Sunday, 10 November 2013
Our division was 12, but the start was at the end of a 5 km course, plus 1.5 km to the finish line, so we were supposed to be ready to boat by 11. Which proved to be no great trouble.
We can't quite remember why we've never done this race before. Perhaps its new.
I recall the Ely rigging-grounds from the Great Ouse Half Marathon, its a somewhat bizarre place: "Death Race 2000 meets Wind in the Willows" as a certain Mr P. Holland put it. Here he is supervising the riggers as they get down to work.
Ely only has a couple of landing stages, and only one for IVs really, so there's a bit of a queue, but they do try to manage your boating times. From there its 6.5 km downstream (but today, against the wind) to the start at Littleport. And its nearly but not quite dead straight. We mostly just "settled", not having rowed in this crew for a while, but threw in a couple of tolerable bursts of high rating - it takes us a while to stabalise. James pointed out a few landmarks along the way, but really the only one is the Lark at 2 km into the race. But, as it turned out, they also provided km signs (and somewhat unhelpfully a marshall at about 700 m from the finish who shouted "you've got a km to go").
At Littleport we sat around waiting for the start, and failed to pull into the landing stages, so I couldn't turn my GoPro on (motto: turn the thing on before you push off; still, one of the reasons for bringing it was to learn lessons like that). Some crews had clearly failed to boat on time, and the division was about 15 mins late.
We were a little nervous over the start line, and thinking it was at the bridge when actually it was someone earlier didn't help; but pretty soon we settled down and things were going well. With a tailwind we were hovering a little over 2:00 splits, but pleasingly they were stable, as was the rating at ~29. It felt a a bit fragile: hovering on the verge of not being sat enough to row well, needing attention from most of us to keep it stable, not leaving us quite enough free to really put oomph down. And it stayed like that for 5 km, which is quite good really. Through the race I was watching the sculler behind us: he gained on us off the start, then we held place, then he slowly slipped back after 3 km. In the end, we beat him by a second. But for a scull, it was impressive.
The full results are available from IOERC: we got 20:40, third in our division and eighth overall (my PB running time for 5 km is 20:38). The ladies came 42nd in 23:45.
Here we all are, afterwards, in the Ely club car park:
[Ian Foster, James Tidy, William Connolley, Dave Richards (Paul Holland underneath), Annie West, Meg Richards, Simon Emmings, Bailee Stratton and Anne Roberts.]
There was tea and there was cakes. And then we trundled back to Cambridge, for a drink in the last of the sunshine outside the Fort.
Update: us on the course:
from http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/33359327_XkFWdh#!i=2898477497&k=gHkTbtD, which is I think http://www.davidboughey.com/
And the ladies:
Monday, 23 September 2013
We were enormously relieved to get a place on the Emma trailer towed by Ian with Champs W1. This spared us the logistical nightmare of towing our own boat and needing to leave the boat in Lincoln, the trailer in Boston and get the trailer driver back to Lincoln.
When the draw came out we were boat number 6 going off at 9.06am. This meant a very early start from Cambridge. So early in fact that we decided to stay in a hotel on Saturday night and spare ourselves a 5am start. We found ourselves a 2 bedroom cottage right in the centre of Lincoln which was very comfortable. Bailee and Annie shared one room and me and Robert the other. We got Robert a Z bed. Apart from drying out damp coxing kit from his many outings with City (there’s not accounting for taste) which began to smell of wet nappies he was a very well behaved roommate. The smart amongst you will realise we were missing one crew member. Joss. She had been having the week from hell at a conference in Manchester that only ended on Saturday – the day before the race. In fact, as four of us drove to Boston, Joss was still in a coach travelling from Manchester to Cambridge. Fortunately, Mel agreed to drive Joss up on Sunday morning and we were very pleased to see her arrive.
The early start proved to be a cloud with a silver lining as at 9am it was dry, calm and a sensible temperature for rowing. There is a very steep bank down to the start, where the officials from Boston RC cheerily told us ‘it’s very slippery!’ (Hey, why don’t you put some grit or sand on the bank edge). It was. There are lots of Masters’ scullers in this event who could easily have ended up needing a hip replacement.
We had set ourselves a target of 5 hours to row the event. We started at a comfortable rating of 22spm. Every kilometre is marked along the course and we began ticking them off at a good rate. We had a ‘push for 5’ at every kilometre mark which stopped us slipping back on the power and rating. We pushed Lincoln Cathedral good bye, and made Bardney Lock in good time. I have to say we made a brutally efficient transfer through the lock. Shoes on; back packs on; just picked up the boat with blades still attached; and hand bagged Spare Rib over – to another slippery landing dock. And we were off again. The weather was still quite reasonable at this point. Clearish skies, cool but comfortable, but clouds were forming. We reached the halfway mark at about 2 and a half hours. All good. A slice of malt loaf every 10 kilometres – worked well for me.
