May Bumps 2016 – Saturday

M1 – Bumped by Magdalene

The final day of Bumps was upon us, and (for the second time this year) the spoons were out to get us. Could we pull something out of the bag? Could we row the race we knew we had within us? We had shown at MET Regatta (the previous weekend) the ability to improve exponentially in a short period of time. However, our results this week told us that while it might be possible to cram for exams and still make the grade, having a term off rowing and cramming for Bumps results in a painful four days of rowing.

Today our race plan was nearly as simple as the previous day – a flat-out sprint to First Post Corner. We knew Magdalene were quick off the start (they had escaped Selwyn on the first day) but were unsure about their speed over the rest of the course. Therefore, we couldn’t go for a simple fly-and-die approach, but rather and fly-and … er … fly. The main objective was: make it to the KCBC marquee.

Before venturing out onto the water, Lachlan gave us one last stirring speech. Our three-man, the one-and-only Joe Gaffney was particularly roused by this speech – venting his energy by tapping the side of the boat at every possible opportunity on the row-down. As we rowed past the marquee, we were greeted by a wall of noise – giving us a great boost.

Our start was ferocious and speedy. Magdalene were not getting anywhere near us and we settled onto a solid racing rhythm – the best all week. As we came into First Post Corner, we could hear the roars from the crowd – willing us on to escape the clutches of Magdalene, who were getting whistles on us. As we straightened out onto the Gut, a couple of airstrokes killed the boat speed and we were going backwards. An umpire gave an optimistic bump and there was some confusion before we were told to wind it down and pull in. They had got us, the spoons had claimed us. But at least it had been a fight. We had made it past the KCBC marquee and we could be proud of that.

On the row home, our strokeman (Lachers) swapped seats with Willer (our cox). Needless to say, the boat moved considerably better with Willer (the legendary M1/M2 stroke) setting the rhythm. Lachers, meanwhile, did his best to crash us into every corner he could.

And so ended a week of passion, frustration, highs and lows. We may be a Mays Spoonbarge, but at least we were dignified in our demise. Lest we forget the Mays Spoonbarge – let its memory spur us on to greater things in the coming years.

 

W1 – Bumped by Catz

Starting out as Sandwich-boat on Saturday, we were determined not to drop down any further and keep our position to work our way up from there the next year. On the way up to the lock, the crew was slightly uneasy after seeing our loyal supporter and bank party Stan be swiped off his bike by an umpire – we did, however, get it back together in time for a good practice start at the Plough and making our way to the start under the cheering of a large King’s contingent. As we would be chased by Catz, whom we had narrowly escaped on the first day, we knew we would have to fly off the start and count on Tit Hall bumping them. For a last time that year we waited through the nerve-wrecking countdown, and after a strong start pulling away from Catz, we were spurred on by a massive cheer as we passed the marquee. We held Catz around Grassy Corner well onto the Plough; Tit Hall were catching up on them. But at the Plough Catz started sprinting up behind us, getting their second and third whistles in quick succession, and they caught us just before Ditton Corner. Still, kowing we had rowed our best, we didn’t let this bump bring us down and on the paddle back down the Reach we had a spontaneous sprint alongside Homerton, rather than letting them come by. After pulling in at the side and switching all Stroke and Bow siders, we rowed home between air strokes and bursts of laughter, and after rowing as a crew for the last time, we left the boat with smiles on our faces.

 

M2 – Bumped Clare Hall

An air of finality hung over the last day of bumps, for this would be the last time this group of boys rowed together. But there were few tears, for though Alexander may have wept when there were no more worlds left to conquer, King’s M2 still had one feat left to conquer and that was the elusive first bump. Assembled in the new boathouse, tensions were high. Arm and leg hair sticking out of every orifice in anticipation. Determined, stony faces awaiting destiny and glory on the greatest stage of all.

