An incredibly close run thing. After initially pulling away, Jesus made their move on the Reach, closing to overlap just after the Railway Bridge. After a few misses, contact was finally made, hull on hull, when our bowball was just about level with the finish post at Morley's Holt - where Jesus would have to have stopped. (Richard)
M2's Mays debut came with all the athleticism, glamour and occasional technical innovations/infelicities (delete according to taste) that regular spectators have come to associate with our crew. The result, although disappointing, set up a thrilling week.
Among our many strengths is not, ironically, any actual strength, and it was therefore forgivable to hear some surprise in Matt's voice when he called a 'moving' off the start. A good blast and settle left us inside station on Darwin and moving as much as a length or two up from Clare. Bomber, however, with the misleadingly breezy air of a weather forecaster predicting perfect sunshine, informed us on First Post Reach that Darwin had bumped Jesus ahead, and that we were therefore confronted with an ambitious row for the overbump on Downing.
Calls from six-and-a-half lengths at First Post to four lengths at the Plough raised some hopes, but like a great flailing yellow octopus the Clare crew was stretching its tentacles towards us and had three whistles as we rounded Ditton. Our rowing was by now roughly as powerful as a particularly eco-friendly lightbulb, and despite an urgent bumps call from Emily Clare had the job done by the spinning zone. Life as the sandwich crew ahead.
This not the start we wanted to see for our Bumps campaign.
Coming into the race, we were unsure about Clare II. We had conflicting information about them regarding their previous races and how we did in comparison to them. For example, we were slower than them at the Radegund Mile-and-a-bit race, but faster at the more recent Champs Eights Head race. The latter may have been due to them catching a crab.
Our plan was to go for the bump on Darwin I, but having in mind it may not be the speediest of Bumps. We knew they were bigger than us, so our start would most likely be weaker. The first hiccup of the day occurred when our three seat (myself) fell into a hole whilst marshalling just out of the Railway Bridge. Luckily, the injury was minor, just a graze, and rowing was unhindered.
The paddle up to marshalling at Baitsbite was okay.
Bang! Cannon goes and we were off. Our peak pace at 1:23/500m. We gained on Darwin I, but they quickly bumped out ahead of us. Clare II were also gaining on us, and the gap narrowed. We tried a bumps push, but Clare II bump around Ditton corner.
Today was a long day, and I'm proud of all of us for what we've manged to achieve. It was a good, solid row, though we came extremely close to being bumped by Magdalene II multiple times. Through determination and power, we managed to empty their tanks by absorbing their bumps pushes, inching further and further away, resulting in an extremely large gap between us and them at the end of the race.
Marshalling went smoothly, though was very hot. Not the ideal weather to row a 2.4k race in twice. Just as we were about to push off from the P&E, a rogue houseboat decided it would be a good idea to set off down the course. Luckily, nothing bad happened.
We arrived at head station, somewhere where we've yet to start off from as a crew. Eagerly awaiting the clear water ahead of us, we set off after the cannon. Unfortunately, we set off diagonally, which meant the rudder had to be slammed upon the first few strokes. This was Bombers fault, according to Bomber. This misshap meant that Magdalene II took off about half a length within the very first few strokes.
Whistles were blowing, though of course not for us, but Magdalene. They inched closer, and we knew from the beginning this was an all in or nothing race. We were nearly bumped around Grassy, with them getting canvas, but we managed to absorb their push. A second time, around Ditton, canvas occurred, once again, we absorbed what they gave us. For a moment it almost looked like we were side-by-side.
Around three quarters down the reach was where we felt we were winning. The gap between us and them widened, and moral improved. We were definitely at our limits. It was clear Magdalene had given all they had and could no longer keep up. We rowed max power till the railway bridge where we dropped the rate. A couple hundred meters later we further dropped the rate and paddled over the finish line, securing the row-over.
A brilliant race, though truly extremely close! Let's just hope we can reproduce this tomorrow (17/06), and then bump Jesus II in Div 2 to reclaim our place where we belong.
The boys had a lot on the line today. If bumped, we’d really struggle to get back into div 2 come Saturday, which would mean no evening outings or yellow flag rowing for the next year. Sub-optimal. Nerves were on edge after seeing the Magdalene boys looking extra chunky and hearing that their paddle down to the lock made Fordy start doubting our odds.
With nothing scary chasing them, Magd went tits out from the start. It was ideal then that Bomber blessed us with the shittest push-out in recent memory (his words, not mine), leaving Emily lying on the stern to hold on to the bung, and our bows pointing to the opposite bank. This set the boys up for one hell of a fight, with Magd quickly closing in and getting overlap around both Grassy and Ditton.
