The morning of the first day of bumps set the tone for the rest of the campaign; snowy and blizzardy. Yet by the time our W2 rowers set off for the boathouse, the sun had come out, ready for the first races of the day. We met at the boat house for some pep talks, warm ups and snacks, before getting the boat out and onto the river. Our row down was full of excitement and anticipation; from our strong rowing throughout the term, we knew we had a realistic chance of bumping Queens III, but anything could happen – it’s bumps.
We marshalled at station with plenty of time to spare, passing around the traditional starbursts as we eyed-up our competition and watched the men’s half of the division race off. Heads in the boat and visualisations at the four-minute cannon, de-kits at two minutes to go, and ready and upright at one minute, with the lovely Tim Rhodes pushing us off.
Our start was strong, and we were inside station, gaining, and then our stride… Well, our stride didn’t happen. Stroke, Jos, was determined to catch Queens, and so we stayed at rate 38, and we maintained it, spurred on by some strong whistling and support from our bank party. The Race was over before we knew it, and we bumped just before first post corner!
We donned our greenery and went for a triumphant, excited row home.
The morning of the second day of bumps was the same as the first, except this time the sun never came out. We got to the boathouse, thirsty for another bump, and giddy that we were actually going to row in this extreme cold and snow. It was so cold, that for the first time in my rowing career since novice term, I actually wore gloves on the row down. And I learnt why we aren’t allowed to wear gloves; they make feathering awfully hard. We all tore them off for our bursts though, which were strong as ever, and made a steady row to our new station against the cold.
De-kitting in this weather was not the nicest of tasks, but we were tough, and we were ready. Having watched Medwards III row up, we knew we could take them. We got ready to push off, again by Time Rhodes, and the sun miraculously came out, just before the race. But our heads were too in the boat to be distracted by weather, and we started strong, long, and it wasn’t long at all before we bumped Medwards III; it was just before the motorway bridge! Looking up after the ‘hold it up’ calls, we could see our bank party scrambling up from the snow on floor of the tow-path to come cheer for us. Unfortunately, our first thoughts were not of jubilation, but of cold. I seemed to have been the only one splashed by water, and was a shivering wreck, and we all quickly re-kitted. We then pushed off and span, to go back down to the lock for the W3 division – we were now the sandwich boat!
The sun had decided to go while we waited for the next race, instead the sky opted for some heavy blizzards, but our bank parties of Katie Leach and Philipp Hirsch kept us warm with their extra layers and pep-talks. If de-kitting earlier was hard, this was the most reluctant de-kitting I’ve ever done in my life. We were by the lock, and fully prepared to row-over, but if we could bump, we were going to go for it. Philipp pushed us off, and we were away. All I remember is being so so cold, but somehow, we kept it strong, and before
we knew it, Philipour cox was calling ‘inside station!’, ‘gaining!’! Then there was one whistle, then two, then immediately came our kill call, then a call to hold it up – had we bumped Lucy Cav II? Alas, we had not, as Clare III conceded to them, just before we got the bump.
We got a technical row-over and pulled in afterward to get our greenery for the row back. Our bank parties shouting we’d bumped in their hearts, as apparently Clare conceded to Lucy Cav with a greater distance between them than there was between us and Lucy Cav. Never mind, we were ready to bump them next time.
This day of bumps was completely cancelled, to the joy of W2 – it meant the W4 division wasn’t on, and that we wouldn’t have to race just to row over, as this was a rest day for the W3 division anyway. However, the snow and ice on the tow path, and the cancellation of the day,cast doubt on whether the rest of bumps would go ahead.
We were ready to bump Clare, we were so excited….and then the first two divisions of the day were cancelled. M3 and W3 were not racing, and our dreams of genuine blades were scuppered.
This was our last day of bumps, our last day of racing, and we were determined to make it three for three. We had a guest cox of Matt Grady for the day, and we were excited to show him what W2 could do.
Despite what CamFM claims, we had a strong row over in the W4 division, though we did take some interestinglines, as one could hear exclamations from our bow Martina! The only other crew to row over were Queens III, who started two stations behind us, but finished over a minute after us. So contrary to CamFM’s claims that they might have bumped us, we did increase the distance!
However, CamFM were right when they said we looked tired on the row back up for W3. We were tired. The two days out of rowing, and the cold, and being forced to row over were taking their toll. We’d also had to wait ages at the railway bridge before we could spin to row backup. This meant we only pulled into station as the one-minute gun went off! Our bank parties, Chris Radoux and David Barley, kept us calm though, and Chris pushed us off without panic; he’d also just managed to source a whistle from Tim Rhodes!
Gun! We started the race as best we could, but it looked like we were just going to row over, despite our thirst for Clare…but then… ‘Inside station!’, ‘Gaining!’, we were going to do it! We were so ready, and we focused in. Only, then we brushed the bank, just after the motorway bridge, our bowside blades caught ever so slightly on the sides of the river. But we didn’t let that stop us! We kept our row on, and recovered faster than before, we were now gaining whistles on Clare! Then, just before first post corner; ‘hold it up!’. We’d bumped? No. Again, a technical row-over. Lucy Cav had bumped, but failed to clear properly, and so Clare had been forced to hold it up, which meant we’d also been forced to hold it up. The umpires, and the bank parties were not happy. However, the Clare boat was jubilant, and we had a nice chat with them as we were waiting to row home. They were lovely, and we couldn’t stay mad at them for their early concession before.
Our row-home was slightly disappointed, but also relieved; not bumping today meant that we didn’t need to be upset that we missed blades, though we knew that we nearly bumped both Lucy Cav and Clare. Despite the bank-brush, we’d nearly caught Clare, despite the cold we’d nearly caught Lucy Cav. Technical row-overs technical shmo-sovers. We were proud of our performance this bumps campaign.
Written by Alia Khalid – 3 seat