May Bumps 2017 – M2 Day 2


Queens’ M2. Photo by Giorgio Divitini.
First race

Having failed to catch Sidney, M2 were again faced with the challenge of escaping Christ’s M2 at the head of the third division. Feeling confident but not complacent, we rowed to the start and lined up on station one with the same plan as the day before.

We went off hard as planned, and settled nicely. The rowing felt much cleaner and stronger today, but Christ’s had clearly upped their game as well, as we didn’t pull clear so quickly this time. In fact, down plough reach we were more or less on station, and Peterhouse did not close on Christ’s at all as they had the day before.

Coming around Ditton into an extremely strong headwind, we started to open up the gap, and had about three lengths by the time we reached the railway bridge. We were confident enough to start winding down as we passed the P+E, but Christ’s definitely made us work harder today than on Wednesday!

Second Race:

Again, we were set to start at the bottom station, this time chasing Pembroke. We all knew this one was going to be tough, having been so far off Sidney the day before and with Sidney taking a lot of the course to catch Pembroke. We opted for the fly and die strategy, and even modified our start by adding an extra five winds to get the rate even higher.

This worked well, and off the start we reached and maintained rate 46. We started to move on Pembroke, and gained between a quarter and a half of a length, getting just shy of our first whistle. But while the ‘fly’ part worked well, the ‘die’ part came all too soon, and by the time we reached first post we had nothing left. The challenge of having to race after three row overs had taken it out of us. Pembroke had opened up three lengths, and we gave up the chase around Grassy.

May Bumps 2017 – W2 Day 2

W2 doing a practise start outside of the Plough. Photo by Giorgio Divitini

We knew that the race would be quick and tight, so we went all in straight off the start. We jumped half a length on Sidney Sussex in front of us, but seemed to settle there for a while as Downing were slowly getting closer and closer from behind. As they were half a length off us we did a big push, where we accelerated and soon landed half a length off Sidney. Whilst we were clearly gaining on Sidney until the very end, it wasn’t quite enough for us to reach them on time. It had been a quick race that only went on until the motorway bridge. Tomorrow we will return fresh after this short distance, and ready to fight out a longer race.

May Bumps 2017 – W2 Day 1

W2 racing around Grassy Corner. Photo by Giorgio Divitini.

The crew was ready to go and expected a long row, eager to bump Wolfson W1 on the first day. We immediately saw Caius W2 behind attempting to use this against us by doing a fast start, but we pressed them away. Soon enough their big push was over and we dropped them, and they eventually got bumped by a speedy Downing W2. Wolfson were faster than expected, and whilst we kept up they bumped Sidney Sussex W1 before we could get to them. We didn’t give up, but instead refocused on an overbump on Emmanuel W2. Sadly they also bumped out, leaving us with a solid row-over. We thus proved to ourselves that we can keep good pace for the entirety of the course. Tomorrow will be exciting, with a fast Downing crew coming after us as we look to bump Sidney Sussex.

May Bumps 2017 – M2 Day 1

M2 leaving Christ’s behind. Photo by Giorgio Divitini.
First Race:

Queens’ M2 started the day as sandwich boat, and so our first job was to row over ahead of Christ’s M2 at the head of the M3 division. The crew was feeling confident, having decisively beat Christ’s in a head race a few weeks previously, but we were taking nothing for granted and planned to still go out all guns blazing.

Our row up was some of the best rowing we have done together as a crew, and the freshness of a few days of tapering was clear. Our practice start was scrappy, but quick, and we lined up at station one full of energy and ready to go.

On the cannon we went off hard, reaching rate 44. We gradually settled into a nice rhythm and pulled clear of Christ’s, immediately pulling away half a length. Coming around grassy, Christ’s put in a push and for a moment it looked like they might come back at us, but we responded well and pulled away further. Coming around Ditton we were 3 lengths clear, although we still didn’t feel safe enough to wind down – Peterhouse had three whistles on Christ’s and so both crews behind us were still really going for it. By the time we got half way down the reach though, the gap was large enough that we could take the rate down to 30, and we cruised across the line well out of the firing line.

Second Race:

After an all too short break in which malt loaf and sweets were speedily consumed, it was time for our second race. This time our opposition was Sidney M1, who bumped Queens’ M2 down to sandwich boat last Mays.

Our row up this time was the best rowing we’ve ever done, and we lined up on station 17 feeling good. We knew Sidney were going to be tough opposition – they’d just pipped us at the head race a few weeks before. But all 9 of us believed that we could catch them eventually. We weren’t expecting them to move on Pembroke, and so thought we’d have to whole course to close and complete a bump.

