Lent Bumps 2015 – Saturday

W1 – Rowed Over
Excited for the final day of Bumps, and determined not to get the spoons that were looming on the horizon, W1 had a good row down. It was pretty windy, which meant that there was some trepidation about the corners – tight or wide? Our cox dealt with the corners deftly, but Homerton were not so lucky. They were bumped out by our boat-house-buddies Selwyn around the corners, giving us a little breathing space. Our hopes of bumping Trinity Hall still seemed plausible, we had everything to row for. But at the Reach, Trinity Hall came into their own, and pulled away from us. It was a gutsy row for us down the Reach, with some fear of Lucy Cavendish, who seemed to be gaining on us. At the Railway Bridge we gave it all we had, with 3 very nearly giving too much. We were very happy to row over, knowing that we had really pushed our hardest, and that we had escaped the dreaded spoons!

M2 – Bumped Robinson III, rowed over as Division 3/4 Sandwich Boat
The stage was set for Day 4 of Lent Bumps. The clouds sat ominously low in the sky. The spirits of the mighty King’s M2 were high. After 6 starts already, the crew had become experienced campaigners on the Cam and refused to fatigue. M2 would start the day placed second behind Robinson in Division 4 and sought to reclaim their position at the divisional head of the river after the shock discovery that Robinson was in fact both a Cambridge college and capable of bumping boats the day before.

Supplemented by the brave Henry Morgan and Tom Waszkowycz due to the unfortunate departure of Adam Townson, Charlie Burton and Daniel Lücke, the boys sought a lightening start. A lightening start is exactly what they got. M2 surged down the river and immediately began putting pressure on Robinson. Robinson would not give up and the Kingsmen dug deep. With every stroke they knew that they would grind the Robinson crew down. Robinson were clearly in their sights. The whistles began to blow and they became more and more persistent. As M2 passed the spectators at The Plough they were within striking distance. After some skilful coxing which saw the crew take a brilliant line around the final corner and the injection of more raw power, the boys got exactly what they had been waiting for all week: the elusive bump. Robinson were shattered. The Kingsmen were elated.

M2 finished the day rowing in Division 3 chasing the powerful Trinity Hall M2. It would be the 8th start of the regatta for the Kingsmen. The final race saw another strong start and proved to be an incredibly tough row against strong winds. Trinity Hall M2 bumped Magdalene M3 early on and the river began to clear out. This did not affect the resolve of the Kingsmen. As yet another sign of their endurance, the boys rowed on and kept race pace for the entire length of the course. It hurt. It burned. But it perfectly encapsulated what M2 had proven to be all about: endurance and finesse. The mighty M2 would finish Lent Bumps at the top of Division 4. It had been an incredible regatta. The crew thank their coach, Chris Braithwaite, and Will Miller for his support on each day of Lent Bumps.

M1 – Rowed Over
Saturday. The final day. Starting from ninth. Ninth! None of the crew had ever started from ninth in the first division before. Indeed, we’d dusted down the history books and discovered that apart from a brief stint at ninth in 2008, King’s hadn’t been inside the top ten in Lents for over 100 years. Today marked our chance to make history; if we could pull out all the stops and catch Peterhouse, we’d be the highest King’s had been since 1901. Our start was strong, perhaps not quite as fast as the previous two days, but easily enough to ensure Christ’s didn’t get close. We settled into a fast but stable rhythm coming down First Post reach, and lifted into First Post corner. However, we figured pretty quickly that we were in for a tough row when the first whistle didn’t come; evidently Peterhouse were made of sterner stuff than our previous conquests. Nevertheless, a tight Grassy from Will and determined lifts down Plough reach kept us just about on station with Peterhouse. Sadly it became clear as we rounded Ditton that the strong headwind was slightly getting the better of us, and Peterhouse were able to capitalise and pull away. Determined to chase them to the very last stroke, we refused to give in all the way to Top Finish, but ultimately had to settle for up three. That said, I’d be a fool to complain about going up three in the middle of the first division, and the crew were all hugely chuffed with what we’d achieved. We’ll have to wait until next year to equal an over-a-century-old high…

Lent Bumps 2015 – Friday

M1 – Bumped Christ’s
Day three saw us up against Christ’s who we knew would put a fight. If we were to bump them, we would have to go out hard, take the race to them, and make the bump happen. We did. After an aggressive start and a slightly altered start sequence (as we were now starting a lot closer to the motorway bridge) we lifted up onto an attacking rhythm, using the images of Girton closing in on us from the previous day as inspiration. The boat was moving well with catches going in sharply, but we were riding on some seriously choppy water, churned up by the closest few crews in front. The crew stayed relaxed though, following a solid lively rhythm set by stern pair, and keeping the boat speed high.

