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Lent Bumps 2013, M1 Day 4 (Saturday)

Rowed over behind Tit. Hall

A somewhat dramatic but ultimately underwhelming end to a successful week.

After bumping Robinson whilst they had overlap on Tit. Hall on Friday it's fair to say that we expected to hit Tit. Hall hard somewhere after Grassy. Tit. Hall had other ideas however and all credit must go to them for a gutsy (and fast) row in front of us.

In the end we didn't have the proffesionalism to finish the race when we should (and could) have done and a last gasp push off of the railway bridge came 5 strokes too late as we bumped moments after their stern crossed the finish line (hard enough to call that the junior umpire gave the bump - 30 seconds of unadulterated elation, ended abruptly by the senior umpire).

Although it was a frustrating final day for us, I had a great week, and nothing fuels ergs like narrowly missed blades...

Lent Bumps 2013 W1 Day 4

W1 came into the final day of bumps knowing that this was our last chance to bump Queens this year. After a rollercoaster of a week full of drama, re-rows, and soul destroying near bumps, we were going to give it everything we had.

We had the added pressure of a strong Kings crew behind us who we knew from sparring were of similar speed to us, and had bumped LMBC just before the railway bridge the day before. To complicate matters further, in front of was Queens was Clare who were on for spoons, but who promised us that they would do everthing in their power to hold off Queens long enough for us to get our bump.

Off the start it took us longer to get our first whistle on Queens than on previous days, but around grassy we soon made it two whistles. Around ditton Kings were getting perilously close to us, and even had overlap for a few strokes. We did not let this worry us and we made our move and pushed away from Kings. We got our three whistles on Queens at the top of the reach which spurred us on to gain overlap on the reach.

We FINALLY convincingly bumped Queens down the long reach not only with contact between our 2's blade and Queen's stern, but Helly actually grabbed the stern of their boat so the Queens cox was forced to reluctantly concede. We had worked so hard for this bump over three days and four races that it felt as if we had won blades! This bump moved W1 into the top 10 of Division 1 for the first time since 2010.

Credit to the Queens girls for some extremely close racing this week. They are a mentally strong crew who could easily have given up and conceded the bump on multiple occassions. Massive well done (and thanks!) also to Clare for holding off Queens long enough for us to get our bump, and avoiding spoons in the process.

I would like to say a massive thank you and well done to W1 for being such an amazing crew to train and race with. Thanks also to our fantastic subs some of whom stepped in at the very last minute, we definitely could not have done it without you. Finally, thanks to our coach, Georgie, whose ability to pick us up in the face of all the unexpected circumstances we had to deal with was crucial in spurring us on to get that bump.

Lent Bumps 2013, M2 Day 4

Rowed Over

It would be lying to say that blades weren't in the back of our minds as we arrived at the boathouse on the last day. In fact. it would probably be more accurate to say that they were at the front of our minds, thanks to Dr Scales parading around with the flag like a peacock with his tailfeathers. Nonetheless we knew that the task ahead of us was a tough one, and we knew that we had to give it our all, physically and mentally.

Building on Friday's strong performance, again focus was the key on the row down and we didn't let Selwyn M2 intimidate us as the tailgated us down - by Saturday we knew that although we weren't the most powerful crew in the division, we were probably the fittest.

Again, the start wasn't ideal and we went off at quite an angle. Maria and strokeside were quick to correct this, but it did mean that Trinity Hall M2 made ground on us from behind off the start. We soon pushed them off however, and they posed little threat throughout the race. Ahead of us, Selwyn M2 were aware that they'd have to go off hard in order to bump Clare M2 before we bumped them, and they did, meaning that we were unable to make any impression on the distance between us. Thanks to Hughes Hall bumping out on the inside of Grassy, we had to take a wide line on the corner. A heroic hand-brake turn from Maria was the only thing that kept us from making an early exit, escaping with just a clipped blade on the outside of the corner.