Off the start this time, we didn’t move quite as well as we could have. It was tidy, but less power was going down (a symptom of the fatigue from the first race). Coming under the motorway bridge we hit some horribly dirty water, and things got very scrappy. After that we struggled to make any ground, and never closed on Sidney.

By the time we were on the reach, Sidney were well clear. This, and some obstructions up ahead, led Rob to call us down, and we paddled the rest of the course at rate 18.

The obstructions led to Sidney and Pembroke re-rowing, with Sidney ultimately catching Pembroke at Ditton.

W3 May Bumps, 2015

W3’s first outing of the term ended up being the Spring Head to Head race. Despite never having rowed as a crew together, the race made a great first outing, with a respectable time and Queens’ W3 being the only Women’s Thirds boat to compete.

The bumps campaign did not go quite as planned with a different cox everyday and a needing a couple of subs for the rowing (thanks W4!), but was still fantastic fun. Whilst closing in on Darwin II on the first day we were sadly bumped by Christ’s behind us. After two more bumps, however, the crew put everything into the race of the last day, storming ahead of Jesus IV to gain a row-over and avoid spoons!

Lent Bumps 2015, W1

Day 1: We started the week at Station 9, hoping to go up, but with a fairly novice crew, unsure of our prospects. Day 1 of bumps, always the most nerve-wracking, no matter how many times you’ve done it before – and for 3 of us, it WAS the first time! Plus our captain had a job interview (a successful one, congrats Rachel!), so Sammy, missing rowing on her term off, had agreed to row instead. We warmed up and rowed down, as we’d been practising every outing, Jenny catching a nerve-induced crab that knocked her hat off as we battle-paddled past M2! Such low-rate, high-pressure paddling, we had to do pauses to stop us bumping the crews in front! (Pity pre-race bumps don’t count) .. After sitting around again at the bottom, it was time to get heads in, and Dr Walker’s cannon countdown began … We had an okay start (though actually I can’t remember much, except the adrenaline rush), winding it to above 40, and striding down, but to 37 – we really really wanted to bump Catz, but Newnham were also very keen to bump us! Having started at station 10 and able to cut the corner, they had a whistle from behind (somewhat optimistically?) but we didn’t let them gain any more, and pushed on to get to a length on Catz – spurred on by this, we got 2 and then 3 whistles faster than we had time to think, and bumped them just coming out of First Post! First bump for 4 of us, in less than 500m we rowed home very happy, looking forward to the next day and the chance of another bump!

Day 2: Knowing that we could take on Caius if we rowed well, and with the success of yesterday fresh in our minds, we started off hard. Striding to 33 we gave chase. The first whistle was ours by First Post and from there we just stepped it up. Caius had no hope as we raced from one whistle, to two, to three to overlap, all within Plough reach. We got the bump before Ditton corner. A second successful day.

Day 3: The pressure was on for day 3. We were starting under the motorway bridge, with the canon deafening us as it sounded. We were aware that Clare were slightly faster the Caius so we were prepared for a longer, harder race today. It took us until Grassy corner to get our first whistle, but then, as the day before, the whistles just kept on coming. With onlookers cheering us from the Plough, and Michael and bow four’s excellent cornering, we took them round Ditton. Three bumps, three days.

Day 4: We were psyched for a hard row on our final day of bumps. With three bumps already, we were both excited and nervous. We knew that FaT could mess up all our hopes if they got caught by Downing too early. Having escaped the canon under the motorway bridge, we were still not prepared for the noise of the canon. We absolutely went for it off the start, and gained our first whistle on Downing just past First Post. This spurred us on with both the rate and the power coming up. Then we heard the almost inevitable from Michael “they’ve bumped out in front of us, we are going to have to go for the overbump”. Downing had bumped FaT just before the Plough. We continued the long slog of the rowover, with Clare in the dust far behind us. Jesus were unable to pull away from us but the initial gap was just too big. Tired, but happy with the overall week we rowed home, and subsequently went for a brief, if chilly dip in the Cam to celebrate!

Lent Bumps 2015, W2

Cox – Emily Don and Sophie Chung

Stoke – Lizzie Popli

7 – Jess Moxom

6 – Emily Marr

5 – Katherine Rolph

4 – Kirsten Spry

3 – Issy Spiro

2 – Jess Tray

Bow – Beth Jones

Coach – Tayo Moore

W2 Lents 2015

As the only Queens’ crew to have successfully completed the getting-on-race, we knew that we had a considerable chance of doing well at Lent Bumps. We had trained hard and were all determined to make sure that the 3k piece followed by 1.5k impromptu race had all been worth it.

