The final day and our chance for redemption: we had a chance to bump up to stay even for the campaign, made that much sweeter by bumping Emma and denying Robinson their blades. And the initial signs were good. A strange yellow glow greeted us, some have said this is called “sunshine” and it had a tremendous effect. Ryo was smiling, Jeff went half an hour without talking about his socks, Iacopo and Jo were so focused it set fire to control, Alex understood everything that was going on, Sam was aimlessly chatting away and even Adam looked like he wanted to be there. Invigorated by our newly topped up Vitamin D, we psyched ourselves up for a tough, and likely much shorter, row than yesterday. Today would be our day! Alas, Robinson got a good start off the line and while we closed to a length on Emma, Robinson were quickly reeling us in around first post. By the time grassy came, Binson took a nice tight line and down to a quarter of a length we had a lot of work to do. Come the exit and they had a canvas and it was only a matter of time. Congrats to them for winning their super-blades, going up 6 for the campaign. Huge thanks to Chris Eddy and Ivan for coaching this term, the crew put in a lot of hard work on the ergs and on the water and it’s a shame not to have more to show for it. We take some courage from the fact that the two crews that bumped us went up 4 and 6 respectively so definitely deserved their success.
Bumps can suck sometimes. Time-wise the crew this year could have bumped the crew that went up-two last year. Likewise when you row over for two days in a row, you'd hope a spooning crew would come down to you at least as quickly as a blading crew was coming up. As we all know, however, that isn't how this works.
We held Clare off the start, winding to 44 and striding to 38 which we held into first post. Here Clare put in a solid push, our response again seeing the rate rise into the 40s to escape the bump. However, many of this Clare boat were in the crew that went to Henley last year, after blading to fourth on the river in Mays. Unfortunately, the bump was fairly inevitable coming out of Grassy.
We could all give a dozen reasons why we weren't quite fast enough, we could have pushed earlier or had cleaner finishes, but in the end we just weren't strong enough. Not all of our goals this term have been based on immediate results, so with the power in the crew and the aerobic base we have the potential to cause some serious damage next term. For now though, it sucks to be bumped and we've got to accept the shortfalls of this training cycle.
Come day 3 and the top of Div 3 was looking surprisingly similar to day 1. Greeted at the P&E by the now all-too-familiar faces of Hughes, Emma, Magdalene and Maggie we prepared ourselves for a tough start against the fly-or-die tactics that Magdalene had used to dispatch Maggie with such ruthless efficiency the day before. Chasing our perennial scourge of Hughes, we were hoping they could gift us a chance to chase Emma on day 4. So we were settling in for what we hoped would be a solid row over. And unlike yesterday the oracle that is Chris Eddy was right on the money - we pushed hard off the start to keep Magdalene at bay, coming inside half a length in the gut before we ground them down round Grassy and into Plough Reach, stretching out to a length. We broke them coming round Ditton, pushing them back past station. Our target then was Christs II at the head of division, but the overbump wasn’t looking likely there. Unfortunately for Magdalene the overbump was manifesting itself behind us - they went backwards into the now-on-for-superblades Robinson crew. Very proud of what was certainly our best row all term. The goal for tomorrow is to smash Emma, staying level for the campaign, and deny Robinson their blades. Bring it on.
After a rest day on Thursday (following the well-taken opportunity on Wednesday evening for some mid-bumps celebrations of our success so far) W2 took back to the water on Friday ready to tighten the screw on the Lent bumps campaign. Today's target would be Darwin W2, who had been bumped the previous two days so we knew we could catch them. After two very speedy bumps earlier in the week, we knew that we needed to work on implementing the stride more effectively, as there was a risk of failing to develop the sustainable pace that might be needed later in the week (in case - shock horror - we might have to row for more than two minutes). However we were perhaps a bit too calm on the row to the start, as Matt was unimpressed by our "pedestrian" practice starts which needed "a bit more zip". Despite my negligent failure to provide sweets today, we were very relaxed as we awaited the one-minute cannon; a sign of the rapidly increasing amount of bumps experience within the crew. Bank partied by two of our trusty LBCs, Liv and Izzy, and boyfriend/flatmate/glory-hunter James, we put on our game faces and pushed off.
With suitable zip in the start, we already had one whistle coming out of the railway bridge, followed swiftly by a second and then a third. But Darwin were not to be taken down so easily and put on a spurt, keeping us at three whistles for about 30 seconds. We had a second stride and continued to grind them down. We once again upped the pressure and, despite physical contact that could be heard and felt by all in the boat, put in another few stokes before their cox eventually conceded.
So another quick bump to make it 3 from 3; all eyes turn to tomorrow, which is set to be our most challenging day yet as we chase a strong-looking Jesus W3, who are themselves chasing a Medwards W2 crew on track for spoons. It certainly won't be easy but there's everything to play for.
From the start we tried to gain,
and we pushed through the pain.
The doublé was the goal
and Queens' dignity we stole.
Making Catz great again.
With the rain stopping just before our division it turned out to be a lovely day for we wee row. Today we were chasing Queens W1, who we had beaten at sparring last week. As before we were being chased by HHLC, so we were in the ideal situation with a crew had a chance at in front and pressure from behind to keep us hot on our toes. As expected HHLC gained on the start while we kept station with Queens. The whistles from behind didn’t phase us and we used them to gain whistles on Queens. The whistles progressively increased but Queens kept putting down the pressure and didn’t make it easy for us. After about 2 minutes HHLC faded and we started to pull away just as on day 1. Lucy WHO? Round grassy corner Queens took a dodge line and a final kill call saw us make contact, going from three whistles to a bump in a short space of time. While we committed to the entire race, rating higher than our usual rhythm (still silky), we owe a lot of this bump to the slick lines taken by Alex, taking advantage of Queens at grassy. We had to work hard for this bump and Queens put up a strong fight, but we really gritted down and for that we were rewarded. Tomorrow we face our second battle against Caius, and it certainly won’t be an easy race. Whatever the outcome we will likely be racing the majority of the course so we need to face the final day with focus and determination. Tune in tomorrow for the final day of our lent campaign to make Catz great again.
“Deny them of thy blade on day 1 then deny them of thy bump on day 3.” —Catz W1 (2017)