Report: First day of Lent Bumps 2020

Yesterday, on Tuesday 25 February, Marked the beginning of Lent Bumps 2020. Sidney competed with three crews: W1, M1 and W2. M2 participated in the Getting On Race, but despite a strong row which they could all be proud of, they failed to qualify for Bumps.


The first day of Bumps delivered maximum Bumps experience for all three crews. Both first boats made the most of the day by rowing over in impressive style, braving over-bump attempts after crews in front of them bumped out at an early stage in the race. W1 were only two boat lengths away from the crew ahead when they crossed the finish line, and M1 had also inched in on their remote target. Frustrating though it was, the first day showed the potential of both crews looking ahead to the remaining three days of racing.

The true heroism was performed by W2. Starting as second boat in their division, they became head of division by quickly bumping Magdalene W2. As sandwich boat they were now fighting for a place at the bottom of div. 3. In the second race of the day they were persecuting Anglia Ruskin W1, and they were lethal. Two bumps on one day, and they were off to a flying start.

Oh, and a comment on the meteorological conditions: welcome to Lent Bumps.
Now for some comments from the rowers:

At the main gate of Sidney Sussex College is where we record the results the old-fashioned way


Sidney W1 went into Day 1 with the awareness that, despite Rowbridge predictions that we would ‘cut through Division 2 like a knife through butter’, there was little chance we would get the bump on Peterhouse, who were themselves chasing a terribly slow Lucy Cavendish. We had therefore trained for a long race and an attempt at the overbump on Homerton. What we hadn’t expected was the weather: after a super-focused row down to marshalling, we found ourselves suddenly under a freezing downpour, which escalated into a hailstorm. Thankfully the skies had cleared by the time we reached station six, just upstream of the Motorway Bridge.

Our Boatman Tim Rhodes pushed us off with his usual skill, minimising the impact of the Outflow on our start. As expected, Peterhouse caught Lucy right away, on First Post Corner, but neither crew cleared the way: while our coaches and the umpires were shouting at the two crews to move, our cox Joe stayed cool as a cucumber. ‘You’re going to have to watch your blades,’ he said, ‘… on both sides actually’. According to CamFM, we then ‘somehow steered a route through them, weaved, slalomed through the chaos’, and as Joe called for ‘bow and three, pressure NOW’, we spun on a dime – successfully taking the corner at the last minute, instead of slamming into the garden of that nice man who lives on the opposite bank of First Post (shout-out to W1 from Lents 2017).

Then the race for the over-bump started, with a tight Grassy and an even tighter Ditton. Heather’s blade, at 2, clipped a shrub on the bank and did a 360° roll instead of a regular feathering – she didn’t miss a single stroke. Our Reach was brilliant: we kept up our rate 35 and flew through the pair pushes, reducing the distance from the initial 6.5 lengths to 3. After the Railway Bridge, under the cheers of the marshalled M2 division (and our own M1 bois), we gave an extra push and closed to 2 lengths off Homerton. Although we didn’t manage to get them before the finish line at the Green Dragon, spirits were high as we rowed home – this had been our most controlled and fastest row all term, even better than Newnham Head, and the excitement was already building for Day 2, when we will start as ‘firm favourites’ behind Lucy Cavendish.

— Camille Lardy, W1 stroke


At the sound of the cannon we started racing. There were other boats around us, there were whistles, and there was shouting. This was my first bumps race and it was all a blur to me. No amount of explanations can prepare you for this madness.

Personally I had no clue what was going on but luckily the others told me about what had just happened. Pairs of slow boats in front of faster bots had been positioned around us. Thus, before the first post both pairs had bumped, giving us plenty of space on the river for ourselves. We then raced on chasing down Corpus but the distance was just a bit too large to close before the finish line. After this strong row-over we look forward to what the next races will have to offer.

— Jonas Isensee, M1 4-seat


W2, a crew of very recent ex-novices, rocked up to Lent Bumps nervous and not knowing what exactly to expect (apart from snacking on some trusty Starbursts). After a warm-up set to Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’, we had a decent row up to the W4 division and began the agonising wait for the canon. Our coaches and bank party Cam, Abi, Emma and Anna did a great job of keeping us calm and focused while we were marshalling, for which we were all very grateful. Once the four minute canon had gone, time flew by: before we knew it, we were being pushed out by Cam and then we were doing our race start.

W2 started second in W4 division, just behind Magdalene and being chased by Downing W3 – a position we weren’t too keen on, and didn’t want to be in for long. With a particularly strong start of three draws and five builds, W2 set off fast and gained a whistle on the Magdalene crew in the first 100m. A combination of first time nerves and excitement meant we settled a little less well than planned, but perhaps to our advantage! Upon reaching Grassy Corner, we were almost at overlap, but a pesky crab was in our midst. Luckily, it was a crab in stern four on stroke side and thus swung us round the corner rather nicely: W2 have always been proponents of innovative, technical rowing.

Before we knew it we had regained a second whistle; we began to make our first (and indeed, only) move on Magdalene. With bow and three well rested from their lack of front loading on Grassy, we refocused, got back in time, and began to put the power down to try to finish Magdalene. Coming out of Grassy with lots of whistles and then an extended whistle, we saw a crew on the bank…could it be?! Magdalene had crashed out on the corner! We wound it down, pulled in, had a celebrate about our first bump with some greenery and Starbursts. The first race was very much a quick blur, a blur that lasted approximately 450m.

After saying goodbye and good luck to W1’s Cam and Abi who were racing later that afternoon, and a big hello to Tim Rhodes, we began our row to the lock decked out in greenery. Once there, we mentally prepared for a long row, and W2 settled into the race mindset once again. Being at a station further back, we had a completely new perspective on the race, and this time we weren’t being chased. Once again, we were pushed out, and with a very competent tap from two (if I may say so myself), we were set up. Again, W2 started strong but this time we settled into our stroke much better. After some great, controlled rowing with a focus on a strong finish, we heard ARU had a whistle on the crew they were chasing – Queens W3. But very soon after, we had our first whistle on ARU, and with a call from Louis for an extra five percent on the legs, we managed to keep up with their push. This turned the first whistle into two – and we made our move. Louis’s call for three draws lifted the boat and shot us forwards towards ARU, securing W2 their second bump of the day.

W2 rowed home gloriously happy with a second lot of greenery despite the heavy sleet and had a particularly fun time rowing past W1 who were looking very professional. Meanwhile, W2 did their best to hype them up with lots of shouting and cheering, eventually to arrive back at the boat house in greenery to M1 who gave us the biggest of congratulations – thanks boys! Day 1 of Lent Bumps went exceedingly well, and we celebrated by refuelling and tuning into CamFM to listen to the other Sidney boats’ fighting in their divisions.

W2 are indebted to our spectacular bank party for the races yesterday and their shouts and encouragement to keep out spirits high and of course, telling us to push with the legs! Tomorrow we chase Queens W3, but for now…carb loading! [Editor’s remark: the race report from this race, which took place today (26/2), will be published along race reports from the second day of racing for the first boats, which occurs tomorrow.]

— Georgina Gledhill, W2 2-seat

This is it for today. Congratulations to all three crews on a strong start of Lent Bumps ’20. Best of luck for the coming days! — Yeah Sidney!

Yours truly,
Tor Svenungsson, SSBC Editorial Office

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