27th of January 2018, a
day that shall live in infamy at least in the mind of Lent M2 crew, for it was
the baptism of fire for what has been called a very fast M2, possibly the
fastest there has ever been. Work started well before the race. After a heated
debate and a careful consideration of every nook and cranny of the river, under
the leadership of Jacqui and Kristina, a plan was drawn up. But then, it
started to rain. Although it is true that bad weather can wear down even the
toughest, it did not have any effect on our heroes, for they carry the heart of
a lion inside them. It would be a mistake to describe the first leg of M2 with
any other word except - heroic. Getting off from a choppy start, the crew
managed to concentrate their effort in the second half of the course and went
for a push. Victory was at hand, but then, a disaster blade popped out of a
gate. This was clearly a sabotage of the dreaded Maggie. Nevertheless, M2
finished with honour. Between first and second leg, Petr shared some biscuits,
with a questionable nutritional value but with invaluable positive effect on
the crews morale. Second leg required our heroes to row directly into a
headwind. Whole crew felt confident throughout the race and went for a push
500m before the finish, this time uninterrupted. When the day was finished M2
received 5th place. A good result no doubt and a solid base for
A hard and satisfying pair of 2Ks. Todays races were our third as an M2 crew, following on Head-to-Head and Newnham short course, and while direct comparisons are hard, it did seem like we met or exceeded our previous standard, especially in the second race. Our times for the two were nearly identical, marking the balance between scrappy keenness in the first and finessed endurance in the second. That, despite taking the second as a chance to practice a more bumps-like pacing, aiming to blow by the 1500.
All in all it was a pleasant day out, if a bit cold (Jamie in particular went a bit blue), and good prep for our first regatta, next weekends, at Pembroke. (A.J.O. Lewis)
Preparations for the great struggle began on the evening of
16th. Crew pasta was very good all you
can eat fusilli, meat and sauce followed with cake. Well-fed and rested, our
warriors gathered in early morning of 17th. They were joined by the new coach
Seb, who was wearing a FaT jacket. This confused and demoralised people from Sebs old club and thus made us very
happy. The first opponent was Caius M2, who we brushed away. One by one all our
rivals fell. The crews who had beaten us in Bedford were no match to us in the
regatta. When others asked who we beat, our cox Marcus gave one word: EVERYONE.
And as always in such occasions he was thrown into the river. If such starts
can be repeated or improved on, then the Bumps look easy as pie.
This was an exciting win, not least for what it says about our odds heading into Bumps. Our starting position is in Division II:
Lady Margaret II
First and Third II
An "M2 headship" is theoretically within reach, although to reach it in four bumps might require Corpus to go up by three as well. Perhaps more importantly, it would require us to be quite quick.
Just how quick is an interesting question. For two boats stationed 1 1/2 lengths apart (30 m) to meet by the end of the course (2.2 to 2.6 km), the chasing crew would have to average a speed at least ~1.15% greater than that of the crew ahead; ~1.36% greater if covering the full 2.6 km, as we would from 9th position. That's a difference of 1-2 seconds per 500 m split. The chasing crew will also be rowing in wash, requiring some additional amount of effort to make speed.
By comparison our side-by-side results with Jesus and Caius were 1/2 and 3/4 of a length over a 1100 m course, whereas a bumping crew would on average have closed about 2/3 of a length (1.1/~2.4 * 1.5 lengths) over that distance (and in wash). It's hard to say what bumping odds those margins indicate, given how different a regatta is from bumps, and how variable a crew's performance can be. But we've got a shot at this.
On the topic of variable crew performance, it is perhaps worthwhile to note that some amount of variability day-to-day might actually make it easier for the faster crews to bump up. Bumps is unusual among races in that it has a non-zero threshold for success, and certain pathological possibilities arise from that fact: one might, for example, imagine a division in which each crew was slightly faster than the crew above, though not quite enough to bump, and thus the headship crew could be 20 or so splits slower than the sandwich boat. In a world where crew performance was perfectly consistent, such pathological rankings would in fact be stable over the week. But in reality, where crew performance is stochastic, that very stochasticity helps to ensure that smallish differences in speed rise to the threshold needed for a bump.
It may be counter-intuitive that a random element can help to give more accurate rankings. Certainly it doesn't help when the random element is very large; in the lower divisions for example the rather high frequency of reciprocal bumps might suggest an excess of randomness. But where we are, in the upper half of Div II, reciprocal bumps are quite rare, while bumps in general are more frequent than in the divisions above, and row-overs more rare. Insofar as one expects day-to-day consistency to increase with skill in the higher positions, one wonders if we are near the "sweet spot", a position where a moderate amount of consistency allows bumps to most efficiently sort crews by speed. Analytically one would expect this to be true when the random element alone would induce bumps at about the same rate as would the non-random element, as is generally the case for systems in so-called "stochastic resonance." But that would take some effort to measure. It is however nonetheless encouraging to think that, in a very real sense, we might have luck on our side.
We finished having overtaken three crews; we beat the first eights of Queen's, Sidney Sussex, and Peterhouse Colleges, Cambridge, and Hertford, University, and Brasenose, Oxford. Among second college eights, we came first, though our only competition in that regard were the Emmanuel and Trinity Hall M2's.Â Just ahead in the rankings was the Bournemouth first eight. (A.J.O. Lewis)
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