Going into the day there were nerves, but also plenty of reasons to be confident. The crew was quick, well-drilled and ready to execute the race plan. A scrappy-ish start saw us move slightly inside station on Pembroke, but soon there were whistles for them and sure enough Queens were hit somewhere coming out of First Post or in the Gut: some evasive steering and a clash of Jake's blade on Pembroke's stern didn't dampen our rhythm and having gotten through the worst of the wash we managed a good lift out of Grassy.
Pushing hard out of Ditton we were holding Maggie on about station, settling onto a strong, pressed-out 36-37. At this point Maggie started to move up on us; we responded in kind and did our best to close them out, but moving out of the railway bridge we threw everything at them as they sat at half a length. Sadly they found another gear and ground us down, their bow ball hitting Emily's arm just past Peter's posts and a couple hundred metres short of the finish. It hurt bitterly, but with a calmer head I can say there's nothing we would have changed in our execution - while not the result we wanted we can be proud of the performance and are looking forward to a positive few days to come.
Nerves ran high. For more than half the boat it was the first set of bumps in M1. Our pre-paddle yesterday evening was gorgeousÂ - beautiful sunset over glassy waterÂ and very relaxed rowing. Today, as on any day of bumps, we faced a challenge. Ahead: Pembroke , Queens, Jesus. Behind: LMBC. We reckoned that we could get Pembroke over the course, but the chances of them catching the less than impressive Queens were depressingly high. If we rowed over behind a Pembroke-on-Queens bump we would be able to get Queens tomorrow. Overall a very good chance of going up 3 over the four days.Â
Alas, it was not to be. An ok start saw us stay on station with Pembroke, who bumped Queens much later than they should have done (Queens practically went backwards, but the Pembroke cox took awful lines). Poor clearing saw my blade hitting something (a blade?) hard as but we came round grassy, but we came out of it fine. Good thing that the 'soft hands' we have been working on all term weren't too soft. Our race plan - go hard, with pushes out of all the corners up to Ditton was excecuted well. At Ditton, we were on station with Maggie and I thought that we had a reasonable chance of rowing over ahead of them. We gained a solid rythmn at 36-7 and it felt good. Â At the kink Maggie suddenly started to move and Ed called for aÂ "Gut push". 10 legs, 5 finishes, 10 backs. We held them off for a while, but they began to move again and we called for another push. Going under the railway bridge they had closed to half a length. The handbrake came off, the rate came up and we held them for a while longer. But not long enough - they simply had another gear that we did not have, and our race finished just before Peter's posts, in exactly the same place that we bumpedÂ them on the last day last year.Â
Although the result was not the one we wanted, I didn't personally feel down for too long - we had been bumped fair and square by a faster crew. I think members of the crew who were in last year's Lent VIII were hurting more. Perhaps we would have been able to hold them off for a few more lengths, but not for the 90 seconds required to row over. We rowed very well and I think to the best of our ability. If we row the same way that we did today, I will be very pleased and we will do well.Â
Putting the previous day's trials behind us, we went out and executed what we needed to. It wasn't particularly pretty, and we didn't kill off the chasing Peterhouse's race as effectively as we should have - we moved away when pushes were called for and allowed them to come back into it slightly whilst in our steady rhythm. Despite this they never troubled, staying somewhere between 2-4 lengths away down the course. The coming few days should have good prospects and will hopefully give an exciting end to the week. (A. Strange)
After the disappointment of yesterday's bump by Maggie, confidence in a rowover was high. Â The cannon didn't even seem that loud, despite its proximity. A good start saw us move on LMBC getting inside 1 1/4 lengths. However, we were correct in predicting that the four crews ahead of us would bump out fairly early and that we would be subject to a short intense period of spectularly choppy water going into grassy. Luckily they cleared much quicker than yesteday and we were able to row onto cleanÂ water pretty soon. WeÂ executed our plan to sprint to Ditton before settling onto a solid 34. Actually it wasn't that solid. It was a bit scrappy and instead of opening up the gap between us and Peterhouse and finishing the race nice and early we slightly minced down the course doing 85% pushes and maintained 2-4 boat lengths all the way to top finish. Did the job though.Â
Comedy whistle from Peterhouse's bank party as they ran out of towpath at the P&E to try and urge their crew to not give in to the gaining Robinson.
Overall not the prettiest race, but did the job it needed to. Excited for a shorter race tomorrow.Â
Ugly, but effective. Â The start was decent, and we moved quickly to a length on Queens' with gears left in the tank. Â Pushing into 1st post corner, we hit some wash and lost our cool a bit. Â Despite having neither style nor substance, we continued to move on them through the Gut. Â At this point we all sensed that the bump was inevitable and we got two whistles going round Grassy and were held for a few strokes. Â Down Plough reach we slowly ate them up until we got overlap. Â Two massive strokes were enough to complete the bump, although we all agreed it should have happened sooner.
