The Club's Results

May Bumps 2013

1st women's VIII

Coxed by: Yining Nie
Coached by: Peter Ford

Wednesday
Rowed over
The absence of our illustrious captain gave us a sense of disorientation before the race, so Yining stepped in and delivered the prerequisite inspirational speech. There was a mild panic when we discovered we were missing two rowers, but luckily there were several men available who were quickly mobilized. In the end, we sent Chris to attempt to retrieve them and with his Irish magic he returned successful in 2 minutes.

The M2 division was severely delayed, giving us plenty of time to critique the lycra around us and complain about the Chesterton marshaling. Thomas, why weren't you there a division earlier?!

We were told off for taking a practice start off the railway bridge, but it was good practice for rowing through chaos. The tailwind made our starts seem light and racy, a cruel trick of Mays weather.

Iain pushed us out late in order to deal with the gusts, and the first number we heard was "5! Square!" Despite this the start felt strong in the draw strokes, although the rate lagged and we didn't wind as high as we usually do. The rhythm call came in the chop under the bridge and it took us a few strokes to really find our racing speed. Queens started sprinting and got a whistle on First Post reach, but we didn't change our rate or pressure, having settled onto something sustainable. The crews around us appeared to be alternately sprinting and prowling as I'm told that Caius were trailing Christs by about 3 lengths, who were in turn looking like they were on for a bump on Emma. At this point we were about on station with Caius, but they soon began to move steadily away.

We kept it technical through the corners, with Yining following Iain's advice about how to steer through the gusts, and took a push into Ditton, watching Queens fall away every stroke. We were told that Caius and Christs had bumped out ahead of us and settled into the last 'hundred strokes' of the race, as I heard called from the bank.

The reach was difficult, with the headwind pushing us back and the gusts playing havoc with bladework, but we kept our heads, an action that had saved us earlier in the race, and ploughed on. We had a brief bridge call and used the corner at Morley's Holt to initiate a brief wind. We wound it down slightly before the line, conscious of CUCBC's complaints last term about racing to the finish line, and paddled through the last few metres of the race.

A good race in tough conditions that are set to repeat for the rest of the week, so hopefully also a useful learning experience. (Julia A.)
Thursday
Bumped Christ's
Well done girls! (Rachel)
Today we had double the Irish magic as Chris' pairs partner was over for visit. This is clearly the reason we bumped.

Though the thunderclouds had been threatening all day, they were starting to break as we rowed off towards marshalling. This hopeful sign had us debating leggings or shorts. Buoyed up by new kit, shining in the sun, we were one of the first to marshalling and the disorder was behind us this time. Having declared the portable toilets 'structurally unsound' we watched the end of the M2 division, hoping to see M2 with Greenery or rowing over. Sadly things didn't work out for them today.

The first few strokes of paddling were a bit shaky, but we found our rhythm on the reach after the practice start. Our start at the plough was clean and sharp as 'Mr. and Mrs. Yining' were watching. We had some difficulty pulling into the bank in the crosswind, but the benefit of starting 9th is that there's plenty of chaos ahead to delay the 4 minute gun.

The sun was shining as we lined up on the start, but no one was able to enjoy the beautiful conditions as we squared up and hoped for a good start. Our prayers were answered, it was clean and powerful, and we strode to a higher rate than usual. Queens got their customary whistle on First Post reach, but didn't make much of an impression over the course and were bumped by Maggie on the reach, impressively spearing across almost the entire river behind us.

We rowed a solitary race in the first half, with little awareness of what was going on around us. Coming around onto Ditton things started to get exciting. Iain started calling 'On station!' as we came straight, and 10 strokes later we got our first whistle. We stuck here for a while, adjusting to the wash, and oscillating slightly. We heard a second one whistle, swiftly followed by 2, 3 and continuous. On the continuous whistle I remember thinking ' we still need another 6 feet', but by this point Alexa was making contact with Christs' stern and Yining was spearing the 7 girl's blade with our bows. We held it up, and thankfully had plenty of time to extract ourselves and clear as most people had bumped out behind us.

