Saturday, 20 July 2013

Bumps, day 4: 0 / 0 / +1 / +1

W2, M2 row over. W1 and M1 bump up. We win the John Jenner trophy and M1 are now 9th on the river, our best result for years. Details to follow, but for the moment:



Um well last day and a real opponent, Xpress. They are normally a good crew but this year they were weakened by loss of their stroke, who didn't technically fit within bumps rules, and for whom they'd failed to apply for a dispensation. So far they were down 2, yesterday to Champs 1. I'd've preferred a shot at Champs, but James H was keen for Xpress due to some history from the Olde Dayes.

The pre-race talk was (again) about how they would be a proper challenge this time, and we'd get them on the reach if anywhere. And once again I believed it. Once again we were earlyish to Stourbridge, sat around chatting, nodded to St Neots who would be behind us and had pulled up next to us (wearing "Entries close Saturday 6pm" on their tops, since their regatta is next weekend), admired the fine weather and waited. W1 passed us with willow - well done them - which (coupled with W2 and M2 rowing over) meant we were well-placed for the JJ and would almost certainly win it if we bumped up. The row-up was as usual, with a rolling start under the Railway bridge and a standing start at the Plough. All well. Up, spin, wait.

The GPS trace shows that our start was OK without being outstanding; but we got our first whistle after 10-15 strokes (from memory. Having now re-watched Press's rigger-cam it sounds to me like we got it on their tenth stroke). That was encouraging but (just like yesterday) I didn't take it too seriously. But then the rest of the race did turn into an eerie repeat of yesterday, and we got them pretty well where we got St Neots, in the gut.

We close down to 2 whistles on FP reach, then 3, then continuous / overlap as we come around the corner and you see the tents on the meadow in the video. Then just as we pass "beached boat" the video abruptly cuts off - whether this is due to the tape running out, or is discretely drawing a veil over someone's crab, I don't know. But there's nothing in the video very obviously wrong with them; we were just faster. They have so-last-century wooden handle blades; we wouldn't be seen dead with such any more. By my count they take 15 secs for the first 10 stokes (that's 40), and the next 10, and the next; 16 for the next 10 (that's 38) and the next. So they weren't under rating us.

Elation; again. Its a wonderful feeling. We pulled over to those two boathouses with landings and, very cutely, some young children there enthusiastically tore willow off their trees for us; once they'd started it was hard to stop them.

This time we got to stop at the beer tree on the way back. And then the traditional row-home with cox in stroke's seat, and me in the cox's seat. We managed "cutting the cake" all the way up to the catch. And so home. Andy S supplied tinned Gin-n-tonic, then after that it all starts to blur. It certainly involved celebrations in the Waterman for the whole club as the John Jenner trophy was brought in triumphantly; there was drinking on the hard outside City and a modicum of naked rowing. For me it ended up with a walk home at 4:30 as the sky was lightening towards dawn.


The final night and we were already up two places. We had Nines 2 behind who we'd Bumped easily the night before and were chasing Champs 1, who were on for spoons and had been bumped by their second crew earlier in the week. So we felt quite relaxed. We got a good start and the boat was running well. There was no danger from behind and we started to gain ground. After a big cheer from our supporters in the Gut we were less than a length off them, a good corner round grassy by Bow and 3 and we'd Bumped. We were all ecstatic. Up 3! Fantastic result!



Row over: details to follow.


Chasing Cantabs V once again. Ali the W1 cox was subbing for Kate out with a shoulder injury. Tonight's strategy was for a more controlled start and to gradually build to grind them down. They went off strong and were on their tail but both crews were fairly evenly matched and by the finish at Ditton the gap was just less than station. Another gutsy row over. And up two places on the week.

A collection of great videos and pix

Well, the beginning of one.


* From Press's rigger-cam, friday


* Simon's, from the bank, first half of course only * The bump start about 2:50 * Alison Binney proudly presents...


* On the Reach, friday

Friday, 19 July 2013

Bumps, day 3: 0 / 0 / +1 / +1

Another gorgeous day with little wind.

M1: up (St Neots)

For all of you who wish to study our final-day opposition, the Champs-Press bumps is almost on this vid; and for those who want to see what St Neots were really like, they appear here too on the row back.

Thursday turned into our make-or-break day: having escaped Sharks on day 1, and got Nines 2 easily on day 2, we needed to get St Neots or face Sharks again on Friday; and whilst I wouldn't object to giving them another go, on the whole I'd say once was enough. We were one of the first boats to Stourbridge and waited around for W1 which was delayed by Something (always nice to see the old traditions maintained). We lolled around under cloudless blue skies joking about the marshalling. James H revealed that he had a cunning frustrate-the-Sharks plan: start badly, or not start at all, and let ourselves get bumped by Nines! Which would have given us an easy day on Friday bumping Nines back. Ingenious, and not something that would have occurred to me, but naturally we didn't seriously consider it, tempting as it was.

