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Lent Bumps 2020 - A post mortem

It was always going to be a challenging bumps campaign for St Catharine’s as the squad is heavily dominated with very promising novices. Both M1 and W1 were starting in strong positions going into Lents of which the crews last year earned. This did not phase any of the remaining seniors, the six 'new' rowers or any member of each crew as they all committed to having the best campaign possible.


SCCBC ready for BCD -photo credit: Jonathan McCree-Grey

 

 W2 Report: (-1, -1, +1, -1)

Due to Ciara and Dennis W2 did not get much water time this term, which has been difficult. This boat was predominantly novices (7 out of 9). Even with minimal water time, these girls had a fantastic attitude, both the original rowers of each day and every sub that was willing to jump in to help with outings and during bumps – thank you. Knowing they had a challenging fight on their hands they attacked hard coming off the start each day so much so that with a poorly angled push off went charging into the opposite bank on day two! However, on Day three were able to bump back Cauis, ok so it was a technical bump due to Cauis not pushing off correctly, but a bump is a bump and it was St Catharine’s first bit of foliage! Suffice it to say W2 set the tone and proudly brought some greenery back to the boathouse. I am excited to see what these girls are able achieve next term with more water time under their belts and a bit more fitness. Well done W2!

 

M2 Report: (0, -1, 0, +1)

These lads (inc Maya) rowed with great commitment everyday of bumps. The comradery of the crew was palpable and with an unforgettable start to Lent bumps (of which insiders know it will always been too soon to joke about) M2 performed excellently, holding their place on the river from last year. This was no easy task with some fast crews behind them piling on some dangerous bumping pressure. These lads were tough enough to pull away inches from being bumped to have a well-deserved row over on Day 3, after fighting hard with Eli only rowing arms and body due to an unexpected seat malfunction on Day 2. What better way to end a campaign with a bump, and these lads did it in style bumping Christ’s right by grassy corner! A very big well done to you all, I hope you bring the same passion into Mays!

 

M1 Report: (0, -1, -1, -1)

Lent term has been an interesting term for the members of M1. A lot was learnt and many changes were made. To the lads credit they did a phenomenal job at showing true guts and grit during bumps. This boat had three novices, one new rower, two returners from M1 last year and two rowers from M2 so it is fair to say the experience in this crew was low coming into bumps. I was extremely impressed with the determination of this crew when put under severe pressure; they respectably and amazingly held boats off when just inches from having to concede. The most rewarding part of bumps was the lads coming off the water being proud of their performance and being ready to fight another day, confidently knowing that long term this crew will be something to be reckoned with! They are unfortunately the only crew that didn’t bump however the performance they gave each day was something to be proud of!

W1 Report:  (-1, -1, -1, +2)

Well, what a week it was for the Women’s 1st boat! Wow! Again another young boat, in a near on brand new shell made for some teething issues but nothing the women weren’t willing to knuckle down on to improve. It would have been very easy for these girls to be passive and accept defeat when being bumped out of Division 1 on Day 3, hooooooowever (there is a Catz theme starting) they were so tough and showed so much courage to achieve two bumps on Day 4. This accomplishment meant they solidly moved back up and held a spot in Division 1.  At no point did anyone show any doubt in any other member of the crew, they knew they were a unit and when fuelled on digestives and skittles went off like a rocket and ended their week on a brilliant high! I am beyond proud of these girls and am very excited to see what they are able to achieve in Mays! 


-Carmen Failla

 

 

W1 Lent 2020 - Day 4

Three days into bumps and we were down three places and relegated to Division 2. Spirits were low and we needed something to boost morale – a second crew pasta night was called for. We arrived at the boathouse on Saturday feeling more optimistic with our full crew back and to find a wholesome card from Will (on behalf of Homerton W1) wishing us the best for a strong rowover. Little did he know…

Getting to the P&E proved an unexpected challenge, with the river level well above the bank, 40mph+ gusts and no functioning cox box. However this was no match for our crew. The backwards caps and crew plaits were back and better than ever with added Catz coloured ribbons. The wheels were finally on our blades and we had an (excessively) full bank party to support us. Things were looking up for Catz W1.

We learnt from our mistakes on Friday and this time around got a good start, immediately rewarded with one whistle on Homerton, although Kings’ also had one on us. Charlie managed to get a better line around Grassy than the surrounding boats bringing us up to two whistles and leaving Kings’ outside station. Homerton held us at two whistles all the way past the Plough and around Ditton. Watching Kings’ get caught at the top of the Reach removed any pressure from behind. But if anything this just spurred us on, as we rounded the corner and got hit by the wind on the Reach. Despite the Cam having waves akin to the Atlantic, we weren’t phased. We had experience rowing in the wind and besides, W1 is always unset anyway! Our split hit an impressive 3:30/500m but we managed to reel Homerton in to 3 whistles nonetheless. Charlie followed their line closely – a bit too closely as we followed them into the bank! Thanks to Anousa’s quick thinking it was only a glancing blow. This set us back to 2 whistles but we weren’t giving up. Some strong encouragement from Charlie got us back to overlap, before Homerton decided to give the bank another hug. This sealed the deal two thirds of the way down the Long Reach, giving us our revenge bump and first foliage of the week!