A gorgeous day for a great result. There's nothing like greenery in Mays. (Julia A.)
Yes girls! (Gonzo)
Hooray!! (Sasha)
They sprinted hard and died harder. Christ's were apparently 4 lengths ahead coming into Ditton, lost two of those lengths through the corner, hit the headwind and then basically began moving backwards. There were two or three strokes just past the railings when both boats only had seven people rowing: Alexa was busy scraping paint off the top of Christ's stern and their 7 girl was fending off stationary crabs while trying to avoid contact with our rapidly-advancing bow. Quite satisfying. (Yining)
Friday
Rowed over
The theme of the day was injuries and illness. Earlier in the day Fordy had sent round an email telling us to be careful to keep to a strict hygiene regime as there was a stomach bug going around. As we were getting into the boat Daisy pulled her thumb and was in so much pain that I was about to make Fordy go look for some ibuprofen from the boathouse. On the row up to marshalling both of my shoulders twinged and my knee seized up, but it seemed that rowing was the cure for this as I felt fine by the time we parked.

Having started a trend amongst the women of pushing off ridiculously early, we were one of the last boats to get to marshalling and had to squeeze into an inadequate gap and stay in the boat. The divisions were running very early and we rowed up to the start well ahead of time.

Our practice starts felt really good, and we were able to settle onto a smooth rhythm to carry us up the reach. Our supporters at the Plough cheered us through another good start, and we paddled up to the start nervous but excited.

Once we had parked Richard told us that if all was running on time, we could expect the 4 minute gun in 22 minutes. We had a leisurely drink and de-kit as our bank party speculated about how early they would set us off, for only the second time in my 41 bumps races.

Starting in a new position must have disoriented us slightly, as our start was comfortably the worst of the day. The boat crashed from side to side under the motorway bridge as we caught and recovered from mini crabs. Christs took advantage of this to get a whistle just after the outflow.

We began to settle on the straight and found a long powerful rhythm. This was then destroyed by the cross-head winds at Grassy and half of the crew believing, with unshakeable faith, in Yining's calls that we were coming into Ditton. Through the corner Eva was insisting that we were actually at Grassy and bowside were struggling to get their blades in, causing a call for early squaring from the bank.

Our rowing on the Plough Reach straight was more effective, and Christs started to fall away after gaining slightly round Grassy. We moved into Ditton praying for an improvement in technique on the long glorious straight of the Reach.

We really settled into our racing rhythm here as Christs started to worry more about being bumped by Maggie than trying to get us back. Having held them off at no less than a length across the course so far, we were building confidence each stroke. Maggie bumped Christs at the railway bridge and, having been granted this bit of relief, we wound it down and settled onto a long loose rhythm, paddling across the line.

Definitely our worst row of the week, but thankfully it got the job done. Yining commented after the race that the commitment was really there today, so we can now go into the final day knowing that we have the technique to get us over the course effectively, and the guts to hold off a sprinting crew. Let's just hope we can execute the plan with more style tomorrow. (Julia A.)
We were sure that Christ's were going to go on a mad sprint in revenge, so we went pretty hard off the start but soon became puzzled when Christ's never gained more than a (very dubious) single whistle. A couple squeezes were all it took to shake them off our tail completely, though Eva's intense facial expressions prompted me sneak a couple looks behind. Even now I don't know whether Christ's were looking to do a long race or a short race, but I think the past couple of days have helped prepare us for any eventuality.

