University Fours 2018

M1: [Bow] Alistair Goodman, [2] Stan Szymanowicz, [3] Adam Townson, [Str] Neil Paul, [Cox] Matthew Else, [Coach] Will Miller, [Boat] New Empacher 4+

Result: Winners – Men’s Coxed Four (First Division)

Following on from a successful campaign in May Bumps in which M1 went up three, we returned at the start of Michaelmas hungry for more success. However, with a surprisingly low number of sign ups, we decided to focus on doing well in the four, especially with our brand-new Empacher waiting to grace the water for the first time. After a two year absence from the boat club, Will Miller made a grand return as the coach of our four. All six of us, firmly set our ultimate target as the Fairbairn Cup in the four at the very end of term but we knew we could have a good go at a few races along the way. We trained well for three weeks in the run up to University IV’s, putting in solid miles on the water under the watchful eye of Will. The boat was moving well, and we were all itching to be in the boat, squeezing in extra outings of an afternoons when we could in order to gain every bit of extra speed we could in the run up to University IV’s.

The draw placed us against Magdelene M1 in the first round. To us, this was the final – thinking that we were the two fastest fours on the river. The first day of racing arrived and everyone turned up to the boathouse feeling determined to win. We had a promising row down to the start and everyone was motivate to execute our race plan. We had a very good race and we managed to put 6 seconds into the Magdalene crew. This gave us the confidence that we could do some real damage over the rest of the week.

In the second round we faced Fitzwilliam M1. We knew a solid row was likely to be enough to send us though to the next round. We did what we needed to do and triumphed by a healthy margin of 22 seconds.

Both the semi-final and final races were on Friday, the final immediately following the semi. We faced Jesus M1 in our semi-final. Our race was not exactly our best – but a gritty final few hundred metres on the reach ensured to won by just 2 seconds. We spun around and had a little rest and took on some food and water in preparation for the final.

Trinity Hall M1 were our opponents in the final. Both crews had a strong first half to the race, with Trinity Hall having just under a one length lead coming into Ditton. However, all week we had shown that we had the fitness for a solid second half to the race. Matthew Melse, in the coxswains seat, took great lines throughout the competition and the final was no different. Trinity Hall went wide on Ditton and we had a huge lift coming out of the corner. Cheered on by support from bank, we capitalised and flew down the reach to victory by a margin of 6 seconds. An amazing start to term – we are all looking forward to trying to win more as we move forward. Long live back-end-send.

Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s Alumni ‘MLegend’

Enthusiasm for the Fairbairn cup amongst KCBC alumni was at an unprecedented level this year and before Chris Braithwaite could even begin his annual grooming of recent graduates the 2012/13 M1 crew decided to reunite.

So it came about that on the evening of Thursday 3rd December, as the current M1 finalised their mental and nutritional preparation for the culmination of a hard term, several early-career professionals and PhD students turned up and interrupted them with outdated banter fuelled by whiskey and observations of unwanted weight gains.

‘MLegend,’ as they arrogantly dubbed themselves, had a combined rowing experience of decades as well as first division blades (and spoons), university medals, HRR qualifications and Paddy’s achievements back in M2. 8 of the 9 had also won the Fairbairn cup in 2012, so felt no apprehension at the prospect of a 14-minute slog through the fens. Reconvening on the Friday morning, nobody felt fresh, loose, fit or keen but there was ample laughter and reminiscence and that made everything seem alright.

The details of the race were unremarkable; marshalling was a shambles, MLegend flew like a cannonball past the boathouses and that cannonball then rolled slowly down the rest of the course. Waiting at Baitsbite lock, there were many happy cross-college reunions, and other alumni crews confirmed suspicions that the river had in fact got longer.

With the sun unable to cut through the cold air and old blisters being painfully rediscovered, the long row home began in low spirits. However, the boat seemed to be moving more smoothly now that the race had shaken off the cobwebs from long-unused muscle groups, and it wasn’t long before jubilant and unimaginative shouts of “yeah King’s” were once again irritating every other boat on the river.

Another win always seemed an unlikely prospect, and the race results showed the leaders almost a minute ahead up the river. Surprisingly, though, many college M1 crews trailed in MLegend’s wake. It can thus be stated conclusively that fitness is a poor substitute for friendship.