Fitted in the finest stash that £2.50 can by, we rowed down to the start line. The sun was shining, the jelly babies were out and we were nervous, anxiously waiting for the canons marking the majority of our crew’s first experience of bumps. We’d put in the training, but now was the time where it would make or break us. As the canon we were off, and despite a slightly rusty start we strode down to a slightly unsustainable rate and began to eat into the water between us and Sidney Sussex, we flew past the motorway bridge, gaining our first whistle. Sidney put up a good fight but with each whistle we became more and more motivated, and Emily’s cry of “hold it up” saw us secure Queens’ first bump of the Lent campaign.

With Day 2 saw a change of cox and a new challenge: Murray Edwards. In a marked contrast from the day before, the heavens had opened and we knew that conditions would be tough. We launched into our start sequence, slightly shaken by the weather, but strode down to a much more sustainable rate and began to eat away at the water between us and Murray Edwards. Despite crabbing under the Motorway Bridge, they put up a good fight, but we continued to power through, securing the second bump of our campaign just before Grassy Corner.

Day 3 was the big one. We were chasing a good Wolfson W1 crew, who were in turn chasing FaT who had already been bumped three times. Nerves were high and Moxom was unsettled by the mysterious disappearance of all the red jelly babies. We knew that it was going to be a tough race, with an angry Murray Edwards behind us. On the canon’s blast we launched into our best start sequence yet. Gaining ground on Wolfson we kept up the rate, but they were already gaining on FaT, so we strode down the rate. Wolfson bumped FaT just after First Post but we kept the commitment and power on, powering through the course for what was our first experience of Grassy Corner in Bumps. Despite rowing over, we left Murray Edwards far behind and were happy with what was our best rowing yet.

The last day of Bumps arrived, and a proud W2 grouped together at the boat house. The bump today was a personal one, we wanted to firmly secure Queens’ at the top of the W3 division and mark the improvements we had made as a crew. After a cold marshalling session in the strong wind, the green tops were out for the last time and we came to front stops. We powered through our start sequence, settling down into a comfortable rate and began a controlled row, eating at the distance between us and First and Third. After the first whistle we began to power through the wind around first-post corner, securing our third bump despite a late concession by their cox.

We had blossomed from a “malformed spider” of mostly ex-novices, into a crew that we could all be proud of. A boat that could not be stopped by wind, snow or Christ M1. A fantastic terms worth of rowing that will stand us in great stead for Mays. Power of the Boar!

May Bumps 2014, M2

Day 1 – Bumped by Jesus M2

We had our closest chance of a bump on Day 1, with a three boat sandwich consisting of Jesus M2 chasing us and us chasing First and Third M2. Our start was good and we immediately gained on FaT, unfortunately Jesus (who went on to blade) started well too. We settled onto a solid rate 32 and began to eat up the distance between us and FaT, a push into first post corner brought us two whistles and the bump was within our grasp. Jesus had overlap as we started the approach into grassy corner and managed to get on the outside of our boat so as our stern moved outwards we made contact and the bump was awarded to Jesus. Had we been able to get the other side of Jesus’ bow we may have had a different result.

Day 2 – Bumped by Hughes Hall

Facing Hughes’ first boat we never stood much of a chance, we didn’t get much past our stride before we were bumped on the entry to first post corner.

Day 3 – Bumped by Darwin

We managed to pull away from Darwin initially, but with their much heavier crew and our disappointing campaign progress, we were caught just after first post corner. A better line into the corner may have helped, but it would have only delayed the inevitable.

Day 4 – Bumped by Wolfson

On the final day, we gave it our all. An explosive start helped us to hold station for a while, but again on the entry to first post corner we were caught by Wolfson.

Overall it was a disappointing campaign. The term was marred by absent coaches and a changing crew. We had many water sessions and our commitment was there, but unfortunately, we were just no match for the far bigger and more experienced crews we were facing.

May Bumps 2014, W2

Having been described as “technically awful”, “depressing” and “pathetic”, expectations were high for the Queens’ W2 May Bumps campaign.

The endless four days of pre-term rowing camp had left us broken, but our new boat had been formed and even though Michael had a temporary escape to W1, his return saw the end of our coxlessness and we began our bumps campaign on the 14th of April.

Despite the presence of a small level of commitment, surprisingly our campaign was not getting off to the best of starts as we encountered some difficulties, with Zoe being shat on by a bird and Laura having an asthma attack whilst stroking. On the bright side, our pursuit of motivational quotes was far more successful as we attempted to engage in ethical rowing (7/7), with the immortal realisation that “I am strong because of my boat”, as “my boat is me”. As bumps drew nearer we knew that every outing was crucial. So crucial that we temporarily forgot how to get into a boat, managing to capsize a four in front of the boat house with the entirety of M1 watching. Power of the Boar!

