The Club's Results

May Bumps 2017

1st men's VIII

Coxed by: Sophie Maclean

Wednesday
Bumped by Downing
Well it's fair to say not many people saw that coming. A result that certainly doesn't reflect the epic race that ensued with Jesus.

Coming in to bumps we were certainly seen by almost everyone as the underdogs. We are a very inexperienced crew, featuring only two previous M1 Mays rowers (and an M1 Mays cox now rowing). With three novice rowers and a novice cox this was always going to be a crew that only the test of bumps would show the true ability of. The loss of most of M1 from Lents to 'M3' certainly didn't help in this. Throughout term most other clubs also came to feel we were a spoonbarge waiting to happen based on race results. Even coming to 2 weeks out from bumps our confidence still had a long way to go. But 2 weeks with JPD is a magical thing, and we came into bumps with renewed confidence. It all seemed to come together with 2 outings to go, even with having lost our 7-man not one week before. We had a clear warm-up and race plan and felt as ready as we could be.

The row-up to the start was very nervy, as might be expected for an inexperienced crew. We didn't let that upset us, and sat and with calming words from JPD we were ready to go as the 4 minute cannon went. At this point we were going to be racing, and the true mettle of the crew would be tested in the fire of battle. We were calm as we pushed out and I felt like this was about to be a great piece, but would probably be a hard one. Little did I know what would follow...

We wound through a scrappy start to a peak of 43, before finding ourselves settling to 38. We made a rhythm call but this was no use in a crew determined to channel their adrenaline. We stuck with 38 into first post (much above the 34/5 we were aiming for). At this point we got our first MOOOOVVVIIINNNGGG call and I realised the race was on. Sod what all the (now replaced) messageboards had to say, we deserved outr place as M1. Coming through the gut we stuck to our 38 and were rewarded with 2 whistles. 2 weeks ago I wouldn't have believed this, but suddenly we'd got the enemy in our sights and the race was ours to take on. We kept pressing our 38 through grassy and moved this on to three whistles. The crew put everything into it at this point and pushed hard out of grassy. We never quite made it to overlap (I'm told) but boy did we throw everything we had at Jesus. At this point Downing were miles back and this wasn't the easy bump everyone predicted for us, but instead we really had a shot at Jesus.

As we settled into plough reach, the rate finally stepped down to 35 as our legs started to go from us. 3 1/2 minutes of our hands in the fire and we simply didn't have anything more left to give. That being said, we still fought on and were repeatedly told there was only a canvas in it. To be honest I was so far past the red line by the plough that I don't remember much of the next 3 minutes. Sophie said something about someone going wide in Ditton, I think we had a lift.

We had a solid reach, working as hard we still could. Jesus eased out a little on us but I'm told it was never more than 1/2 a length.I don't remember seeing them come up on us, but through the railings, Downing were suddenly 1/2 a length off and we were spent. They coasted up to about a canvas at the kink, and we pushed again holding them here for about a minute, until a few strokes from the railway bridge. Here they finally moved up on us, but we still reacted and held them again. I honestly thought at this point that we had them held. Unfortunately they were able to make one more lift and took 6 inches or so per stroke until they finally got us around Morley's Holt. I was feeling very much worse for the wear (sorry Matt and Sophie for seeing my lunch re-appear) but remember Downing immediately congratulating us on a great race.

The result does not reflect what the race looked like, but so is the nature of bumps. We had an absolute epic slug with Jesus and came so close to it, but just couldn't quite bump (memories of Mays 2014 Saturday...). Unfortunately, when battles like this happen, the chasing crew becomes easy prey for a more evenly-paced crew behind. As such Downing had the legs when our own battle ensued, but kudos to all 7 guys and Sophie that we held them at bay for so long (please can we not make me have to row so much if we don't row over).

It's fair to say that the 6 guys and Sophie who earned their M1 colours today deserved them and then some. One of the most epic races I've ever done, and a baptism of fire for the newbies. You've earned your stripes and then some, baptism of fire anyone?