Marshalling in the place ahead were Clare Hall’s M1. O unhappy Clare Hall! Like the tragic heroes of a Shakespeare play, their fate was sealed from the off. Their hope and prayer was for a typically choppy bumps start that would allow the Hughes Hall screamers to our rear to charge us down before we could bump them, giving them their first bit of clear water in which to race. Yet we were deeply conscious of the parallel desires of the crews on either side of us and William ‘the Admiral’ Miller stirred us with a speech to rival Nelson’s before Trafalgar. Indeed, the stakes were just as high. Nelson broke Napoleon’s strength at sea. King’s broke Clare Hall on Cam.

The crowds amassed at First Post Corner, hungry for the kill like vultures circling a prowling lion. Bumps might not be fatal, but the crowds expected blood as much as those who two thousand years ago passed beneath the Arch that read ‘Mori te Salutant.’ This M2 was a confident crew that knew how to row, had learned from defeat, gained confidence in rowing over and had improved into a truly special group of rowers. We needed something to show for our efforts and the fates gave it to us that day.

Without the gun shenanigans of the day before, M2 launched into what was probably the week’s most aggressive start, flying around our finishes in a dazzling display of synchronised masochism. And then followed the whistles, closer and closer in to our targeted kill. I’ve heard it said that the chase that day was like watching a helpless gazelle be closed down by a ruthless cheetah. However, into First Post Corner, the whistles oddly cease. Shock descended over the boatmen. ‘Have they eluded us, and found some hitherto unseen speed about which we never knew about?’ asked the rowers of M2 under their breaths. Guts and heads started to drop. Was the bumps dream over?

Thankfully, a ‘hold it up’ call from Charles Connor revealed our true fate. Indeed, we had bumped them, and not only that, we’d done right in front of the King’s marquee. The whistles had only ceased because we should well have bumped them earlier. But no matter. Joy was the order of the day. King’s M2 had achieved its goal for the week, and held position in a division where other boats had ruined their chance at blades. The procession back to the Boathouse was joyful and the foliage was aplenty.

Thus ends the tale of King’s M2 in 2016. They will live to fight another day in the 4th division of Bumps. God willing, they will push on and see loftier pastures anew. This was a boat that deserved to be remembered, and will be by all those who took part. Thanks go to coaches Chris Braithwaite, Neil Paul, Will Miller, Olivier Sluijters and especially to our super-sub, Kittiphat Chanthong, who, in spite of ineligibility for the Bumps races, was a true member of M2 throughout.

 

W2 – Bumped Fitzwilliam
Having been denied blades on Friday, our spirits were not dampened by the lack of a flag-holding bank party as we rowed down to marshall. John’s appearance just as we rowed out from the boat house concluded a week of his adamant ‘I won’t be able to come to watch at all/tomorrow/again’ cries from the bank, with his inability to resist W2 outings due to the importance of work mirroring the pre-exam attitudes of the large majority of KCBC. This further supported our perhaps complacent overconfidence in our ability to bump Fitzwilliam – a boat which, having started in the third division, had already been bumped three times. Whilst their lycra (a nice pinky-reddish colour) may have impressed members of our boat, our practice start (which W2 has come to pride) was arguably more impressive, and we were confident that we looked good on the water. We also knew we were significantly faster than Fitzwilliam based on the performance the day before. Clearly this belief was founded on strong principles, as whilst we had a marginally harder race than Churchill (for whom Anglia Ruskin’s forfeit due to not turning up meant that they got a technical automatic bump), we still managed to bump Fitz just before first post – pulling into the bank directly opposite the King’s marquee in typical W2 stylistic flair. As Fitzwilliam rowed past us on their way back to the boathouse, our ‘three cheers for fitzwilliam’ (perhaps excessive) was met by simply a ‘why couldn’t you bump Churchill?!’, perhaps summing up the frustration felt by our boat as well as theirs. Post-bumps celebrations were had (after a much needed washing of the boat) in the beautiful sunshine of a pub garden, in which certain people’s attempts to even out their lycra/sports bra tan lines resulted in a nice ‘lobster’ effect – which were to be proudly displayed at the brilliant bumps dinner organised by the boat club. Overall, 2016’s may bumps proved King’s W2 to be possibly the fastest boat in the division. It was an incredible experience which proved the dedication and talent of the rowers, the (inexperienced, but at the risk of inflating his already large ego, talented) cox, and our coach, and a performance which we hope to repeat in the year ahead!