Awesome row up to the start. "Cool and clinical", as planned.Â
The cannon master turned up the reverb today, as I regained hearing we seemed to be in the middle of a fairly good start and soon had gained half a length on Queens' and a whistle to show for it.
This was the end of anything resembling good rowing, and we stayed at 1 whistle until we reached the gut. A low-flying drone and pack of very yappy dogs momentarily took my attention before we started to turn into Grassy. The exit of grassy saw two whistles and a large FaT contingent on the bank cheering us on. It also saw us encounter a monstrous amount of wash. The quality of the rowing did not really improve (not hugely surprising given that there were waves crashing over the riggers), butwe were able to close the distance on Queens' before catching them with two massive strokes.
Although we bumped up, the general mood was that we could have rowed far better. So ready to go large tomorrow for the chase on Jesus.Â
Today was a bit like Thursday, where we did the job but could have done it better. The row down was clean and clinical; sadly we didn't carry that well into the race. We had a good start and got our first whistle 20 strokes or so in. Round First Post and into the Gut we allowed the boat to roll around but continued to eat them up slowly. Coming out of Grassy we moved again on them to 3 whistles and had overlap nearing Ditton and hit them somewhere near the entrance to the corner. Once their stern had disappeared underneath my rigger I was able to lean over and hit their stern rather loudly, much as Ed did with Maggie last Lents, but sadly there was no GoPro to dislodge this time to avenge the unsuccessful 'Operation Tripod' of last year. Overall a good result, but a performance with room for improvement. (A. Strange)
A really positive start to bumps. We got better and better as the race went on. As space opened up behind and ahead of us, we committed to a long race and kept the power on, improving our cohesion and rhythm all the way down the course. No one was complacent, and the commitment never wavered. As we got to the P&E, we were surprised to hear a lot of crews shouting 'You're going to bump Downing,' followed by a bumps push call from Rob. Following Downing's crab, we closed to within a length, but they managed to recover and get to the end first. Nonetheless, it was great to see us find the extra gear and take it up at the end. It was an excellent start to what we hope will be a fantastic bumps campaign.
So sorry not to be able to be in the boat for this bumps campaign, but I will provide from inside from the towpath!
The whole race felt solid and composed after a nice start. Very soon, the river around the boat cleared up, as Queen's got bumped by Newnham, and Downing pulled away quickly trying to bump Jesus before the got Emma (a failed attempt).Â
Even though Downing was about 5 lengths ahead down the reach, the commitment and technique stayed strong. I could see some pain faces, grins and frowns, but there was no significant slump or loss of speed.
As I arrived at the P&E I heard a lot of crews shouting at us to bump, and I first thought it was because we were really popular (well, we are! Especially with our cute lion on the bows ^^). Then I looked a bit more closely and saw that Downing was stationary. I supposed they had forgotten that the finish had moved, but a Jesus rower informed me that their bow girl had caught a crab, tried to recover, and subsequently caught another, which caused the boat to stop. This quasi-mythical scenario had happened, the one that coaches bring up at crew chats to get us to keep rowing in earnest until the finish line Â ("you never know what can happen, they can catch a crab!")
Rob called a bumps push, and Valkyrie accelerated. Downing, to their credit, recovered very quickly and launched into a start sequence that got them through the line about a length ahead of us.
Chins up ladies, there are better things to come later in the week! Excited to see a bump when I'm there on Saturday! (Julia A.)
It is not easy to be bumped, but we gave it everything we had and made Newnham fight for it. We had a really good start, but could not manage to hold off Newnham as they found their stride. They steadily moved up on us, and although we we able to move away at times, it was not enough in this case. We are ready to look ahead to the next few days of racing!
This was a pretty good race. We came flying off the start feeling smooth and confident. We strode with slightly less precision than we have in recent outings, but did so to a stable 38. We strode again down and continued rowing notably well, holding Corpus M1 chasing us.
Darwin M1 smashed Downing M2 ahead of us and Corpus M1 began to gain. Lydia took some beautiful corners and we remained strong around Grassy coming up to Ditton, but we couldn't hold Corpus off. They were rowing well, and when they had their first whistle they made a massive drive and caught us.
Unfortunately, the Corpus cox thought it fit not to stop rowing and managed to hit our cox at speed. How considerate. I sense a fine coming their way.
A good row overall. We lost some steam and we need to push harder on Thursday; let's see if we can catch Corpus. Looking forward to seeing the GoPro footage. (Forbes)
This crew has improved enormously since the beginning of term. After the shambles that was Winter Head to Head, we knew that we had a long way to go to be competitive in bumps. Apart from a few short plateaux that occurred due to lack of focus in morning outings and blistering headwinds, we improved at a rate that I have never seena crew improve at before, on and off the water. We were showing signs of proper togethernessa few weeks before bumps during paddling, but the lack of strong finishes that has plagued our training through most of this term led Jon Glass to say that we rowed like a Vets Crew...
