Men's 1st VIII
The Saturday of a Bumps campaign is always eagerly anticipated by crews, hoping to end on a high and bump in front of crowds at the Plough Pub or Grassy Corner, finally wash their disgusting boat and unisuits, and in the case of four-seat Nils “Sit Up” Burger, end the longest run of alcohol abstinence in their entire adult life.
Heavy snow the evening before set the nerves jangling for a repeat of Thursday’s race abandonment, but tropical temperatures on the day (+2 °C) saw the snow quickly turn to slush and so this proved no threat to racing. The end of the Beast from the East weather system coincided, almost poetically, with the final race for our own Eastern Beast, Marcin Ziarko, as Men’s Captain. M1’s paddle down was once again surprisingly decent, and stroke-seat Mark “Hoon ‘em” Allingham, in a rare departure from his typical colourful language, even said it was “lovely”. Bow pair Santiago Dubov and Bailey Brookes finally proved themselves in some way useful, lining us up perfectly for an explosive start in pursuit of Caius II.
In the early stages of the race, Corpus M1 made good ground on Caius, attracting a whistle before First Post Corner, and several “Well Done Corpus”-es from our loyal bank party. Our new Eastern Giant, Haralds Āboliņš, was finally putting his big erg scores down in the water, fuelled 90% by vanilla cheesecake. Coxswain Liz Elder, confidence buoyed by her Crew-Dinner-Winner banana muffins, shocked everyone by managing to steer Grassy for a second successive time without going wide.
We had known that Caius II would be much tougher opponents than Jesus II and LMBC II, bumped earlier in the week. As a long, long chase began up the Reach, still at a length’s distance, it would take a Herculean effort, and true belief in ourselves, to reel them in. Sadly, neither of these were becoming to Corpus M1 on this day. Perhaps it was his desire to race the whole course that led natural-three-seat Silas Hope to stop bothering to square up and just take strokes with blades feathered? Who knows. A solid-ish row over for Corpus M1 ended a positive bumps campaign, +2 out of three races, and our highest position (5th in Div 2) since 1994.
Upon landing back at the boathouse, our spirits were high, and we toasted to our week over a beer. So excited was Mark at the prospect of becoming Men’s Captain at the end of the evening, that he decided to christen this handover by smashing not one, but two bottles of beer. Not one to be left out, two-seat Bailey Brookes also dropped a beer in the most appalling waste of alcohol shown by any Cambridge undergrad, perhaps ever. In keeping with tradition, the Great Pilgini offered us some obscure and unwanted bottle of plonk as an ‘aperitif’ prior to Boat Club Dinner – though seven-seat Takashi “Freed From Desire” Lawson was grateful that this time, it was not fermented horse milk.
Thus began BCD, and new Captain of Boats Liz Elder’s one-year-plan to get the Men’s and Women’s sides to talk to each other, and maybe even be friends. She is heartened by the fact that next BCD, more than two ought to stand up for the “Boat Club Incest” fine. All of M1 made it through the dinner, with a special mention going to Santiago Dubov, for winning the plank-off against Women’s Coach Samuel Deutsch, in the most testosterone-fuelled event ever seen in CCCBC history. Sadly, it seemed that Nils had completely forgotten how to drink in the space of a week, and crashed out (literally) at around 10:30pm. As we moved from the Pelican, to Mark’s room, to Spoons (where the Senior Treasurer refused to spend a penny of the gift card he was so kindly gifted by the crew), the group thinned out, until a hardy bunch of survivors reached the promised land of Newnham House and a Pilgy Pit Stop, where the evening would draw to a close. A massive thanks must go to the outgoing boat club committee for all their hard work, which at times must have felt like herding cats, over the last year and particularly for a fantastic Lent Bumps.
Women's 1st VIII
On our final day of bumps the weather finally righted itself and we felt ready to row two strong races as the sandwich boat; determined to put ourselves in a better position for next year, we hoped to row over at the top of Division 3 and then get a bump on Clare II to place us in Division 2.
At the start of the first race, we pulled away from Christ’s II and maintained a comfortable distance, but felt we were not far enough to wind it down or relax. This meant that we held a relatively high rate throughout the course, only winding it down closer to the finish as we prepared for a quick spin to marshal for Division 2. With a fairly unsuccessful second practice start at the Plough, we knew we needed to improve focus as we paddled down, and after some inspiring words from Samuel Deutsch there was nothing more to do except fight hard.
At the start cannon we moved off with a fair amount of power, elongating and focusing on our catches to try and gain some ground. However, as the course continued we were constantly coming marginally closer to Clare II and falling back again, with our focus and technique suffering at points. At the reach it became more apparent that we were unlikely to catch Clare, but we kept pushing hard to the end. Having raced the entire course twice at this point, the girls were exhausted and deserve to be proud of how hard they pushed, despite not escaping sandwich boat.
Our main shortfall throughout these two races was focus in the boat, which gives us something to work towards for our next set of bumps that we know we can achieve. Although we did not row to the standard we showed ourselves to be capable of throughout the week, the determination through the boat was incredible and the team attitude remained positive.
Immense congratulations go to Becca Clarke as our Captain and the constant face of rowing-based optimism, and we also owe a big thanks to Nienke Ruigrok for subbing in at bow and throwing herself into her first race for Corpus.