Halfway along First Post reach we were rewarded with our first blast from Roger’s horn. One length left to close. Focussing on maintaining speed for the corner, we lifted up into First Post corner and moved to half a length off their stern. Two blasts on the horn. Lifting into the narrow Gut the water really threw us around and we could have lost a lot of boat speed, but the focus of the crew was relentless. If we took a hit in the wash the boys were back on it the next stroke, maintaining the rhythm and attack, preventing Christ’s from walking away. Taking Grassy corner we started gaining again, and were reminded that we were only half a length away by our bank party.

Plough reach saw us maintain our advantage on Christ’s as we were repeatedly buffeted by wash and hindered by the odd ‘air-stroke’! Lifting into Ditton three horns sounded as the gap in front closed to a canvas. Will attacked the second apex of Ditton, giving us a tight line out of the corner and allowing us to lift quickly on the coat tails of Christ’s. Continuous horn. Overlap. The Christ’s cox steered them wide, out toward Meadowside. We held our line, initially feeling the wash of their bowside blades, but then into clear water. This translated into us gaining five seats within five strokes, giving us overlap almost up to their three-man. Will eased the rudder on, forcing a blade clash within a few strokes. What an incredible bump to take us up to 9th on the river.

W1 – Bumped by Magdalene
After bumps from the previous days, and a very strong magdalene crew behind us on for blades it was a tentative but optimistic row down. We were sure that the dreaded first post corner would not catch us out today given its close proximity to our starting place, and we set out with the aim to reach the elusive ‘second wind’ that our coaches had talked so much about. Our high hopes of Selwyn getting a fast bump on Magdelene were hampered when they ploughed straight into the bank off the start. At this point we knew it was going to be a long battle between us and Magdelene. We settled into a good rhythm and despite a minor crabbing incident in the gut we maintained a good boat length distance between us and magdalene until the reach. After a steady gain on us down the reach Magdelene finally managed to catch us just before the railway bridge. A slightly disappointing result, but we know we all pushed our hardest and it was a great improvement on the previous days, leaving us optimistic for tomorrow in the hope we can bump back into the first division!

M2 – Bumped by Robinson III

Lent Bumps 2015 – Thursday

M2 – Rowed over Head of Division 4 and Sandwich Boat
It was a long day for M2 again, rowing as the sandwich boat for the second time. In our first race we had to stay ahead of Fitz, who had bumped Robinson yesterday – the pressure was on. A great start let us easily pull ahead of the boats behind and swiftly through the calm water, enjoying one of the smoothest races we’ve ever done. As yesterday, we immediately turned around after the race and headed all the way back to the lock for the second instalment of the day. We were last in the division behind Tit Hall, feeling ready for our fast bump, and keen to avoid being the sandwich boat again tomorrow. A decent start gave us hope, but form dropped soon after and the outflow knocked us off some. Despite this rocky period, we began to gain on Tit Hall, but a third of the way through the course a siren sounded and all the boats in the second half of the division rushed to hold it up as a “dangerous” situation unfolded ahead. Uncertainty lingered over the boat as well pulled in to await instructions – was this it for the day? Was the race over? But no, news came that the last seven boats were to head back to the start and rerun the race. Energy was waning from the cold and damp as the prospect of effectively the third race of the day loomed over us. The crews ahead of Tit Hall had bumped out, so we had a second chance to move up of the sandwich boat position. Grim determination set in after the third start of the day, surely this was our chance? Fortune, however did not favour the brave today. We chased Tit Hall down the entire length of the course, we gained on the corners but they pulled ahead on the straights; never more than two boat lengths away but never less than one. In the end, all was in vain; they had the advantage of smooth water while we were rapidly being drained. Tomorrow, however, we will be hot on their tails.

M1 – Bumped St. Catharine’s
Our bank party had told us how well Girton had started on the first day, gaining another length on us, so we knew they would come at us equally fast, if not faster, today. Prepared for this, we aimed to nail the start and row our race. As predicted, Girton got to within a length down First Post reach, after making large gains on us through the motorway bridge. At this point we started to hold them, knowing we were gaining even faster on St. Catharine’s. As we had already experienced Clare gaining on us the day before, Girton’s assault was no cause for distress and we dealt with it strongly. Hearing three whistles as we lifted into First Post corner, we soon had overlap on St. Catharine’s and an encouraging “go! go! go!” from Will led to our final leap onto them and a swift concession from their cox. The aftermath of our bump, and Girton and Robinson’s proximity, led to them having to hold it up in the gut, resulting in a rerow.

W1 – Bumped by Trinity Hall
With yesterday’s bump from Girton still fresh in our minds, we rowed down to the start optimistic that today would be different. Now only one position above sandwich boat, we were looking for a row over to keep our place in the first division. On the start line, we discovered that Trinity Hall, who were chasing us, were much fresher than anticipated after a no-show from Selwyn in the second division, however we were determined that this would not stop us from holding them off.

We had a good start to the race with lots of energy and quickly gained a whistle on Girton, who had bumped us the day before. It seems that we used up too much energy executing our start though and after a couple of minutes we lost our pace, allowing Trinity Hall to gain a whistle on us. After this they put in an admirable surge and managed to bump us on First Post corner. We know we gave it our all though and are hoping to get them back tomorrow!

Lent Bumps 2015 – Wednesday

M1 – Bumped Girton
We knew Day One was going to be a tough one – behind us we would face the pressure of Clare and Robinson, who have both looked fast this term. In front was Girton, who was much more of an unknown. Our start was pretty scrappy, however we didn’t panic and managed to get onto a reasonable rhythm coming into the motorway bridge. Clare behind had gained to a length, but we were focussed and onto our race speed past the outflow. Approaching first post corner we were outside station on Girton, but holding Clare – who were about to be bumped out by Robinson. We cornered well and started to close in on Girton. Lifting up in the gut we got our first whistle having closed to one length and still gaining gradually. Along plough reach we had moved to half a length on Girton, but stopped gaining coming around Ditton. Out of the corner we lifted and started gaining again, three whistles. The Girton cox steered towards meadow-side allowing us to get clean water in front, and continue our advance to overlap. Half way up the reach Girton conceded as their bowside blade clipped our bows. We showed great focus and attack, but still have some improvements to make for tomorrow.

W1 – Bumped by Girton
It was an excited and nervous crew that rowed down on the first day of bumps. With half the crew never having competed in bumps, including our stroke, it was sure to be quite an experience! Despite a bit of blade trouble luckily spotted before the race, W1 was feeling confident and prepared. We knew keeping away from Girton was going to be tough, but were ready to put as much effort in as we could. After a quick start, W1 gained slightly on Churchill as we tried to put lots of water between us and Girton. Yet despite our best abilities, as we approached first post corner it was clear Girton was coming up strongly from behind. Bumped just before the corner, we were disappointed but sure that we’d given it our best. Looking forward to tomorrow, where we’ll be doing our best to get Girton back, and failing that row over and stay in the first division.

M2 – Rowed over at Head of Division 4 and Sandwich Boat
M2 have been preparing intensely for the Lent bumps this year. Indeed, having not got on last year, some might say that they have in fact been preparing for the last two years, with last year’s failure merely being an attempt to lull the opposition into a false sense of security. This stealth approach continued this term, with the final crew order only being revealed to the crew two thirds of the way through the final outing before the getting on race. While part of the plan, it was a little painful to watch bow 6 being horribly out of time with stern pair in the lead up to the crew changes. However this is a small price to pay for success.

Having got on magnificently the crew decided that they would skip the final preparation outing for bumps owing to the need for rest and a desire to focus mentally on the task at hand (again to lull the opposition into a false sense of security this was disguised as the stoke man oversleeping – a commendable effort was made by all to act out a pretence of anger in the boathouse at 6:40 am). The first day of bumps dawned with a strong determination on the part of the crew to put their training over the term to good use. Their position at the top of a division, and the fact that most of the training had been long stamina building ergs made this a realisable goal. Nowhere else was it possibly to prove manly stamina and row over twice in one day. The only regret being of course that the shortened bumps course meant that rowing over was shorter that it might have been in the glory days of the past when Will was stroking M2.

The first race allowed the crew to show their worth, with boats bumping out behind to relieve some of the pressure on the crew, allowing them to enjoy their first bumps race with the sort of calm relaxation that can normally only be found in monastic communities. Serene progress was made through the bends to the finish of the course and thereafter back to the marshalling point for the second race of the day, in the higher division. The second race was largely uneventful. Being unable to gain sufficient ground on the boats ahead before they bumped out was ideal, as otherwise it would have meant needing to take a break owing to bumping, thus interfering with the ideal situation of rowing over.

Having demonstrated the superior fitness and mental powers of concentration of M2 on day 1, it is likely that the aim for day 2 will be to row over again, at least in the first race. To avoid the prospect of a faster crew (who don’t have the same appreciation for the finer arts of stamina) bumping them later on the in the week, the aim for the second race will be bumping out just as the bows of the boat ahead cross the finishing line.