Full celebrations had to wait as we were now sandwich boat. Charlie was well prepared with many snacks while we re-marshalled under the Railway Bridge and sheltered from the wind in a blackberry bush. A run to the toilets yielded no reward as on our arrival it was announced we needed to get back into boats, resulting in a quick sprint back with full bladders.

The row back down to the lock for our second start made us realise how little we had left in reserve and gave us our new race plan: catch Girton ASAP with a place in Division 1 at stake! It was a heavy start getting sucked into the lock but we stayed strong and got one whistle soon after. We kept steadily gaining and when we reached 3 whistles Charlie called for us to empty the tank. Girton obviously had one final push in them, much to our dismay as we stayed on overlap for another painful 30 seconds, tanks empty and deep in the pain cave. However they couldn’t continue to hold us and we caught them by the headship start station, where we ourselves got bumped on the first two days.

Despite the wind the row back was joyous. Our bank party had adorned us with double shrubbery, a fact that did not go unnoticed by our M1 who let out a massive “YEAH CATZ” as they queued for their practice start. The crews of the W1 division showed great camaraderie, all cheering each other home.

This Lent bumps has been a rollercoaster for W1 – down three then up two on the last day, saving ourselves from spoons and proving we ARE a Div 1 crew.

M1 Lent 2020 - Day 4

Today was the day. With a fast Magdalene behind us and a confident Kings ahead, we only had one option - fly or die. The plan was simple, to execute 3 minutes of madness and power. We hoped that Kings would be complacent having bumped us the day before, giving us the element of surprise. Rowing up to the start we were nervous but also excited. The prospect of unleashing hell for a fast bump was liberating - we knew it would all be over by grassy corner either way. As the starting gun fired, we executed our most powerful (although not most beautiful) start. Within what felt like seconds we were rowing in Kings wash and Stephen called for the kill! None of us could quite believe how well our plan seemed to be working. Carmen was blowing the whistle, and we really thought we were going to catch Kings. However, Magdalene were also catching up fast, and the situation quickly turned into a tight sandwich between us all. Despite our best efforts, we didn’t manage to catch Kings and Magdalene took the bump. Having said that, we really were 5 strokes away from catching Kings and it was a performance we were all proud of. Despite the bumps this week, we came away feeling positive. We managed to take the fight to three fast crews and went down with pride that we had given it our all.

M1 Lent 2020 - Day 3

3 Minutes to push-off, the boys settled into their seats with a couple of jokes lightening the nerves. As the last checks were being done, we suddenly realised the cox box had stopped working. The time was ticking down and while scrambling to salvage for any life signs of the microphone, the second canon had gone and Carmen pushed us into the river. We knew it was going to be a tough race. The final canon blew, adrenaline kicked in and time slowed down as the Catz M1 pushed against the heavy water in unison and accelerated Lady Helena towards Trinity Hall. We rowed in a powerful rhythm to the drum of Nick’s stroke and Carmen blew the first whistle, which set our minds firmly onto Trinity Hall. While taking a wide line through grassy corner, a gust of wind almost pushed us into the bank. Yet Stephen kept his cool and held on strong, but Kings was coming closer. After getting out of grassy corner, Kings was now half a boat length away, but we were ready to fight. With lactic acid pumping through our veins and our hearts beating up to our throats, we powered down the plough reach. The intensity kept mounting and we held on through sheer willpower in this competitive brawl. Then as we rowed past the spinning zone, we had to concede the bump to Kings. But the Catz crew stood tall and proud, as we knew we had given it everything.

M1 Lent 2020 - Day 2

Weird that getting bumped serves as such a good reminder of why we row, but it does. Yes, today didn't end with the result we wanted; Tit Hall were too rapid for that, giving us a nifty bump instead. I admit it was well-earned on their part, as at no point in this Bumps campaign have our Catz rowers not given each stroke everything they've got. Our start was strong and healthy from the very get-go and our determination to catch Jesus (and, in turn, bat away the approaches of the impending Tit Hall VIII) carried us through from the motorway bridge to the site of our eventual demise on the infamous Reach. Despite this perhaps unfortunate result, especially after the comfortable ending of the row-over yesterday after all the boats around us bumped out without coming within a country mile, I was reminded after all why we sacrifice so much to row: the exhilaration of such a primal chase that comes down, in the end, to do or die, to win or lose, to breaking them back or breaking your own. The thrill of Bumps, victory or not, makes it all worth it. 