Cox: Will Miller M1 2011-present
Stroke: Lachlan Jardine M1 2011-2015
7: Joel Wilson M1 2011-2014
6: Paddy Buchanan M1 2011-2014
5: Algernon Wallis M1 2012-2013
4: Conor Burgess M1 2012-2015
3: Craig Lambert M1 2012-2014
2: Neil Paul M1 2011-present
Bow: JT Baird M1 2014

Huge thanks to Captain Oli Slooj who allowed us to piss around in his boat.
Special mention to Will and Neil who had already rowed the race with M1.
Best of luck to King’s M1 for the rest of the year, you’re a great group of guys.
Kindest regards to Chris Braithwaite, sorry for not carrying your tub of old men down the course.
Commiserations to Jesus M1. Sorry not sorry. You’re s***.
Finally a tip of that hat to Paddy for being chauffeur for the weekend in his company BMW.

Lent Bumps 2016 – Saturday

W1 – Bumped by Homerton
We rowed up to the marshalling point not knowing what to expect from Homerton. Whilst being another one of Lucy’s victims on their way to blades and the first division, Homerton also had a very quick bump on Selwyn on their record. We waited at the marshalling point for longer than expected as the M3 division before us had to rerow due to Churchill M2’s ejector crab. Since the division was running late, we didn’t get to do a practice start on our row up to the station. This didn’t worry us, as our start had already proved to be better than those of any of the crews we raced this week. The gun fired, and we went off at a steady rate of 35 strokes/min. Soon after the start, we passed Lucy and Magdalene, who had already bumped in front of us and managed to clear the river promptly. We powered through every corner and kept Homerton at station for the first third of the course. As we went onto the reach, we heard the first whistle, announcing they were one boat length behind. We maintained our rhythm and kept going, but it turned out that Homerton discovered new energy in their legs. They started gaining steadily and bumped us just before the railway bridge. We rowed home quite pleased with our performance – although we got bumped, we had a great row and we all did our best.

W2 – Rowed over
So Saturday has come, the end of Lent Bumps is nigh and W2 are psyched! Having bumped twice already, we are determined to end our week of rowing on a winning streak. The sky is blue and the sun is out, the swans are dancing and we are ready! We had a gentle row down to the marshal point and then onto the lock to get in position. It was slightly windier today, but luckily we were not racing against it. Eight nervous but pumped rowers of W2 de-kit as the four-minute cannon goes off. Sally, our cox, gives us some last minute advice, demanding that we give it our all, getting down into that “pain cave”. At thirty seconds to go, we are pushed out, oars at front stops. Ready. The cannon goes and W2 are off! We had a slightly rocky start, but rapidly establish a rhythm as Sally starts to lengthen us up. We start to gain on Trinity Hall but almost immediately, Trinity Hall bump Churchhill. Incredibly, the boats behind us also drop out of the race, having bumped as well. So King’s W2 have the river to ourselves and we are going for the over-bump. We power past the railway bridge, maintaining a steady rate of 33 and our heads are still very much in the game. Sally calls out some power 10s and we gradually make some small gains. Nearing the end of the course, we all realise that it is unlikely that we are in for an over-bump. However, we don’t give up, determined to row our best. Our rhythm stays strong and we are catching together as we make our way onto the reach and down the final stretch. With the final few strokes, we row over the finish having rowed-over. Despite not bumping, we are proud of ourselves. Two bumps and two rows-over. Good job W2!

M2 – Bumped by Sidney Sussex
The final day of bumps, was, alas, a sad one for the men of M2. After a day of well-earned rest, the boys were greeted to a windy afternoon on the Cam, an ill omen, considering how much yellow flags had hampered the crew this term. The row up to the first post was a difficult one too, with the wind and our M2’s signature unwillingness to sit the boat bracing them for a long day. The boys lined up between the Queen’s boat which had slightly gunned them the previous day of bumps and a Sidney boat on for blades. There was a great sense of determination to right the wrongs of the week and the boat was tangibly tense as the gun went. The start was amongst the best rowing the boys have done, it was rapid. Initally rate 42, they settled nicely into a 38 as first post corner was reached. A cheeky whistle from Willer, Queen’s were in the crosshairs, spurred the boys even further, and into the gut they were flying. Alas, Sidney loomed up behind quite quickly. A rather speedy boat, M2 had been too concerned with bumping their old rivals than to notice the new enemy at their stern. Try as they might, the crew was too quick for them, and panic set in. Strokes were missed, splashed made, and the attempt to avoid spoons ended with a whimper. M2 found themselves on the bank behind a victorious Sidney boat. Oh that we did not live to see these days, with M1 and M2 both ending with spoons. Lamentations rang out in every corner of the Cam’s many twists and turns at the decline of a rowing institution. But M2 shall rise again, like the proverbial phoenix, from the ashes of this defeat. It shall be a day of ringing blades and shattered spoons as the age of other crews comes crashing down! It was not that day, but that day we fought!

