We went into this race not really knowing how fast we, or any of the crews around us, are. We thought we could catch Emma if we are lucky, but knew that Peterhouse two behind us with their three blues might push Jesus onto us.
We moved inside station on Emma after a strong start and pulled comfortably away from Jesus down first post reach, but Emma caught a sniff of Downing early and pulled away from us down the gut. I've been told we moved back to around station about Ditton where they pulled away again - by the railway bridge Bomber got us to wind us down. (Amusingly, we moved back on them while paddling resulting in several angry noises from their bank party and boat)
With Peterhouse with their two Olympians chasing us, we didn't have much choice but to go for the classic "fly and die" - and we died hard.
We sprinted all of first post reach over rate 40, pulling away from Peterhouse and moving to 3/4 of a length on Emma. Peterhouse were still a length away coming into Grassy, but a combination of wash, Grassy corner and people blowing resulted in an appalling 10 strokes (including many mini crabs) around Grassy, and Peterhouse were a 1/4 length away and moving quickly coming out - we got caught just before the plough.
We had a King's crew who's been fast all year, and on for blades, behind us - they had expressed their confidence to catch us on instagram the day before, and we were determined to prove them wrong.
They turned out to be quite the match for us (and very well-mannered, despite their instagram posts), resulting in two very memorable races to rap up my captaincy. On Friday, we held about station to the railings, where they had a push to which we did not respond, and started moving fast. They got the first whistle before the white house and were 3/4 quarters of a length under the railway bridge, where we had an excellent push to keep them away. King's kept creeping up on us and finally got their second whistle around bottom finish, but we had just spent the entire term doing pieces from bottom finish to top finish - we held them rather close but comfortably away until the finish line.
A spooning Clare crew 3 in front had prevented Peterhouse's blades on the previous day, so we again faced the situation of having to row over in front of King's with nothing to bump in sight.
Maybe to live up to their confidence on instagram, or perhaps spurred by a fast Robinson crew behind them, King's stepped up their game on the final day, getting their first whistle on plough reach, their second on the long reach, and moved to inside 1/4 of a length just before bottom finish. However, this is where Charlie called for a move and the crew responded admirably - King's blew after bottom finish and we crossed the finish line with a somewhat comfortable lead, our success never really in doubt to those of us rowing. (although I am not sure if our bank party agree - I've never heard Bomber sound so panicked)
Some people might just look at the result and remember this crew as a crew as another unsuccessful FaT M1 which went down. However, I cannot disagree more. This crew (with 3 ex-novices) was hit with hardships all term, losing two of our triallists to injury, when we were surrounded by boats with blues. But the crew didn't just roll over - we did all the training as was set down by Bomber, and still pushed hard every session. By the end we had a crew who truly believed in our boat speed, and we performed to the best of our ability every day, holding Peterhouse for far longer than both Jesus and Clare, and producing two gutsy row overs in front of Kings. Most of this crew will be returning next year and I cannot wait to see what we can do.
W1 may have been bumped today but we are still proud of how we rowed. Pembroke (with their four triallists) were simply faster than us and Churchill caught Girton too quickly... After a fast (but we know we can be faster) start we moved on Churchill and away from Pembroke. A faulty cox box meant there was much shouting from within the boat and from the bank, encouraging us to dig deep to hold off Pembroke for as long as possible. We didn’t break and kept pushing together, making Pembroke work for their (deserved) Bump just before the plough.
Tomorrow will be a big day for us and we hope to do ourselves and Bomber proud :)
An awesome row by W1 today saw us hold off Fitzwilliam for the whole course. This row over (chasing back Pembroke was always going to be a long shot...) was essential for us to get in a good position for the rest of our Bumps campaign. We rowed the best we have done all term, as a single unit pushing together and trusting each other to keep digging. Some wonderful steering and strong pushes saw us hold Fitz at station (we fundamentally disagree with the whistle their coach gave them!) and move away down the reach. Tomorrow: Girton. Let’s go!!! (M.E. Crane)
Our first (and well deserved) bump! Today we ploughed into Girton W1 before first post corner, getting our first whistle before we had even finished the start sequence. From this point the whistles came quickly as our rate and power remained high. Poor old Girton didn’t stand a chance! Tomorrow will be a harder day as we chase Clare W1 but we are now confident that we have a strong start as well as the ability to row the whole course well.
And to make things even better, today was the first day we didn’t row in the rain! Lauren even applies suncream!!!
With a fast start we both gained on Emma and pushed away from Clare, but by the tenth stroke Emma had pulled away, soon to bump Jesus. Moreover, in the wash under the Motorway Bridge, our inconceivably incompetent Two caught a feisty crustacean that slowed the boat much for a stroke. However, we recovered well, and (of course) that was always a technical crab, as it set up a good rhythm for the rest of the race.