The fact that I actually managed to park properly (twice!) probably should have forewarned us about the inverse proportionality between the quality of the row up and the race down. The bladework was scrappy and our shoulders tense, though our legs were nonetheless effective, especially into the headwind. We actively tried to reclaim rhythm and looseness on the row back, and Preeyan (subbing in for Fordy who was subbing in for Jason) noticed this, calling our row back "classy." I'm confident that we can translate that same classiness into our race when we approach Pembroke and Maggie tomorrow - let's bring it, girls! (Yining)
Saturday
Bumped Pembroke
Yeah giiirls! (Nina)
I spent most of Saturday desperately trying, amid speculation and inquiries, not to jinx anything by being too cocky, or too defeatist. In our crew chat we swung wildly from 'this will be a 2 minute race' to 'we're going to bump them even if it's 2 strokes from the line'.

It poured with rain as we all made our way to the boathouse, and extra layers were recruited for marshaling. However, by the time we had the boat on the water the rain had stopped and there was a glimmer of sunshine breaking through the clouds.

We watched the top of the M2 division row over, speculated about possible potential shoulder injuries in the crews rowing over. We gathered in a huddle for a calm collected pep talk from Chris, and clambered back in the boat, sure of what we needed to do, and how we were going to do it.

There was less wind than in the past 3 days, and our starts and paddle up were a little disturbed by this. By the time we were at Grassy we had adjusted and were paddling regally to our station. We stayed loose with jokes and jazz hands and I said a silent thank you to fate and Iain for giving me a dry, roughened handle to work with.

The gun fired and we went hunting for a bump. The start was calm and powerful and we strode to a long 34, inching up on Pembroke every stroke. We were all expecting to bump early, some earlier than others, and there was a terrible 10 strokes after the start where there were no whistles and we weren't sure whether to settle in for a long race, or maintain a sprint. Thankfully, while we were making this decision we got our first whistle amid cheers from our bank party and a call, in finest Fletch form, of 'YOU OWN THEM GIRLS!'. We were waiting for 'OUR RACE' but I'm not sure Chris thought the sprint was going to be long enough to require much thought about whose it was.

On 2 whistles we hit the wash and our rhythm suffered slightly, but this quickly became 3 and we struggled to keep things the same. On the overlap whistle Yining called a Bumps push and two strokes later we were holding it up just before First Post corner.

There was mad celebration, posing for many photos and a palpable sense of relief at having accomplished what we set out to do and not let anyone down. We rowed back amid applause from the spectators and the sun shining on our greenery. We congratulated everyone we passed and wished Homerton, our boys and Caius luck. It's amazing how animosities which drive our actions so definitively during competition dissolve in the happy glow afterwards, sharing in the success of others.

There comes a point every Bumps where I'm cycling to the boathouse and I pass the non-boaties, wandering the streets of Cambridge in pretty clothes, with picnics and nothing to do, and I am intensely jealous. However, this feeling is always far diminished by the feelings of pride, both in myself, my crew and the club, for the epic battles we undertake on the river for these 4 days. Knowing that you have spent your time in the pursuit of something, as Ali said last night, is indeed a rewarding feeling that I am so grateful to be able to share with everyone at First and Third.

The girls should be very proud of what we accomplished. With the help of many many bufties and boaties we made a boat that was competitive in Mays, and that continued our rise through the charts. However, as in Lents, I'll offer my plea, both to those who rowed this term and to those still around. The women's side will only grow stronger if we all have the loyalty and dedication to the club that I have known in the past. We need a strong W2 to feed rowers into W1, we need returners to keep raising the bar for each other. We need to get back where we belong. (Julia A.)
From the very beginning we knew that this would be "our race." But as emotions showed afterwards, this meant much more than just W1 - it was a collective "our race" for all the people at First and Third who ensured we could put an VIII on the water, who forced us to change our entire mindset about rowing, who coaxed the best out of us, who pushed us past our limits, and who were generally responsible for us getting to where we were this term. It was a stressful eight weeks but those two minutes at a smooth, pressed-out rate 36 (sorry Julia) were so very worth it.

And, of course, thank you to the girls of W1 who gave and gave and never stopped giving. I better see you next year, 'cause there's no way to go but UP. (Yining)

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