Having moved out on Downing off the start, and getting so close to Jesus, I think we have surprised everyone (apart from me and hopefully most of the crew) and can hold our heads high. I can't wait to see what happens throughout the rest of the week.
(Jon)
Sounds like a pretty epic race! These are the kinds of bumps stories that will stick with you forever and can shape not just the rest of your bumps week but also affect your whole rowing career. Make sure you bring it to mind whenever you're up early for a tedious 3x6km erg in the dark in November... Looking forward to seeing where this takes you all. (RTT)
Without a doubt the greatest race I've ever seen in any sport. What an legendary row for a top class bunch of guys. Pristine coxing from Sophie, awesome rhythm from Jon, and unmatched resolve from a crew that has been marred by setbacks all term.

Half the credit goes to JPD for his coaching wizadry; the other to the crew and especially Josh, Pete, Sam and Sophie who jumped into this crew in their first year of rowing and have risen to the challenge and then some. They will take their place as solid bastions of rowing at our club, and role models for the next generations. This crew earned beyond the shadow of a doubt its label of 1st Men's VIII on this day, with a row that will go down in the annals of history.

I will never forget the Jesus stern pair's face as our bowball danced at the tip of their stern. This is what rowing is all about. Badass rowing, guys.
(Forbes)
There were only 2 outings in the eventual race crew before Bumps itself, and things were not particularly tidy in our row to the start, but once the cannon went the past was gone and in my mind we had been rowing together for weeks if not years.
The first few strokes were very messy (and I think there may have been an airstroke at some point), but then things gradually started coming together. On the rhythm call we did have rhythm, albeit at a substantially higher stroke rate than we were planning, and soon started getting whistles on Jesus M1 and moving away from Downing M1. By the time we were approaching Grassy, I (at Bow) could clearly hear the Jesus M1 cox near me sounding rather desperate, and I definitely thought that the bump was coming.
Unfortunately, despite several consecutive pushes, we didn't make it to overlap. By the time we were at the Plough, the boat was feeling much heavier and although Jesus M1 never got far away, our impetus was gone. We kept rowing solidly, but we had spent ourselves and Downing M1 behind us started looming larger. As they closed up we fought hard to hold them off, but succumbed shortly after the Railway Bridge.
I think our race performance exceeded expectations, and we can all be proud of stepping up to form this crew. But in the end we got bumped, and I will always ponder what might have been.
(Chris E.)
Thursday
Bumped by Peterhouse
We planned to try to repeat yesterday's heroics and to take the race to Downing. The only change to the plan was to take 'just half a pip' off the rhythm to make it more sustainable and to avoid a repeat of how close we got to Jesus to no avail as the legs went from underneath us. Once again we rowed up with a nervy, though solid row.

Off the start we wound high again and settled to a slightly more sustainable 36 or so. However, the level of sting wasn't quite what it had been the day before. I am sure yesterday's efforts came with a price to pay today. As such, after initially moving up on Downing slightly, we never quite got to any whistles. Through grassy it became clear that we'd need to bring it to our cruising rhythm at around 35 and prepare for a long row.  We pushed well down Plough reach, but unfortunately Peterhouse had a faster base pace than us. They started to gain on us and moved to within a canvas coming into Ditton.

Sophie did all she could to get us to react, and we gave it all we could. But the debt for yesterday really came to hit us and we just didn't have the legs to keep them away. They finally got us (well Sophie's elbow) at the exit of Ditton. Not the result we had hoped for, but still a determined row. It was a shame that we couldn't hit the highs of Wednesday, but I think for such an inexperienced crew pulling such a huge effort out of the bag on day 1 was always going to come at a cost.  I'm told even as we were bumped Downing hadn't taken huge amounts of distance on us, and they themselves bumped Jesus some 10-15 strokes further along. A real shame we got caught by a faster crew today, I'd have loved to give it another crack at Jesus tomorrow. We'll just have to work to hold Emma at bay tomorrow and hope that this sets us up for a cracking Saturday. In any case, the process that got us to yesterday is the same process that will carry us forward. With a new day, comes a new race, only the process remains and I for one have faith in this.
(Jon)
Our plan was to chase the bump on Downing M1, given that we had moved away from them in the first part of the race yesterday, hoping to gain more efficiency by settling more decisively onto our intended rate.
However, things were feeling especially rocky in the warm-up, and in the race it became clear that we did not have as much energy in us today as we did yesterday, and so we were just slower. We didn't move on Downing M1, and Peterhouse M1 did move on us, catching us around Ditton corner.
(Chris E.)
Friday
Bumped by Emmanuel
Going into this race, we knew there was a good chance of Emma bumping us. We had raced them previously at Nines Regatta, where they had beaten us by an, albeit hard fought, 3/4 length. However, we were not going to let that daunt us and were determined to do our utmost to stop the bump from happening for as long as possible, and ideally not at all.

