M1 – Re-row of Wednesday with Robinson chasing
Much to our annoyance, the Chief umpires had decided that Robinson had been close enough to us yesterday when the stoppage occurred to grant them another opportunity to race against us. Whilst we could have let this frustration get the better of us, we used it as motivation to push off a Robinson boat we had seen drop off us on the previous day.
Rowing down to the start we felt strong and relaxed – comfortably hitting rates in the high 40s off our practice starts, and moving really nicely together. We were being set off from top station, so knew that our race plan would be slightly different from the previous days given the proximity of the corners to the start.
Off the start we were absolutely flying and straight into 1st post corner, lifting out still on r41 into the gut where we started to settle into our rhythm. Alarmingly, Robinson had also got off to a flyer, and were starting to make inroads on the starting gap we had over them. This didn’t seem to phase us though as their optimistic whistles started sounding coming through the gut. We have always been strong down plough reach, but Robinson seemed to have a better cruising speed than us, moving ever closer until the plough when they were sitting about half a length down on us. This however served as inspiration to us as we stopped their advances, taking a beautifully tight line around ditton corner to maintain the gap between the crews coming out onto the long reach. The reach was very much a battle of attrition, as Robinson pushes were repelled time after time by lifts of our own – as we neared the railway bridge, they put in what looked to be a killer move, emptying the tanks to try to end the race there and then. No matter what they threw at us, we held strong, though just before the bridge they had closed to within about 3 feet of our stern in a last ditch attempt to make the bump happen, but from that point onwards they fell off us, as we pushed off the bridge and opened up the clear water gap towards the finish, finally crossing the line around ¾ of a length in front. We had produced one of the gutsiest and determined rows I have ever seen from a King’s crew and proved once and for all that we deserved our shot at bumping up later in the day.
M1 – Bumped Trinity Hall
After our epic re-row with Robinson M1, it was time to return to the boathouse, get warm and refocus for our second race of the day. With Van Halen blasting through the Mays Room, spirits were high as Will talked us through the race plan. We all knew that the struggle with Robinson had sapped a lot of strength from the boat; but in its place was left an effervescence of enthusiasm and hunger for the bump on Tit Hall. Rowing down to marshal, we passed by crews from the M2 division (who had witnessed the end of our re-row) and were greeted with warm wishes of good luck. We knew we had truly earned our start position: station 14. Damp from a heavy shower on the row-down, it was a relief when the sun burnt a hole in the clouds and thawed us. We faced Robinson behind us – what did they have left? Before we knew it, we were being pushed out by the experienced hand of Roger. The river was flat calm. CANNON. A solid start brought us right up onto maximum speed. First whistle. Then suddenly the boat lurched violently down to one side as we hit the standing wave under the motorway bridge. It took us some time to find our rhythm again, but seeing Robinson drop off spurred us on towards Tit Hall. Two whistles. Then we were into the corners. Crews that had bumped out ahead and cleared yelled encouragement. After a wide exit from Grassy, we settled onto a solid ‘Viking rhythm’ down Plough Reach and started to close the gap on Tit Hall. Will’s calls became more and more conclusive – “They’ve gone wide boys, we’ve got them”. Into Ditton we could hear them alongside … any second now. Then, we just passed them by on the inside – looking over in amazement, it became apparent that our opposition had parked on the meadow-side of Ditton corner. There was no real urge to celebrate; we were delighted, of course, but the afternoon’s racing had drained us. Instead, on the row-home came the warm glow of vindication. On this day, all nine members of M1 put their balls in the runners to firstly earn our starting position, and then continue King’s upward trajectory in Division 1.
W1 – Bumped by Murray Edwards
It was a determined W1 that set out to the start of the course on Wednesday. After a short hailstorm earlier that afternoon, the clouds had parted and the day was gloriously sunny. Having been bumped by LMBC the day before, we came with a determination to, in the memorable words of Roger, go “shit or bust.” We were hoping our quick and clean start would give us enough of an edge on LMBC to catch them early, before Murray Edwards was able to row us down over the long course. It was going to be a tough race either way, with rowing over not really being an option. We were going to go up quickly off the start, or down over the long course. At station 13 we had the best position on the river, setting us up nicely to gain on LMBC off the start, which we did quickly, bringing the gap down to a length before the motorway bridge. But, alas, disaster struck when seven caught a crab in the heavy wash by the bridge. Despite her best efforts to recover, and the brilliant effort of the crew and Phil to wind back up to a solid clip, the damage had been done. Murray Edwards was slowly but surely gaining on us up first post reach. Ahead of us was carnage, with bumps galore clogging up the river, leading to Phil’s reluctance to concede to a very clearly overlapping Murray Edwards as he attempted to steer us clear. But all was over by first post corner. Not the row we had hoped for, but not an entirely unexpected outcome. A fast and strong rolling start on the row home helped the crew settle back down, preparing for the next day.