Stayed Level Maintaining 8th on the River Day 1 – Bumped Pembroke

After all the waiting and disruption due to exams M1 finally arrived at May Bumps unsure of what to expect from all the crews around us. Predictions were difficult to make with all of the top boats appearing capable of beating all of the others on any given day. However M1 were quietly confident that a good result could be achieved.

A calm and powerful warm up set the stage nicely to really attack the race and see where the boat stands. Off the start the crew cranked the rate up towards the high forties before striding down onto race rhythm. As the crew hit its stride Clare behind started to fall behind as we started to eat slowly into Pembroke. Coming down Plough Reach a strong push dropped the distance down to approximately a length and Dr Walker signalled the first whistle. Coming round Ditton the distance was holding at about ¾ of a length before Bronwyn called for a large finishing move to end the race. The entire boat just started to launch itself out of the water as everyone committed entirely and the rate shot towards 43. The boat closed from ¾ of a length over the next 10 to 15 strokes bumping about one third of the way down the reach.

Up ahead FAT had fallen to St Catz giving us a shot at them next day. Day 2 – Rowed Over

After the strong performance on day 1, M1 were confident about the next day. Having had some epic battles with FAT in Lents it was expected to be close again. The early season form had showed FAT losing badly to most crews but in the last race they beat most of the crews around them meaning predictions were meaningless.

From the gun Queens’ moved out and attacked the race similar to the day before. The crew set up a strong and powerful rhythm and started to move slowly into FAT. Coming past the plough the distance was down to just over a length and things were looking promising, Pembroke were nowhere to be seen and the crew were preparing to grind down the reach. However going around Ditton corner everything went wrong. The boat rapidly slowed as we drifted wide dropping about two lengths to all crews around bringing Pembroke back onto us and letting FAT off the hook. The row down the reach became a battle of guts, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t anywhere near our best and it just about held Pembroke off long enough for them to be bumped by Clare. This allowed us to simply row over and finish the race.

The crew was really disappointed by the row and the race generally. Unfortunately this is bumps and if you lose your focus for even a second you will be punished and we were lucky not to have been bumped today. Day 3 – Rowed Over

After the issues of the day before the crew arrived much more relaxed than the day before aware that yesterday was a poor performance but today would be better. Everyone was aware that FAT are catchable but we would have to be at our best.

The race started in a similar manner to the previous going hard off the start and then striding down onto race rhythm. Round the early part of the course the rhythm felt much stronger and we kept just inside station on FAT. Coming onto the reach the crew had decided to make a really focussed attack to grind into the crews around. The boat was really moving however we were unable to move and make much of an impact on the FAT crew. A couple of lifts closed the gap to about a length but despite what we could throw at them we could not gain anymore.

At the finish we probably closed to about ¾ of a length but nothing more. FAT in tern had been all over the Catz crew in front but also had not quite been able to finish them either. Slightly more concerning, Pembroke had put one of their blues back in the boat today and bumped Clare back quite comfortably meaning we would be involved in a race tomorrow. Day 4 – Bumped by Pembroke

The final day and the crew knew we were going to be in a battle with Pembroke coming from behind. Pembroke had both blues in the boat and would be difficult to hold off. The crew did know that we had done all the training and work and the best we could only put out the best row that we could.

Similar to the first three days the boat rocketed off the line and settled into a long and loose rhythm. Coming around grassy Pembroke started to move on us as we moved upon FAT. Coming down Plough Reach Pembroke started to gain coming towards half a length on us as we moved towards a length off FAT. Coming into Ditton the crew needed to really dig in and start pushing off the Pembroke crew that were starting to gain more rapidly moving towards overlap. Bronwyn showed some tricky coxing moving away from Pembroke and making them chase Queens’ across the river. Every time Pembroke pushed Queens’ responded giving everything to try and hold them off until Pembroke did one push too many bumping us back at the same point we bumped them on the first day. At this point we had closed to less than half a length on FAT but they escaped due to the luck of bumps.

All in all a campaign where the crew stayed level but got both a bump and a bump against. It really showed the benefits that blues bring back to the boat with Pembroke being bumped twice without and bumping back twice when they returned. The lessons learnt in this campaign will be taken forwards to next year.

By Mark Varley (Men’s Captain 12-13) Stroke – James Edgley 7 – Peter Mildon 6 – Rob Emery 5 – Matt Chipping 4 – Jack Robinson 3 – Matt Edmondson-Jones 2 – Tom Bury Bow – Mark Varley Cox – Bronwyn Jones