Hmm, time for high rate pieces. Luckily, Julia came at exactly the right moment for this, and put us through two days of significant pain doing 500 m pieces. Things were looking promising, except for a sag in pressure after a minute into the piece (when our legs actually started to hurt, that is). Robinson Head was to be our last high rate full-course piece before bumps. Neil Talbott, who was bankpartying us for this race, urged us to sit up and look up, and, lo and behold, the balance of the boat was there and we had a great race, finishing second to a fast LMBC II crew.
With very little time left until bumps, we focussed on high rate pieces, with the low points for me being the Tom Rose - style 6x500 and the 10x (17 on - 5 off) Fartlek on the Friday morning before bumps. Another Talbott outing focussed on getting blades square early, and with a few days to go, I was feeling better about our chances, though still more uncertain that I had ever been about what our race speed would actually be.
From results earlier in the term, I was convinced that Downing M2 were going to be absolutely terrible and would be bumped very early on by Darwin M1 ahead of us, and glimpses of their starts during our last pre-bumps outing seemed to suggest that I was right. M1's report of their sparring with Darwin seemed to indicate that Darwin weren't as rapid as last year, meaning that we might have a chance at bumping them on the first day - something that I had discarded more or less at the beginning of term, so I psyched myself up for a potential bump. Behind, we had absolutely no idea how fast Corpus were, as we had only seen them out on the river once before, but I told the crew not to be complacent and expect an extremely painful row-over at best (though obviously we would go hard for the bump off the start).
I for one was really nervous about this race, more so than for any of my previous bumps races, as I had no clue how fast we were and how we would perform on race day. Our paddle down to marshalling was the best low-rate rowing that we'd done so far this term, with commitment to long pressed-out strokes that made me quite happy indeed, and I was starting to lose some of the nerves that I had been feeling since waking up & going to Stomp. The first burst (to 24) on the reach was good, the second (to 28) less so, but still showed some of the togetherness of the row-down to marshalling. Our practise start was OK, but I think that nerves were creeping back into the boat at this stage. We paddled it down rather poorly to station down First Post Reach, and I was starting to be nervous again. We lacked a bit of focus between the 4 minute gun and the 1 minute gun, and I think that it affected our start a little.
We went off ridiculously high off the start, winding to a spacky 43 and striding for the first time to a OKish 38, which we had to stride down from to our race pace at 35. We were outside station on Corpus and at station on Darwin just before First Post corner, but lost a little power and send coming into the corner and didn't pick it up coming into the Gut, where the wash surprised me as usual. Apparently Downing II got bumped by Darwin at this point, and some of the crew noticed this and realised that we had a long row-over ahead, and the pressure sagged a little more.
Corpus closed to 1 1/4 lengths coming into Grassy, and got their first whistle coming out of Grassy, which we didn't push into properly either. Corpus got a sniff at the bump here, and started really moving. We responded, but possibly a little too late. We held them at 3/4 length down Plough reach, during which time Queens II behind had one whistle on Corpus. The pressure sagged again coming into Ditton, and an unsat corner and a big push from Corpus lost us most of the remaining distance. Lydia conceded about 10 strokes out of the corner, but unfortunately they failed miserably to hold it up for another 10-15 strokes, resulting in a rigger hitting her back and a blade hitting her head hard. I'm glad that they got fined for that!
We were obviously annoyed at getting bumped, but the row showed patches of very good commitment and we never resorted to a "shit we're about to get bumped, let's just give in" mentality. We had a good start and knew that to do better on Thursday, we had to push hard into and out of the corners and not lose vital ground to a fast Queens' crew behind.
We had a smooth start, though the stride was less well coordinated than when practising. I reckon we kept Corpus M1 roughly on station until we needed to manoeuvre around crews that had bumped out ahead (if I remember correctly this was just after First Post Corner), after which we had lost some distance but were again matching speed. However, after Grassy our speed had come down and Corpus gained on us throughout Plough Reach. Then we lost a bit more speed around Ditton and Corpus had a big push. We responded when they got very close but too little too late, and we got bumped around Ditton.
We have certainly shown that we have plenty of speed, and we did a very good job of remaining composed and together under pressure. However, we should be able to get more out of ourselves in terms of pushes into and out of corners and pushing up the speed at an earlier stage if we lose distance to the crew behind, in order to avoid giving them a chance. (Chris E.)
Fortunately the kit had arrived this morning despite my expectations of a further 2 week wait, this afforded me the opportunity to dress entirely in tessellating lions so I rowed down to the start looked as ridiculous as I could (Barney pointed out that I need little help in this regard however). Sadly the rest of my crew (plus other crews, our boatman and various bystanders) disapproved of my fashion sense and decided to dress in less hideous attire. The row down was decent with some nice paddling and after a fairly fast start at the Plough we rowed onto station and began the tense wait until the start gun. Unfortunately the constitution and a zealous KSS prevented me from racing in lions so I was forced to change into the more traditional blue and gold, we then ate lots of jelly babies (thanks Millie!). By the one minute gun we were all ready to go and the final countdown began.