 

May Bumps 2016 – Friday

M1 – Bumped by Selwyn

By the third day, the mood had changed distinctly in M1. The previous evening’s chat-down had about as much joy as a funeral procession. As we got warmed-up on the ergs before today’s racing, there was once again joking and laughing. The catalyst in this transformation was, no doubt, Billy Joel’s classic: “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, which was blasting out of the CD player during our warm-up. The irony was that, alas, we DID start the fire – in fact, it was completely our own fault! It had been burning for about 5 weeks now, from the moment half of the crew decided that they couldn’t row and the VIII had to be abandoned. Still, here we were – 5 outings as a crew this term – trying our best to keep our sinking ship afloat.

Today the pressure had been lifted, for behind us were the mighty Selwyn (up 4 in two days) who had caught Catz by the outflow the previous day. Our race plan was simple – a flat-out sprint to First Post Corner, hoping to bump Emmanuel back before we succumbed to Selwyn’s ravenous claws. Now, it has to be said that flat-out sprinting wasn’t exactly our forte – but today was the perfect chance to really push our top-end speed.

Our warm-up was pugnacious – with a punchy practice start at the Plough. Our half-slide rate build along First Post Reach was also much improved – with the crew staying in range a lot better than on previous days. As we waited for the 3-minute cannon, you could sense the excitement and terror at what lay ahead of us … BANG! Draw-1, draw-2, wind-1 – we were off to a flyer! Within the first 30 seconds we already had a whistle on Emmanuel – our first whistle of the year! Coming through the outflow the boat lurched but we battled on – not letting the rate drop below 38. Halfway up First Post Reach our view become obscured by the white, yellow and maroon blades chomping into the churned-up water behind us. A couple of airstrokes later, we had capitulated and were consumed by Selwyn.

A day which had been made up of highs and lows, once again ended on a low. Our attempt at a fly-and-die had been described by one onlooker as a die-and-die. In 1 year we had lost both boathouse headships – in Lents to Churchill, and now in Mays to Selwyn.

 

W1 – Bumped by Fitzwilliam

We knew that Day 3 would be tough with a strong Fitzwilliam crew behind us on course for Blades. Nevertheless, we were determined to give it our best shot and our plan was to push away from Fitz and onto Magdalene at the start. As ever, we had a very fast start, this time winding it up all the way to rate 40. However, Fitz still began to gain on us fairly rapidly and so we knew it was another case of ‘bump or be bumped’. As we passed under the motorway bridge, we maintained a strong rhythm but as we came into First Post Reach Fitz started to get quite close. We dug deep, trying to hold them off for as long as possible, but as we came into First Post Corner they managed to get the bump, forcing us into the dreaded sandwich boat position. Nevertheless, it was a strong row, and we rowed home looking forward to the final day of rowing!

 

M2 – Rowed Over

The sun rose upon the town of Cambridge awash with the joy of knowing that never again would King’s M2 taste the foul curse of the spoon. Arriving at the boathouse that day, how could I ever forget! The cold steel of the past had vanished from the eyes of our crewmates, replaced with the beaming glow of optimism and hope.

Yet nothing in Bumps can be taken for granted, as William ‘The Colonel’ Miller astutely pointed to the crew as the boat was pushed out. An old Chinese proverb states that one should not fear to move forward, nor fear moving backward but only to fear standing still. I believe the spirit of that phrase was imbued into the hearts of the men of M2 that day, a spirit that would push us on further than we ever had been.

