Lent Bumps 2014 – Friday

W1 – Bumped by Peterhouse

So today was another funky one… We rowed down feeling ok about ourselves. We had been unlucky over the past couple of days with unfortunate incidents. We decided today was going to be different. Our practice starts were rapid, we were rating in the high thirties and were confident we would gain in the beginning and get the desired row over.
The canon went and we had an awesome start getting whistles on Murray Edwards. But as we were coming under the bridge, we were affected badly by the outflow and danger crabs flew here and there. We tried to get it back but alas it was not too be. Peterhouse seized our moment of flapping about to push onto us. In a muddle of confusion, we were bumped after first post. We rowed home in our usual majestic manner with the knowledge that its not our fault, it’s our parents… they gave us stumpy legs.

M1 – Frustrating row over

Having fought so hard for this starting position yesterday, we knew what we had to do: bump the Clare crew in front of us who had been hit by Catz yesterday. Sadly things did not go quite according to plan – a late crew change from Clare gave them a much stronger looking outfit who would be pushing to earn back the lost place from yesterday.

Off the start we were rowing as well as we had all week, hitting a decent speed and settling well onto a cruising rhythm. We knew that something was wrong somewhere when whistles from up ahead starting coming about 10 strokes in – Clare were eating into the advantage Catz had over them and Catz were closing equally quickly on Girton ahead of them. This was playing into our hands as Clare were right on top of Catz which would have left Girton as a very reachable overbump target for us, however coming into first post corner, disaster struck and Girton caught a boat-stopping crab, letting Catz plough into them and obstructing Clare behind that. As we had been in exactly the same position earlier in the week, we saw the decision as simple – rerow against Clare tomorrow so we could carry on climbing up the charts. Sadly the umpires saw this as an ideal situation in which to ignore the precedent they set earlier in the week and give Clare a technical rowover.

Shortly after racing past the pulled in crews, Robinson and Tit Hall bumped out behind, leaving nothing behind or in front of us so we cruised home from there, bemoaning another piece of incredibly bad luck that seems to have been following us around this week.

Lent Bumps 2014 – Thursday

M1 – Re-row of Wednesday with Robinson chasing

Much to our annoyance, the Chief umpires had decided that Robinson had been close enough to us yesterday when the stoppage occurred to grant them another opportunity to race against us. Whilst we could have let this frustration get the better of us, we used it as motivation to push off a Robinson boat we had seen drop off us on the previous day.
Rowing down to the start we felt strong and relaxed – comfortably hitting rates in the high 40s off our practice starts, and moving really nicely together. We were being set off from top station, so knew that our race plan would be slightly different from the previous days given the proximity of the corners to the start.

Off the start we were absolutely flying and straight into 1st post corner, lifting out still on r41 into the gut where we started to settle into our rhythm. Alarmingly, Robinson had also got off to a flyer, and were starting to make inroads on the starting gap we had over them. This didn’t seem to phase us though as their optimistic whistles started sounding coming through the gut. We have always been strong down plough reach, but Robinson seemed to have a better cruising speed than us, moving ever closer until the plough when they were sitting about half a length down on us. This however served as inspiration to us as we stopped their advances, taking a beautifully tight line around ditton corner to maintain the gap between the crews coming out onto the long reach. The reach was very much a battle of attrition, as Robinson pushes were repelled time after time by lifts of our own – as we neared the railway bridge, they put in what looked to be a killer move, emptying the tanks to try to end the race there and then. No matter what they threw at us, we held strong, though just before the bridge they had closed to within about 3 feet of our stern in a last ditch attempt to make the bump happen, but from that point onwards they fell off us, as we pushed off the bridge and opened up the clear water gap towards the finish, finally crossing the line around ¾ of a length in front. We had produced one of the gutsiest and determined rows I have ever seen from a King’s crew and proved once and for all that we deserved our shot at bumping up later in the day.

M1 – Bumped Trinity Hall

After our epic re-row with Robinson M1, it was time to return to the boathouse, get warm and refocus for our second race of the day. With Van Halen blasting through the Mays Room, spirits were high as Will talked us through the race plan. We all knew that the struggle with Robinson had sapped a lot of strength from the boat; but in its place was left an effervescence of enthusiasm and hunger for the bump on Tit Hall. Rowing down to marshal, we passed by crews from the M2 division (who had witnessed the end of our re-row) and were greeted with warm wishes of good luck. We knew we had truly earned our start position: station 14. Damp from a heavy shower on the row-down, it was a relief when the sun burnt a hole in the clouds and thawed us. We faced Robinson behind us – what did they have left? Before we knew it, we were being pushed out by the experienced hand of Roger. The river was flat calm. CANNON. A solid start brought us right up onto maximum speed. First whistle. Then suddenly the boat lurched violently down to one side as we hit the standing wave under the motorway bridge. It took us some time to find our rhythm again, but seeing Robinson drop off spurred us on towards Tit Hall. Two whistles. Then we were into the corners. Crews that had bumped out ahead and cleared yelled encouragement. After a wide exit from Grassy, we settled onto a solid ‘Viking rhythm’ down Plough Reach and started to close the gap on Tit Hall. Will’s calls became more and more conclusive – “They’ve gone wide boys, we’ve got them”. Into Ditton we could hear them alongside … any second now. Then, we just passed them by on the inside – looking over in amazement, it became apparent that our opposition had parked on the meadow-side of Ditton corner. There was no real urge to celebrate; we were delighted, of course, but the afternoon’s racing had drained us. Instead, on the row-home came the warm glow of vindication. On this day, all nine members of M1 put their balls in the runners to firstly earn our starting position, and then continue King’s upward trajectory in Division 1.