A combination of a good push-off, a fast start and one of the most obscure lines that I've ever seen from the pursuing Corpus M1 put us a bit outside station which we held into first post corner and down the gut. Around grassy and onto plough reach they began to move on us and an unmatched push by them bought the distance to about half a length as we approached ditton. Into ditton they managed to get their bows on the inside and as we slowed to turn bought the margin down to a canvas with the bump happening a few strokes later. They then failed to hold it up. Muppets.
Overall a good race despite the result. A few things we can take from the day are:
Based on having seen how Queens M2 moved on the first day, we expected them to gain on us off the start, but anticipated that we would be able to hold them off over the length of the course.
The starting gun went off about 5 seconds before we were expecting it but we reacted well and had a reasonable start. Queens did indeed gain on us though it was a bit more gradual than expected, and as we went into Grassy they were visibly inside station though not worryingly close.
Meanwhile, ahead of us, Corpus M1 and Downing M2 had bumped out and did a very effective job of completely blocking the river. We held it up but still ended up entangled with one of them. The umpires thought that Queens were likely to bump us, and therefore arranged a rerow with just the two of us, from Head Station to Top Finish. "If you get that far," they said.
With some consternation we focused in on the new race. Our start was good and again Queens did not immediately take much out of us. For the first part of the course, they gained slowly on us but we stayed focused and rowed our own race as we had confidence that they were sprinting harder than they could sustain. We did a much better job of pushing into and out of corners to maintain the boat speed, but Queens continued to move on us. If I remember correctly, they got their first - rather dubious - whistles at some point around Grassy, and by the time we got onto the Reach they were scarily close.
However, we kept rowing well together and having committed pushes. Queens got overlap on us not far into the Reach but we did not let go. Queens steered for the bump through the Railway Bridge but missed and this helped to maintain the lateral distance between us. From then on we knew the finish was within reach and we gave it everything with a final push.
This was rewarded by Queens falling back, so we pushed out a large gap behind and then had a relaxed row for the last section of the course after Queens started rowing in sixes. (I'm not sure whether they just gave up, had a problem or had forgotten that we were racing until Top Finish.)
It is in this sort of race that we really prove what we can do as a crew, and I am proud to have been part of it.
Tomorrow we should be able to put the "Down" into Downing M2 without too much trouble - but we do need to be patient about it, avoid complacency and make sure we stay ahead of what will undoubtedly be a very angry Queens M2 crew, as we know we can. (Chris E.)
Stressful to watch. Not sure how it would have been inside the boat... there were echoes of the Thursday of M1 Mays 2014, where something similar happened.
After a bit of carnage in the Gut the first time around, M2 had to spin and row back to head station for the rerow - once they'd dislodged their bows from Corpus's stern. For the second time round, the start was a fair bit smoother, but Queens' slowly moved up on M2, till they were a canvas off at the railings, and overlap not long after. M2 took a big push, and got a couple of feet clear water. Around the railway bridge, another move by Queens' gave them overlap once again, and I was convinced that the bump was going to come soon.
Queens' didn't move any more, though, and the overlap fluctuated between 3 feet and 6 inches, till around Morley's Holt where we regained clear water. We pushed this out to a couple of metres at the P+E, where it became clear that Queens' had either given up, forgotten where top finish was or forgotten how to row.
Mounted Corpus a bit in the first attempt to get round the course today and then found ourselves back on head station listening to the minute cannon go and the umpire saying, "you're going to top finish, if you make it that far." Very glad we had a chance to prove him wrong.
Decent start sequence with our first proper stride of the week, settling on to a long 34, and roughly held Queens a bit inside station around first post, through the gut and into grassy. They moved up a bit along plough reach and got their first whistle on the exit of ditton.
Our first half of the reach wasn't particularly solid but as they kept moving and got 2 whistles, we took it up two with a really solid push.Â
Queens just kept coming, and coming, and coming and everything between halfway down the reach and the P&E is pretty blurry but I remember a lot of overlap and a heck of a lot of response to pushes from the boys. We broke them and walked away around Morley's Holt. My heart has never beaten so fast sitting still.
Couldn't be more proud of the work today. Incredibly gutsy, digging deep and not letting them get into our heads. Here's to tomorrow.
YEAH M2!!!!! That was pretty harrowing listening for me as I had a slow heart attack and gave up all pretense of working, but what an epic row! Massive, massive, MASSIVE props for not only taking a rerow in your stride, not only resetting and attacking the race, but for walking away from overlap...twice! Super proud, have an awesome race tomorrow! (Julia A.)
Ben's race report pretty much sums it up, but I'll try and write about what I remember from my second most painful rowing experince to date (the most painful being the 2k in January that I paced at 1500 m pace and then blew up in).