Clare M2's luck had been causing chaos in the division all week, and towards the end of Plough Reach it ran out. Selwyn got the bump, and this meant only one thing - the overbump on Peterhouse M2 was our only chance of winning the blades we so craved.

And so the chase was on. At the bottom of the reach Peterhouse must have had 3 or more lengths on us, so we set about doing what we do best - grinding them down. Power ten after power ten drew us closer and closer, and when the first whistle came for 1 length we began to realise that this might actually be possible. Once we passed the P and E we were tantalisingly close but of course we lost our bank party; we were on our own for the final push up to Chesterton.

As a last ditch effort Maria made our kill call - Kiss the Dragon - and Sam brought the rate up brilliantly, with I think every member of the crew surprising themselves as they called on their very last reserves of energy and followed. The excited call of "It's working!" from Maria spurred us on further and just as we were crossing the line the cox conceded -  we'd overbumped Peterhouse.

The crew was jubilant. We'd done it! Words couldn't describe the mixture of ecstasy and exhaustion that we were feeling. This must have lasted for a couple of minutes before a little voice from somewhere said "Erm, it wasn't a bump..."

Confusion reigned. The Peterhouse stroke claimed that they had crossed the line before the bump occured. The cox, who just minutes before had willingly conceded, suddenly wasn't sure. There wasn't an umpire in sight. More agonising minutes passed. Finally, Dr Scales appeared, his face dark and brooding, his peacock feathers nowhere to be seen. He confirmed the horrible thought that we were all desperate to deny: "It wasn't a bump". We were heartbroken.

Once we had pulled ourselves together we made the row home. Credit to Peterhouse, they had done what they needed to do and held us off as long as they had to. Still, part of what made the result so hard to bear was the lack of clarity: why hadn't there been a senior umpire on the finish line?

So unfortunately our fantastic week didn't end as we had hoped. Nevertheless, the crew should be very proud of their achievements this Lents - winning blades and going up 4 requires not just dedication and good rowing, but a good deal of luck too, and going up 3 is something to be very proud of, particularly when 8/9 of the crew had never set foot in a boat before October.

Big thank yous of course go to our coaches (Johnny, Adrian and Dr Scales), to our cox (Maria) and to the whole crew. It's been a great term - bring on Mays!

Lent Bumps 2013, M3 Day 4

Rowed Over.

On paper this was always a tough race. In front were a strong Clare crew, who we'd rowed over behind the previous day. Behind were Magdalene, so quite frankly there was never going to be anyone to push off from. In the end, the predictable happened - despite gaining unexpectedly on Clare, they bumped out somewhere through the corners. 

With me already planning my 'rowed over' race report, I was delighted to notice that the crew had decided, rather than playing for the rowover, had decided to go for the overbump, and boy did they go for it... Coming into Grassy still 6 lengths out, there was a lot to do, but M3 produced some of their best rowing and demonstrated real hunger to close the gap to 2 and a half lengths by bottom finish. 

Even though some hoped for more, up 2 is a superb result for an almost entirely novice crew, and something I hope they'll all take real pride in. 

Lent Bumps 2013 W2 Day 4

W2 had a tricky start to Lent bumps, but were determined to finish the week on a high and avoid those spoons. 

With Harriet off fencing Sarah Lucas, more at home in the stroke seat of W1, stepped in for her debut coxing in Bumps. Some rather enthusiastic tapping from bow pair meant that the boat started at an alarming angle, but Sarah skillfully got them back on track and pushing on to Queens. With very experienced Jemma stepping in to sub for stroke, for the first time since day 1 W2 really seemed to settle into their stride and kept up a lovely rhythm into first post corner.