As it stood, our row-over the previous day had left us in a good position to do something rather wonderful. The fast Clare boat in front of us were chasing Clare Hall M1, who, on marshalling, looked like the tiny cowering figures from a Hieronymus Bosch painting, rather than a threatening group of rowers. Ahead of Clare Hall were the lucky boys of Corpus M2, big grins and all, who’d escaped us narrowly on the first day only to bump on the second. They’d been given a rather gloomy crew from Girton to chase, about which little was known. So, the order of the day was an overbump pure and simple. That was what we hoped for, that was what we dreamed for, that was what we rowed for.

Behind us, the Wolfson boat that had rather tepidly chased us the day before had been replaced by a beefy Hughes Hall boat, who had the look of a Russian Olympic Village’s level of steroidal power. This was a crew that had added to our misery in Lent, but we were confident we could quickly escape with a similar performance to the one the day before.

Like all the great stories, the beginning of this race was christened with an unexpected bang. Panic on the bank led to the crew hearing the gun at 5 rather than zero. It is indeed a testament to how far this crew has come that such antics did not entirely scupper the race. Though if one had seen the look on our faces when the cannon blasted early you would have seen abject terror, five strokes in and we had another aggressive start, putting some good distance between us and the Hughes Hall tanks.

And distance was the order of the day for much the rest of the race. Corpus and Clare bumped Girton and Clare Hall respectively in the Gut, giving us the clean water for a pretty row-over. Though one member of our crew, the gifted on the water Jamie Brown, thought the overbump was still on for the entirety of the race, the rest of us settled into the calm, sweet rhythm that all the training had prepared us for. I have heard it said that watching us row by that day was as natural as watching the River Cam’s beautiful native heron glide across the air. Composed in the manner of a symphony, together like a house of marble, choreographed like a Beyonce video. For indeed, in the words of our coach and Queen Amaretto: Beyonce was not built in a day and neither was this M2. The crew who spooned out of Lents and failed to sit a boat for 2 months was not the crew that came into the P&E with 3 lengths on Hughes Hall.

The heat made the final stretch to Chesterton footbridge a rather dog-legged affair. Yet the grit remained to the very end of this second successful row-over. A splendid spot of rowing and now, all we needed was a bump!

 

As the sun dawned on King’s W2’s third day of their May Bumps campaign, the shine of blades lingered playfully upon their minds. Yet a beast ahead stood in their way, the hulking pink mass of Churchill W2, who were spurred on by their previous day’s +5 overbump; and held bitter anguish for King’s over day 1’s pile up which denied them a Medwards feast. To make matter’s worse, ahead of Churchill lay a spannery spider of Fitz who were on a spoon-esque descent from the higher division.

 

W2 – Rowed Over

It could be a day of two races. The first point of action would be to use our blistering fast start to take the tail of Churchill before Fitz fell into their pink gums. Upon failing this, the glory of an overbump (on Cav/Hughes W2) shone ahead as W2 narrowly missed one in Lent.

The arrival of our coach St. John was all that could relive our tensest start line nerves to date. But alas as the gunpowder ignited so did W2 explode from their start with enough force to shatter the waters. The gains came fast on Churchill by any standards but ours, as they remained unbumped by first post! As the first corner came our Cox diverted attention from rallying cries to taking the slickest racing line the Cam has surely ever seen. Bowside blades mere inches from the bank, King’s glided out of the corner with bow ball stabbing wildly about Churchill’s Cox. But about the cool demeanour of our boat blasted a double set of overlap whistles. Fitz had failed to fight on and had sunk into the claws of the pink-beast-of-the-hills.

SNAP! TAKE THE RUN OFF! Wheres the bank? Us or them? Stop or row? Where’s the umpire? Where’s the bank? WILL YOU ROW US TO THE BLOODY BANK PLEASE!?

Churchill had found their next meal and King’s had been repayed a technical row-over. Dreams of blades had been sent down but John was glad he got to see a more exciting bit of racing. And Fraser got his birthday bump in the end thanks to Tirion’s boathouse antics.

Good crews go up 3, lucky crews get blades, amazing crews go for ice-cream afterwards.