M1 – Bumped by Churchill
During the first three days of Lent Bumps, our crew had demonstrated significant improvements in rowing quality at reasonable speed. Having been bumped three times in a row, however, meant it was now up to us to combine all the elements of our previous rows in one final successful piece. The sharp and aggressive standing start, the lifting up to a lively and sustainable rhythm, and the input of considerable leg power were all necessary to step away from Churchill and put pressure on the crew in front of us. With this in mind, M1 showed up at the Boathouse with one clear objective: to demonstrate our authority as fastest crew of our combined boathouse. The race warm-up on the way to our station reflected our desire to assert King’s as a competent and fast crew. Our start was aggressive and we gained considerable speed. The setback of our initial enthusiasm was the comparative lack of stability and consistency straight after this standing start. Despite the fact that the whole crew had put in all their power in this final race day, some less-than-technically-flawless strokes slowed the boat ever so slightly, which allowed Churchill to lift and bump us rather fast. Unfortunately, spoons were to be awarded during Lent Bumps dinner after our performances over the last few days. Yet, the resiliency of our focus on every single day of racing exemplifies the fact that our crew simply rowed very well irrespective of the final results.

Lent Bumps 2016 – Friday

W1 – Bumped by Lucy Cavendish/Hughes Hall
W1 rowed down to the start on Friday knowing we were in for a tough row. With a Lucy-Hughes crew behind us who were on for Blades, we knew we would have to give it everything to try for a quick bump on Magdalene before they could catch us. We had a strong start and quickly wound it up and settled to a solid rate 36, pushing away from the Lucy crew behind us. As we rounded First Post corner, we had closed the gap on Magdalene to about a length, but at this point Lucy found their rhythm and began to gain on us. Nevertheless, we kept pushing and stormed down the gut, closing the gap on Magdalene as Lucy continued to bear down on us. As we swung round Grassy Corner we had two whistles on Magdalene and could see Lucy approaching rapidly, so we dug deep to give a big burst to bring us ever closer to the boat in front. We kept up a solid pace down Plough Reach but alas we didn’t have quite enough. With just six feet between us and Magdalene, Lucy managed to catch us by the Plough. It was a tough bump, but we knew we’d given it our all and with a couple more minutes we would have easily caught Magdalene. We are also quite proud of the fact that we gave Lucy their longest row of the week, being the only crew to get past Grassy Corner before they caught us!

M1 – Bumped by St Catharine’s
After realising the weakness of our ways (and legs), we adjusted our tactic for day 3 – give it all we’ve got to each checkpoint on the river before thinking of the next checkpoint. The in-the-zone o’clock kicked in at 15.20, and our plan was repeated in our brains. Our warm up reflected what we planned to do today – powerful and strong strokes, keeping the quality with that much more leg power. However, we could feel that we were nervous, and our bowman seems to be distracted by the quality of St Catharine’s. Our practice start was tense with a small disaster, however we settled down in our usual 40s, giving us some confidence that we are still in control of our rowing. After the cannon, we blasted off with our strong and powerful start – with classic airstrokes from our 7 and 3 man just to keep the rest of the boat on their toes. We flew down First Post Reach and attacked our rhythm like we meant it – all of us could feel the difference. We held station with Christ’s in front and St Catherine’s managed to gain half a length behind us – and we held them there for most of the course until the Plough. Alas, there we had the final effective push away. It wasn’t enough to close the door. Our lifts away from the danger zone were becoming less and less effective. Our final attempt at a great escape as their bow ball began to pass the stern proved futile. So close to the safety of a row over, yet so far. Half of the Reach, and then some, and we’d have made it.

W2 – Bumped Magdalene
As the third day of Bumps for W2 dawned all were excited for the race ahead. We were still riding the high from bumping Caius two days prior, well-rested from a day’s break and slightly comforted by the knowledge that we would be chasing Magdalene: the boat we almost over-bumped on the first day. However we knew we could not get complacent. Anything can happen in Bumps, and to add to this, only half of our original crew would be racing – with the other four off gallivanting with other commitments (though quite what could be more important that rowing at this time, nobody is sure). Upon arriving at the portacabin, we soon pushed off having briefed the three of our subs that had never rowed Bumps before on what to expect. We rowed straight down to the start, taking the opportunity to get a feel for rowing together as a boat. We pulled in and the 4-minute cannon went, then the 1 minute, and before we knew it we were pushed out to the middle of the river with the 30 second countdown ticking by. And we were off! After a messy start with some lost timing we quickly regained composure and found our rhythm. For a worrying moment just before the motorway bridge, Caius gained a whistle on us but we pushed them right away and within the next 10 seconds we had our own first whistle on Magdalene. From here we kept our heads in and pushed on, closing the gap in no time to hear that continuous whistle. We bumped them halfway between the motorway bridge and first post corner so were extremely pleased. We pulled in and adorned ourselves with greenery before rowing proudly home. We wish to especially thank our four subs for today, without whom we would have been unable to race.