After Tuesday's race, knew that Thursday's race was going to be very tough, as Queens' II were inside station on Corpus when Corpus bumped us. I tried to reassure the ex-novices in the crew by saying that we were probably going to row-over, but that it was going to be really painful. I thought that unless we pulled a miracle out of a bag, we were probably going to be bumped at the beginning of the reach again, but I kept my dark thoughts to myself. I felt better waking up on the morning of the race, then worse as I sat through a supervision slowly feeling my energy decrease to scarily low levels, then sprinted to hall, where for the first time in my time at Trinity I didn't finish my meal as I worried that I might throw it up otherwise during the race.
Back in my room for 20 mins, I decided that the best use of my time would be to watch the Abingdon vs. Belmont Hill Henley QF 2009 race, which showed a crew 1 length down coming through a seemingly faster opposition in the last 150 m, with crazy cox Rory Copus shouting some classic motivational lines. I got really pumped and walked to the boathouse feeling much better, and agreed with Lydia that the call "They've gone too hard, NOW WE FUCKING PUNISH THEM" should be given as soon as we moved away from Queens', whenever that might be.
Our paddle down was poor due to nerves, but at least we got all of the spacking out of the way before the start. We were a little more focussed before the cannon, and it translated into a cleaner and less frantic start sequence. We held station on Corpus, but as expected Queens' moved up on us, gaining their first whistle justbefore First Post corner. Corpus bumped Downing II at that point and failed to clear properly due to their bows being jammed into the outside of the corner, which in turn led to us holding it up and mounting their stern. Queens also held it up and parked next to us. Some of the most intense carnage that I've seen in bumps so far. All of the boats behind had bumped out apart from Sidney Sussex who rowed past the carnage and continued on for their row-over. The umpires, seeing that Queen's had moved on us, gave them the option of a re-row, which they took. We had to spin and go to Head Station and start all over again. The minute gun occurred quite quickly, and very soon racing was underway again.
We had a better start due to the clean water and really powered away around the corners. Queens' got a 'bullshit' whistle around Grassy, which turned to a proper whistle coming into Ditton as they started to make their move. Our pushes in and out of corners were much improved from yesterday, and so we didn't lose ground around them (Lydia's lines were as tight as usual, of course!).
Coming into the Reach, I thought that we would probably hold them off as we had had a good start to the race, and if they had a "fly and die" race plan as I thought that they did yesterday, they were probably not going to move any further. I got tunnel vision at this point, so I don't remember exactly what else happened, but I remember small sections clearly. At the kink, we had a few bad strokes, and they closed from just outside 1/2 a length to a few feet of clear water. This was reduced to no clear water, then overlap about 8 strokes before the railway bridge. A the point at which Lydia called "five strokes to the railway bridge" (probably the only call that I remember from that entire section), I thought that we'd made it this far, so why not just make it the last 100 m of a race just there.
We held them, then they took a poor corner under the railway bridge, and opened it up toalmost no overlap, but a second big push from them took them to 2 metres of overlap again, which they held for the next 30 s. I can vaguely remember a roar from the cheering women's crews parked on the bank, but at that point all I was thinking of was: "my legs are no longer responding; please don't black out; why are we still racing". We somehow held it together better than Queens', and after more than a minute of overlap, they started to blow and forget how to row, and we eased it out of overlap, and then to 1/2 a length at Peter's posts. I then remember seeing them about 6 lengths behind (they had stopped rowing), but all that I could think of was "I need to get past that line", so when Lydia called us to wind down I freaked out massively and shouted, incoherently "Lydia, we're not yet at the end", and then when we had paddled to Top Finish, I pointed at the finishing post and screamed "that's the finish line", crazily, maniacally, desperately.
And then it hit us - we had rowed over, walked away from the closest race of Lent Bumps 2016 so far, and adrenaline took over. I forgot to be exhausted, I just had the most enormous surge of excitement, and shouted myself hoarse: "YEEEEEEES, YEEEEEEES, YEEEEEES" resounded under Chesterton Footbrdge, and I grinned all the way back from my most exciting bumps race so far. Crew Nandos was very cheeky, and we now have a shot at having a very successful bumps week.
What we need to remember for Friday's race: Queens' are going to want to bump us badly. They will close hard off the start. We will need all of the composure that we can muster to stay away from them, or Thursday's awesome race will have been for nothing. They are faster than us, but we have shown that we have the mental strength to hold them off. If we can do all of this and row cleanly and with long, pressed-out strokes, then we will bump Downing II and send them on their way down to well-deserved spoons.
Could have been cleaner, but today was a fairly classic bump on a spoonbarge. Tomorrow won't be as easy. (Lydia Bass)
This was the day when we reaped the rewards from the crazily intense row-over on Thursday. This time, we expected to bump, and this led to nerves throughout the row-up and we never properly found our rhythm and togetherness in the bursts and paddle down, practise start excluded (that was surprisingly good, given how poor the rest of the row-down was). During marshalling at the P&E, one of the Downing II guys had come over and told us that he thought that they had no chance of rowing over in front of us, and hoped that the race would be over quickly. This made me feel more confident that the bump was going to happen.
