Day 1, Lent Bumps 2017: M2

M2 pushed off onto a windy, cold river Cam shaking with a mixture of cold and anticipation. With over half the crew new to bumps there was a lot of excitement and hope as we did our squat jumps by control. The remainder of the more experienced had stepped up from the M3 boat last Lents and were keen to exact revenge on Emma, who had kept them from their blades that campaign. After a typically stoic speech from Chris Eddy and some dirty jokes from Joe we were invigorated and put in some solid rowing to scare the other crews. We pushed onto Emma off the start, despite their fly-or-die move on Pembroke. Unfortunately they quickly caught up with Pembroke, who panicked and caught more crabs than you can find off Cromer pier. Hughes started to reel us in around first post, quickly coming within half a length. They had three whistles coming into the gut, an ambitiously large canvas that even Michelangelo would struggle to fill. But coming around grassy they dug deep and the game was up coming just up to the Plough. A valiant attempt: we’ll be coming back at them tomorrow.

Pembroke Regatta 2017 W2

On Saturday 18th March W2 competed in the second women's division of Pembroke Regatta.

We squared up against King's W2 in the first round (who Matt very kindly "backed us" against). Despite their start being at a higher rate than ours, we pulled away from the beginning of the race thanks to the power we'd developed in practice starts during the week's outings. We settled into a rhythm and continued to draw ahead throughout the race, comfortably finishing 2.5 lengths ahead.

The second round saw us up against Pembroke W2 who were a much more formiddable opposition, being 18 places ahead of us in the bumps starting order. Cheered on by W1, who were marshalling as we rowed past to the start, we prepared ourselves for a strong effort, eager to put the term's large number of high-rate ergs to good use. It was fairly close from the start, though we got our nose in front, and we continued to widen the gap as we settled into a steady pace. We once again had clear water between us by about half way through the race, and the final 500m were almost a victory parade past the cheering M1, as we continued to pull away to finish 2 lengths in front.

Now came the semi-final against Emma W2. 20 places ahead of us for bumps, we knew that they were a strong outfit and would be difficult to beat. Matt's arrival to bank party after his exploits with M1 (and some well-timed sweets provided by Kloe) gave us the motivation we needed as we lined up to start on the towpath side of the reach for the first time that day. It was neck and neck from the start and both crews were level for about the first half of the race. Not used to the pressure of a boat right alongside us, our stroke rate crept up and we got a bit messy with the catches, allowing them to pull ahead in the third minute. As we passed under the railway bridge, we had nothing to lose and regained our composure. Everyone dug deep and we gradually began to close the gap towards the end of the race, but were unable to do so before crossing the finish line a length behind.

Overall, it was a very successful day with signs of exciting things to come for this crew. Matt was "happy to admit you surprised me with your performance today" - it's always good to know you have your coach's unfailing backing. Thanks to Izzy Short and Laura Paterson for subbing, and to Joe Cooper for bank partying and fishing Laura's hoodie out the river. We now turn towards bumps, reenergised and excited for what will be the first bumps campaign most of this crew have experienced - watch this space...

W2 racing in the semi-final

Pembroke Regatta 2017

Better late than never... Last weekend M1 took on Emma in the first round of the Pembroke Regatta. It's been several weeks since Winter H2H, so we knew it wouldn't be a walkover despite beating them comfortably there. The row down was too close to call between us, with Sam helpfully pointing out that "they're looking quite tidy." We spun on Plough Reach (after being shouted at by a boat owner for coming within the one nautical mile exclusion zone surrounding his slightly fading paintwork) and drew in to marshall.

The start of the race was a bit of a shambles... Emma with a canvas lead despite not having taken a stroke and the "attention, GO" being called with Sid's hand still in the air and half of our crew not even vaguely near front stops. Even so, we were well practiced in surprise starts, having to execute one a few days before to escape a race-pace Catz W2 who hadn't seen us until it was undoubtedly too late to avoid a messageboards-worthy collision. Even so Emma had half a length by the end of the start sequence and held that down the reach.

Coming under the railway bridge, it was clear all the grim 16 x 2 minutes and 4 x 8 minutes that Sam had been setting us on the ergs were doing their job. We could hear Emma struggling and we capitalized on it, bringing the margin back to canvas. However, following a couple of blade clashes it turned out to be too little, too late and Emma took the race by a nose.

On the upside, Emma went on to the semi-finals, so we're looking forward to bringing some of that form to the bumps campaign starting this Wednesday, following some sparring with Emma this afternoon.

Winter H2H 2017

It's 2017! In hindsight we were about as well-prepared for today's race as Donald Trump is to be President. Stuart kindly switched sides and Wagstaff subbed back into the five seat to fill Jon's still-over-100kg shoes. The term so far started with a training camp in Cambridge, complete with ergs, small boats (apologies to Lawrence whose capsize was almost certainly my fault), circuits, weights, socials and of course, outings. This week achieved two things; getting Basile involved in a return trip to Kuda, and setting the crews for the term.

Following on from training camp, M1 have been again emphasizing the steady state to set a platform before we hit the high-rate work closer to bumps. Rolling into the first leg of H2H we therefore had not much idea of what to expect, and unsurprisingly span the wheels off the start, rowing about as gracefully as a herd of elephants marauding down the 2k course.  Bow-side's finishes were somewhere between the bottom of the shell and the river bed, and our much loved pause at the finish had somehow migrated to the front-stops region. Despite a shaky reach, we found some rhythm through the corners and finished off with a push to 34.

During the interval, a few decisions were made. Firstly we decided to rate-cap the next piece to try and find some efficiency, length and rhythm, and secondly we decided we were all a bit cold (somewhat unsurprisingly, given that our Friday outing was called off due to a frozen river). Doing our best to ignore the latter point, we lined up for the return leg. Despite holding a rate that was 2-3 pips lower that the downstream piece, we finished in a comparable time.

Overall we finished 9th out of the college boats, not breaking any records but definitely still in the pack. The next race is Pembroke Regatta in three weeks after a solid training block. Congratulations to W1 on a strong performance.

Fairbairn Cup 2016

As ever the BCD post-Fairbairns was somewhat more eventful than the racing earlier in the day. However, seeing as my memory of the former is rather hazy I'll stick to writing about the latter. Having decided that bumps (and Henley?) is our ultimate goal, we gave high rate work little attention before deciding we wanted a top 5 finish in Fairbairns. Nevertheless the first half of the race went about as well as we could have hoped, cutting through town like a hot Empacher through butter. This was mainly thanks to Sid's Grand-Turismo approach to the corners and our less-lazy-than-normal approach to the catches. However, by the time we reached The Plough (coincidentally where Basile thought the race ended), our rowing had deteriorated in the way that the rowing of eight people who have been breathing a bit too hard for a bit too long tends to do. In the end we finished 7th out of the Cambridge College crews, and rather satisfyingly beat the second Oxford Lightweight boat who we hosted that morning. The best result of the day was that we were all just a bit disappointed, there's certainly lots left in the tank. Bring on Lent term.

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