 

Lent Bumps 2016 – Thursday

W1 – Rowed over
After a very strong row from W1 chasing Tit Hall on Tuesday which resulted in us rowing over, Tit Hall went on to bump Magdelene down meaning they were our next opponents for our 2nd race of Lent Bumps. Bumping Magdelene and, in turn, gaining our first bump of the week was certainly within our reach so we went in with confidence that we could do this.

We got off to a great start, narrowing Magdelene’s lead to a mere half a length within the first minute or so, reflecting our strong start. Roger and our fabulous bank party shouted enthusiastically from the bank, and we heard the sound of the horn, confirming our threat to Maggie. Alas, no, the same thing happened as in said race against Tit Hall. After our impressive start, the crew didn’t manage to progress any further, losing our ground on Magdelene, even with our best efforts. Despite constant encouragement from Ellen, who coined the wonderful chant: “DESTROY 1, DESTROY 2, DESTROY 3…” in an attempt to boost our progress again, Magdelene extended their lead.

Nevertheless, W1 gave a brilliant row, with every person putting in their all (to the point some of us wondered whether people were about to collapse). Safe distance was kept between us and Lucy Cavendish who had bumped Selwyn behind us painfully quickly, and we took it home at a good pace, with everyone suitably exhausted. Anyway, Magdelene had to go and row again (which we would have had to do had we bumped) and we went home and ate cake, so who is the real winner here?

Friday’s race is going to be intense, with Lucy Cavendish on our tails and another chance to bump Maggie and sail up into the top division. Bring it on. YEAH KINGS!

M2 – Bumped by Queens’
The third day of bumps began auspiciously for KCBC M2. During their start Hughes Hall crabbed, suggesting that revenge might be had by the boys of the second boat on the Dinosaurs of the hated Graduate college. So, the boys lined up between Queens and Hughes, fairly confident of at least rowing over. The start was fairly sharp too and gains were made around first post corner. Hughes were in sight. Alas, the lines came a little hashed, and before they knew it, the boys had Queens breathing down their neck into the gut. Yet there was a heroic effort to lift the boys to get through that bit of river, but alas, as we lifted so too did our enemies. Into plow reach the boys were failing, and a hair’s length from their position the previous, the boys were forced to concede to the faster crew.

M1 – Bumped by Christ’s
Thursday started of with an exceptionally good row down. We were surprised the day before by how fast behind us where and we knew that if we wanted to catch them, we would have to go off hard. We also knew that the Christ’s crew behind us had been chasing us for the past few years and were very determined to catch us.

Off the start, we hit the high forties, settled on 42 and raced to First post corner exactly how we planned to, holding Christ’s at bay. As soon as we hit the corners, we did not manage to maintain this top end speed, having focussed slightly too much on rowing as well as we could, instead of as hard. A strong lift out of Grassy saw us step away for a moment but then they countered with an equally strong push and closed the distance to a canvas. Coming into Ditton, Will took a very tight line, but Christ’s narrowly managed to clip our stern with their bow. Had they missed, we might have had a chance to hold them off on the reach, but alas. The row home was very strong.

Lent Bumps 2016 – Wednesday

M1 – Bumped by Robinson
The plan was split up in two parts. Firstly, we would have to get away from Robinson, whom we knew to be fast of the start. Secondly, coming out of Grassy, we had to lift onto a strong rhythm to then grind down Peterhouse.

The warm up was very promising; winding up to 46 for our practice start and some solid steady state set us up very confidently of the start. Once the cannon went, an airstroke or two led to a slightly rocky start but we settled in at a fast and sharp pace regardless. Robinson had gained half a length of the start but we held it together through the motorway bridge and kept them at bay whilst cruising along at 38. Coming down First Post Reach, they started to gain on us. A lift into First Post corner gave us a little bit of clear space again, but not much more than a canvas. Before we entered grassy, I had already shouted at Will that we needed to make a move. A combination of a strong lift out of Grassy and a very tight corner by Will gave us some hope, we stepped away for a moment. Alas, our push was countered by an even bigger push from Robinson and they started moving on us and by the time we made it to the Plough, the bump was inevitable and we conceded.