Totally relaxed about Magd’s bow ball surging for Emily’s spine, the boys held the rhythm and dug deep into the pain cave. With this, the whistles dropped from continuous to three, to two, to one, and the Magd boys gave up and dropped to a paddle. Not our boys though, we stubbornly held a solid rate 35 until Magd was in a different post code. At that point, Bomber generously let us know we could probably take it down two pips.
After just barely recovering from our previous row-over, we were prepared for our next race. This time the aim was to go off at a ridiculous pace, and aim to catch Clare II. We achieved half of that.
We took off at a shocking 1:21/500m from bottom station, aiming for the bump. The rowing was messy. As far as I'm aware, we were rating 43. We heard a whistle, around 3/4 lengths away. We were certainly faster than Clare off the start. However, this rowing was unsustainable and slowly we edged off. Clare II bump Jesus II. We rowed around first post corner at rate to see whether the overbump on Darwin was worth it, but sadly they had also bumped. We cut down to a rate 18 paddle to preserve beans for tomorrow's races. Bumped out crews funnily looked at us, some even asked whether we were still racing, questioning our paddling up the course.
Fingers crossed we can replicate the div 3 row-over tomorrow, and then get our place back in div 2 by bumping Jesus II. Unfortunately, it will be the hottest day of the year tomorrow, so hopefully that won't hinder our performance too significantly. We will be adequately prepared.
Rowing, as ever when M2 show up, was the real winner today. An adrenaline-fuelled row-over at head, followed by a spectacular cameo performance up to the motorway bridge, showed how these boys can overshadow even the Cam's leading lights, in flair if not in speed.
Bomber, clearly infected by our sporting spirit, seemingly desired to give the big lads at Magdalene a sniff at the bump. Unilaterally deciding, contrary to all available visible evidence, that the Cam had changed course overnight, he pushed us off almost directly towards the opposite bank, and only some quick steering from Emily 'very nice' Man prevented a rapid demise for Cambridge's most-loved Empacher. This unfortunately left Magd within a length, and an enthusiastic charge left them with slight overlap coming into Grassy.
At this point, however, we decided that Magd had had their fun. The words of Fordy ('Coach P') and Matt rang in our ears- or at least, they would have done, had Fordy not at this point started imitating the croak of an asthmatic frog, and had Matt not decided his day was better spent at Henley. We took Grassy with aplomb, and pulled out half a length down Plough Reach. Unbelievably, given our second-half drubbing at Clare's hands yesterday, and our frankly uninspiring 2ks, we proceeded to outlast Magd down the Reach. After some optimistic whistles from the Magd bank party, we put three lengths on them up to the railway bridge, at which point they wound down and licked their wounds.
This left us with a fly-and-die shot at our old nemesis, Clare M2. Clearly news of our performance had spread like wildfire, as the crowd swelled significantly for the encore, and our practice start at the Plough was greeted with roars which I can compare only to those of a packed Estadio Azteca. We closed to within three-quarters of a length off a hectic start, but knew that Clare would soon sprint for Jesus, and we were on station when they bumped out on First Post Reach.
Here followed, as an amusing incident, possibly the most inconsequential cox-coach miscommunication in bumps history. Bomber, trying to sharpen Emily's line around First Post, shouted 'closer to me, Emily!'. To this Emily 'kraken' Man responded with no new steering inputs, but instead misunderstood and told the boys 'getting closer, boys!'. Given that the only crew still rowing over was Selwyn, 16 stations and at least 24 lengths ahead, this information was 1) probably wrong 2) definitely useless and 3) not even close to Bomber's intended meaning. We wound it down before Grassy, saving the legs for the big day tomorrow.
Coming into this race, we knew it was possible to have a repeat of what we produced yesterday, but also knew we shouldn't be complacent. Who knew, Magdalene II could come up with a new race-plan,
We gave ourselves two aims the day before. Row-over Magdalene II and then bump Jesus II on the second race of the day. It was an all-in or nothing race.
We set off at a 1:28/500m pace, this time straight and held the gap between us and Magdalene II. Magd edged forward, with a whistle blowing once or twice as they reached a length. Fortunately, we held the length and kept pushing away. The whistles became far and few, demoralising them. This widened the gap between us and Magd. Although the race was less close than yesterday, we still gave it our very best. We rowed over, securing the next race against Jesus II in Div 2.
I was feeling more worried about this race than any other. We now had more races on our legs than Magd, and they really got a sniff of us yesterday. To make things worse, today was hot enough to make the devil sweat, and it was really draining our energy. We’d need to take care to stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat stroke, which had already claimed a number of rowers and coxes in the earlier divisions. Krisztian, with the life preservation skills of a toddler, arrived with a small bottle of water and a snickers bar, and had to be reminded every few minutes to stop standing in the sun. Absolute dickhead.
Mercifully, today Magdalene had Queens chasing them and couldn’t fly-and-die like yesterday. This afforded us a relatively uneventful row over, even if we had to hold a solid pace for the whole course. After crossing the finish line and having a little shout, we congratulated the Magdalene boys and promised to send them a slower boat for tomorrow.
