Day 1 : bumped Darwin W2

After a fantastic performance in the Getting on Race which included powering past a flagging Magdalene II on the Reach, we were really excited to begin our bumps campaign. Queens’ W2 had not raced in bumps for two years, so we were determined to make up for this and prove what great depth the Queens’ women’s squad as a whole now has. We had been drawn right at the bottom of the division in 17th place, chasing Darwin II and being chased by our very own Queens’ III (their phenomenal effort in the Getting on Race resulted in them qualifying for bumps as the first Queens’ W3 crew for over a decade!)

This was our entire crew’s first Lent Bumps but our wonderful cox, Anoushka, helped keep us calm on the row down. Nerves were building on the start line but when the one minute canon went off we switched to fierce mode, enabling us to get into position well and have a smooth and focused start. Such was our adrenaline that we stormed off at rate 40, but despite our high rating we still managed to keep together very well. This resulted in a phenomenally quick gain on Darwin – no sooner had we done our “ten on the legs” off the start than Dr Walker was already giving us three whistles! Anoushka gave the kill call and we went in for a super-speedy bump. Despite an extremely late concession by Darwin’s cox which gave us significant overlap, we got a very definite bump just before the Motorway Bridge!

Day 2 : bumped Murray Edwards W3

Excited by our previous day’s success, we couldn’t wait to get back on the water again and hunt down Murray Edwards III. We were a little concerned about how we would fare as we were sadly missing our number 4 seat powerhouse, Sammy. In Sammy’s absence, we recruited amazing super-sub Rachel Cosgrove from W4. As Rachel rows bow-side, she went in the 5-seat, meaning that our talented co-captain Anna had to switch sides and row stroke-side. Despite Anna’s limited experience of stroke-side rowing, she handled her blade with impressive dexterity and Rachel proved her worth by quickly adapting to our rate and rhythm.

Unfortunately our start was a little rocky with timing not quite as in synch as we would have liked, but Anoushka soon helped us find our rhythm and the chasing Darwin became nothing more than a small speck in the distance. We powered through the legs strongly resulting in another speedy gain on the flailing Murray Edwards. With Dr Walker’s whistle blasting out we had closed to half a boat length when suddenly we heard frantic cries from the bank of “QUEENS’ HOLD IT UP!!” A bump of Kings II on Churchill II had left both crews straddling the river dangerously. Impressive alertness by Anoushka and an on-the-ball response by the crew allowed us to clear swiftly well before Darwin II eventually trudged up behind.

Murray Edwards III were looking rather delighted that our heroic assault on them had been so suddenly halted and for a moment we feared that we might be given a technical row-over. It was a tense few minutes as we waited to hear the umpire’s decision, but we were thrilled to be awarded a technical bump on Murray Edwards due to our “extremely rapid closure”. To add to our jubilation, our very own number 3 Silvia was admired by awe-struck Cam FM presenters who could barely contain themselves when confronted by her hotness.

Day 3 : bumped Churchill W2

Eager to earn our 3rd set of greenery, we were fired up ready to take down St Catz II. However, we knew we had to be wary of a vengeful Murray Edwards following their disgruntlement over the technical bump the day before. After some expert tapping by Helena and Lois as bow pair, we had manoeuvred into a strong position on the corner ready for the start canon. We positively rocketed off the start, combining strong pressure with an in synch high rate to conquer Catz in around 30 seconds. As our coach Sarah put it, “who needs the whole course?”

Day 4: rowed over

This was it. Day 4. On for blades. The big one. We had undertaken key preparations for the big day the night before with Sammy and Valentina demonstrating that they also possess great talents off the river – Valentina whipped up some delicious pasta for us as we carb-loaded, and Sammy painted our nails in Queens’ colours with the gold boar on the thumb. Ready for action, we took to the water with one goal in mind. Blades. After some inspirational words from captain Grace, we knew that we were capable of doing this. The target today was Churchill II. We knew it might be a tough race, but as they had been bumped by Kings II the previous day, we hoped that we would have the entire course to give it our best effort. We got off to an extremely powerful start, finding our rhythm straight away. After the Motorway Bridge, we got two whistles from Dr Walker indicating that we had closed to half a length. The blades were in sight and we put down the pressure to finish the job. But suddenly “QUEENS’, HOLD IT UP!!” Churchill had stopped and we ploughed into their stern. Unsure of what had occurred, we feared that a technical row-over was on the cards. But suddenly Anoushka was shouting to start rowing again. Kings had had a boat-stopping crab, allowing Churchill to bump them, but owing to our close proximity to Churchill we had been caught up in the chaos. Masterfully steering us through the carnage, Anoushka’s sublime coxing enabled us to restart and have a chance at going for the overbump. We knew we had to dig deep and pull something miraculous out of the bag if we wanted to catch Emmanuel III who were well ahead after escaping the Kings/Churchill crash. But dig deep we did, and showing extreme grit, determination and resilience we pulled together as a crew to produce our bravest performance ever. Spurred on by our bank party, Grace and Olivia as stern pair set an impressive rate 38 which we held for the entire course as we hotly pursued Emma. Our timing and ratio held together well and the gap between us and Emma began to close rapidly. Sadly, however, it just wasn’t quite enough. Our truly epic performance saw us narrow the gap from 8 boat lengths to 1.5, but unfortunately the course ended before we could finish them off. Crabbing Kings had thrown away their own blades and in the process had lost us ours, but the performance that we produced demonstrated what sheer nerve, guts and fortitude Queens’ women have.

Massive thanks from all of us to our coaches Sarah and George, Lindsey, Abi, Mark, Steven, Dr Walker and anyone else who helped us on the way.

Finished the week 14th in the third division.