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  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.