W1 Lent 2020 - Day 1

W1 this year has seen a complete overhaul following a mass exodus at the end of last June. It is the first bumps for Amelia (3), Claire (4) and Izzi (5), and first bumps in the W1 boat for Fiona (B), Anousa (2) and Charlie (C). Following a successful crew pasta and pancakes (that earned Amelia the nickname of “Amelia Syruphands”), we were feeling carbed up and ready to chase down Fitz. With the free speed of our Catz colour coordinated caps (worn in reverse, of course), we held Queens’ well off the start and round the first corner, with Darwin gaining strongly on them. But unfortunately our free speed ran out, and despite our best efforts Queens’ reeled us in after the motorway bridge resulting in a bump. Despite the outcome, our morale remained high following a solid row.

FTW!


#freespeed

W1 Lent 2020 - Day 2

After a not totally unexpected bump from Queens’ on Wednesday we were ready for a tough rowover ahead of a record breaking Darwin crew. The marshalling proved much less dull than Wednesday, with no M3 division to rerow and Darwin dunking their cox in the river for good luck. The race followed a similar pattern to the day before with a solid start. Darwin’s cox dunking evidently brought them some free speed as they then steadily advanced to catch us at almost exactly the same point as Queens’. Charlie even chose to park us in the same bush, this time accompanied by the dry heaves of Amelia Syruphands. We gave it everything and left it all on the river to try to avoid sandwich boating. This was clearly noticed by one spectator who later submitted a Rowbridge in honour of our “desperation screams”. On the row home we received many a compliment on our hats, which lifted our spirits as we prepared for the possibility of two races the next day.

FTW!

 

 


W1 Lent 2020 - Day 2

After a not totally unexpected bump from Queens’ on Wednesday we were ready for a tough rowover ahead of a record breaking Darwin crew. The marshalling proved much less dull than Wednesday, with no M3 division to rerow and Darwin dunking their cox in the river for good luck. The race followed a similar pattern to the day before with a solid start. Darwin’s cox dunking evidently brought them some free speed as they then steadily advanced to catch us at almost exactly the same point as Queens’. Charlie even chose to park us in the same bush, this time accompanied by the dry heaves of Amelia Syruphands. We gave it everything and left it all on the river to try to avoid sandwich boating. This was clearly noticed by one spectator who later submitted a Rowbridge in honour of our “desperation screams”. On the row home we received many a compliment on our hats, which lifted our spirits as we prepared for the possibility of two races the next day.

FTW!

 

 


W1 Lent 2020 - Day 3

Despite the gloomy skies, W1 started Friday feeling determined. We were a little concerned by the presence of a traitor in the bank party of Homerton (we’re looking at you Will!), but with Rosie bringing fresh legs to the boat we were feeling optimistic. Given the weather conditions we felt it was practical to wear the hats forwards – a decision we would later come to regret! Seeing W2 in their foliage brought a welcome boost to an otherwise soggy marshalling session. We rowed down to our station at the head of division 2 with waves sloshing in the boat. After a scramble to remove our many layers of waterproofs we were ready for another fight. Will’s coaching had obviously paid off, as Homerton made steady gains on us up The Gut. Despite our best efforts, some classic Charlie coxing calls (“Jo, your blade *is* ok!”) and Brie’s impressive grunts, they managed to make contact just after Grassy corner. We will be back tomorrow with a strong game plan – a solid bank party, possibly a quick pre-race dip for Charlie (she may not be keen, but it worked for Darwin!) and hats returned to their correct orientation.

FTW!

M2 Lent 2020 - Day 3

After the rather eventful second race, we were determined not to let anyone bump us again. It was clear it would be a tough race from the start in the strong headwind and rain, but we were confident we could get Robinson before they got Christ’s. Everyone was soaking wet by the time we got to the motorway bridge.
I don’t know what exactly went wrong when the start cannon went off, but it seemed like everything did. We were not ready, only 3 people took a proper stroke on the first draw, we were pointing in a completely wrong direction because I didn’t manage to get the boat perfectly straight and with most of stroke side not rowing we couldn’t make up for it. I managed to turn it just before we hit the bank and the guys did the rest of the starting sequence well, we didn’t panic. 

Nevertheless we got to hear the first whistle of Tit hall behind us very quickly as they gained on us during our complete disaster of a start. The dream of catching Robinson left us quickly after that. By grassy, the Tit Hall bow ball was just centimeters away from our stern. I called a power ten as I heard the cox behind us scream ‘kill’ and we pulled away. I, the bank party and some of the other people all yelled at the boys to stay on it and they did. The continued whistle dropped down to 3, I looked over and saw them quite far behind. I tried to take every corner as narrow as I could as I heard the whistling slowly cease. The next high pitched sound I heard was Will’s ‘YES!’, clearly completely out of breath. I looked over and more than a boat length behind us Tit Hall got caught by Churchill just at the top of the reach. It felt amazing and I know that we earned it.

We all had our little moment of relief and celebration and kept on going at a steady rate 32. I went through all the different coxing calls I could think of as we were passing the boats lined up for the next division, but we knew no one would catch us anymore and there was no one left for us to catch. We rowed over (and then a bit more, sorry about the coxing confusion), but even if we bumped tomorrow, I don’t think I could be more proud of the guys than I am today.