The bank party got extremely excited to see the Queens boat up ahead stopped dead in the middle of the river due to being impeded by slow clearing crews. W2 almost got their first whistle of the week, but then Queens pulled away again disappeared off into the distance. W2, however, were more concerned with what was happening behind them. Murray Edwards had been steadliy gaining on them and by grassy were only half a boat's length behind. W2 were having none of this. They had clearly made a decision that they were NOT going to be bumped again and put the power down together to prevent Murray Edwards from getting any closer. They held Murray Edwards at about a canvas away from them all the way round ditton when, much to everyone's relief, Murray Edwards were bumped by Darwin. There was an audible sigh of relief from the crew as they rowed over the finish line for the first time this week to avoid getting spoons. I never thought I would ever be so happy to report a row over!

Although W2 have not had the most successful bumps campaign, they should be extremely proud to get that row over as they fought every stroke to keep that clear water behind them. They have also had a huge number of unexpected challenges to deal with including a vast number of subs (and even subs for subs) to the point where it was basically a scratch crew everyday, canonless starts, gigantic crabs, and being randomly placed quite high up the division surrounded by very fast crews.

Thanks to the crew for all your hard work, to all the subs who made the racing possible, and to Siggi, Chris Q, Chris E and Alistair for coaching and bank partying. Getting W2 through bumps has been a real team project and it is much appreciated. W2, you can be proud of what you have achieved and can now work towards getting those bumps in Mays!

Lent Bumps 2013, M1 Day 3 (Friday)

Bumped Robinson after Railway Bridge

Start order: 16 King's, 15 Magdelene , 14 Catz, 13 Robinson, 12 Trinity Hall

Today was a classic bump, with us making full use of the course to keep our spectators' hearts in their mouths (and ensure we actually made it into some photos today).

Today we weren't worried about being bumped - the major concern being whether Tit Hall could hold off Robinson long enough for us to rush to their aid. In reality they had no need of us, and ultimately pushed off Robinson (who'd earlier had three whistles). With the whole course available to us, and the hungry maw of Kings hoovering up Magdalene behind, the first 6 minutes of the race were terrifyingly relaxed. An optimistic (and entirely untrue)  call from the bank party (cheerfully ignored by everyone from 6 backwards) placed us 2 lengths back (later photographically proved to be closer to three) but there was no deviation from the plan, even by the railings.

With the bank party screaming in abject terror as we passed into the shadow of the railway bridge, the crew finally took matters into their own hands, and began to hammer down the power. In the end, the bump came shockingly quickly, spinning through station, 1 length, canvas and overlap in perhaps 30, beautiful strokes. Let's hope this years bumps ends much as last years did - with us crashing into Trinity hall. 

(Guest writer Chris Eddy) 

Lent Bumps 2013, M2 Day 3

Bumped Trinity Hall M2

As we arrived at the boathouse today, we were expecting a tough one. Chasing a fast Trinity Hall M2 who were themselves chasing a slow Clare M2, it looked to be a long race - a row over, or just maybe the Selwyn M2 overbump? Things didn't get off to the best of starts either with the news that our 4-man, Anthony was too ill to race (unconfirmed reports suggest the cause was overconsumption of pasta). Nonetheless Dan Stein willingly leapt to our rescue - many thanks to him.

Certain that the only way we could get what we wanted today was to give our everything physically and mentally, focus was the watchword on the row down and it must be said that the boat moved really well, giving us all confidence.

The start was tricky today. Being stationed directly under the motorway bridge we had to deal with a very loud cannon and very strong winds. Although we had another dropped bung, Maria did an excellent job getting us off the start and with the cannon still ringing in our ears we made good progress away from Magdalene behind us. We began to close on Trinity Hall, but of course they were also closing on Clare. Despite not being particularly fast, Clare have the ability to drive the crew in front of them a bit wild, and Selwyn inexplicably parked on the outside of First Post corner.

So, just like on day 2, we found ourselves chasing a crew with lots of space in front of them. As is becoming our speciality, we ground them down. By the Plough Reach we had a length between us, and on Ditton Corner we bumped them for the first time. Unfortunately Trinity Hall didn't see it that way, and kept going. Despite Dr Scales' best efforts to lightly cajole Trinity Hall's stroke man into giving up, he was having none of it. There was only one thing to do here - have another go. The dragon got its second bite of Trinity Hall's stern at the Railings, and this time there was no disputing it.

