W1 Lent 2020 - Day 4

W1 Lent 2020

Three days into bumps and we were down three places and relegated to Division 2. Spirits were low and we needed something to boost morale – a second crew pasta night was called for. We arrived at the boathouse on Saturday feeling more optimistic with our full crew back and to find a wholesome card from Will (on behalf of Homerton W1) wishing us the best for a strong rowover. Little did he know…

Getting to the P&E proved an unexpected challenge, with the river level well above the bank, 40mph+ gusts and no functioning cox box. However this was no match for our crew. The backwards caps and crew plaits were back and better than ever with added Catz coloured ribbons. The wheels were finally on our blades and we had an (excessively) full bank party to support us. Things were looking up for Catz W1.

We learnt from our mistakes on Friday and this time around got a good start, immediately rewarded with one whistle on Homerton, although Kings’ also had one on us. Charlie managed to get a better line around Grassy than the surrounding boats bringing us up to two whistles and leaving Kings’ outside station. Homerton held us at two whistles all the way past the Plough and around Ditton. Watching Kings’ get caught at the top of the Reach removed any pressure from behind. But if anything this just spurred us on, as we rounded the corner and got hit by the wind on the Reach. Despite the Cam having waves akin to the Atlantic, we weren’t phased. We had experience rowing in the wind and besides, W1 is always unset anyway! Our split hit an impressive 3:30/500m but we managed to reel Homerton in to 3 whistles nonetheless. Charlie followed their line closely – a bit too closely as we followed them into the bank! Thanks to Anousa’s quick thinking it was only a glancing blow. This set us back to 2 whistles but we weren’t giving up. Some strong encouragement from Charlie got us back to overlap, before Homerton decided to give the bank another hug. This sealed the deal two thirds of the way down the Long Reach, giving us our revenge bump and first foliage of the week!

Full celebrations had to wait as we were now sandwich boat. Charlie was well prepared with many snacks while we re-marshalled under the Railway Bridge and sheltered from the wind in a blackberry bush. A run to the toilets yielded no reward as on our arrival it was announced we needed to get back into boats, resulting in a quick sprint back with full bladders.

The row back down to the lock for our second start made us realise how little we had left in reserve and gave us our new race plan: catch Girton ASAP with a place in Division 1 at stake! It was a heavy start getting sucked into the lock but we stayed strong and got one whistle soon after. We kept steadily gaining and when we reached 3 whistles Charlie called for us to empty the tank. Girton obviously had one final push in them, much to our dismay as we stayed on overlap for another painful 30 seconds, tanks empty and deep in the pain cave. However they couldn’t continue to hold us and we caught them by the headship start station, where we ourselves got bumped on the first two days.

Despite the wind the row back was joyous. Our bank party had adorned us with double shrubbery, a fact that did not go unnoticed by our M1 who let out a massive “YEAH CATZ” as they queued for their practice start. The crews of the W1 division showed great camaraderie, all cheering each other home.

This Lent bumps has been a rollercoaster for W1 – down three then up two on the last day, saving ourselves from spoons and proving we ARE a Div 1 crew.