Due to crew availability, the M2 crew would be racing in a coxed four for this race. This was to be the first time racing off cam for 4 out of 5 of the crew, and we were all pretty excited. Everyone met at Parker’s Piece to get the bus to Bedford (having derigged boats and sent them on their way the night before) and we arrived on the riverside in Bedford in time to see W1 come under the bridge and finish their race.

Conditions were highly favourable, with a strong stream and tailwind – good news for a lightweight four.

After watching M1 race, we got the boat on the water (a very precarious manoeuvre due to a very high bank!) and began our row up to the start. We had a nice rhythm going, and at times the boat actually felt more sat than the eight. We arrived at marshalling in good time, although a bitter wind made for a less than pleasant wait for the start. Eventually it was our turn, and we span and set off under the starting bridge.

We made a strong start, with continuous power calls under the first three bridges. James wasn’t letting us give an inch, and we came out of the first 500m well. However the rate meter was broken and it was hard to judge the rate.

Into the middle third of the race, things got a bit scrappy. Our limited time together as a four started to show, and there were a few rigger-dipping incidents up the long straight that we’d decided to call ‘the Reach’. We were also being closed in on by a coxless quad behind.

As we approached the finish and heard the encouragement of M1 on the final bridge, we got things together and made for a strong finish – unfortunately so did the quad, and (after some miscommunications between stroke and cox regarding which way to steer out of their way) we ended up conceding a bump almost three weeks early.

Overall it felt like there was a bit of fire missing from the race – the rate was perhaps a little low in the absence of a rate meter, and the novelty of racing on a different river distracted us from the race at hand. However it was a good day out and an enjoyable experience to take forward into bumps.