Frustrating as this day may have been, we were simply bested by a faster crew. Today’s row actually shows a lot of promise for the remainder of the week and we are not planning to stay in 10th.

W2 – Bumped Caius
There was great excitement and determination in the air as we set the boat in the water, one and only mission weighing down on the crews’ minds…to bump Caius.

While we had rowed over the previous day, spirits were high as this had been a very close over bump. We were confident that we could smash Caius W2 out of the water (for the sake of the pride of the cox more than anything), but we remained cautious as pride comes before a fall.

The paddle down to marshalling was the best outing this set crew had ever done, with the boat being balanced perfectly and all rowers tapping down together in absolute union. An outstanding practice racing start outside the plough proved to us that we had this race in the bag.

We marshalled with very minimal drama. In her excitement, the cox landed the boat against the bank with more speed than would have been ideal, subsequently taking out a bank party member with a blade. However, no damage was done to boat or person. As the nerves crept in, two of the crew members had a cheeky bladder release hidden from view. The Kings version of the Hakka (Racing Horses) was done on the bank as a intimidation display to the nervous looking Caius boat on the bank ahead of us.

The four minute canon set off some nerves, but these were merely channeled into adrenaline as we waited with trepidation for the race to start. We were pushed out by the wonderful Mike at the 25 second mark, and no taps were required to keep the boat straight. Blades were ready and waiting for the canon at 7 seconds. While the start was not the tidiest or smoothest start we had ever done as a crew, it was still fairly strong. We quickly gained speed and by ‘lengthen 5” the boat was set at a fairly comfortable/controlled/strong rate 34. By this time, we were already making up significant distance with the Caius boat ahead of us, so the cox called for a power 10. This really got the boat moving with every rower committed to making a bump. By the end of the power 10 it was clear that we were on a fast moving gain train, so a legs 10 was called. The boat speed was outstandingly fast, with everyone catching and finishing together. The cox realised that a bump was fast approaching (only about 1 minute into the race) so to the disbelieving stroke, called a bumps 10 for the final push. Whistles were sounding off every few strokes. By “bumps 6 call” Kings had bumped Caius meters before the motorway bridge.

Due to the excitement of the whole boat, clearing out of the way took a little focus. This is an area we, as a boat, need to work on. Save the celebration for the bank next time! The rest of the row back came with minimal drama, stopping off for some cheeky post-bump paparazzi, and to collect our greenery.

The game is on to bump Magdalene on Friday.

M2 – Bumped by Hughes Hall
The worst having already happened, King’s M2 found itself freed from the nerves of the day before and filled with a steely determination. There was a lot to be said about the state of the previous days racing but it all essentially boiled down to “don’t panic”. This didn’t make us feel much better.

The row down was strong. A massive improvement over all the practise starts and one race start we did the previous day. Of course the rate was still too high, the rowing wasn’t particularly pretty but the Vicky Wade was to a greater or lesser degree sat and the number of air strokes was minimised.

This time the cannon fire only caused mild panic in the crew. We pushed out smoothly and thanks to a responsive bow pair (Kaamil Shah [2] and Jaza Syed [Bow]) and alert cox (Charles Connor) we found ourselves aligned perfectly for the start of the race. When the cannon fired we pulled away much stronger than the previous day. Our technique was leaps and bounds better but we still lacked the raw power required to pull away fast. Subsequently we could see Hughes Hall make an immediate length gain on us, despite this we were still focused on grinding down the Jesus 3 boat that bumped us previously.

We settled well and shut down any gains from the Hughes Hall boat as we pulled out of Grassy Corner. Although not pretty to watch we pushed hard through the Gut. Our timing was strong as a boat and we held off from any catastrophic lapses in technique to make it into Grassy corner. By this point Jesus had stretched out a considerable lead and things got worse as Hughes Hall narrowed to half a length as we slowed for Grassy.

At Plough Reach panic set in as Hughes loomed. The boat made several hearty but uncoordinated attempts at lifting away but fatigue was coming on and the power couldn’t be found for more than a few strokes at a time. We found ourselves bumped and leisurely drifted into the start of Ditton corner. Although stinging from the loss our massive improvements meant mood was high. The row home was some of the most sat rowing King’s M2 had done up till that point and left us cautiously optimistic.

