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.