Today was another hard-won and well-deserved bump, proving that those ergs really have paid off. Bring on the final day and  don't mention the b word!

Lent Bumps 2013, W2 Day 3 (Friday)

Bumped by Queens W2

If we're being entirely honest, there's very little point in discussing the actual rowing for this race, since due to circumstances entirely beyond our control, the bump came almost indecently quickly. With that in mind I've gained extra words to moan about the shambolic start procedure, which I shall now do:

With the cannon delayed ("The cannon's got a flat tyre?!") the start took on a mildly farcical nature, as 18 banksmen with synchronsed watches began to chant loudly, before shouting bang in (not in any way perfect) unison. Ignoring the obvious problems with crews jumping the gun (by which I mean of course jumping the word 'bang') this also led to the entirely unforseen problem that Steve's calls to bow pair went unheard in the clamour of chanting bank parties. With bow pair not squared in, the boat wonky, a gallant effort from Catz was always doomed to failure.

Despite a slick recovery of the racing line by Harriet, and a gorgeous final push by the crew, two quick crabs decided the matter, and a neat looking Queens tidied up. Being chased by a downwards moving Murray Edwards now offers Catz's best chance of the week of salvaging some pride, and we look forward to seeing them do it.  

Lent Bumps 2013 W1 Day 2

Day 2 for W1 was full of unexpected drama. 

We were chasing a Queens crew we knew were slower than us, and being chased by LMBC. We quickly pushed on to Queens off the start and got our first whistle shortly after the motorway bridge. From looking at the video we had overlap three times in 5 mins! Coming around Grassy we were basically on top of Queens and about to finish off the bump. However, Newnham were impeded by Caius and caught a boat stopping crab. Queens, who had been lengths off Newnham, then rowed past them and assumed that they had bumped. 

We really had no idea what had happened and so raced onto the reach, but our rhythm had been disrupted, and Emma's leg injuy was causing her a lot of pain. The result was that we were bumped by LMBC on the reach. 

This was obviously unfair! Newnham were awarded a technical row over, LMBC kindly conceded the bump and also took a technicial row over. We agreed to a re-row with Queens before the W3 divison on Friday.

Bumps is never boring!

Lent Bumps 2013 W1 Day 3

The drama continued for W1 on day 3!

We set off for our re-row with Queens feeling pretty confident that we could get them and planned on doing it quickly. We set off strongly, but at no point did we really make a move on Queens. We got one whistle, but for some reason, maybe the lack of normal bumps adrenaline, we just did not take up the rate or the pressure. By the end of the reach Queens were a couple of lengths ahead and we rowed over yet again. This was gutting after being so close to getting them the day before. 

We went back to the boathouse, ate, talked, and tried to get warm, and set off for our normal race in divison 1. This time we were NOT going to let them get away from us again! We pushed off strongly from the start and lengthened the distance between us and LMBC significantly. We got our first whistle on Queens, and this time we really made a move! We were seeing red and the whole crew were putting it down together for the first time this week. At two whistles we took the rate up again, and at three whistles we took it up again even when none of us thought we could take it up any more. 

Around Ditton LMBC really came on to us strongly, and even had a bit of overlap. However, we then got continuous whistles on Queens and we steamed away from LMBC to put clear water between us again. We began to overlap with Queens to the point where both boats were basically side by side. Credit to them, the Queens girls are extremely mentally strong, and they yet again pushed away from us. Short of slamming into them there was little more we could have done. We rowed over for the second time in one day, and the fourth time in three days!

Tomorrow the grudge match with Queens continues. W1 should be extremely proud of how they rowed today. We raced 4k in total and learned from the morning's disappointment to make this afternoon an epic row.

Bring on tomorrow!