 

Lent Bumps 2016 Summary

Crew Wed Thu Fri Sat Overall Final Position
M1 -1 -1 -1 -1 -4 13th in Division 1
W1 0 0 -1 -1 -2 4th in Division 2
M2 -1 -1 -1 -1 -4 5th in Division 4
W2 0 +1 +1 0 +2 13th in Division 3

M1: [Bow] Kittiphat ‘Am’ Chanthong, [2] Hrutvik Kanabar, [3] Joe Gaffney, [4] Daro Nahksbande, [5] Adam Townson, [6] Neil Paul, [7] Chris Jones, [Stroke] Olivier Sluijters, [Cox] Will Miller, [Coach] Chris Smith, [Boat] Adrian Cadbury.

M2: [Bow] Henry Roberts, [2] Kaamil Shah, [3] Hamish Ungless, [4] Joshua du Plooy, [5] Jacob Toop-Rose, [6] Aleksei Opacic, [7] Lewis Couch, [Stroke] Fraser Alcock, [Cox] Charles Connor, [Coach] Chris Braithwaite, [Boat] Turing Machine.

W1: [Bow] Niamh Mulcahy, [2] Jessica Plumbridge, [3] Rachael Baker, [4] Danielle Jackson, [5] Ellie Archer, [6] Elizabeth Byrne, [7] Tabitha Biller, [Stroke] Antoanela Siminiuc, [Cox] Ellen Berry, [Coach] Roger Thorogood and , [Boat] Leo Sharpeston.

W2: [Bow] Molly Murton, [2] Izzie Williams, [3] Ruby Whipp, [4] Charlotte Payne, [5] Freya Reevell, [6] Rebekka Thur, [7] Jana Muschinski, [Stroke] Phoebe Thomson, [Cox] Sally Pearson, [Coach] , [Boat] Jolly Roger.

Lent Bumps 2016 – Tuesday

W1 – Rowed over 2nd in Division 2
The first race of lents saw W1 ready to fight for the bump. We had a strong start which saw us gain quickly on Trinity Hall in front, all in the boat surprised to hear how quickly Roger began to call that we were close. Although Selwyn’s start was strong, as warned, it wasn’t strong enough. Although close to a bump on the last corner before the reach we didn’t quite manage it. Trinity Hall, Kings and Selwyn powered down the reach. We managed to keep Selwyn at bay despite a few missed strokes and gave Tit Hall a run for their money until the end. We rowed over, all happy to have maintained our position and having earned ourselves a celebratory trip to the pub for half pints and chips.

W2 – Rowed over
After a series of horrendously early morning outings in which the meet time had been pushed further and further back with the inevitability of an out-of-control novice boat set to crash, Lent Bumps was finally upon us. This was it. Everything we’d put in had got us here; the sweat, the tears, the visors bought on Amazon. Seven of us in W2 had yet to experience Bumps, but our first race was certainly a good start to the week.

Despite a bit of a shaky start, with the lurid pink of Downing W2 initially lurking not far behind, we soon settled into a steady rhythm at a higher-than-expected rate 35. The high rate took a bit of a toll on everyone, not least the cox’s visor which made a determined leap for the water at one point. But with some particularly loud bellowing from the bank, we gained steadily on Tit Hall. Luckily for them they managed to evade the 8 slightly hysterical girls in purple by bumping Caius. After that it was a determined pelt down the river which saw us coming painfully close to overbumping. Notwithstanding a couple of near-crabs and some considerable splashing, we gained steadily on the boat that had started three places ahead of us. When the first three whistles blew, as a novice to Bumps, I thought our victory was assured. Alas, no. Rather than the much-desired “easy there” which I expected to follow, the whistles blew again. What followed were a torturous few seconds to the finish line in which we came within half a canvass of overbumping. In the end we crossed the finish line with Downing well behind us and the next boat only just ahead of us.

Although we didn’t manage to overtake another boat, this was a great start to Bumps. Not only did we avoid the death/ serious injury/ horrible crashes which we had been reassured were a regular feature of Bumps, but we came really close to overbumping. Hopefully with a bit more control we’ll be able to bump Cauis tomorrow.

M2 – Bumped by Jesus

Tuesday 23 February. Bumps, day one. Day broke to the feelings of the excitement, apprehension, and sheer nervousness of the King’s M2 crew.

Consisting solely of ex-novices, our crew knew nothing of the carnage that the Bumps race entails. In fact, it was only the day before that some of us actually learned that ‘bumping’ is no metaphor, but a savage physical brutalism which could send us off flying off our seats and into the murky water below if we fail to get our act together. Or even to our deaths: merely some 150 years ago, the unfortunate five of Trinity Hall’s men’s second boat was spiked by the bow of another, ending his life and the race with it. We all highly value our five in M2, Jacob Toop-Rose, and our discovery of this uncanny occurrence naturally instilled a great deal of fear into us. Fear which was very little alleviated by our coach, Chris Braithwaite, who provided us with some words of support to his usual tune of optimism and encouragement: ‘it’s fucking scary’.

