Emma, and by First Post corner I stopped paying attention to them. Fordy also used this point, where we were closest to the bank, to deliver his call of "EMMA. ARE. NOWHERE!" The closest they ever were was 2 lengths off just after the start. We squeezed on through the Gut, took a clean Grassy, and then made a move at the Plough. I'm told we held Downing through the corners and began to move on Plough reach, but their strength and grit meant they soon started to move away.

The rowing felt powerful and controlled as we came to Ditton, our beloved and much discussed corner. We took a push to get back up to racing speed, but by now Downing were cruising away. We were amused by the serpentine lines from Emma and Jesus behind us, and the odd, insistent whistling style from the Jesus bank party.

We ground on, buoyed by enthusiastic calls from the bank party, and at the white house started to prepare for our end-of-the-line wind. At the post before the railway bridge we began our unsustainable minute and I started cranking it. We lifted from our chunky 34 to 36 and started hacking away at Downing's lead. My rowing deteriorated at Morley's Holt, as I clung onto my little remaining technique. We crossed the line at race pace, amid screams from the control desk to hold it up. We hadn't realized that Downing had wound it down before the line, and in general we like to be sure we're across the line when we stop racing. But apparently someone had very strong words with the people at control on our behalf.

The intimidation tactics began anew on the row home as we resolutely belted 'Fat Bottomed Girls' and 'Tomorrow' as we rowed past the boathouses, greeting Downing on the way.

Today was the race we had planned. It was clinical and clean and well executed. Tomorrow will be a blaze of glory, one way or another. Do or die. (Julia A.)
Saturday
Rowed over
We went off hard, aiming to scare Downing. In the end they were just the faster crew, holding us for a while off the start and then confidently moving away. Coming onto the reach it was clear no bump was happening ahead, and Yining called to settle from the mad sprint and defend from Jesus.

Having sat a little inside station early in the course, Jesus moved up strongly on the reach, and coming under the railway bridge they had overlap (but were on the wrong side of the river). Coming through Morley's Holt, there was a terrifying stroke when I thought the bump had to happen; Jesus gently steered across, our stern sank as we approached the catch, and Jesus's bow floated over our stern with at least an inch of clearance. After that W1 squeezed it out to a comfortable few feet and crossed the line before taking avoiding action yet again from Downing, who had stopped 3/4 of a length beyond the line. (Peter)
Commitment, belief, ability to change strategy on the fly and keep pushing through the pain... that's what it takes to go the distance. So proud of what we accomplished and thank you for laying it all on the line (quite literally)!

One step further, ladies - 3rd to 1st we're bound, Downing will go down! (Yining)
I don't think I've ever been so excited for a race as I was for this. We had talked about what we were going to do, and had decided to lay everything on the line to go for the Headship, even if this meant getting bumped by Jesus later in the race. Our plan was basically to throw the kitchen sink at Downing and hope they sunk.

For the first time in my life, bumps was running early, so Yining, Fordy and eventually Iain had a long chat with our very experienced umpire. With the adrenaline pumping we squared, buried and prepared for the race of our lives.

The start was clean and racy. Yining told us afterwards that we strode to 37, but it felt like 32 to me. Eva's rhythm gives us an amazing number of pips. We were solid round First Post corner and lifted in the Gut to get back up to speed. Undeterred by the huge Jesus bank party at Grassy, which effectively drowned out everything else, we took a clean corner and headed onto Plough Reach for our epic burn. 2 strokes for catches and we started lifting. The boat was flying, but we were sticking on Downing. We kept it strong and in control, but we were all at our red lines.

Coming into Ditton we took a tight line and kept the catches and tap downs in control, smoothly coming onto the reach preparing to cross that line and destroy ourselves. Jesus got one whistle here, which I called as bullshit, and we began our unsustainable minute to try to make an impression on Downing. It was not to be. They cruised away from us once they had a straight course. However, our warrior's spirit didn't go to waste, as Jesus was preparing to bring a new battle upon us.

Clearly rowing a long race, Jesus began to take advantage of the face that we were completely spent. They started inching up on the reach, and the whistles began. At the kink, they got to 1/4 length and I screamed 'YINING!' and prayed for as effective a move as 2 days ago. The girls delivered. With cool, collected calls from Yining, who was revising the race plan as we went along, we pulled away slightly. Jesus responded. We oscillated for a few strokes, and then they began moving up on us aggressively. I screamed for a lift and we started cranking it. They were staying close to the bank, giving them overlap without contact and Yining steered for the corner early to avoid them. When we reached the post, we began yet another unsustainable minute and wind to the line.