This was it - our ticket back to div 2. As we pulled off at the lock, Bomber launched into one of his soliloquies and let us know that we shouldn’t fuck this up. We’d need to get on the legs and work hard to catch Jesus, who were looking on average about 20 kg heavier than us (this isn’t difficult, but it is scary to see).
Taking this to heart, the boys launched into the most lethargic start of our bumps campaign. We’re not talking a split or two shy of peak speed, but a whopping 10 splits slower than usual. Jesus disappeared chasing down Clare and quickly got some whistles (which Krisztian seems to think were somehow for us ?!?). As with Magdalene, the boys stayed calm and settled on to a base speed that Jesus couldn’t match. After around 5 minutes of sprinting, Jesus was running out of legs, so we gently walked up and gave them a little kiss with our bow.
For the boys, this meant everything. We’d restored honour to our name by climbing back to div 2. We celebrated with a lot of shouting, slapping of water, and some swearing that the marshals seem to have let slide. At this point Bomber brought us back to Earth by turning to Fordy with ‘well it’s not like they’ve won the fucking thing’…
The morale was greatly improved after the row-over in Div III. A TLDR: this was an interesting race, but we won!
We marshalled at the P&E and then paddled as usual to bottom station, like yesterday. Bomber gave us a pep talk on how to execute the race, telling us that it won't be easy. Although Jesus II have been bumped every day since the start, we knew that we couldn't get complacent. Again, this was an all-in or nothing race, with our Div 2 position on the line.
We set off at a 1:33/500m split, slower than our fly and die from yesterday, as well as due to the headwind and wash. One thing immediately became clear, Jesus II were speedy off the start. Concerningly, we didn't hear many whistles. We gained half a length, within the first few hundred metres however that was the only whistle we heard for a while. Jesus II had taken-off. At one point I dreaded this was going to be another long, slow bump, one which I wasn't expecting.
According to information from bank, the gap between Jesus II and us widened to four lengths. Four lengths, you read it right. We rowed our own race, believing that they will eventually blow-up from their speedy row-away. And they did.
We edged closer and closer, coming through Grassy. Whistles started blowing, crowds cheering. Rowing down the plough reach felt good. Crews cheering us on, as well as clapping from the pub all fed into the motivation that kept us pushing. Two whistles, then three whistles. We kept going, wanting the bump. As we entered Ditton corner, continuous whistling was heard. A bump imminent. Thud! Finally we bumped and it felt immaculate. We got our place back in Div II where we belong.
What a brilliant end to the hottest day of the year!
Having given Magdalene their thrill for the week yesterday, M2 (and Bomber) decided that clinical precision was in order today. Only one whistle was surrendered coming into Grassy, and it was swiftly withdrawn down Plough Reach.
The weather gods, however, clearly thought that we needed more of an opportunity to show off our oarsmanship, and sent a chunky headwind down the Reach. Surprisingly for a crew of such apparently meagre raw power, but unsurprisingly for a crew of such devotion to the rowing art, we pulled out another two lengths up to the Railway Bridge against the significantly bigger Magd boat. (This has, unfortunately, raised suspicions about the level of effort put into our erg scores. Big Brother, even in moments of triumph, always watches.) Unable to wind down because of a lurking Queens crew, Magd then matched our pace to Top Finish.
But our nerves could not yet subside, for only half the job was done. We had been on station with both Darwin and Clare when they bumped Jesus by First Post, and in our hubris we believed that only a 500m blast lay in store. It was to our consternation, therefore, that Bomber and Fordy fell silent for the first three minutes of the race (Fordy, ever faithful to his boys, later confessed that at this point he thought we were finished). Jesus simply rowed away.
Around First Post, however, we realised that Jesus' prodigious speed was due to a strategy which roughly rhymes with 'high and dry'-- as, fittingly, they were left after its failure. By the entry to Grassy we were down to two lengths from an initial four, and by its exit we had our first whistle. Like all the great sports teams, M2 loves a crowd, and in front of our adoring fans at the Plough we took two more whistles. Matthew 'mentality' Yoko, the evergreen Duracell bunny of our boat, held the rate high round Ditton, and we were rewarded with the bump just before coming straight.
Undeterred by rain, a delayed start, and a frankly ludicrously optimistic Jesus crew hungry for revenge, M2 held onto their place in Division 2 for another year. Like a more successful Daenerys Targaryen, we successfully reclaimed our rightful place.
The row-over itself is painful to relive, involving gradual progress from station to three whistles on Downing midway down the reach, and eventual overlap during our bumps push. But the Downing cox, with all the skill of a seasoned taxi-driver switching lanes on the M25, took her boat across the Reach, and allowed her weary soldiers to escape to a quarter of a length by Bottom Finish. Special mention, however, is owed to M2's own Emily 'English maiden' Man, whose adroit corners gave us the opportunity to close in the first place.