May Bumps 2016 – Thursday

M1 – Bumped by Emmanuel

Today we had a crucial race on our hands – our best chance at avoiding being bumped by quick crews coming up (Selwyn & Magdalene) later in the week. Emmanuel were behind – a crew who we felt evenly matched with. Peterhouse had caught us sleeping yesterday and we were determined not to let that happen again. It felt tense during the warm-up on the ergs – everyone had a different way of coping with the nerves; some listened to music, others laughed it off. We all knew how big this race was for us.

We had a solid row-down to the start. Down at the lock we all got out of the boat and Smith gave us one last motivational speech. Make Muhammad Ali proud. Row over today and earn that horizontal bit of line on the Bumps chart – that horizontal bit of line which we could look back on as the day King’s stood their ground …

Then came the cannon. Off the start we set up a solid platform on the draw strokes and quickly got up to speed, keeping Emmanuel on station most of the way up First Post Reach. Coming round First Post Corner, we failed to keep our top-end speed, letting the rate slip to 34. After Grassy, Emmanuel had closed to within ½ a length. Will called an attack coming past the Plough and we kicked hard to push them away. We had made it to Ditton, just a few more minutes of rowing and we’d have done it, we’d have stood our ground … Coming out of Ditton corner, Emmanuel were once again making inroads. Will called a second attack and we responded well for a few strokes, before letting the pressure overcome us as Emmanuel got within a canvas. Our rowing fell apart and we were bumped about a quarter-way up the Reach. No row-over today. No horizontal line on the Bumps chart.

 

W1 – Bumped by Magdalene

Setting out on Thursday we knew that our only options that day were to bump quickly or get bumped ourselves. Given that we had seen Magdalene easily catch St Catharine’s, bumping well before First Post Corner, it was clear that we would not be able to repeat our row over of the previous day. With this in mind we wound it up high off the start and lengthened out to a rate of 39 which allowed us to quickly gain a whistle on Peterhouse, already an improvement on the previous day when we had struggled to get within a length of them. As we hit rough water under the motorway bridge we found maintaining our high rate a real challenge and in spite of the optimistic whistling of our coach (we suspect intended principally as motivation!) Peterhouse started to pull away. We recovered our rhythm well to push away from the bridge but having lost our chance of bumping Peterhouse, Magdalene was closing down the gap between us. Keeping our focus and refusing to give in we were determined to hold on for as long as possible but Magdalene advanced steadily, gaining the bump just before we reached First Post corner. Despite this disappointing result both the crew and our coach were pleased with the row we had put in, and in particular the improvement we had made to our starts in the past week, surprising ourselves as much as the crews around us! We rowed home able to focus on our goal for the rest of the week – avoiding the position of sandwich boat!

M2 – Rowed Over

M2 had come into Bumps full of hope and expectation that the awful performance of Lent would be put to bed and the new, better looking, better rowing crew would be able to strike terror into the heart of the 4th Men’s division. Wednesday however, much like Gavrilo Princip’s fateful shot and Julius Caesar’s bloody betrayal, changed everything. Alas, the crew walked away from the Cam, dejected and beaten and looking at what might well have been a long struggle through this year’s set of Bumps.

Chasing a Clare boat that had ruined the party worse than a couple who insist on showing pictures of their baby to all who can see, or a chap who knows a lot about trains, M2 prayed for an overbump on a distinctly inferior Clare Hall boat two places ahead. A grittier start from the boys, with the aggression of a true second boat, gave the lads confidence as we passed first post corner, achieving some exceptional boat speed.

But the fates did not smile upon the King’s College that day, as Corpus achieved a bump on the division whipping boys of Clare Hall M1 in the gut. We were in it for the long haul, unless we could catch our old rivals in Clare M3.

Indeed, it seemed possible into Plough Reach as our beloved helmsman Charles Connor steered a sharp line round Grassy Corner. As we passed the pub, we looked to get within a length of the Clare boys and the hope and gritty determination that has defined this M2 looked to get us that extra speed.

