The plan of action was to settle into a rhythm and cruise as far as Ditton. 'New race', 'our reach' and other such calls signified the start of the attack on Maggie. Most of the crew were distracted for a while by Jesus behind - they almost crashed through a seriously fucked up bung start. We were two lengths down on Maggie turning Ditton. The rowing was fairly lack-lustre but we steadily reeled them in, bumping just out of the railway bridge. Inevitable was how it looked, but it took longer than it should have done perhaps. Not surprising we were down at Ditton though - Maggie are always fast to 1000. (Martin)
The bump was the oddest thing. I didn't really think we were that close, and then suddenly I noticed white and red. And their cox's shoulder right there but she hadn't acknowledged. So I reached over and tapped her on the shoulder to remind her. Her hand went up pretty quick! Only afterwards did I realize what a coup it would have been to nick her hat in that moment. There's always next time though.... (Dubya)
The hideous gale force wind blowing down the reach made our plan clear - to race hard to Ditton to put Caius under as much pressure as possible as they rounded into the wind first. Things didn't really go to plan however - passing by the Plough they had pulled out another half a length and LMBC had closed slightly.
The effect of the corner was dramatic - we must've gone round it ok because we closed by one length to be one length down by the time the crews were in the wind. The reach was unbelievable. Unbelievably windy; unbelievably slow; unbelievably uncomfortable and unbelievable because we closed. Gradually. It came down to quarter of a length by the Pink House, and stayed there for a bit - and a lull in support was punctuated by Julia's call of 'two feet!' from the bank which everyone else in the crew heard! Amidst calls of 'unsustainable!' and 'push for the bump', we hit them! Hard - breaking their last ditch push to escape. HEAD!!!
Don't really know what happened then - quite bemused really. Headcase was triumphant and boisterous; Caius were dumbstruck, their cox possibly injured due to our bows riding their stern when we failed to easy because of the wind and noise (we got fined). Head. Maggie took a long time to come by. (Martin)
Conditions were perfect. Caius closed fast. Round Grassy they were at a quarter of a length and closing, but I was already hurting badly. As soon as we were straight Tom told Sophie that we had to do something now, and we had a great push where the rating came up - and we went for it; I could have died, but everyone wanted it enough and we moved away slightly to half a length. Coming out of Ditton we had to push hard again. At about the railings I started to black-out, but the race was as good as over. We'd spent everything but so had they and we finished a length and a half clear without any further hint of a fight. (Martin)
This time our start was very fast, or at least that was how it felt. At the Plough, Caius were outside distance, which was quite blissful. I hoped most of the crew had mentally adjusted the 'go flat out' race plan. The attack came in the reach. From outside distance they closed, and our unsustainable push came earlier to avoid the tension of yesterday - by half a length, we were 'pushing for our bump'. However, they closed, and continued to close, at which point things got a bit worried - and supporters began to wonder..(The crowds on the towpath - particularly around the Plough were huge and larger than those of the Mays in the last couple of years!). At its worst, people had virtually given everything. They got within a few feet half way down the reach - and faded. We had survived, and knew it, and rowed under the railway bridge and to top finish, teasing back our lead and praying for no disasters. Caius, a length and a half off, stopped rowing a few lengths before the finish line. For the first time in the four days Sophie was not cool and calm but squeeled at us. We had done it. Thank you God. (Martin)
The crew have developed a fast powerful start. They closed on Sidney, but could not put them under enough pressure. Having pulled out a gap of some 2 1/2 - 3 lengths over Downing II shortly into the race, the boys having failed to bump after their aggressive start, flagged and were duly bumped in the reach. (Martin)
Bitterly disappointing. They closed quickly and dramatically and were closing fast. However in the gut, at just four or six feet off, Peter had a seat failure and Downing got away. They got going again to attempt the row over but were reeled in by Christ's II. (Martin)
Before we set out, we'd discussed with Crawford what our tactics should be for the race. It was clear we had a quick start but weren't very fit, and so, on the basis that our stroke was a "gambling man" we decided to blast it off the start and see what happened. A tactic neatly summarised by Mark: "There is no plan B".
So we had a stonking start, hitting some ridiculous rating and starting gaining on Downing. It got to the Gut (I think) and while it had been a struggle, we had just about heard the three hooters from Crawford. It wasn't certain we'd get them, but we were damn close.
However, it was not to be - the drama unfolded right before my very eyes (I was at 2) as Skorov landed oddly on his seat and derailed it. With 7 of us rowing and Peter finding he simply couldn't get his seat back on, we fell back. Unfortunately for Guy (the stern was still oblivious), Mark's intermittent "call off the attempt" hooter blasts was misinterpreted as "overlap". Some pretty stormy moods and cold looks were in evidence in the boathouse afterwards... (Dan)
Crawford tried admirably to hearten us: "Jesus denied me my blades, and it would give me a great deal of pleasure to see you deny them theirs." Unfortunately it wasn't to be. They were a much faster crew and deserved the blades that they earned. For me, the end of a disappointing first set of bumps. (Guy)
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