W1 – Bumped by Murray Edwards

It was a determined W1 that set out to the start of the course on Wednesday. After a short hailstorm earlier that afternoon, the clouds had parted and the day was gloriously sunny. Having been bumped by LMBC the day before, we came with a determination to, in the memorable words of Roger, go “shit or bust.” We were hoping our quick and clean start would give us enough of an edge on LMBC to catch them early, before Murray Edwards was able to row us down over the long course. It was going to be a tough race either way, with rowing over not really being an option. We were going to go up quickly off the start, or down over the long course. At station 13 we had the best position on the river, setting us up nicely to gain on LMBC off the start, which we did quickly, bringing the gap down to a length before the motorway bridge. But, alas, disaster struck when seven caught a crab in the heavy wash by the bridge. Despite her best efforts to recover, and the brilliant effort of the crew and Phil to wind back up to a solid clip, the damage had been done. Murray Edwards was slowly but surely gaining on us up first post reach. Ahead of us was carnage, with bumps galore clogging up the river, leading to Phil’s reluctance to concede to a very clearly overlapping Murray Edwards as he attempted to steer us clear. But all was over by first post corner. Not the row we had hoped for, but not an entirely unexpected outcome. A fast and strong rolling start on the row home helped the crew settle back down, preparing for the next day.

Lent Bumps 2014 – Wednesday

M1 – Result to be decided by re-row on Thursday

Nerves were running high on the first day as M1 set off from the Boat House. We knew we should be able to catch St. Catharine’s in front of us, but the question was if we could do so before they hit Tit Hall. Rowing up to the start, our paddling was decent and we had a great start in front of the plough. We span, pulled in and got ready to race. Off the start, everything was pretty bumpy, but we held everything together and started moving up on Catz. A strong first post corner courtesy of Will saw us move up to a length. The gut flew by and further excellent work from Will saw us on the inside of the corner coming into Grassy. Up to half a length! But then disaster struck. A Tit Hall seat broke, they basically stopped dead, Catz slammed into them. Being so tight around the corner, we had no time to go wide, so Will made the call to hold it up to avoid slamming into the now stationary Catz at full pelt. Sadly this left us trapped and we had to sit there and watch Robinson row around us. Despite the fact that Robinson were a few lengths off us at the time, conflicting umpire reports resulted in the decision for us to re-row the next day with just Robinson chasing us, where we hoped to prove once and for all that we would have been able to row over safely!

W1 – Bumped by Lady Margaret

With this the first W1 division bumps for much of the crew, and last minute subs due to illness, W1 could have been forgiven their nerves as they rowed up to the marshalling spots. However if they were nervous it was not apparent from their rowing. A strong start meant they pulled away from LMBC, at least until the motorway bridge, from here however LMBC appeared to inexplicably catch up, gaining half a length by first post corner. At this point a lesser crew would have begun to give up, they would have accepted their fate passively, their spark would be extinguished. But NOT Kings W1! In scenes described by CamFM as “incredible”, W1 hung on, gritted their teeth and settled in for a tough fight (despite some dubious whistles from behind). At grassy corner a wide corner cost LMBC vital seconds and some excellent coxing from Phil (resplendent as ever) meant the gap opened up again. However with Murray Edwards’ crab killing any chance of them bumping LMBC, the women in red were able to really able to put some pressure on Kings. Our W1 had so nearly rounded the corner on to the reach (and relative safety) when LMBC gained to the point of overlap. A few vital seconds later their bow hit 7s blade and it was all over. However as they rowed back home, it was not a dispirited W1, but rather a motivated one, focussed on one thing – revenge.

Newnham Short Course – 1st February 2014

W1 – 6th of 20 first women’s boats – 10:29

Thankfully by the time of the race W1 was back to its full crew with a full recovery from last week’s unfortunate ceilidh injury. Undeterred by last week’s Winter Head2Head results, we were ready to set the record straight. But if we though last week’s steam was tough, little could prepare us for what the Cam had in store for us this time. Parking to marshal was challenging enough as we were met by a myriad of boats all at the mercy of the Cam’s unrelenting stream. Indeed after what seemed like an eternity of backing it down and some clever maneuvering by Phil we were finally parked and in prime position to watch the ensuing carnage reminiscent of bumps. The next forty minutes consisted of frantic cries of “HOLD IT UP” and near-miss decapitations as coxes struggled to control their boats against the stream. When we got down to the lock and were lining up to start we knew we were up against some of the worst conditions we would ever face. In spite of this we got off to a clean start and settled into a comfortable rhythm quickly, picking up speed with each stroke. Gaining considerably on the Pembroke W1 crew in front of us, we closed the gap to a length and a half. But as we hit the reach and were fully exposed to the elements, an unfortunate but elegant crab allowed the crew to widen the gap. Nevertheless a crafty wind and we were back up to full speed, ploughing down to the finish line with some interesting pain noises erupting from the bows. All in all a tough but tidy race gaining us a respectable 6th in our division.