The first day of bumps had arrived, and we plodded down to the boat house knowing that the day was going to just be a “formality”. Hughes Hall had age, experience and three blues rowers on their side, but had at least warned Christine that our struggle would be over quickly. We marshalled in the sunshine, taking our place between Caius W2 (at the head of the river) and Hughes Hall W1. As the minute countdown began we turned our full attention and focus to the voice beneath our crotch and came to front stops. On the canon’s blast we were off. And what can only be described as Siggis’ “biggest shock of his rowing career” we did the impossible. As we pulled further and further away from Hughes Hall, the whistles started blowing, we were gaining on Caius, Michael kept the rate up and we had to power through the most painful piece of rowing any of us had done before. As Michael screamed hold it up, we knew we had done it, we had secured Queens’ first bump of Mays and almost caused Siggi to enter cardiac arrest out of shock.

Despite the elation of pulling away from Hughes, as we pulled into the bank we realised that we would have to do it all again as we gained the unwelcome title of “sandwich boat”. After practically marshalling in the lock, we knew that we had to bump Christ’s in order to minimise the amount of rowing we would have to do for the rest of the week. At the cannon’s blast we powered through our start sequence, hearing the first whistle before the stride. Christ’s put up a strong attempt to hold us off, but as Michael shouted “Kill!” we gave it everything we had left securing an overlap. Despite the fact that we mounted Christ, their cox did not concede and on one final shout of kill we hit their boat and looked to the bank to see Siggi’s fist pump of celebration. As we put on foliage for the second time of the day, we rowed back proudly to the boat house accompanied by an average at best rendition of “We Will Rock You”.

As the second day of bumps arrived, we were nervous: expectation and excitement now surrounded Queens’ W2, the only Queens’ boat to have bumped on day one. Downing W2 were ahead of us. In the words of Siggi, there was no pressure on us, except for the fact that we had to bump. As the canon went we powered through our start sequence. For the first time in our bump’s campaign we strode down to rate 32 and began to eat away at the water between us and Downing. As Michael shouted “Kill!” we gave one last push and bumped just after the railway bridge.

Friday saw the arrival of the critical third day of bumps. We knew that we had to bump today in order to avoid Hughes on Saturday as well as continue our chances of getting blades. At the canon’s blast we raced off, securing our first whistle after the stride. We powered through the heat, past the railway bridge, with the whistles blowing more and more frequently. At the “Kill!” call came we gave one last push and secured our fourth bump of our Mays’ campaign.

As Saturday arrived, the day we’d all been joking about for the past eight weeks materialised: the chance to row for blades. We were quietly confident, but knew that there with the strong Queens’ presence on the bank came expectation and pressure. We rowed down the river for the last time as a crew, and pulled up between John’s and Clare who posed our final challenge. The canon’s blast saw us unleash our fastest start yet and we raced down the river at rate 44, gaining our first whistle on our second wind. Clare were in our sights, and we powered through the pain, getting nearer with every stroke until finally Michael screamed “hold it up!”. Clare had become the fifth boat to fall during our bumps campaign, somehow the Queens’ W2 crew had been able to defy everyone’s expectations – mostly our own – and not only secure the boats place in the W2 division for the first time this century, but also bump five times, gaining blades.

As we were draped in practically a whole tree of foliage, Michael proudly held up the Boar’s Head Flag and we rowed round the corner past the Queens’ Pimms tent to a euphoric round of applause. Our shock and elation quickly turned into panic as Lizzie was put in the coxing seat and managed to successfully crash despite the river being straight, causing mayhem for the W1 crews lining the river. As we arrived back to the boat house for the last time of the year, cupcakes and champagne beckoned, and the celebrations that lasted into the early hours of the morning began.

Although Siggi didn’t find the “with sympathy” card as hilarious as we did, we knew that his tyrannical training regime had paid off. We had managed to blade, bumping five times in the process, whilst having a lot fun along the way.

From a boat of ex-novices, we had reinstated Queens’ W2 firmly within the W2 division, and were able to celebrate, happy in the knowledge that it would be a while before the phrase “arm’s only” emerged to haunt us again.

Lizzie Popli (W2 Captain Mays 2014)


Cox – Michael Hope

Stroke – Lizzie Popli

7 – Jess Moxom

6 – Christine Cuthbert

5 – Elena Georgalla

4 – Laura Douglas

3 – Helena Pomfret

2 – Jess Tray

Bow – Zoe Sciver

Coach – Siggi Martinsson

Subs – Laura Dearman and Elaina Davis