Down Plough reach we passed every single crew from our division, who were surprisingly split in their cheering, providing us a needed boost. Nevertheless, by Ditton corner, Clare was within a quarter of a boat, and soon after overlapped. However much we complain about the weight of our cox, we will forever be grateful for his weighing down of the stern as Clare's bow passed over our stern multiple times. We knew we were going to be bumped, yet slowly we pulled away, never relenting: we never blew.
Clare would not give up. Again and again and again they would go on to gain on us down the Long Reach, for us to push back, with some magnificent steering of our boat by Bomber in our bank party. After the Railway Bridge we knew we were drawing towards Bottom Finish, and we were encouraged by the W1 Division's cheers, mostly for us, including from Clare W1. There were also some rather inhuman noises from FaT W1.
We pushed and pushed and pushed, and rowed over for an immediate celebration thereafter. And I thought exams were stressful. We pray only for us not to have to face that again.
Determined not to let Clare get so close again, and with a slight hope we might bump Jesus off our start, we had a strong start, getting within one length of Jesus. However, they began to pull away and were not our main concern, as we saw our old enemies, Clare, chase us. But we had resisted them before, and we knew we could again.
We took a rhythm call, bringing our rate from 39 to 40, rather miraculously. Our forever incompetent Two managed to avoid the crustaceans native to the Motorway Bridge, and we began to feel very proud of ourselves, as well as the great pain of rate-40 rowing.
Despite some rather optimistic three whistles from the Clare bank party, this time round we didn't let Clare get overlap, partially fuelled by a second day of cheering from our division's crews as well as the W1 division once more (this time, unfortunately, without FaT W1's animalism). After the Railway Bridge, Clare decided to wind it down, but our cox would not risk it, and we continued to push, making many lengths on Clare by the finish.
We truly do feel sorry for Clare, now having rowed over four times in two days, and we predict another two row-overs for them tomorrow. But that empathy will never supersede our determination to stay in Division Two.
Mixed feelings of confidence from two days of successfully fighting off Clare M2 and concern over tired legs. Not expecting to bump Jesus, who had walked away from us as if on water on Day 2, we aimed to dominate over Clare yet again and give Darwin a taste of his own medicine on Day 4.
Our stroke man still seemed unable to grasp that an M2 could rate below 40 as we set off. The Clare crew worked admirably hard yet again, powering after us and catching up as we approached Plough Reach. An intense chase ensued, reminescent of Day 1 though with a little less overlap, which by this crew's Mays standards was as a comfortable lead.
A tactical collision of Seven's blade with the bank on a corner ensured that, analogously to Two's tactical crab on Day 1, we reset and found our finest rowing going onto the Long Reach. With a composed application of power, the crew held Clare at bay until the shadow of the Railway Bridge passed over us, signalling a no-reserves push to bring us past the cheering Women's crews to Bottom Finish with a comfortable lead.
Encouraged by the previous day's results, we were determined not to be complacent. Again, we had a fast start, but with a couple of awkward lines round corners, including one incident of Seven's blade hitting the bank at Ditton, Clare gained on us. However, much like the first day, that was a technical crash, setting up a good rhythm for the rest of the race.
Clare soon got overlap once more down the Reach, but this was comfortable territory for us. Only 3 feet of overlap? They can't bump us with that, with our stern so low in the water. When we managed to pull away to around 3 feet of clear water, we knew we had won and so decided to take it a little easy. That was probably a mistake.
This repeated a few times before the Railway Bridge, after which we could hear from great distance the cheers of FaT W1 (easily recognisable: no other crew can make noises like that), encouraging us to push harder.
We did row over, but only after another stressful race, tiring us out for the following. (Luke Barratt)
A fourth and final day of being chased by Clare M2. In spite of them having rowed over an unenviable seven times to our meagre three, there was little doubt they would go all-out for this final shot at Div 2. Darwin ahead of us were looking bulky but we thought we might match their speed.
Off the start we immediately put some distance between ourselves and Clare. This did not deter them from keeping up the pressure, but being chased at 1-3 lengths was certainly preferable to negative 3 feet. While we did close to within a whistle of Darwin, by Plough Reach they had in turn moved away again and remained out of reach.
Clare kept up the pressure all the way, but were noticeably slower this time around. Or perhaps it was that our Cox finally remembered more names than just Sam and Petr, thus managing to tease out 5% extra of individual effort from the other 75% of the boat. In the tradition of this Mays campaign for FaT M2, our push off of the Railway Bridge towards Bottom Finish and a fourth row-over was cheered on by our own W1.
Three hoorays for Clare for their valiant efforts, and many a meaningful nod and I dare say smile were exchanged between the crews as we set off to paddle home.
[Afterthoughts: As best I know, nobody has yet come forward to say they had great confidence in us in the weeks leading up to Mays 2019. Exams and research trips limited all-crew outings. Too few ergs were logged. Starting at the bottom of Division 2, slipping into Div 3 was a real threat. But as exams finished and Bumps came around, the crew came into focus. Pressure from Clare M2 on Day 1 brought out such resolve as to carry us with growing confidence through the week and maintain a hard-earned place for FaT M2 in Div 2. PS -- thanks for everything, Fordy!]
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