May Bumps 2019, Day 4: A last effort

May Bumps was coming to an end. On Saturday, 15th June, SSBC gave it all in a last effort before the beginning of celebration. It was another day of less than exhilarating results: one bump (W2), one bump down (M1), and two row-overs (W1 and M2). The bump was a great revenge for W2, who thereby managed to reclaim the position they had lost on day two. The row-over was obviously a disappointment in one regard for M2, who were denied blades, but also an opportunity for them to row a full race, proving that they can endure past the first 500 metres of lethal starts that they had been pulling off day after day leading up to this last day of racing. For W1, a fourth row-over meant that the girls had really made the most of bumps, in an unforgivably literal way. M1 succumbed to an Emmanuel crew looking for blades, ending a tough campaign with a frustrating second bump down.

W1: Emptying out

Heading into the last day of racing, another row-over seemed to be an impossible result. With Wolfson, who were on for spoons, in front of us and Downing II, who we had a close call with on day 3, behind us, we assumed that our race would be cut short one way or another. We pushed off for the last day full of aches from the previous three days of row-overs, but hungry for the bump (and excited for the prospect of a shorter race!). 

Fairly quickly off the start it became evident that we weren’t going to have any problems from Downing II as we watched Selwyn, our chasers from the first two days, rapidly gain on them and bump out, leaving us only with the more preferable options of bumping or rowing over. Through the course we were spurred on by many supporters – students, alumni, our families and fellow SSBC members – yet this was not quite enough to counteract the fatigue from the long campaign, and despite a strong final push getting us our second whistle on Wolfson on the reach, we did not manage to bump them before the finish. 

This has been an incredibly tough campaign, but the W1 team spirit and encouragement from our coach Tim Newton and bank party Florence Alexander have helped us to hold off our pursuers and not give up all week. Special mentions go to our leaving members: Emma, our stroke who has persevered through the term despite a rib injury in Lents and been an amazing source of rowing knowledge and encouragement; Rosie, our 7-seat who has challenged us all with her YWT abilities (but not with her ability to make it to spoons…); and Megan, our 3-seat who will be missed for her incredible dancing and the positivity she brings to the boat. It’s been a great term for W1 – can’t wait to keep growing stronger as a crew in the future!

— Abi Bartlett, 6-seat and Women’s Captain

M1: Unsuccessfully fleeing a blades crew

On the last day of May Bumps, M1 was again chasing their fellow boathouse occupants, Corpus M1. However, due to a quick bump on Downing M2 on Day 3, Emmanuel M2 had now come to occupy station 13 behind us. Even though we knew Emmanuel would be giving it their all, chasing the eternal honours of achieving blades, our clean rowover on Day 3 had given us confidence for the final day.

The coaching staff decided on a slightly altered race plan, incorporating a long burning phase right off the start. Executing this strategy, M1 flew off the start, quickly gaining a whistle on Corpus. However, having rowed over two days in a row, and Emmanuel still in the possession of eight pairs of legs filled with energy, M1 saw the blue and pink blades approaching steadily. In first post corner, Emma’s single whistle quickly became three, then overlap, and then a bump. Disillusioned and impressed at the same time, we congratulated the boys that had concluded their +4 campaign with this strong race, while we ended our own with an unsatisfying -2, albeit with two rowovers in which at least we had proven our perseverance and ability. Next year, Sidney M1 will be back.

— Joris Witstok, 6-seat

W2: Reclaiming their position

The final day of Bumps had come, and after a very near bump the day before, W2 entered with a sense of hope that we may be able to end May Bumps ’19 on a high. Unfortunately, the severity of Joscelyn’s injury meant that she wasn’t able to participate on the water but was alongside as part of the bank party providing much needed moral support. Luckily, Anna Kelsall was there to take her place as stroke.

After some strong slap catches and starts on the row down we were ready to begin. After a strong start we caught up to Maggie W3, gaining one whistle by grassy corner and two by the plough. On Tinglin’s instruction, and using the cheers from supporters on the bank, we increased our power and by Ditton’s corner had caught up to Maggie, with our boat canvassing theirs.

At this point, a crab by Maggie resulted in them holding it up and a bump confirmed for Sidney! It was a fantastic way to end a difficult few days, with last minute illnesses and poor weather. However we left happy, with Sidney’s W2 spot being maintained from the previous year.

—Lauren Gómez Cullen, 7-seat

M2: Going for a trip beyond first post corner

Three days in, and three bumps won; as we congregated at the boathouse the “B-word” had, for many of us, been floating around the back of our heads. However, remembering the adage that: “a good crew goes up three, but it takes a lucky crew to get blades”, we settled into a calm focused mindset. Whatever the result, we needed to put in another clean and powerful row to be proud of.

Rowing up past marshalling we saw W2 in full greenery but kept our heads in the boat and used their encouragement to put in two solid practice starts. Then we rowed up to station 9, now almost right under the motorway bridge, heard the four- and one-minute cannons, and then, for the last time executed our tried and tested start sequence.

We knew from the start that today would not be as easy as the other days. Although shouts of “gaining!” could be heard from the bank for much of the early part of the course we never gained more than one whistle. With Darwin disappearing behind us, we kept our heads clear and took our first trip beyond first post corner as a chance to bring Joe and Pav’s race plan into the light of day. Unfazed by hitting blades with a corpus boat, we kept King’s in our sights along the whole course. Coming past the P&E we were called to bring up the rate and power, and despite our exhaustion, we put in a strong finish, to both the race and the term. Although unable to get the bump, we finished May Bumps with the best result by an M2 for a number of years – knowing we had shown the full extent of our crew’s ability.

— Simon Timmins, bowman

It has been a challenging Bumps campaign for SSBC: three bumps down and a total of nine (9!) row-overs. However, with four bumps, SSBC comes out of this challenge with a +1 result across all four participating crews. Even if the first boats suffered a -2 loss in this bumps campaign (in both cases a loss for M1), this year’s Bumps manifests a strong performance from the second boats. For a small club like SSBC, strong second boats are vital, and their performance and success is very welcome.

Regardless of the outcome, crew members of every crew turned up to BCD with a smile on their face and an intention to bring on some serious celebration. A lovely BCD, a hugely successful Garden Party and serious fun at Downing Tribal made for an amazing and well-deserved ending to the term and the academic year.

Tor Svenungsson, M1 5-seat and in-house chronicler

Leave a Reply