And then the wind started blowing from the south. In fact it came straight at us. Poor Annie in the bows took the brunt of it. You could feel the wind on the square blades blowing us back to Lincoln. The time between the kilometre marks began to increase. I could also tell that something wasn’t right with Joss – and when she asked for ibuprofen, I got worried. It turned our afterwards that she had a very painful hip. She started leaning away from her rigger to ease the pain. Sitting at 2 there was not much I or any of us could do to help her. Robert later confessed that this was also his ‘dark’ moment in the race probably as weren’t rowing very well. Our timing slipped so that bow pair and stern pair were not quite together. Ooops. And we all realised in our own little bubbles that were not going to make our 5 hour target.
However, as committed rowers, we were going to make the best of it. We kept pushing through the wind and now waves. We set ourselves targets of catching certain boats ahead and holding off boats behind as they came into sight for a certain amount of time. The temperature dropped and I was rowing in my splash top – something I almost never do even in an outing. It was cold. It drizzled too which was not good for my purple glasses. We used our weed hook 3 times. Thanks to Andy S for advising us to take one.
For me the worst bit was 30 – 40 km. From 40km we could sense the end and the tempo picked up again. At 45 km Robert visualised an outing from Baits Bite back to Queens’ boathouse which we all appreciated. I was not impressed when the tannoy announced our arrival with ‘and this crew set off at 9am so they have been rowing a very long time’ – well actually for a novice coxed IV the course record was 5.02 hours, so coming in at 5 hours 33 was pretty decent given the howling gale. We rowed in strongly and tidily. Ian and Mel met us. Thank you. Our bums were numb. I had a bit of damage to my stroke side hard skin, but nothing to complain about. Desperate for a pee. Delicious bacon roll, tea and cake. Cheeks glowing (both kinds).
Yes I would do it again.
Monday, 16 September 2013
Ahem. But it all worked out brilliantly in the end, so doubtless we'll have another go next year. If there's one thing I'm really good at, its not learning from experience.
As you can probably guess from the picture here of us all smiling, we won! Our category, not the fastest time overall, but we did win at IM2 despite being humble IM3 folk; and we were the fastest sweep-oared boat this year, and 6th overall.
[Note, which I need to put somewhere near the top: this post is about the Men's Boston. Since we went off at 12, and the ladies at 9, and we didn't share a trailer, we didn't arrive till after they were off and they left before we got back, so we didn't see them all day.]
We came in 3:56 (2:21 split, including time at the lock. Our GPS track is here from Garmin connect though it shows up better on Strava - you might want to think about that, Garmin people). The overall winner was an 8x+ in 3:35, which was a fine effort in the conditions. Speaking of conditions (a tail wind to start off, though it didn't last all that long, followed by headwinds for much of the course): my rough and approximate calculation (based on looking at the ratio of Master's scullers across categories C-G, because there are lots of these and the winning times are quite consistent) is that the weather, and headwinds, this year was worth a 0.94 correction factor over last year (this turns out to be quite important later on :-). Which would have made us 3:42 last year, if anyone cares about that.
Who were those masked (wo)men?Our fine crew was: James Tidy, cox. Kate Hurst, stroke; William Connolley, James Howard; Ian Foster; Ralph Hancock; Luca Simonelli; Ulrike Bauer and Paul Holland, bow. Therein hang several tales, and it is only fair to list our fallen comrades. The original intent was to enter the Great Eight that went up three to 9 in bumps and won IM3 at Peterborough. And that was what we sold to James Howard - with, perhaps, the possibility of one or two exceptions - when he agreed to come down from the Frozen North to reprise those events. But Mr Wykeham couldn't make it due to Hols, and Chris "old man" Wood couldn't make it due to creaking, and Dr Southgate needed to regenerate in his coffin, so we roped in Paul "slag" Holland, Luca Simonelli and Tom "legendary" Watt. That crew lasted about 5 seconds, or possibly an outing, when Dave had a family event, but happily Kate Hurst quite fancied it (or perhaps us :-) so we were a crew again. What could possibly go wrong now? The answer was Tom's creative ability to injure himself, though to be fair a half ironman is tough, and we were running out of insane rowers, but fortunately Ulrike "mad as a bucket of frogs" Bauer also fancied trying her hand at Boston, so we were on again.
It's time for a picture of our "pots", which were rather fine cut-glass tumblers well suited to drinking whisky from; seen here in rather greater detail. But enough gloating; on towards the race.
However, no post about Boston would be complete without mention of transport, logistics, and trailering problems. In this case our chief problem was unusual, a choice of competing trailering possibilities, but we went for the cheap option of hiring and driving Queens' trailer and driving ourselves. This had the advantage of not depending on anyone else, but the disadvantage of needing to turn up two hours early, leave the boat (and some of the crew needed to be there early to put it together), drive the trailer to Boston, get picked up by someone else, and then drive back to Lincoln for the start. It all worked, though it made for a long day. And since we got lost in the Lincoln one-way system coming back for the start, we had a pretty harried rush-to-the-start.
