May Bumps 2015 – Wednesday

M2 – Rowed over head of Division 4, Rowed over as Division 3 sandwich boat
At the start of Mays, King’s M2 is back in its favourite position: sandwich boat. Having not gotten enough of the 7 races in Lents, we were determined to knock out at least another 5 in Mays. In our first race as head of the M4 division, the pressure was on as Clare III were hot on our heels. Consistent power in the first half of the race allowed us to stay comfortably ahead until Clare were bumped out by Fitz II. The rest of the course was plain sailing (or should that be rowing?), with just enough motivation from the distant Darwin boat to keep us focused until the very end. We span and headed back to marshal for the greater challenge of the day: chasing Jesus III at the bottom of the M3 division. A strong start looked promising, as we gained on Jesus up to a boat length away. However, exhaustion from the earlier race was beginning to show; we kept the pressure on Jesus and were never more than 2 lengths away until the bitter end, but ultimately could not bump them. We shall be returning for round 2 on Thursday.

W1 – Rowed over third in Division 2
After a month of injury-illness-exam mayhem, W1 rowed down to marshaling in a never-seen-before line-up (including a last minute change to our stroke) with very little idea of what to expect from our row. We knew Jesus II would likely gain quickly on Tit Hall at the head of the Division, and Darwin would be fast on our tails, eager to repeat their Blade performance of Lents. Some solid practice starts on the way down gave us a bit of confidence, and our faithful bank party – Roger, Stan, and our injured-stroke Liz – gave some final words of encouragement as the canons went, and then we were away! A solid start gained us a bit of distance on Jesus II, though around First Post Corner we saw them pulled over already, having caught Tit Hall in not much more than a minute. With no one left in the Division to chase, we knew we had a long slog ahead of us, with Darwin looking strong behind us. We rounded Grassy, and then Ditton corner rowing more or less on station, helped by the expert lines of our indubitable cox. A very unusual tailwind up the Long Reach, and the steady rhythm set by the first Blue King’s has seen in awhile (Fanny) now rowing at stroke, helped us keep Darwin at bay. And so we rowed, under the Railway Bridge, past the P&E, and on to the top finish. A gutsy row from a boat of waifs and strays ended with King’s fourth row-over of the day (with 2 more to come). Special thanks to super-sub Saki for enduring her second row-over of the day, and our insuperable-to-all-illnesses captain Nicoletta for jumping into the boat at short notice. Once back to our regular (if that exists?) line-up on Thursday, Tit Hall should be very afraid!

M1 – Rowed over tenth in Division 1
The crew arrived at the Porta-Cabin with a sense of determination. Having rowed-over behind Clare every day in last year’s Mays, we were intent on moving up. The crew was a mix of experience and young talent — some of the crew had not raced Bumps before, but we had all put the effort in during training to create a fast, capable crew. Warm-up and marshalling proceeded as usual, although the boat was tense, inevitable on the first day of Mays. The race started with a bang; our start was unsteady, less controlled than during training. The crew knew that we had to put our best rowing in to catch the fast Clare boat. Unfortunately, we never managed to find the rhythm and pace that was needed to move up on the crew ahead. Christ’s M1 behind us kept pace well, but were not fast enough to trouble us — we were focussed on the target in front. Clare were slowed by some of the unpredictable turmoil of Bumps racing, and we were able to pull close, but by the time we moved onto the Reach, our speed dropped and we didn’t have the edge that would have allowed us to close and make the connection. As a crew we couldn’t find the unison to allow us to improve our form, and Clare kept putting distance between us. We finished the course downhearted, without attacking Clare much throughout the race. Although we couldn’t secure a bump, the day’s race has given the crew renewed ambition, valuable experience, and more reason to finally move out of 10th place.

M3 – Rowed over fifth in Division 5
Bumps had arrived. Uncertain of our future and wondering quite how we’d managed to get there, we had a gentle but sensible row down to the P&E. We then proceeded onto the Reach and then had a decent practice start past the Plough. We span and got ready: with the first gun tensions were high but we were ready. Pushing off with only around 15 seconds to go, we had a hurried start but got on our way. We kept up with Queens’ for the first two corners but they gradually pulled away to get an over bump; behind us, boats quickly bumped out, leaving us with plenty of clear water. By the middle of the Reach, we had no other boats in sight: this was a surprise, we didn’t expect to make it so far. Energy was waning but we kept going. Winding down slightly as we went under the railway bridge, to the cheers of waiting M4 division, we persevered down to the finish line (the location of which was somewhat uncertain) before relaxing and realising that we had, against all odds and expectations, rowed over.

W2 – Rowed over ninth in Division 4
W2 entered into day 1 of bumps off of the back a solid GoR race. The draw saw us chasing Christs III and being chased by Jesus IV. We knew we were fast and that when we kept it controlled we rowed well, the challenge was keeping it that way under the pressure of bumps. Despite a rushy start we kept pace with Christs who bumped Queens quickly before the motorway bridge. We were left with the overbump on Darwin II. A challenge, but not impossible. We gained on Darwin, narrowing the gap and settling into our rhythm. Queens’ however, decided this was a good time to cross sides. Spanning the width of the river, we clashed blades and came to a stop. For what felt like minutes we sat watching Jesus approach. Sharp and quick, Rebecca got the crew’s heads back in the boat. We pulled off again and pushed Jesus away. Darwin by this time had bumped Clare and we were left to row home. A slightly disappointing first day, but bolstered with the encouragement of the ever increasing distance we made between ourselves and Jesus and the promise of catching our new nemeses Queens’.