Another corner at Ditton and Mr. Connor called for a lift from 2 man and 4 man and onto the Reach, M2 looked like a real crew going for the first bump of their lives. Yet the heat and the occasion caught up with our crew, and Clare slowly but surely pulled away, being 2 to 3 lengths ahead by the time we reached the railway bridge.

Our gutsiness on the start had given us miles and miles of room, and with threat from behind and a faltering chance in front, heads dropped, cries left our lips and past the P&E, we soldiered on to the finish line.

Yet I must remind the reader that the finish line was then a foreign country to the previous members of the Lents Spoonbarge. As the Chesterton Footbridge rose upon the horizon and embraced our bow, loud and rather rude cheering emanated from 4 man. A fine for a fine day of rowing, as the great Sir Steve Redgrave would have said, given the occasion. Thus the first row over for a men’s crew in 2016 was achieved thanks to the soul and good work of a great group of boys.

 

W2 – Bumped Christ’s

On day 2 of bumps, W2 felt confident as we left the boathouse. But a wonky practise start had the crew feeling nervous as we geared up for the race. We were mentally preparing for a long race, it would be a chance to prove the cox’s ability to take fantastic corners.
But after a strong start we were soon able to hear the first whistle. And before the first corner we had bumped.
We pulled aside smoothly and watched the exciting race behind us, guessing at who we might be chasing on day 3.

May Bumps 2016 – Wednesday

M1 – Bumped by Peterhouse

It was the first day of bumps and the nerves were evident in the boat as we rowed down towards the motorway bridge on our warm-up. In comparison to Lent Bumps earlier in the year, we could have a more extensive warm up due to having much better facilities in our newly built boathouse – rather than just a Portakabin, which allowed us to feel more prepared. The sun was out and the conditions were optimal with a slight tailwind in the direction of the race. We knew going into the day that Clare, the boat we would be chasing at eighth on the river, were having a very good term and looking to be one of the fastest boats on the Cam. So a bump was unlikely, however, we didn’t know much about the boats behind us. We had a good start and we were hitting good rates along First Post Reach, so things were looking good, however we didn’t anticipate how powerful Peterhouse would be off the start. They were a big crew and we didn’t necessarily have a bad race but Peterhouse were on our stern by the end of First Post Reach and managed to bump us coming around the corner. Thinking of the next day, we knew would be a very tightly contested race with Emmanuel, who would be chasing us, and had the potential to be a long and important race.

 

W1 – Rowed Over

Spirits were high as we rowed down to the start for our first day of Bumps. We were chasing a strong Peterhouse crew and we knew that our best chance of catching them would be straight off the start as we’d had fast starts in training. Sure enough, our practise start at the Plough was strong, and when the cannon went we flew away, quickly winding it up to rate 38 and gaining a whistle before the motorway bridge. Peterhouse took longer to get going but after the first whistle they settled into their rhythm and managed to hold us at one length. Meanwhile, Magdalene were steaming up on Catz behind us and managed to bump them before First Post Corner, taking the pressure off our tail. We settled into a steady rhythm, hoping we might be able to catch Peterhouse over the full course but alas they pulled away on the reach, leaving us with a strong rowover and hoping we might be able to catch them the following day!

 

M2 – Bumped by Clare

The training and preparation done by M2 over the course of Easter Term aimed to improve our crew’s performance relative to the achievement of ‘spoons’ back in Lent. Continued coaching has indeed paid off in terms of notably improved rowing quality. Strong steady state rowing as well as decent performance and endurance during pieces meant that M2 anticipated and desired a much better result this time round. King’s M2 arrived at marshalling more confident than it had ever been. The aim for Day I was therefore twofold: to bump Corpus M2 while pushing away from Clare M3 chasing us.