Whatever happened, we were not going to row the whole course, either bumping Downing II or being bumped by Queens II. This led to a 500 m race plan, which we followed quite well. The start was quick, slightly spacky, and the stride which we had executed so well on the previous day never really occurred. We got one whistle after the end of our start sequence, and basically just slowly ground them down over First Post Reach, keeping station on Queens' and bumping shortly before the corner. With people unsure exactly when to hold it up and Ben catching a massive overhead crab immediately after, we failed quite badly to clear and Queen's had to do some fairly tight evasive steering to go around us, but luckily for them Sidney Sussex weren't particularly fast and both crews rowed over. Greenery was dealt out in a fairly extravagant way and we rowed back from what was half of the crew's first bump in a slightly wobbly but controlled manner.
Overall, the result that we wanted, but if we want to stand any chance of bumping Darwin today, we'll need all of the compusure and commitment that we demonstrated so spectacularly on Thursday. We know that we can give them a fright - let's go out there and bump them!
Our plan for today was to row sustainably, recognise that the bump on Downing M2 could take a long time, and make sure to hold off Queens M2 for as long as it took.
However, there was naturally some nervousness and excitement in the crew, and this translated into less neatness off the start and a higher rate than we had planned after the stride. But when Queens did not come close and we very quickly got a whistle on Downing, we knew that things were looking positive. The next whistles took longer to achieve but we kept moving on Downing without having to change what we were doing and without Queens causing us any worry. When we reached three whistles, a Bumps push was called and this achieved the bump fairly promptly (even though I think I stopped rowing a couple of strokes prematurely having misheard something as "hold it up"). I cannot remember exactly where we bumped but I think it was at First Post Corner.
This result is our reward for the performance yesterday - we have earned it and should savour it - but I think our rowing was not as composed as it has been. Tomorrow we are not anticipating pressure from behind, and Darwin will be difficult to catch, so we should try to settle to our target rate and keep things clean to give ourselves the best chance. (Chris E.)
Our plan was to row as fast as possible over the course, trying to recreate our cohesiveness from Thursday and push just as hard despite the lack of a credible threat from behind. We knew that a bump on Darwin M1 was a difficult target to aim for but hoped that it might be possible on the Reach.
Unfortunately we never really started rowing cleanly today, and we rowed the course as a very messy piece without ever putting Darwin under any pressure. This probably didn't affect the result, as it seems they were simply a faster crew than us. However, Downing M2 actually came within a length of us before being bumped by Queens M2, and although they were obviously sprinting as hard as they possibly could, this still suggests that we were being rather ineffective today, given how much faster we were than them yesterday.
We can all be proud of what we have achieved this week as a crew, despite the slightly lacklustre performance on the final day. (Chris E.)
A slightly disappointing end to what has been my most intense bumps campaign so far. We were all feeling really good before this race, knowing that we would have no pressure from behind, and I at least was quite pumped for today. The paddle up was marginally better than it had been on the previous two days, and unfortunately, as I mentioned to Fordy last night, our races seem to inversely correlate with the quality of the paddle-up.
We had a lack-lustre start that saw Downing gain a whistle on us when they got bumped, then saw Sidney Sussex close distance on us when they got bumped, and then had a (mostly) clear river behind with only Eddies M1 in the distance. We had OK pushes in and out of the corners, but we just spakked around massively, forgetting how to sit the boat, get our blades in together and press out our strokes. This meant that we were never really inside station, and when we realised that we didn't have any whistles coming into Ditton, the power sagged even more, and we finished 3 lengths off them. It's a bit of a pity, as I'm sure that we could have given them a good race had we committed hard from the start.
As I said after the race however, it speaks volumes about how the crew has improved and committed over the other three races that we had this week that my least favourite race of the week was a row-over that saw us not be too far behind a decent M1. We committed when we had to (on Thursday's race), and we reaped the benefits of that great row. And more importantly, I think that we have all learned just how valuable commitment and perseverance in the face of adversity and pain are, not only in relation to rowing, but also in other walks of life. Here's to another successful term of rowing (and other things of course)!
With more ribbons in our hair, but our spirits not (too) dampened by yesterday's result, we returned to the boathouse. Rowing sticks out, along with the rowing stick holder.Â
The plan today was to row over - with Wolfson in front of us bumping was unlikely, so holding off Medwards would have been a more realistic goal. This, however, appeared to be unrealistic. We were once again bumped quite quickly. We held them off for a bit longer today, until just before grassy, and the quality of rowing was generally much better - the start was less panicky, and we held our cool.
Goal for Thursday: Not get bumped again. Three, however, is a good number..