No, we rowed for glory instead. John pushed us out on 45 (with no stream and no wind that made perfect sense, and he'd done it on Tues and Weds too) and Emma counted us down (I really should slip in some thanks to those two for bank-partying us, so here it is) and we set off perfectly aligned. The race plan was that St Neots would be a good deal harder than Nines, and we couldn't really expect to get them before the Plough, or possibly on the Reach, but that we should go off hard and try to break them. Last year they were shockingly fast, but we knew that this year we had a faster start than them.

Although looking at the GPS trace I can see that our actual start wasn't desperately impressive - peak 1:27 - we've hit 1:20 on other days.

We got one whistle fairly soon - after perhaps 15 strokes. We (well, I) regarded this as ours by right and, as planned, we really paid little attention to it - just keep it hard. Vague shouting from the bank not long after the A14 bridge suggested we'd closed to 3/4 length, which was welcome but not very important - we knew we weren't going to close just yet. Then somewhere in the fog of going round FP things started changing as we closed in to 2 whistles, and then rapidly 3; this was unexpected but quite welcome (at that point I was going through my usual mental fight with myself, which this year took the form of: "yes this hurts, but its going to hurt a lot more if you let Sharks chase you down the Reach tomorrow, so lets not let that happen"). It got somewhat choppy but we kept it up (the trace shows that, as usual, we slowed a little round FP but then we picked it back up to 1:38 / 1:39 and held that) until the bump. Which came rather suddenly in the gut.

Actually there is some (poor quality but welcome) video that establishes the sequence: we're half a length down round FP, within at most 10 strokes that closes to overlap, and within a couple more strokes we bump / they acknowledge, about at the "change sides here" sign.

Hurray for us. Next stop: Champs? Or Press? We didn't know at that point. It turned out to be Press. Bring on Friday.

W1: up (Nines 2)

Tonight a different race. Nines 2 on their way down in front and the Champs Junior Girls chasing rather than being chased. We'd seen Nines 2 out training a lot but knew they's be feeling under pressure having been Bumped on the previous two nights and that they had some inexperienced rowers and they'd been Bumped fairly early the previous two nights. So we felt confident. We had a better start, Champs Girls did gain on us but we rowed calmly and started to gain ground on Nines, soon there were calls for a length, half a length, a final push and yes "Hold it up" we'd got them just coming into First Post. All very surreal after the previous two nights long hauls. Champs behind steered to avoid us only to go careering up the bank on the other side.


M2: row-over

To be filled in. But its lunchtime now.

W2: row-over

With two Bumps under their belt tension was rising. Tonight they had Cantabs 5 to chase but knowing they'd Bumped the crew we'd Bumped on the previous night at a similar place we knew it would be a longer row tonight. Taking full advantage of the bend at the start the crew went out fast hoping to catch them early but it wasn't to be. Coming out of Grassy the bank party were erging [I think you mean "egging"; though the idea of a bank party on wheelie-mounted ergs instead of bikes is quite appealling - ed.] them on knowing they only had until Ditton to the finish. A very gutsy row over. And another chance to catch them tomorrow.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bumps, day 2: +1 / 0 / +1 / +1

M1: up

A glorious bump up against Nines 2. Actually it wasn't really that glorious, more in the nature of Inevitable, Nines 2 having the misfortune of being a rather poor crew this year and we're pretty good.

After yesterday, today's race plan was obvious: us to get Nines 2 quite early, about where St Neots got them or perhaps a little earlier: before the end of First Post reach. But behind us, ah, the Sharks, who would surely know we had a slow crew ahead of us, and be out for blood, and therefore come up like a rocket.


The first part worked fine: we got a decent start, peak 1:20, and had only faded to 1:37 when we hit Nines. It got pretty choppy under the A14 bridge and closing in on them, but that doesn't seem to have affected our speed much. The second part didn't happen: City 3 didn't gain at all off the start, and indeed when we last saw them they were being hard pressed by Tabs 3 (who blew up not much later). What we hadn't thought of was that the Sharks knew we'd get Nines, and saw no reason to put themselves out pushing the start hard for no possible gain. Its nice that they were so confident of us.

Afterwards, to Queens for some club beer, tactfully leaving Nines (who were also boating from Peterhouse) to weep in peace.

There's a video of the M1 division on the reach which gives the lie to the Sharks' "Yours is the Reach and everything that’s in it (St Neots. Just not quite close enough for the overbump)" though perhaps they were allowing themselves poetic license.


W1: up

So the same sandwich as yesterday, Champs Juniors in front and Cantabs Juniors chasing, but with a little more knowledge. It wasn't going to be easy. We had a shaky start with a few recovered crabs caused by the weeds. Cantabs gained ground but we remained calm, we'd seen them off the night before and could do it again. Coming out of Grassy we started to gain on Champs in front, a length, half a length, at the Plough we had overlap, we could do it our cox said, there were whistles from the bank and cheers from the Plough. Just 5 more strokes we had a good line round Ditton but had to take a good corner, another 5 strokes and "Hold it up" we'd done it.

