May Bumps 2016 – Thursday

M1 – Bumped by Emmanuel

Today we had a crucial race on our hands – our best chance at avoiding being bumped by quick crews coming up (Selwyn & Magdalene) later in the week. Emmanuel were behind – a crew who we felt evenly matched with. Peterhouse had caught us sleeping yesterday and we were determined not to let that happen again. It felt tense during the warm-up on the ergs – everyone had a different way of coping with the nerves; some listened to music, others laughed it off. We all knew how big this race was for us.

We had a solid row-down to the start. Down at the lock we all got out of the boat and Smith gave us one last motivational speech. Make Muhammad Ali proud. Row over today and earn that horizontal bit of line on the Bumps chart – that horizontal bit of line which we could look back on as the day King’s stood their ground …

Then came the cannon. Off the start we set up a solid platform on the draw strokes and quickly got up to speed, keeping Emmanuel on station most of the way up First Post Reach. Coming round First Post Corner, we failed to keep our top-end speed, letting the rate slip to 34. After Grassy, Emmanuel had closed to within ½ a length. Will called an attack coming past the Plough and we kicked hard to push them away. We had made it to Ditton, just a few more minutes of rowing and we’d have done it, we’d have stood our ground … Coming out of Ditton corner, Emmanuel were once again making inroads. Will called a second attack and we responded well for a few strokes, before letting the pressure overcome us as Emmanuel got within a canvas. Our rowing fell apart and we were bumped about a quarter-way up the Reach. No row-over today. No horizontal line on the Bumps chart.


W1 – Bumped by Magdalene

Setting out on Thursday we knew that our only options that day were to bump quickly or get bumped ourselves. Given that we had seen Magdalene easily catch St Catharine’s, bumping well before First Post Corner, it was clear that we would not be able to repeat our row over of the previous day. With this in mind we wound it up high off the start and lengthened out to a rate of 39 which allowed us to quickly gain a whistle on Peterhouse, already an improvement on the previous day when we had struggled to get within a length of them. As we hit rough water under the motorway bridge we found maintaining our high rate a real challenge and in spite of the optimistic whistling of our coach (we suspect intended principally as motivation!) Peterhouse started to pull away. We recovered our rhythm well to push away from the bridge but having lost our chance of bumping Peterhouse, Magdalene was closing down the gap between us. Keeping our focus and refusing to give in we were determined to hold on for as long as possible but Magdalene advanced steadily, gaining the bump just before we reached First Post corner. Despite this disappointing result both the crew and our coach were pleased with the row we had put in, and in particular the improvement we had made to our starts in the past week, surprising ourselves as much as the crews around us! We rowed home able to focus on our goal for the rest of the week – avoiding the position of sandwich boat!

M2 – Rowed Over

M2 had come into Bumps full of hope and expectation that the awful performance of Lent would be put to bed and the new, better looking, better rowing crew would be able to strike terror into the heart of the 4th Men’s division. Wednesday however, much like Gavrilo Princip’s fateful shot and Julius Caesar’s bloody betrayal, changed everything. Alas, the crew walked away from the Cam, dejected and beaten and looking at what might well have been a long struggle through this year’s set of Bumps.

Chasing a Clare boat that had ruined the party worse than a couple who insist on showing pictures of their baby to all who can see, or a chap who knows a lot about trains, M2 prayed for an overbump on a distinctly inferior Clare Hall boat two places ahead. A grittier start from the boys, with the aggression of a true second boat, gave the lads confidence as we passed first post corner, achieving some exceptional boat speed.

But the fates did not smile upon the King’s College that day, as Corpus achieved a bump on the division whipping boys of Clare Hall M1 in the gut. We were in it for the long haul, unless we could catch our old rivals in Clare M3.

Indeed, it seemed possible into Plough Reach as our beloved helmsman Charles Connor steered a sharp line round Grassy Corner. As we passed the pub, we looked to get within a length of the Clare boys and the hope and gritty determination that has defined this M2 looked to get us that extra speed.

Another corner at Ditton and Mr. Connor called for a lift from 2 man and 4 man and onto the Reach, M2 looked like a real crew going for the first bump of their lives. Yet the heat and the occasion caught up with our crew, and Clare slowly but surely pulled away, being 2 to 3 lengths ahead by the time we reached the railway bridge.

Our gutsiness on the start had given us miles and miles of room, and with threat from behind and a faltering chance in front, heads dropped, cries left our lips and past the P&E, we soldiered on to the finish line.

Yet I must remind the reader that the finish line was then a foreign country to the previous members of the Lents Spoonbarge. As the Chesterton Footbridge rose upon the horizon and embraced our bow, loud and rather rude cheering emanated from 4 man. A fine for a fine day of rowing, as the great Sir Steve Redgrave would have said, given the occasion. Thus the first row over for a men’s crew in 2016 was achieved thanks to the soul and good work of a great group of boys.


W2 – Bumped Christ’s

On day 2 of bumps, W2 felt confident as we left the boathouse. But a wonky practise start had the crew feeling nervous as we geared up for the race. We were mentally preparing for a long race, it would be a chance to prove the cox’s ability to take fantastic corners.
But after a strong start we were soon able to hear the first whistle. And before the first corner we had bumped.
We pulled aside smoothly and watched the exciting race behind us, guessing at who we might be chasing on day 3.