Our row up began with some impressive paddling. Our hours and hours of roll-ups meant that our first strokes were always near-perfect, and our early 'easy there's meant we had plenty of opportunities to sit the boat at arms away and intimidate all of the surrounding crews. Our first burst to rate 24 on the reach went just as well as the paddling, followed by a burst "to rate 28" which 'somehow' made it to race pace. This second burst was by far the best rowing we've ever done as a crew, and it definitely improved our confidence for the race ahead. Sadly this amazing burst did not last. We were distracted by some shouting women who were clearly taken aback by our amazing rowing (thanks W2 ;) ) and so our form fell apart and we were forced to wind it down.
We made our way around Ditton (without crashing, which was nice), and set ourselves up for our practice start. As an intimidation tactic (100% true), I intentionally took an air stroke on our first stroke, just so we could prove to the crew ahead that we didn't even need 8 proper rowers to catch up to them. Aside from that, the start went well, and we were hyped for the race to begin.
After managing to marshall an impressive 25 minutes late ('entirely' because of M4 taking out 801 before us), we arrived at our start position with our spirits high. This was the first bumps race for every person in the boat and our first actual race as a set crew, so we were all quite nervous. Just as we reached the bank, I enquired as to the possibility of exiting the boat - but alas, before my question could be answered the 4 minute cannon went off, and suddenly everyone became rather frantic. Tessellating lions and other not race kit was removed, and we waited for the next bang. My suggestions of positive visualisation exercises went down about as well as suggesting we raced square-blades. (Not backing down there, by the way, I still think positive visualisation a good idea.)
The start went well, and we zoomed away. There is an amazing period of about 30 seconds at the start of every race were you feel like you're incredibly fit and that there's nothing in the world that could potentially slow you down, then all of that adenosine triphosphate runs out and you suddenly realise that you have to breath and do other slightly inconvenient things in order to continue rowing. We powered on. A partial crab around First Post Corner meant we lost some speed, and then we rowed past Magdalene and Peterhouse M2 who had stopped on the gut. At this point we realised that we were no longer rowing to bump, we were rowing to NOT get bumped, and we had to do this for another 2km, at least. This has a slightly de-motivational effect.
Robinson M2 did not get closer than one boat length away from us. They made a final, unsuccessful push on the reach, and then gave up. We flew away. After rowing to top finish (because why not?), we took 2 minutes rest to recover energy back into our lifeless shells, and then pathetically paddled home. Again, this was an intimidation tactic so that LMPC, who were in front of us, would underestimate us when we inevitably get to bump them on Friday.
A good start to what is bound to be a glorious four days. (Andrew)
I was a little nervous about my token rowing effort for the term being a bumps race, especially as I had rowed with no member of the crew before, and they were expecting the bump. Warming up on the ergs did nothing to allay my trepidation when I realised my legs were already rather sore from the earlier session. Luckily, the seat which had been vacated was at the sharp end of the boat, meaning that nobody could see my hopeless spannering.
The row down was amusing. We chased Peterhouse from outside of our boathouse, and our confidence grew as we saw that we kept catching up with them when they were rowing all-eight and we were rowing in sixes. This seemed to bode well for Thornton's promise that I would definitely not have to row over.
The last racing start I'd done was the Saturday of May's which broadly consisted of trying desperately not to get left behind as Barney aimed for as much above 50 as he could persuade the rest of us was manageable. Taking this as my starting point I made a miserable mess of the practice start and only got back vaguely in time with stroke at about the same time as we wound it down. I filed this under 'needs improvement'.
When the 4 minute gun went off the familiar array of nerves and resignation to the incipient pain came over everyone, along with (for me at least) a slice of disbelief and an overwhelming sense of 'here we go again...'. Then all was calm until the peace was shattered by eighteen boats trying desperately to churn up as much of the Cam and its bed as possible.
The start was significantly improved and we settled down onto a decent rhythm at a high rate. First Post Reach was uneventful until we got the shout from the bank that we'd closed to a length. Then things became a bit more confused as various people in the boat heard no distances at all, I heard Sam bellow 'moooviing' and we caught a mini crab somewhere in the entrance to the gut. This was recovered quickly and we carried on moving up, hearing half a length, some excited yelling from the towpath before their stern canvas appeared in the corner of my eye. We carried on moving up, I hit stroke's blade with mine and we held it up in the centre of the river.
What happened next was rather less impressive. Someone overhead crabbed, and between this and the noise we rather firmly stayed put. Sharp words from the bank and Sayana eventually led to us half-heartedly pootling bank-wards barely in time for Robinson to barrel past us. This was universally agreed not to have covered us in glory, although at this stage I was just thanking my lucky stars not to have crabbed in the race. Subbing in when things go well is great; subbing in and causing things to go badly I imagined would lose some of its charm.
Anyway, congratulations M3, thank you for letting me row with you, and the best of luck on the last two days!
We were "quite" excited at the prospect of bumping LMBC III. Crew chat on the previous night consisted mostly of speculating where the bump will occur - having seen Magdelene II bumped LMBC III and Peterhouse II at similar positions, we expected this bump to be as easy as bumping Peterhouse II. Unbeknownst to us, LMBC III had a big crab when they were bumped, so we underestimated them.
Our practise burst to race pace, while being very good, was just slightly under our burst on Tuesday. However, this time we were more focused, and despite the screams from W2, we kept our technique and made the "very good" last much longer.
So we pulled in to wait for the start. In what seemed like no time at all, the 3 guns went off, and the chase began.
Near first post corner, we heard 1 whistle. This was quite encouraging, but pain also started to creep in.
Having bumped Peterhouse II near Grassy corner on Wednesday, we realised as we went past Grassy that bumping LMBC III wouldn't be as easy. We took a mental hit, and combined with the pain, we stopped gaining on LMBC III, and stayed at 1 length thereafter. There were several calls for pushes, but with everyone already giving their all in hopes of bumping LMBC III, we weren't able to push harder and our speed was largely unaffected by the calls.
Nearing the P&E, we suddenly heard 1 horn, 2 horns, 3 horns, continuous horn, in a rapid succession. Then, someone shouted "hold it up". There might have been some relief that we've finally got our bump, but then we discovered that it was LMBC III overbumping Churchill II, Magdelene II and Clare Hall having bumped out. This is when we remembered the unusual sound of the horn - Iain, our boatman, had a whistle. Perhaps LMBC did not know how to obtain a whistle, and therefore needed someone to volunteer their musical instrument.
Seeing the shouts of LMBC III shattered our hopes. We really expected to bump. At worst, we thought, we both row over, and we'll still have another opportunity tomorrow. But LMBC III getting an overbump was not what we expected. It meant there'll be 3 crews between us, so bumping LMBC III must be left to future years.
Meanwhile, we still haven't crossed the finish line, and we're also in excruciating pain. Seeing the 4 crews behind us all bumped out, and the finish line only 200 metres away, we dejectedly took it to UT2, finished, and continued rowing home.
Even without being teased by the passing division 2 crews, we could sense the sadness in the boat. Sayana, our cox, spoke very little. However, our bitter feelings translated into a silent focus, and this UT2 was technically clean, if weak from the pain of having sprinted 2k.
This gloomy mood continued until we had our crew chat, when someone commented on our mood and asked "did someone die?", and finally we laughed.
Due to a mistake over cannon timings we had a somewhat hasty start, being not fully pushed off before the start cannon went. Nevertheless stroke managed to wind decently and we pulled away from Maggie M4, which subsequently overhead crabbed and was bumped on First Post Reach by Sidney M2. Winding up to 37.5/38 and striding at 34, we had a good First Post Corner, but Queens' M3 had a push and made some distance on the boat ahead. Taking a push in the Gut, we made advantage of their terrible Grassy (they skirted round the outside of the corner), taking 1-1.5 lengths out within a few seconds. We took another massive push on the Plough Reach and were coming up to a length behind when we were both ordered to stop due to the pair ahead not clearing in time after bumping. A very frustrating end to the day, but hopefully the energy conserved and technical progress made on the row back will assist when the crew is similar over the next few days. (J. Armstrong)
We had a calmer start on the second day, with longer strokes and a nicer stride. Queens' had an unusual line off the start, winding up in the direction of the opposite bank, and, even though the cox rescued it, we were able to gain a lot of ground. Striding to 35 around First Post to make a move, a very speedy Sidney Sussex M2 was also moving quickly on us, and once realising that this bump was inevitable I conceded once clear of the corner into the Gut. The rowing was less frantic than yesterday after the smoother start sequence, so bodes well for the next few days. (J. Armstrong)
Spirits were middling after Wednesday's shellacking, but a slick practice start and an infusion of puerile humor boosted morale. Â In the resonance chamber that is the motorway bridge, we had cannon to the right of us, cannon to the left of us, cannon in front of us, volleying and thundering! Â Our reflex-driven draw blended into a nice wind to 37, and we leapt away apace with the field. Â Nevertheless, Emma III put on a strong push around 40 strokes in, and whistles were soon blaring. Â Then it collectively hit us: rowing is hard. Richard Church is heavy. Â My hands are bleeding. Who wants to row-over 2.3k at race pace anyway? Â We haven't gone that far all week, and we sure as hell ain't gonna start now!
Emma mercy-killed us in the Gut. Â
The hot blood on my handle cries out for vengeance... and perhaps a for bit more resolve.
Had a solid practice on the paddle-up in our favourite bath tub, and were feeling reasonably good about the chances of a row-over in the race. Even though the Catz crew bumped us around First Post Corner, I think rec squad can afford to be pretty pleased with the rowing this week - more in the paddle down than in the actual races...:P How different it would have been if we'd been able to race properly on Tuesday: nevertheless, a good effort from all concerned. Here's to next term! (J. Armstrong)
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