As can be seen by all the willow in the picture.

Small note: the picture is a re-uploaded version of this but with the colour balance "fixed", i.e. jiggered in Gimp.

The first half of W1 is nicely captured on video here; highlight is the COWS on City.

M2: row-over

M2 improved on their result of yesterday by rowing over. You can re-live the last few exciting seconds as they push to the line here. Ahead of them, Nine 4 have knocked Tabs 7 (Poachers) down, so they have a fair chance on Thursday.

Here they are coming round Grassy (about 2 mins in).

In their own words

This year, M2 are building a brand new, two storey "Bump House".


Plans drawn up, management team assembled... Architect -KW...Project manager -SE...Site forewoman-VG. Regs consultants..Wykeham Connolley & co. Crew hired..fired..head hunted..and retired. Start date 16th July 2013. Let work commence... Tuesday. In a great flurry of smoke and whistles, our old bungalow of fear and uncertainty was demolished by the great wrecking ball of 99's M4. Site(and sight) all clear. Wednesday, Sleeves rolled up, builders bum glistening, in the evening sun. We pushed, we heaved, we dug deep and laid those foundations good and strong. Thanks to our forewoman Vicky, for great leadership and direction throughout, staying very cool under pressure and ensuring we prevented a late collapse (oh...and for not eating all the pies).

Good job well done. Foundations laid.

W2: up

Today W2 had Champs to chase. After a slower start than yesterday they started to gain ground by the A14, but Champs were gaining on Cantabs in front. Cantabs caught a crab and slowed right down and it looked like Champs might get them first. This was the time for a Bumps 10 and yes they got them shortly after the A14. Well done W2. Up two!

Unfortunately W2 had the poor taste to bump out early again, but you get to see them in the distance towards the tail end of this video. Amy, Emmsie and Roy are in there too.

Other views

* Amy about City.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Bumps, day 1: +1 / -1 / 0 / 0

So much to say, so little time. I may expand this later. After all our preparations, the time has finally come to race (aside: vignette from oh so many years ago, when I was but a noob at Oxford, so long ago that the word "noob" didn't even exist: another coach, talking to his crew, on their last practice outing: "Pay careful attention to your rowing now, judge yourself, this is how it feels. During bumps, you'll judge yourselves just by how well you do; this is your last chance to know how good you really are").

So to spare the drama the result was: W2 up, M2 down, W1 and M1 row-over. But how much wild excitement is compressed into those few words!

M1: row over (but a good one, you understand)

chesterton-m1-day1 (photo credit:

Aren't we lovely? It felt good too. Other pix from Lorenzo for M1 are here, so you can intercompare. There's video from opposite the railings but that's only boats 1-6.

Brief race description: we'd expected the Sharks (City 3, behind us) to be fast but blow up after 500m. We'd expected St Neots to be OK, but not as good as last year. That latter turned out to be true: we got a whistle on them soon after the start. What we'd omitted to think of was how slow Nines 2 were; St Neots got them around the top of First Post Reach. Happily James (helped by John on the bank) saw them well in time to steer round with minimal loss of speed. That left us with plan B: row past FP and wait for the Sharks to blow up. Alas, they failed to comply, and after dropping back to maybe 2 lengths they began to gain ground around Grassy, to perhaps a length down at the top of the Reach. Still, its not far down the Reach (oh yeah) and they'd only closed to within 3-6 feet by the time we were safe and sound.

We were all very happy with the row: we felt we'd done well, and "defeated" (if we hadn't been faster than them over the whole course, we'd done well enough to avoid the bump) a powerful opponent (you can read what they say about themselves at they're hot).

W1: row over

Chasing Champs 3, being chased by Tabs 3. Within a length, I'm told.

1073166_4936937713915_725886973_o (photo credit:

They say: We were in a Junior Girls sandwich. Champs Girls in front Cantabs Girls behind. Our Time Race result was faster than Champs by 15 secs, but we weren't sure where over the course that would be. Junior girls often have a fast start but not the stamina for the whole course and we'd been told by Cantabs 6 that the G-oar-gous weren't only that but fast too.

So for the race, well as always it passed in a blur and we were totally focussed on Ali's voice. The row felt good, with good pushes. Comments from the crew "Chased them all the way, the crew behind gave up trying to catch us at the 2K point. I think my throat and lungs were possibly bleeding after that. Still coughing up shite now!!" Holy Guacamole that was a lung burstingly epic row over! We'll get them tomorrow night though ! And yes a Row Over - but a good one.

Video of the Reach.

M2: down

Down to Nines 4, alas. Still, better luck next time.


W2: up

Probably best seen from Robert's cox-cam - they bumped just after the A14 bridge.

They say: Radegund 2 in front and Nines IV chasing. The crews fear that the Nines IV had been training lots and looked tidy proved unfounded; they pulled away quickly and gained on the Radegund 2 crew bumping just after the A14 as can be seen by all the willow.

1008782_4937121358506_281583887_o (photo credit: