May Bumps 2019, Day 2: Never-ending challenges

Day 2 resulted in similar outcomes as the first day of racing, with the difference that W2 were the one’s to pick the shortest straw, whereas M1 pulled a joker out the sleeve. All crews faced the inevitable challenges of Bumps, and all came home wiser. W1 came home brave but undecorated; M2 brought greenery for the second day in a row. Rosie, Charlie, Tinglin and Max bring you the details of what went down:

W1: A heroic attempt

After a strong row-over the day before and a chance to size up our competition, we went into day two with a tactical plan to bump Murray Edwards: to catch them early by going hard and fast at the start, building as many times as feasible before reaching First Post and chomping away the distance with each build. If we hadn’t caught them by First Post we weren’t throwing in the towel, but planned to stick to our characteristic powerful rowing, in case an opportunity turned up. 

Described as a ‘heroic’ row by our coach, Tim, and bank party, Florence, we executed our plan to perfection – although sadly without the results we were hoping for. Our start was solid, an improvement on the day before, and we quickly gained our first whistle before the motorway bridge. Once past the outflow we put our plan into action: Phyllis our cox called for us to BUILD and after accelerating hard we advanced some more on Murray Edwards. With numerous further builds, we gained ¾ of a length and almost a second whistle on our way to First Post, with Selwyn nowhere to be seen behind us. Despite our effort, we sadly didn’t catch Murray Edwards before First Post, but we were not yet defeated nor were our tanks empty!

When it comes to Bumps you never know what may happen around the corner, and ironically, as bow and three front-loaded and pushed us around First Post corner, we were greeted by a surprise gust of powerful wind on entering The Gut. Despite the hazardous wind that seemed to attack in unpredictable flurries, we continued to power through the course, although ultimately Murray Edwards were better able to handle the tricky conditions. Near the bottom of the reach our coaches called for us to preserve energy for tomorrow, and so we relaxed a little (with Selwyn now bumped-out from behind us) and rowed sustainably to the finish. 

All in all, a well-executed row despite the lack of results. We’re excited for another strong row tomorrow and to show our new chasers, Downing, the wrath of Sidney W1. 

— Rosie Musgrave, 7-seat

M1: The great escape

The mood at the boat house was positive, the heads focussed and the goal clear. Having been thoroughly whipped by an impressive Pembroke II on the first day, we wanted to prove that we were worth our position on the Cam. Little did we know we would be pushed to our absolute limit by a Downing II crew who effectively had 3 whistles on us from Grassy to the finish line. 

The cannon went off and we flew out the blocks, but things were not perfect. The wind buffeted us strongly, the water under the bridge was unusually choppy and the outflow disrupted our rhythm. Downing had a whistle on us already. Damn. We must keep pushing, trusting the rhythm.Our heads were in and we stayed focussed. Nevertheless, by the time we reached grassy they were up to 3 whistles. Coach Schmalz signalled to our cox Joe. “MOVE”. This is the easiest part of the race to lose it all. A couple of weak strokes and a quick death seem an easy alternative to having to row the course under this kind of pressure. Your body is screaming at you to stop and your heart rate is turned up to breaking point. 

If there’s one thing that rowing with this Sidney M1 crew has taught me over the years, it’s that we are incapable of throwing in the towel. From bow, I look forward to all my crewmates giving it absolutely everything in full knowledge that we are doing it for each other, and no one will relent. 

We pushed away from them but could not escape. Their higher rate drew us back in. Onto the reach they achieved overlap, so close that Gunther could have touched their bow, and their blades nearly hit Joe. Contact seemed inevitable.

It was at this point that Joe took a quick look down to his left and saw their bow directly beside him. He looked back at Gunther and in the most calming, clear, confident voice ever produced by a cox under such nerve–wracking conditions he stated: “Alright boys, it’s time to make another move”.  

Joe was the hero of this race. His calm calls ensured we didn’t panic; we just produced each consecutive move like it was another day in the office. In total we made about 12 moves between Grassy corner and the finish line, each as dedicated as the last. By the railway bridge we had increased our spacing to half a length and accelerated towards the finish. We crossed the line with enormous relief, celebrating as if we had bumped, and aching like never before. 

We thank Downing for an incredible race and look forward to seeing them on the Cam again tomorrow.

— Charlie Spicer, Bowman

W2: Taking it to Grassy – but no further

After an exciting albeit short technical row over yesterday, W2 was again chasing Fitz W2 and now being chased by Lady Margaret W3. We did not let the stronger crew behind distract us nor did we let the rain dampen our spirits. We warmed up with our usual back stop slide build ending with beautifully synchronised slap catches up to the P&E. The race nerves were more settled today and we had a strong row down to our station with two solid practise starts on the way.

As the four-minute cannon went off, the rainy clouds had lifted somewhat but we started to feel a head wind blowing against us and the smoke of the cannon was blown towards us exciting our race nerves again. The one-minute cannon went off and our bank party got ready to push us out. And on the go cannon; we were off. The boats in front sent muddled water down our way, causing a slightly wobbly start, but we braved the currents stroke by stroke. After our series of draws, winds and power 10, we got to a high rate of 44, we strode down to our rate 32 as the boat settled into a calmer, more balanced pace.

We managed to keep our distance from Maggie W3 for the start sequence. But Maggie started gaining on us with a higher rate and more aggressive pace as we rowed towards the first post corner. Stroke side pushed hard to get us around the first post corner and Hannah at 2-seat and Alice at 4-seat fought to swing the boat round to give us a good racing line, but Maggie closed in further and we were finally caught as we were getting into grassy corner. It was another short race today but we are all committed to keeping up our sharp, powerful rowing and putting pressure on Maggie W3 tomorrow.

— Tinglin Huang, coxswain

M2: As long as you’re faster…

As a complete novice to rowing and utterly unqualified to give you a technical analysis of M2s exploits today, I am pleased to say that despite a scrappy race M2 managed to bump again and are slowly edging closer to those elusive blades. Having had a nice smooth row down to the reach and, after a lightning fast start yesterday, we were quietly confident of being able to keep up with Anglia Ruskin I in front of us. 

After a long wait and eager to start, the gun sounded and we sped off. 5 clean powerful strokes to the calls of DRAW and WIND, and the first whistle came in from the bank party. No one had quite expected this to happen quite so quickly and we panicked slightly and lost our rhythm. With clear calls for a stride and the crew not responding, but still gaining, we scrappily closed in on the boat ahead of us. After an even shorter race than yesterday cries of HOLD IT UP were heard, just over a minute into the race. A scrappy race but with the desired outcome. We headed back, content that we had managed to achieve our task for today, but still wanting to prove ourselves as clean technical rowers.

Heading into tomorrow’s race we face a Darwin II boat that has manged to row over both days and so we are very aware of the large task ahead of us and know that we must achieve a cleaner race if we are to bump again.

— Maximilian Groeller, 2-seat

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