A washy but nevertheless solid start set us up well enough to gain length on Corpus and it did not take long before our first whistle was heard. Clare M3 was however closing in steadily in the meantime. From our station just upstream from the outflow of the Motorway Bridge we managed to go round First Post Corner quite well. A lift from the corner set us up strong for the start of Grassy Corner and our anticipated bump further upstream, past the Plough. Insufficient awareness of the location of the crew in front of us made it rather difficult to push away from the ever decreasing distance between Clare M2 and our stern. Nevertheless, having managed to pull away from Clare into Grassy Corner, we were still gaining on Corpus who were increasingly showing signs of fatigue. Charlie’s excellent coxing prevented a bump in the latter part of this corner while two whistles informed us of the fact that we were now just about half a length away from our desired Corpus bump.

At this point, the crew was in need of a lift. Despite Charlie’s solid line through Grassy, the wash from crews upstream had made it increasingly difficult for our crew to sustain the set rhythm. Chaos which had ensued from previous crews passing through had made communication between our bank party and Charlie difficult. Indeed, it did not take long for Clare to close in on us, resulting in an unfortunate bump right outside of Grassy Corner. Despite this disappointing result, our crew remained hopeful for the days to come. Corpus had not decisively shown their ability to keep us off; we may well have bumped them long before Ditton Corner if we had been able to keep Clare M3 at greater distance. Our expectation that Clare would be sending down less strong crews in the days to come meant that M2 could definitely remain optimistic about finally achieving a well-deserved bump sooner or later.

 

W2 – Bumped Sidney

Having been the fastest boat in the getting on race in Lent bumps, W2 began this bumps in a respectable place in the W4 category. Accompanied and spurred on by our bank party (including our cox’s delightful mother, who took some lovely photos and videos of the race) we marshalled in good time and set our sights on Sidney II. Although the first stroke wasn’t as connected as we had practiced, our strong start meant Murray Edwards were left a long way behind and Sidney were bumped before first post! There was a minor kerfuffle with clearing due to Churchill attempting to bump Murray Edwards behind us, leading to a pile of 3 boats and a £50 fine for KCBC. Nevertheless, an auspicious start to a glorious 4 days of bumps, we rowed back down resplendent in purple, willow crowns and the beginnings of some very stylish Lycra-tan-lines.

May Bumps Summary 2016

Crew Wed Thu Fri Sat Overall Final Position
M1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -4 13th in Division 1
W1 0 -1 -1 -1 -3 2nd in Division 2
M2 -1 0 0 +1 0 4th in Division 4
W2 +1 +1 0 +1 +3 3rd in Division 4

M1: [Bow] Conor Bacon, [2] Neil Paul, [3] Joe Gaffney, [4] Jack Wright, [5] Adam Townson, [6] Olivier Sluijters, [7] Chris Jones, [Stroke] Lachlan Jardine, [Cox] Will Miller, [Coach] Chris Smith, [Boat] Adrian Cadbury.

M2: [Bow] Leo Paillard, [2] Aleksei Opacic, [3] Jacob Toop-Rose, [4] Kaamil Shah, [5] Lewis Couch, [6] Daro Nakshbande, [7] Jamie Brown, [Stroke] Hrutvik Kanabar, [Cox] Charles Connor, [Coach] Chris Braithwaite and Will Miller, [Boat] Vicky Wade.

W1: [Bow] Niamh Mulcahy, [2] Jessica Plumbridge, [3] Rachael Baker, [4] Danielle Jackson, [5] Ellie Archer, [6] Rebekka Thur, [7] Tabitha Biller, [Stroke] Elizabeth Byrne, [Cox] Ellen Berry, [Coaches] Roger Thorogood and Rebecca Love, [Boat] Leo Sharpston.

W2: [Bow] Joanna Hindley, [2] Selena Deng, [3] Luise Scheidt, [4] Tirion Rees-Davies, [5] Freya Reevell, [6] Antoanela Siminiuc, [7] Isobel Higgins, [Stroke] Phoebe Thomson, [Cox] Fraser Alcock, [Coach] John Aspden , [Boat] Jolly Roger.

Getting on Race (Mays 2016) – M3

King's M3 after the race

The Getting on Race (GoR) was the first race that the present M3 had competed in. The crew was made up mostly of novice rowers who had only started in Easter term. Despite this, with lots of help from soon to be men’s captain, Neil Paul, they had progressed and improved phenomenally through the 8 weeks; and with every outing kept getting better. (As Joe Gaffney would put it ‘Gains’)

However, in order to get on to the May Bumps Races M3 had to qualify for division 6. The GoR was on the 3rd June, and saw King’s M3 compete against 34 other crews for one of the 17 spaces in division 6. The race was a 2k time trial between the motorway bridge downstream to the more upstream railway bridge. The final outings before the race had been focused in practicing the race course and we had performed some strong pieces, and those who coached us were really impressed.

It was going to be challenging race, yet, we were feeling rather confident about our chances. It was the first time everyone was in kit and our boat, the Lady Joanne, had been given some much needed TLC by us, Neil and Will in the morning. Also over the term, M3 had come together well as a crew with a bond emerging between the new novices and the more experienced seniors through friendships developed in the outings. The race would test the new plucky M3 crew against more experienced crews at race pace across the winding river Cam.

The day of the race was not a typical summer day, it was cloudy and slightly damp. Not even this Geographer could change the weather, we had to remember the weather doesn’t control us. We had decided on a rolling start through the motorway bridge and this is where the training stopped and the race begun. The start was strong, the improvements across the term could be seen. In fact, after the winds we had reached rate 44! This was really impressive as we came into the lengthens after the motorway bridge. We were quick, no doubt about that.

Then the Lady Jo was quickly approaching First Post Corner and the immediate challenges afterwards of the Gut and Grassy. We lifted the boat out of the corner and kept up good speed around Grassy. Bowside performed especially well in getting us around Grassy, cheered on by me and the motivational bank party. So far form and technique had been maintained with long strong strokes across some of the more difficult areas of the river.

But, as we entered Plough Reach the struggle began. Our rapid start, and speed through the corners, had begun to affect the crew. Although race inexperience started to show, there was no signs of giving up by anyone. This was shown clearly on Ditton Corner. After I shouted are strokeside pressure ready for the corner, a confident cry of “yeah we are” was immediately echoed down the boat. Corners, like Ditton, had been taken rather well throughout the race, but my inexperience showed, losing the racing line a few times. Nevertheless, this was made up for by the sheer power M3 continued to place in the water, with timed ‘LOCK-ON AND DRIVE!’ being responded to well by the crew in the force put down.

The reach was the most challenging section of the course. It is long, straight and offers little in visual landmarks. This made it difficult for the crew to judge how long they had left, and made it more important for me to spur them on until the very end. Strokes began to shorten, airstrokes and timing issues started to plague the crew, but no one wanted to disappoint the bank party that helped us throughout the term that had come down to see us in our finest hour. As I screamed with the remains of my voice, “empty the tanks”, “give it everything”, “drive it through the legs!”, M3 responded and never gave in; and in doing so, performed a little minute burst that got us passed the railway bridge. We had completed our first race as a crew, and we couldn’t be more proud.

Sadly, despite all our hard work, M3 didn’t get on for Bumps. Our time was just over 8:30, 30 seconds over the slowest qualifying time. Although we were saddened by the news, there was much to take away from the race. First, how much everyone had improved since the start of term. The majority of the crew hadn’t rowed in a race before, and this was after less than a term of rowing (in exam term!). Whereas, other crews on the race had far more experience in rowing and races; and had been together, in some cases, for years. Secondly, it was fun. The best part of rowing are the races themselves: the build-up first of nerves, then excitement and adrenaline is something truly special. Finally, the support and help we had received from throughout the boat club, from the bank party on the day to the coaches and other crews that had given us encouragement. The GoR had consolidated 9 individuals, from different countries, ages and subjects into a single crew. Anyway, we’ll get them next year.