Men's 1st VIII
After the heroics of college boat clubs pulling together to clear a path for cyclists to follow the crews (and to allow Jesus to have a clear river for an outing), Day 4 of Bumps was on. Silas had returned from being a useful snow shovel to his rightful place in the boat as our natural three seat and M1 paddled down to the marshalling area with all the grace and finesse of a fish out of water, flopping aggressively from side to side. Once our coach Ben “Tripos Topper; Heart Stopper” Pilgrim joined us we switched on to produce some great rate builds and a practice start that some would call “okay” before pulling in to our station.
The start rolled around and as we pushed out, the raging torrent from the outflow on station six led to our bows drifting out to point at the opposite bank. Flashbacks of crunching the bank in the last bumps campaign hit the only survivor of that legendary M2 crew (Bailey “how is he still in the boat” Brookes) but our cox, reluctant to call for a stroke from bow that close to the start, waited for the cannon to sound before correcting our course.
After having listened several thousand times this term to 'Place then Push' being shouted from the bank by our coach, our 7 seat finally decided today that the most efficient rowing stroke involves the blade being in the water, and surprisingly he avoided an air stroke off of the start. M1 thus set off after Maggie II. What followed must have been a shocking sight. A crew that had been on a training camp, trained for six weeks, had four previous first boat rowers, seven strong lads and Mark rowed, what can only be described as, above average. Was it the desire to row well? Was it pure luck? Did Marcin “Beat from the East” Ziarko row better in a storm sharing his name? Whatever it was, it wasn’t long before the whistles came, and Corpus ate up Maggie II by First Post Corner.
Realising he had done an entire bumps race (all 500m of it) without screwing up in some way, Takashi “you using this salt grinder” Lawson decided to rectify this and immediately catch a crab post bump. Liz “there will be foliage” Elder, feeling left out decided to also make a blunder by pulling off the racing line and very nearly crunching the bow into the bank opposite First Post Corner. After Bailey had overcome the PTSD caused by this crash, greenery had been collected, and poor chat chatted, we rowed home with our heads held high and our balance as poor as ever, pondering about what the final day would hold.
Would we catch Caius II to end +3 for the week and finally be above all the second boats? Is that grounds for Blades if Bumps only runs for 3 days? What else will Takashi do wrong?
Find out tomorrow as Corpus M1 go for 4th in Division 2 to bring the venerable Pilgrini's first 5-year plan to a close.
Women's 1st VIII
After all of Thursday’s races were cancelled, a mass towpath clearing was initiated to allow Friday to go ahead. In the end Division 3 was cancelled but Division 2 was not, giving us a good opportunity to get ourselves out of the sandwich boat position and either bump Hughes Hall or over-bump on Lady Margret.
We knew it was going to be a tough race, but we remained calm through the snow and stayed focused. The distant cannon went and the race began; a solid start gave us the advantage we needed, and we soon got a whistle on Hughes. Varying pressure through the boat meant that we kept coming in and out of stations with Hughes but were still within a reasonable distance to gain some ground.
However, coming past First Post Corner we saw some stationary crews; the first, Lady Margret, meant that our hope of an over-bump was gone, but there was still Hughes to chase so we kept the pressure high. We turned on Grassy just in time to see Hughes pulling over to the side, so on the bank party’s instructions we wound it down to paddle the remainder of the course. After the race, we found that the six boats in front of us had all bumped out, leaving us no one to chase.
Tomorrow will hopefully consist of a row over at the top of Division 3 followed by a bump in Division 2, so that by the end of this week we can escape sandwich boat and put ourselves in a more hospitable position for next year.