And so, as the sun beamed its glorious rays down onto the Cam, we set off towards our starting point. Fast forward by a few crew photos of us pretending to look happy and not ridiculously nervous, and sounded the 4-minute canon – something which seemed to belong more to a Hunger Games Arena than than to rural Cambridgeshire. The next 3 minutes seemed to elapse in no time at all, and before we knew it Miller was pushing us out into the river.

The countdown started. ‘Fifteen!’ The current started spinning us towards the bank, so Miller called out to two to take a tap – yet before we knew it, we had started to drift down the river and towards the bank. Our cox, Charlie, lest he should suffer an icy and pain-ridden death in the Cam, was forced to let go of the chain. ‘Seven!’. By now our boat was quite sharply angled towards the bank and we had all been thrown into a state of confusion, unaware of the significance of Charlie’s chain dropping. ‘Go!’. There was no time to reorient ourselves mentally, and our boat, physically. Our standing start seemed at first to go reasonably well, and we reached the good rate of 43. Yet when trying to settle our rate our lengths seemed to get shorter and shorter (as our race footage subsequently showed during our post mortem examination, we were as a crew barely reaching ¾ slides). We could clearly see Jesus catching up, quickly too, gaining at least a foot or two with each stroke, and that the end was near. We nevertheless persisted, eager to make the most of our first bumps race and not fall victim to apathy easy defeat. The screams and yells coming from our boat were not riddled with profanities or sighs, but with support and encouragement for one another: ‘come on, King’s!’… ‘we can do it!’. Although our efforts were in vain, for within 200 metres Jesus M3 had bumped us (though, much to our delight, without any physical contact), our comradery and unity as a team never disappeared, even when faced with the gloomy predicament of failure. Although we lost the race, and failed to row over into the next division, we hardly failed in our team spirit and outlook on events. After the face, we truly felt like a united crew.

I could go on but, in the interest of realism, I intend to keep this short – much like our race.

Pembroke Regatta – King’s W2

Pembroke regatta was the first race as a crew for this Lent's W2. Having not yet raced any other W2 crews we were eager to learn how well 
we could perform against the Hughes Hall/Lucy Cavendish boat. Outings up until the race had been reasonably successful, though early 
morning traffic had often prevented us from getting up to race pace and sustaining it for more than a few minutes. During marshalling we 
were all reasonably unsure what to expect, but embraced the "Yeah, King's!" mind set and approached the start.

After a successful standing start, we wound up the rate, feeling the boat lifting out of the water.  After 15 strokes we had half a 
length on Hughes/Lucy and continued to pull away. After no time, we easily had a length on them. Seeing the competing crew drift off 
into the distance, we continued to put the power down, though letting the rate drop slightly as we knew we were destined to win by a 
long way. Perhaps we didn’t realise that the ‘long way’ would end up being 17 lengths!
Exhilarated, we crossed the finish line. What a first race!

In the next race we would be racing Newnham W2, who we knew from Queen’s Ergs would be far more difficult to beat. Again, we marshalled 
up to the starting point and came forward to row, alongside Newnham. On “GO” we all exploded back together, laying that power down in 
the draws, before winding up the rate and lengthening out the stroke, with great timing. After five lengthens we were neck and neck if 
not slightly ahead of Newnham, who had not raced earlier in the day and were therefore on fresh legs! Racing on meadow-side of the reach, 
Newnham had the advantage in the first section of the course, and began to edge away slightly with each stroke. With this, we increased 
the rate to the point where they had only a quarter of a length on us. However, by halfway, they had increased to half a length, and we 
were really feeling tired by now, though keeping clean and giving it everything.

As the gap came close to a length, we started to drop off, feeling as though we had already lost this race. Though, after some loud 
encouragement from our bank party, out rate increased and we started to gain back on Newnham. Approaching the bridge we did a power 10 
and heard shouts of ‘we’re gaining on them!’. Exhausted, we continued our pursuit, rowing well and maintaining only 2-3 feet of clear 
water between the two boats, but we could not catch them.
We learned that Newnham W2 came runners up in the whole regatta for the division, so despite losing, we were extremely pleased with our 
performance.

