W2 Lent bumps: day 4

On Saturday, W2 arrived at the boathouse with nerves running high - today we were chasing blades. After three very quick bumps earlier in the week, today would certainly pose a greater challenge as we were chaing Jesus W3, who we knew would catch Medwards W2 ahead of them within about 3 minutes, and were the strongest crew we had been behind all week. After a rousing team talk from Matt, we went into the race ready to go for everything off the blocks, aiming to catch Jesus before they could bump. It began well, with our usual strong start and a delayed stride putting us in a good position closing them down. Medwards evidently had a weak start, as Jesus gained the first whistle, but ours didn't take much longer and there followed a cacophony of whistles that told us it was extremely close within the three-boat sandwich. With both gaps at 1/4 of a length, Catz were closing faster and we were going in for the kill. But as we rounded our first corner of the entire bumps campaign, disaster struck. We took it wider than planned to avoid Queens' on the inside, and managed to crash spectacularly into Eddy's, who had pulled up on the outside bank having been bumped (apologies to them for nearly decapitating half their crew). We quickly reset, now back to a length on Jesus. We continued to close them down but the damage was done as we couldn't quite catch them before Medwards took a bad line into grassy and the bump was gone.

Jesus were slow clearing the river and we had to hold it up to let them move out of the way, but this wouldn't stop us from going for plan B: the overbump on FaT W2. New race, go. Thanks to the repeated stopping and starting, we had about 8 lengths to make up if we wanted to catch them. Everyone knew what was needed and we dug deep with one aim for the remainder of the race: no regrets. Maintaining a high rate for the rest of the piece (about 36spm on the reach) every member of the crew pushed for the girl behind and the girl in front and we gradually wore away at the gap between us - 8 lengths, 7, 6, 5... by halfway down the reach, we had narrowed it to 4 lengths. We continued to press and by the end of the race had reduced the defecit to 2 or 3 lengths. But, despite an almighty effort, we could not catch them in time and and a heroic row over was to be our final result of bumps.

It was a fantastic effort by the whole crew and I couldn't have asked for more. We have produced some brilliant results from this bumps campaign and everyone should be incredibly proud of what we've achieved: as every man and his dog has said to us since, "good crews go up three, lucky crews go up four". Saturday's result has given us the motivation to aim higher and train harder, and there's no doubt W2 will come back fighting next term.

Day 4, Lent Bumps 2017: M2

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.

Day 3, Lent Bumps 2017: M1

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.

Day 3, Lent Bumps 2017: M2

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.

W2 Lent bumps: 3 from 3

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.

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