W2 – Scratched at the start

A TRAGEDY IN 6 ACTS

ACT 1: THE FLOOD

On the morning of the second of February, shortly after midday, the noble women and (quite frankly heroic) cox of King’s W2 sallied forth across Midsummer Common to assemble at the boathouse. On arrival, it was clear the waters had risen; a submerged bank, the edge marked by one solitary Churchill oar lent an air of mystery to the occasion. On walking the boat out, clad in the finest of mismatched wellies, this air of mystery was quickly overridden by a general frustration with the cold, the wet, and the fact that Churchill and Selwyn were very much in the way.

ACT 2: SURVEYING THE FLOW

This in turn paled into insignificance, when, on spying a Caius boat that were apparently gunning it downriver without even moving their blades, we realised just how shitting fast the water was moving. Our cox turned pale, his face a mask of pain and anguish as he directed us toward the river; the edge; our fate.

ACT 3: PUSHING OUT, ASSEMBLING TO MARSHAL

After literal minutes of intense struggle, the boat and crew were afloat, belatedly pushing out, out into the current. Despite his best efforts (and a fairly terrible rendition of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Starships’) our cox could not lift the creeping feeling of impending doom from the boat as the current buffeted us downriver, boats spannering to our left and right.

Once parked, just past the traffic lights (a major feat in itself given the speed of the river – the girl who pulled us in was almost lost forever) we were to appreciate in full some of the interesting steering as the boats around us danced and span in the wind. Darwin’s Firestarter – even on a good day, one of the most reliably sideways boats on the river – was particularly impressive, though there’s a FAT men’s boat that also deserves honourable mention.

ACT 4: THE RESCUE OF JESUS

In our banked state, we were called upon to rescue a stray Jesus W3 – a scratch crew, lost and helpless in the middle of the river, surrounded on all sides by the stern faces of unsympathetic crews and heartless coxes. Pulling their oars toward ours, we allowed them to parallel-park upon us – a sweet and friendly boat, it could be said that their presence was all that kept us alive in that dreary, 5-hour (20-minute) wait for out division to start.

ACT 5: THE END OF THE RACE

Our division, however, was never to begin. Pale, weak and broken, a marshal came to us in our darkest hour with the news that, due to the inclement (frankly, apocalyptic) weather conditions; today was not a day to race. With barely disguised elation, we span. We span like we’d never span before, our coxes shouts of ‘Back it down, girls’ ringing in our ears, and as we inched upriver, against the push of the current, there was the sense of a weight lifting, birds singing, and a ray of sunshine breaking the blackened clouds.

M3 – 5th of 9 in the Mays Lower Divsion

Our adventure begun well before the race started, with high waters obscuring the bank of the river, while a valiant M3 struggled to take out the boat. We continued with the unorthodox pushing off method of nearly knocking over the coach and spinning twice before setting off down the river, believing it would give us more momentum for the warm up. This was certainly true as we rowed so fast that we ended up spinning immediately before the weir, but after our earlier practice this was no challenge. The display of fearlessness was sure to strike terror in the other crews’ hearts. Over the time taken to pull into the bank we became experts on backing down and our cox an expert on manoeuvring though labyrinths of boats.

On our rolling start, we wound up slightly below the target racing rate, but our cox was quick to call lifts and keep morale up, so we pushed hard against the powerful currents. However, the fact that it was our first race together quickly showed, as we struggled to keep rhythm and technique up and were rewarded with one and a half crabs before the last meant  the whole of bow side had to stop rowing and we needed to re-set the boat.

None of us let this mishap get to us, though, and now the true grit and determination of our crew shone through,  the new rate we set barely dropping upon hitting the reach, where the wind buffeted our blades and the waves rocked our boat. Our cox, Roxanna, at some point bit her tongue and was screaming at us with a bloody mouth, giving us all the motivation we needed to keep up the pace through this period as we used the energy we gained from the rest, and we ended up finishing on a much stronger note than we started. And despite our accidents we still didn’t come last, so the other crews must have been really bad.

M4 – Scratched at the start

After an ‘interesting’ row down with a scratch crew averaging out somewhere around M2.34, King’s M4 was becoming concerned about the increasingly poor weather conditions. After some playful banter with the Newnham marshals, friends from passing crews in the previous division began to row past, all advising us not to race. Some W3 crews even managed the elusive ‘rowing treadmill’ after getting stuck battling against the wind and stream. At this point, we decided it would be unwise to proceed. Next came the daunting task of spinning in the stream. However, our genius of a strokeman (Mark), instead suggested that we just remove the boat, walk it around on the bank, and pop it back in. Enthused by his ingenuity, we proceeded to show off our boat maneuvering skills to all around. Then we rowed home. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon…