Another day has past on the river Cam, and Sidney is proving impressively consistent across boats. W2, true to their habits, put the bump in the bag as fast as they could. These girls apparently don’t like endurance racing – it’s beneath them. M1, on the other hand, like the routine of rowing the full course. Whistles, as our Captain of Boats can attest, are really not an essential part of our glorious sport.
W1 are of a similar breed: the longer the fight, the greater the glory. (The Editor’s Favourite always comes last in these reports – have you noticed? This one is a Pulitzer contender.)
Two up on the third day of racing: SSBC goes from strength to strength.
After a much-deserved and needed day of rest on Thursday, W2 were back at it on Friday, looking for a fourth bump of the week. A bit of a lineup switch saw W3 super-sub Bea step into the 4 seat, and the girls (and Louis) were ready. Since Homerton W2 and Clare W3 spent the first days bumping each other, we were preparing for a much longer row than the previous ones. The pre-race huddle stressed focus above all else, and we got into the (already wet) boat to marshal for our division.
Mother Nature gave us a sneak peek at typical Lent Bumps weather on our first day, but generally we had managed to stay pretty dry and warm. Not today. The rain poured and poured and poured, so much so that the man operating the cannon didn’t show up!! Luckily, we were already quite used to listening to the sound of Emma’s voice screaming, “GUN!”, so our start didn’t suffer at all.
We bolted out of the gate and soon had our first whistle on Clare. But as we continued, we began to hear them gaining on Homerton!! Two whistles for us, two whistles for them… Three whistles for us, three whistles for them… Would we catch them in time before they bumped Homerton? Would we have to go for the over-bump on Newnham? Obviously, not a single one of these thoughts was running through our heads. It was just LEGS SQUEEZE LEGS FINISH LEGS GO. Suddenly we had a continuous whistle on Clare, but a crab slowed us to rowing with only 6 rowers! We continued with big legs and strong finishes, and just as we went under the motorway bridge their cox conceded!! Another bump for W2!! And our quickest one yet!!
Tomorrow W2 chases Homerton W2 …
Big thank you to Bea for joining us today!
— Céleste Pagniello, W2 bow
M1’s 3rd day of Bumps was an unusual one in that there was very little pressure going into it. Chasing us were Eddies who we knew were very unlikely to get close, and ahead of us were Hughes who were on for Super Blades. Therefore – although we were ready for anything – one could sense we were preparing for a row-over.
If I have one job as stroke during the start sequence, it’s to lead my blade clean and sharp in and out of the water for the rest to follow. However, I obviously forgot this key element to my role. My second stroke never existed as I flew straight to backstops, having taken a good swipe at some air.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like I add much power down anyway, as our start sequence was unaffected – and fast. This led into a good rhythm which we maintained for the whole course, other than a little bit around Grassy when our photo was being taken.
No whistles for the whole race, but M1 are excited for tomorrow as we have a good chance of a bump – touch wood.
— Charlie Spicer, Captain of Boats and M1 stroke
In short – we had a spectacular third day of Lent Bumps in which we demonstrated above all mental stamina.
After a dirty but efficient bump yesterday, we set out with new strength and ready for a long and strong row. Catching Peterhouse before they finished off King’s seemed doable, but it would require us to find our form of Newnham Head, where we showed some of our finest rowing this season.
Despite getting soaked on the row up to the Lock, we could sense the odds were good, feeling the strength in our warm up and suspension only real women can come up with. Having moved up the chart, we were happy to start from station 5, and were positioned in a perfect angle, thanks to a perfect push off by our Boatman Tim Rhodes and Coach Emma.
After some initial advancement on Peterhouse thanks to our strong start, we focused hard on keeping our minds on the long run and not rush into any pointless moves at the time [It should be mentioned at this point however, that “keeping it long” and “striding down” was somehow erased from our race plan, going strong at rate 39 throughout the first third of the race. Adding to this, we went for a premature move off First Post, based on wrongly interpreting our bank-party Tim Schmalz’s shout “moving”, to let us know we were inside station on Peterhouse, as an instruction to make a move – let’s just say, it was good practice of what was yet to come in the second half of the race].
We knew we had the power to go all the way. Thanks to perfect lines by Joe, we came out of the corners having shortened our distance to Peterhouse a little more. Unfortunately, they had no intention of giving up their pursuit of King’s. This fairly equal distribution of power led to a head-to-head race of all three boats over the entire course of 2km. Advancing once more on Peterhouse coming out of Ditton, we quickly abandoned pair pushes and went for our first official move, which gained us our first whistle. If only we had known how many more moves there were to come.
Halfway up the Reach, closing the gap further, we lost some focus over the excitement of hearing two whistles. After the second strong attempt at pair pushes got us in reach of Peterhouse once more, Joe had us refocus by calling for another move. We sent the boat flying, but again Peterhouse flew a bit further away from us. At that point they had gained three whistles and overlapped on King’s, who valiantly continued to hold them off.
At the Railway Bridge, we felt our last reserves leaving us but would not surrender and lose out on this bump we had worked so hard for. Calling for uncountable moves, each one stronger than the last, we never even bothered to stride down anymore. Feeling the finish line on our backs and hearing the deafening cheers of the marshalled M2 division, there were no thoughts in our heads other than “we deserve this and won’t have it taken away from us”. Hearing Joe’s demanding and decisive shouts of “let’s finish them off, finish them off, NOW” gave us the last push we needed. After seemingly endless 10 seconds of overlapping with Peterhouse, the umpire at the bank finally conceded the bump right at the Bottom Finish at Morley’s Holt. Thanks to Peterhouse and King’s – what a race by all of us!
— Marie von Bethmann, W1 bow
Tomorrow is when it all ends. Tomorrow you summon the whatever powers are still with you – and come home victorious.
Hasta la victoria siempre!
Tor Svenungsson, SSBC Editorial Office