Fairbairn Cup 2015 – King’s Alumni M1

In the autumn in England, the leaves turn brown and fall to the earth, and
begin to rot away in the cold November rain. The alumni rower is very much
like one of these falling leaves, except that in a few small corners of the
leaf, there is a smattering of green that is stubbornly unwilling to let go,
like a belt that is stretched on its last hole following Christmas dinner.
Every year therefore it transpires that the leaf that is most the most
convinced of continuing greenness organises an alumni crew to row in
Fairbairns. This is a long and arduous process involving many different
forms of communication and cajoling, and meets generally with some level of
success, in that usually some replies are received. Occasionally one of the
people replying doesn’t immediately have a good enough excuse as to why they
can’t attend (going to Brazil only narrowly won out in one potential coxes
mind over seeing Matt Main in lycra again), and therefore puts a tentative
yes down while they go away to plot something just a little bit special this
time around. This year recruitment was hampered by the other, younger,
alumni boat snapping up a whole load of people who would normally have been
gullible enough to volunteer. Happily though, and perhaps somewhat
miraculously, enough people signed up for the boat in good time, and
everything was set.

Then, with about 24-48 hours to go people started to really engage with the
process. Suddenly, inspiration was found and the excuses started flowing. A
variety of illnesses, pregnant wives having to go into hospitals and so on
meant that all of a sudden the boat was missing 2 rowers and a cox. To add
to the problems, for some reason I now forget (we will just say it was the
incompetence of the current men’s captain, as it wouldn’t have happened in
my day), there was also a distinct lack of a boat to row in. As people had
actually taken time off work in order to come, failure to resolve these
problems was not an option, and so I set about ringing everyone I knew who
could potentially help out. Our main saviours in this case were Chesterton
RC who allowed us to borrow a boat, a rower and a cox. Still short a person
however, I needed to keep some level of continuity by finding a skinny
ginger person with a dubious level of banter to replace the withdrawn Matt
Tancock. Fortunately KCBC have been cultivating just such a person in Joe
Gaffney, who agreed, to everyone’s relief and gratitude to bring the average
age down by about 5 years and average training level to above zero.

As the day of the race dawned, we realised that some of the mishaps had been
distinctly to our advantage. Having borrowed a boat, we also acquired pretty
much sole use of the Queens’ boathouse mens changing facilities. Also, being
closer to the start meant that we wouldn’t have to tire ourselves unduly
with having to warm up. Not having King’s baldes was solved by making the
younger alumni crew bring them down to us (I actually have no idea why they
did this). On the downside, the borrowed boat was bowrigged meaning that
choosing a stroke posed some problems. Here, fortuitously a solution was
found by utilising the deep understanding that prolonged alumni friendship
and real world scheming can bring. So when inevitably Chris Smith turned up
late, he found everyone else sitting in the boat, with only the stroke seat
left for him to occupy.

After marshalling, which was mostly self-directed as this year there didn’t
actually seem to be anyone on the bank, it was race time. Keeping the rate
relatively steady, a good start was made and a race rhythm found. Going past
the boathouse, where everyone who hadn’t been in Cambridge for ages wanted
to see what was happening with the new building, passed without serious
incident and then coming round into the reach we could start to look at
where we were in terms of other crews in the race. Peterhouse behind were
not gaining too much initially, which was good, as I knew one of the people
in the boat quite well and didn’t want to get overtaken by them. FaT, ahead,
seemed to have managed to find some people who were less fit even than us
and therefore seemed to be slowly coming towards us (the closing speed of
two slow things is really rather slow). The reason for race plans it to
prevent a rush of blood to the head causing overall defeat, and while the
temptation was there to raise the rating to above 30 and chase FaT down, we
decided to stick to the original plan of making sure everyone got to the
finish in a state where we could actually row home again. However, we did
continue to gain (as did Peterhouse behind, but never really enough to
trouble us), and coming through the gut and onto first post reach there
seemed a very real chance that it would only take a mild screw up on their
part to allow us to overtake. Sadly their competence held, and they crossed
the line approximately a length ahead.

Post-race we met up with the other alumni crew and then rowed back to the
boathouse (which while marginally further to row than King’s, was closer to
the pub) in great style, having actually had a bit of practice. Finally we
all ended up in the pub, which after all was mostly why people had come in
the first place. At some point later the results came out, and we didn’t
seem to have done terribly, which was about what we had thought.

The crew, which owing to increasing senility I had to look at a picture to
remind me of, consisted of:

B. Mark Hancock
2. Chris Diamond
3. Jason McEwen
4. Simon Emmings
5. Chris Braithwaite
6. Matt Main
7. Joe Gaffney
S. Chris Smith
Cox. James Tidy