My eyes were fixed on the Jesus bow as we came under the railway bridge. Yining was calling move after move but Jesus were taking inches every stroke. Just at the first barges their bows were riding next to our stern and I saw them skip over ours. We pulled away and thought they were finished, having steered for the bump and missed, but they stuck with us.

As if bound together, we ploughed our way round Morley's Holt, Iain calling for Yining to stay straight, Yining steering to avoid Jesus. Every stroke we held them and held them, working our spent legs to their limits.

We crossed the line with no contact. Never before have I rowed away from something like that. This race was won by two things. The guts and grit of the girls and Yining's cool execution and steering.

This bumps has given me two of my most epic races. I never would have believed that I would be here, this time last year, but I am so grateful that I am. It has been a privilege to row with you girls. I need to thank Fordy for, consciously or not, bringing me back to the club and making me realize that I'm not done with the Cam.

We have the potential to do something special in Mays. This crew has shown that we can commit to a race and follow it through to the bitter end. Do the same with the 2013 campaign. Stick with us, and we'll row to glory. I'll be there. (Julia A.)
As Laura correctly pointed out on the way home, W1 2013 now has a war story to pass down to future generations of the boat club.

Coming into Saturday, everyone had agreed that today was going to be a "death-or-glory" race to the railings. We were going to take the corners technically, build speed on the straights, make it to Ditton in one piece, and then batten down the hatches and hold on for dear life. We'd spent weeks working on our catches, watching "Inches", and learning to move as one crew. Today was our day to push our boundaries and see just how fast we could make the boat move. I can't say it better than Steve Prefontaine and so I'm going to paraphrase him instead (note: it is always appropriate to invoke Pre): The only good race pace is a suicide pace, and today looked like a good day to die.

Spirits were high on the paddle down to the station. We were greeted by a very welcome (and surely illegal) bank party, and settled in to wait. Iain's watch did its thing, the minute gun fired, and we pushed off.

Our start felt quick and clean. Before I knew it, Yining had called to lengthen, and we were rounding first post corner. Sophia and Laura (and Yining, of course!) saw us through Grassy without trouble. I saw the first set of barges, and I knew it was time for the (already all-too-familiar) Plough Reach burn.

Ditton. Before bumps, I thought Ditton corner was my friend - the inevitable carnage zone during morning outings that guaranteed a few moments of rest during the middle of whatever piece we were doing. To any strokeside ex-novices at 2 reading this race report: Ditton Corner is not your friend. Ditton comes up just when your body is beginning to put up a serious fight and the lactate is starting to burn. Ditton is a harsh and unforgiving master that requires decent bladework and early catches. Ditton is a place where minds break, and crews get bumped.

Twenty incredibly tense and stressful strokes later, we were straight. Unfortunately, not five (or so) strokes later, so were (was? I'm so confused about whether other crews are singular or plural) Jesus. The race had changed.

We pushed hard off of Jesus as they got their second whistle. The Long Reach had never seemed so long before. I told myself the bump was imminent, and I was ready to commit when Yining called for our unsustainable minute. Things were less than ideal, but we weren't going down without a fight.

The video seems to suggest we did a reasonable job of holding them off until the Railway Bridge. Yining's bridge call finally came, and I knew the race was going to be won or lost by Morley's Holt. An "everything you've got" call came as we steered for the final bend. I looked at the girls in the Jesus boat one last time - the Jesus girls, with their carefully matched scrunchies.

I don't like losing to girls who wear scrunchies.

Morley's Holt. Gurns all round. Pain. Evasive coxing. More pain. Noise from the bank. So much pain. I didn't realize Jesus were going for the kill, but I knew this was it. Yining called for a bumps push. We took a stroke. Yining's hand stayed down. We took another stroke. Yining's hand was still down. Again we took a stroke, and the hand stayed down. I knew we could hold them until the line, and stroke by stroke we did.

Saturday's race was the kind of race that tells you that things you didn't think were possible, are possible. I'm sure no other club on the river thinks we'll hold the headship in a year's time. They could be right. But I believe they're wrong. Saturday's race was the spark we needed to get us back where we belong. (Alexa)

1. W1 after finally bum...
2. W1 after finally bum...


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