Race reports from bumps day 2 (with W1 out for the first time!):
W1: row over (0)
W2: row over (+1)
M1: rest (-1)
M2: bumped (-4)
M3: bumped (-2)
W1 – Anastasia Karamzina (Women’s Captain), 7-seat
Having supported other Churchill crews from the bank yesterday, W1 were eager to jump into action today and show everyone that we won’t be giving up the number 7 position achieved by the blading 2020 crew. With the rowing guru Kathryn joining us for the day, spirits were high as we gathered at the boat house and prepared our boat for some bumps action. When we pushed off, all jokes were left on the bank, replaced by a look of deep concentration which, together with the pink war paint, sparked fear in the hearts of our rivals. After some really strong and controlled rowing (and an encounter with a very cute doggo dressed in a coat), we arrived at our station under the motorway bridge, ready to launch our attack on Pembroke and push off Clare behind us.
BOOM! said the canon and off we went, fuelled by Hei Li’s confident calls – the start sequence went according to plan (even if only 7 rowers took the first stroke) and it was time to get away from Clare, since our pink shiny stern was the only thing that could save them from downfall into the claws of Caius. In a final attempt to escape, Clare started gaining on us, with their bank party giving them two (slightly optimistic) whistles as we approached First Post corner. Unphased, we continued to row long and clean as Hei Li’s sharp racing line around the corner together with some chunky rowing in 2 and 4 kept our stern safe from Clare’s despair. Using our fierce ‘destroy’ call, we rocketed into the gut and pushed away just in time for Caius to catch them. Up until then we remained slightly outside of station from Pembroke but after their imminent bump on LMBC we were left in solitude for the rest of the course, continuing to row sharp all the way to Green Dragon.
All in all, we successfully held on to our top 7 position on the river and gained some great insights into the crews around us. Special thanks go to our sub Kathryn, to our coaches David and Andy, to our bank party Chris and to Roly (the master of boats and the metal pole) for their input and support today. It was also amazing to see the whole of bow 5 rowing their very first bumps race so confidently – generations change but the future continues to look bright for Churchill women. Tomorrow we will be chasing LMBC and escaping Caius, and while it won’t be an easy race, we will most certainly give it our everything!
W2 – George Crimes, cox
W2’s flying start to bumps racing continued with a hard-fought row over, now placing us in third position in the W4 division. Coming into the day, we stood against fierce opposition: chasing a strong Caius WIII side and chased by a possible Lucy Cav revenge strike, emerging from the ashes of their defeat yesterday and chilled by the rain and a noticeable drop in temperature.
Once the swans sniffing around our boat and the excitement of a shiny new cox box (thank you Kieran!) had cleared, we set off for our usual row down to our station, now a few boat lengths further up and with the added challenge of facing into the bend of the river. Focus calls from Kathryn and Tom to open up and lengthen our strokes reminded us that it wouldn’t be an easy day’s rowing.
Our now signature YMCA arm warm up and blasting of the M4 cannons quickly brought the start of the race around. Getting off to a quick start we gained slightly on Caius ahead and soon blasted away the threat of Lucy Cav behind. We chased Caius through the corners, narrowing the gap to one whistle as we came out of grassy, but a high rate and lack of stride left us tense and tiring as the race progressed, shown scarily by Camille’s grimacing face as she came in for each stroke. We pushed on hard to the end, not letting the gap open up and sending a message that they will not get away easy.
At the halfway mark of our bumps racing, we can stay proud, ready to go again tomorrow – looking to push further into Caius and hold away an as-yet undefeated Peterhouse WII.
M2 – Benjamin Schwabe
There was a subdued atmosphere as M2 gathered this afternoon in the gentle drizzle. Our huge row and over-bump yesterday was weighing heavily in our minds as we looked forward to our second day of bumps today. Having said that we had all learnt what the chaos of bumps felt like, and there was a sense of confidence that at least that we had little to lose. We’d also replaced the very very long retired Sam Turner with the slightly more recently retired Connor Danes as our extra man in bow seat. Having moved three places down the division, we would now be chasing Clare Hall M1 and rowing as hard as humanly possible away from LMB M3.