More general gratitude needs to be given to several people. First, to Matt 'body rock' Griffiths and to Peter 'Coach P'/'Fordy' Ford, whose skilful guidance took us from a bunch of unfit, incapable college rowers to a bunch of unfit, slightly-less-incapable college rowers. (It is to be hoped that Fordy soon applies his expertise to his own Cantabs crews, who row considerably slower with considerably more available power.) Next, to Bomber 'Stephen' Harris, who has devoted his life, in vain, to the complete eradication of muppetry, but saw fit to help this particular crew of muppets out. To Mate 'focus' Feher, the tireless crew captain, whose touching words at BCD belied the scarcely-concealed rage which powered this 'bow pair wow pair' rocket. To Alex Barrett, for bank-partying, and to all the alumni, coxes, and subs generally who have made M2's term possible.
Finally, however, my thanks are to the crew themselves: Emily, Matthew, Isaac, Seb, Bigdan, Krisztian, Mate (again) and Mattis. It has been a pleasure, a (not infrequent) pain, but above all a complete privilege to row with you all for the last eight weeks. I look forward to what next year brings.
https://youtu.be/csTvKTmFU9w?t=373 A thriller - it'll knock your socks off...
Going in, we were not a particularly fancied crew, with the eventual overall Men's Bumpit winner kindly predicting spoons for us. We believed we were faster than Corpus M2 but weren't confident we could bump them before they would bump Clare M3. Kings M2 were likely to pose a serious threat as they had inherited a couple of M1 rowers displaced by blues. Of course Bomber told us to ignore all of this and simply row fast, as he always does.
The race was fairly routine until the exit of First Post Corner - we had moved to around 1 length from Corpus with Kings about 3/4 of a length behind us but rating significantly higher. However Corpus bumped Clare and cleared poorly which forced us into the trees in the Gut, caused several overhead crabs and knocking me out of my shoes and nearly out of the boat entirely. Bomber was on the verge of calling for us to stop and claim a likely technical rowover, but upon seeing Wolfson M2 who were described as something I can't repeat here, he decided the overbump was worth it. I fastened my shoes between strokes and made light work of Wolfson, gaining a length every 15 strokes and getting them on the Ditton entry. Not the way I expected to get my first bump but glad to have gotten it!
We knew we were faster than Caius M3 and got to within around 3/4 of a length by Grassy but all this achieved was pushing them into Pembroke M3 leaving us nothing ahead at all. Corpus behind us had a fast start but died enough of a death to allow us to wind it down with a minute to go. FaT M3 have arrived, they're fast and this term they can actually survive the whole course. (Patrick Winter)
After yesterday's overbump, we now started third in our division. Although that had the advantage that we were no longer deafened by the cannon at the start, the disadvantage was that once the two boats ahead bumped, best we could do was to row over, and that's what we did. (Jonathan Edwards)
From previous race results we knew Pembroke would be around 40 seconds slower than us over the full Bumps course so barring disaster we would have them. Luke decided to inject some excitement into the race by taking Grassy just a little too tight, but we recovered well, avoided getting bumped by Corpus and took Pembroke on Ditton. (Patrick Winter)
Luke remembered that brushing the bank on day 1 had resulted in an overbump, so after rowing over yesterday, he decided to go for the same strategy. It worked - after touching Grassy, we quickly caught up with Pembroke and bumped on Ditton. (Jonathan Edwards)
We moved to around a length on Caius but they seemed to be made of totally different stuff from earlier in the week and built a 2.5 length gap by the Railings. We managed to close a little but not enough, and the sight of our W2 cheering us on was clearly too much for some of us as "Yeah FaT" was promptly followed by "EYES IN THE BOAT THOMAS!". Luke called for a lift but after one stroke I realised nobody else was going with me and we soon wound it down. Not a perfect race from us but we don't think we'd have caught them even with our best rowing.
Slightly annoying to miss out on (technical) blades but up 4 is exactly 8 positions better than we thought we were going to get 2 weeks ago after a series of incredibly cursed IV outings, and the strongest performance from a FaT crew since 2017. Huge credit to Sam, Luke and Bomber for whipping us into shape and producing probably the most technical M3 on the river. The Strava data doesn't lie: today we were only a few seconds slower than M2 over the bulk of the course, and rather embarrassingly this is now the fastest boat I've been in, beating the segment times of Michaelmas M1. It's been great rowing with the crew and I hope to see many of them contesting M1 and M2 seats next term!
Like Thursday, we were chasing Caius III, but sadly, today they rowed the perfect race, and today was another rowover for us. We closed to around a length, but never got any closer than that. (Jonathan Edwards)
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