Having lost two of our top rowers from Lents to the first VIII, we welcomed in 4 new girls to W2. Despite some exam-centred stress through the middle part of term, the final two weeks of preparation have seen the boat improve vastly, Talbott style.
On the row down to the start, the girls surged up to Fitzwilliam's stern a fair few times, giving us on the bank a fair amount of confidence that the threat from behind wasn't huge. As is often the case in Bumps, however, we weren't quite right.
Off the start the girls moved slightly on both Newnham and Fitzwilliam, but hadn't significantly closed the gap when Newnham bumped out halfway between the road bridge and First Post Corner. Chris provided some fine evasive steering to prevent a tangle with the two crews ahead, but the necessary application of hard rudder took away enough speed to allow Fitz to start to move back on us.
The facts of the rest of the race are these: Fitz continued to move on the girls despite a cohesive row, getting to within a length at Ditton (accurate distances should be reported by someone who remembers). Their progress was slowed at various points by pushes from the crew, where a really nice rhythm developed. They had advanced to within half a length at the railings, spurred on by Jesus, who were closing on the overbump. The last 90 seconds of the race were a mix of bloodcurdling shrieks from the 3 seat, pain faces, and a cohesive, determined push for the finish. They made it. Relief.
A few of the girls had stated their fear of rowing over beforehand. While this shouldn't be the aim for the rest of the week, hopefully the crew is now aware that they have enough to last the course, and they can hold off Fitz again as they push for the bump on Pembroke. I am proud of all of them, particularly those who had the shadow of being bumped 200m from the finish in Lents in their heads, and who have so emphatically put that to bed.
Regarding accurate distances I believe it was three quarters of a length at Ditton and then closing to about a third of a length around the railings. W2 began to pull away briefly about half way down the reach, a move that possibly led to the aforementioned shrieks (and some impressive facial expressions), though couldn't quite hold it, crossing the finish about a quarter of a length clear. Well Rowed Girls, it's upwards from here! (MC Row(e))
The key to success is preparation, preparation, preparation. Noting this, practice pieces in all training outings were capped at two minutes and nothing beyond that point of the race was ever discussed.
Just before boating, Amalie's brow furrowed slightly as she asked: "What do we do if we're still rowing after two minutes?" The answer, of course, said with what I perceived to be an innocently nonplussed expression, was naturally to row for four minutes instead. The furrows vanished and we proceeded.
After two minutes of the race (including a very respectable start), the girls were still rowing, and had plenty of distance on the chasing crew, Fitz II. Luckily, no-one stopped rowing to ask any awkward questions.
This pattern was repeated after four, six and eight minutes, but replacing "plenty of" with "some", "not much" and "frighteningly little". At this point the meticulous lack of preparation kicked in, as the girls found in the tank the extra that they hadn't considered they wouldn't have and were able to push clear over the final two minutes for a stupendous row-over.
One member of the crew later claimed to have actually died at the finish, but this was disproven.
This story has a number of morals; most are left as an exercise to the reader, but the main one is that our cox, Chris, should remember his lifejacket tomorrow.
Today was a well executed bump. Went hard off the start, moved on Pembroke, moved more on Pembroke, mounted their stroke girl's blade. Boom. (Sam)
A great race. While easily holding off Fitz behind, W2 closed rapidly on Pembroke and bumped them around station 6. The pembroke cox seemed unwilling to concede and the umpire was rather quiet resulting in some confusion in which pembroke were bumped several times before both crews realised it was over.
Having Coxed W2 last year and spooned, it's good to see you back on the rise. Well done Girls!
A great bump that was described as 'textbook' by an umpire. W2 moved on Newnham continuously throughout the race due to a good rhythm and some impressive cornering that took at least half a length out of them. Coming out of Ditton they were about half a length from the bump and a determined push bought them up to two thirds of a length of overlap with Newham running away to meadowside. Chris held his line and slowly drifted over to secure the bump. A great race girls (+Chris), let's go out tomorrow and give Girton spoons! (MC Row(e))
Like W1, like W2. The girls ground Newnham down around the corners and made massive gains past the Plough and into Ditton corner, where it became clear that the opposition were falling apart. Newnham tried to flee to the far side of the Reach but W2 stayed hard and committed, with 1/2 a length of overlap for a full minute before Newnham were forced to drift back past the kink and simply steered into Chris' line. Very satisfying.
An awesome race to watch, and one to be proud of. Collecting greenery was pure joy and laughter at Harriet's repeated declarations of W2's greatness. Looking forward to another bump from you lovely ladies tomorrow!
The race panned out almost exactly as anticipated - with a fast crew behind, Newnham went all out to bump back before First Post Corner. They almost did it. When ARU bumped Newnham, there was about 3m separating Newnham's bows from our stern, and most of that was lateral. The rowing had been frenzied, and had lacked some of the assuredness and rhythm of the previous day, but it got the job done.
The inevitable relief-fuelled sag in speed lasted a minute or so, before the girls refocussed and pushed on towards Girton, who were sitting around station. Beforehand I had seen Girton as a relatively easy bump - they were down 3 coming into Saturday, and hadn't gotten past the Plough on any day. However, the Girton crew we raced held the girls between a length and a quarter and 2 and a half lengths for the rest of the course.
W2 finish up 2, a fantastic result given the starting point this term. There are many people to thank: the girls, Chris, Neil, Daisy, Fordy, Thomas, among others. I only hope next year's WLBCs can find a similarly determined set of young women to keep First and Third rising. To be a small part of success this year was a privilege and a pleasure.
Forced to sprint early to avoid a desperate Newnham crew, W2 weren't quite able to settle into a fast enough rhythm to catch Girton. Despite this they've had a great week and 'Up 2' is the best result for the second womens eight in 5 years. Well Done Girls! (MC Row(e))
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