The row up was the best row we have done all term. We managed to find a solid rhythm which we pretty much maintained throughout our bursts; we performed two almost perfect race pace roll ups; and we were sharper than we have ever been before.

Starting at station 8 gave us the benefit of not being next to the outflow, or the cannon, as we had been on previous days, and as such we executed the start well. We wound up to around 42 before settling to about 37 at thirty seconds.At about this time, we heard a call from the bank that we were inside on station on Peterhouse, who we were chasing. We kept on our rhythm, slowly moving on them, but Emma had also been moving on us. Along First Post Reach I was about to call for a second settle on to a more sustainable pace, when Jon shouted that Emma had narrowed the gap to a length. From then on, we fought to keep them off us, but they kept gaining. Despite repeated pushes, and a huge response from the whole crew, by First Post Corner they had overlap.

At this point, the steered for the bump and just missed. This gave us the opportunity to push away from them, and we managed to increase the distance between the two boats. Unfortunately, by Grassy, Emma had overlap again. They steered for the bump and didn't miss.

Though we got bumped, I'm proud of today's row. We gave the best race we have had to date, and found a pace we all agreed we could have maintained for much longer if given the opportunity. At the point when we were bumped, we were 3/4 length off Peterhouse, who were 1/2 length off Jesus. This just goes to show how much we've come on, even in the past few days. Bring on tomorrow!
(S.L.C. Maclean)
We pretty much knew that Emmanuel M1 were going to be faster than us, and the plan was to commit to holding them off as long as possible and hope that this would take us to the end of the course.
On the row up to the start things were feeling much better than they had done on previous days, with the balance of the boat staying closer to central for more of the time, and in the race I think we produced our best row yet. The start went smoothly, and this time we moved inside station on Peterhouse M1.
Unfortunately, Emmanuel M1 simply were faster. They just missed bumping us on First Post Corner, and got us on Grassy.
By this time, we had apparently closed up on Jesus M1 (who were 2 in front of us) by more than 1.5 lengths. So we can be very pleased with our rowing today, but it is just a shame we did not find this on Wednesday.
(Chris E.)
Saturday
Bumped by Magdalene
We knew that Magdalene M1 had been on the up, but JPD had told us that they were not looking as fast as the crews we had been chased by previously, and therefore we had a reasonable amount of hope that we might avoid getting spoons.
However, in the race they just steadily closed up on us and we did not seem to be able to do anything about it. I can't remember exactly where we were bumped but I think it was quite early. Perhaps they were executing a hard sprint off the start which we were just unable to match, or perhaps they were simply a faster crew than we were expecting.
I think our rowing today was not as good as yesterday, but probably better than on Thursday. I am not sure how it compared to Wednesday.

Down 4 is not a result that anyone wants. To some extent we were the victim of the cruel nature of Bumps racing that the result on the first day has a lot of influence on the whole week's results. Given the very disrupted lead-up to Bumps it is perhaps unsurprising that it took until the third day to find our best rowing. But now we need to accept that we will have to start from 10th place next year, and start work right away to make sure that we go up from there next year rather than falling further down.
(Chris E.)
Coming into this race, we knew Magdalene may be able to catch us, but it was unlikely they'd be as fast as Emma so we thought we'd have a chance at holding them off, at least until Plough Reach.

The row down was, once again, the best row down to date. We managed to get a stronger rhythm and the rowing felt good. There was a bit of tension due to nerves, but we by and large managed to keep it neat.

I can't remember a great deal of the start, but midway along First Post Reach, Magdalene had a length on us. Coming round the corner, they were at canvas. Around this time, Emma bumped Jesus ahead of us. We passed the two crews and made it part way along the gut before Magdalene caught us.

It wasn't the best end to the week, and certainly not the result we were looking for. However the crew has improved a lot and still has far to go. We'll just learn from this, and come back next year even hungrier.
(S.L.C. Maclean)

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