Five minutes before push-off disaster struck! Our otherwise epic cox (huge shoutout to Vincent) hadn’t noticed the slowly fraying wires as he plugged in the cox box on all those early mornings and as is the way, our speaker system had died just at the critical moment. The entire M2 crew appeared to go through the five stages of grief in real time.
Denial: the cable wobbled backwards and forwards furiously trying to see if a good connection could be achieved.
Anger: goes without saying.
Bargaining: we sprinted over to M3 in the Canon as they parked before the realising that some fool had had the ingenious idea of bow-rigging it. Fortunately we weren’t quite desperate enough to give that a go.
Depression: the realisation slowly dawned on us that we’d be racing in the Jim. We heaved the huge creaking black hulk off the boathouse floor, pushed off with feet out and footplates trying to fall off, coming to recognise the bumping motion as the seats creaked up and down the slides. (You had to be there to see the dismay on Nii Djan’s face as this chaos ensued!) After doing our best to tighten the footplates and strap feet into huge shoes (or cram them into tiny ones!), we rowed up and lined up at the start. Fortunately station 10 was further from the previously deafening canon, and before we knew it, the canon had gone and we were off! We’d barely finished our lengthen strokes before the whistles were blaring and Vincent called for a power 10, Maggie had us in their sights and were hunting us down hard. Then came a shudder through the boat as Dan’s feet unfortunately came out of the massive shoes, and Maggie had us (damn those shoes!) Vincent’s clearing got us quickly out of the racing line, and we got to spend a few happy moments as we watched Robinson trying to unbury their bows from the Cam’s muddy bank.
Acceptance: we have a well deserved rest day on Thursday and then we’ll be coming back strong (hopefully in the Baron) to redeem ourselves on Friday and Saturday. Maggie M3 be warned!
M3 – Landon Wilcock
As we arrived at the boathouse today all the perfect elements for putting on a brilliant show at bumps were there; rain, wind, a generally good crew mood, and a swan that insisted to join in on the fun. After completing a quick erg warmup where coach Chris commanded us to exhaust ourselves via a marathon (100m sprint) we headed downstairs feeling warm and ready. That sprint after all was the second most erg’ing our crew had managed this term. We began getting ourselves sorted, we grabbed our blades (and proceeded to put them back as M2 still claims them as “M2’s blades” even after the GOR) and checked our boat for any loose nuts and bolts. As per usual a thorough review of the vessel was meticulously completed, with Simon in 2-seat doing a final check of 3-seats footplate. This final check has become routine since Newnham’s incident; after all, we could not allow 3-seat to rip off his footplate through another display of absolute raw power again.* We grouped together for the final words of wisdom from our coaches and captain and prepared to set off. In an unusual set of events, and frankly nearly unsettling to some including the author of this race report, Jimmy even put on a second layer over his standard outfit of a t-shirt and shorts. We set off from the boathouse and began our row to the starting point. The steady-state rowing was a touch out of sync, perhaps some in the crew had ignored the drinking ban last night, or perhaps it was the roaring crowd of spectators (approximately 7 individuals) hanging out at that one weird river bar causing nerves to form amongst the crew. We did our best to sort out the timing and arrived at our place in the division line-up. Soon enough, the 4-minute cannon sounded, and crew members began getting serious for the race and de-kitting with AJ revealing his fancy brand new all-in-one putting the rest of the crews largely non-Churchill apparel to shame. The one-minute cannon sounded, and now the absolute intensity had built to a new high; we weren’t here to be bumped again. As we pushed off and got ourselves set, we were prepared to fight for this race. Now, it was time, the final cannon sounded and we winded up our strokes with the crew putting down power only thought to exist in the tales of mythology about Greek gods. However, in a rather unfortunate circumstance, the crew chasing us must have also been Greek gods of a stronger variant as they gained on us quickly. The rate set at a blistering 40 and at 40 it would stay. We continued pushing until the end, but on this day the faster boat got their bump. A disappointing outcome, but we live to fight another day and will earn our bump this week (even if that means replacing a crew member with the eager swan.)
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