Get on with itOn with the race. So, we're in the start queue, waiting for our chance to move down to the pontoon, careful of the wet grass. But contrary to the dire forecasts, it isn't actually raining at the moment, and for a mercy there's actually a tailwind blowing towards the start line. We boat, hurridly, and they're keen to push us out ASAP to get the last few crews off, so we're sitting in the stream making the last few adjustments. Newbie cox Mr T tries to take us over the start line before they're ready for us (they start at 1 min intervals, its not like a head race when they start you when you're ready) so we back down and try again. We're off!
Almost immeadiately there's a problem: the cox-box isn't working in the bows (such a shame there wasn't 1.5 hours to put the boat together and check everything before the off :-). Dropping out a pair enables Ralph at 4 to fix this moderately quickly, but I see the next crew - Liverpool Victoria, the other IM2 8+, coming up on us. Happily as soon as we get back to rowing all eight we drop them quite rapidly. At least, I was pretty sure they were LV which if true was great news - they were the only other crew in our category (we entered as IM3, which is what we were, but they bumped us up to make a cat).
But more interesting than that was our probable time. I'd estimated before the race that 5 mins at the lock and a 2:15 split would get us 3:45; James Howard and Kate, more optimistic than me, had told the Boston commentator that we would do 3:30. My GPS was showing some pretty promising splits - up to 9.5 km, we were averaging 2:00 or better, with a tailwind (incidentally, we'd taken off the impeller for that tiny-extra-speed for bumps, and hadn't put it back on since, and didn't put it on for Boston due to Weed (not that there was much this year) so James T was relying on Kate's GPS rowcoach, which he'd never used before. And all its splits were vastly optimistic, by 5-10 pips. No idea why. I didn't say anything during the race). But after that we hit moderate-to-strong headwinds, and those persisted, and our splits correspondingly dropped. Looking, now, I see that 9k is where the river turns from due East to SE. At 42 k, where the river turns East again, our speed picks up, then drops at 46 k as it heads SE again, until our final spurt over the line. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Time at the lock is time wastedBardney comes up quicker than you think. And I always forget the "shape", so here's a pic of my GPS track. The "offical" split times for the course are calculated assuming 5 mins to get over. I thought, this time, that we'd done pretty well, but it turns out we took 6:30. That breaks down into (something like, its hard to reconstruct exactly from the trace): 50 secs coming into the stage (partly due to City, partly due to a scull so James took a slightly non-optimal glide-path and we need to stretch and be pulled in); about 1:20 getting out of the boat; about 2 mins going from one side to the other (we were handbagging it to save faffing with blades; this is Correct); about 2 mins pushing off, reassembling ourselves on-water, and getting ready to go. Our thanks to the City eight who, clearly slower than us, allowed us to push past them for the re-boating stage.
To do it faster you need: a clear stage to come into, fast (which needs either luck, or someone on the other end of a mobile phone to clear it for you; or, perhaps, arrange a water/food break just before the lock rather than after, if there is no space); a crew well practiced and prepared to leap out and go; and a clear exit stage.
The next three quartersAnd so, on to the next three quarters of the race. This passed surprisingly quickly. I distinctly recall in earlier times - admittedly, when I was in slower-moving boats - that the last 20 or 10 k crawled by. This time the higher rating (we started around 22, rose through 23 to 24 after perhaps 10 k, held that for most of the race and raised to 25 for the last 10 ish k, with a virtuoso sprint up to 31 over the line) gave far less time to gazing around, and I had to actually concentrate on staying in time and stuff like that. Actual rowing. Which was nice. I barely looked at any scenery at all - not that there is much of it.
We were going for a moderate-to-high rating for such a long distance, trying to keep the technique light and the pressure, if not light, wasn't too high. As with any such long-distance event it starts off feeling easy and ends up feeling terrible; with rowing there is always the problem of blisters, and we ended up with a fair crop. The boat had a variety of precautions: some had gloves of various sorts, some had used various forms of tape, others were just Hard. I (I'm writing this for my own information next year, you understand) found that fabric-type tape around the middle bit of two fingers on the pulling hand and one on the feathering worked well, combined with lightweight running gloves to ease friction and stop the plasters from rubbing off. My worst blister was one inside the thumb on the pulling hand. Or claw, as it became for the last 10 k. But that's the ideal, isn't it ;-? I used a gel seat pad, and I had no "bottom" problems at all.
By about, say, 30 k it was clear that we weren't going to hit our 3:45 (let alone 3:30) unless the headwind eased off, which it didn't. By 40 k it was more a matter of wanting to get in under 4 hours; but I'm moderately sure I was the only one of the crew staring at a GPS and calculating probable finish times given certain splits as we went along. At 40 k we needed a 2:30 average split from then on to get under 4 hours, which was pretty likely, and as time went by and we kept hitting 2:20 ish it became more and more certain.
This time, we had the pleasure of overtaking boats. Lots of them. That's a nice feeling, and also something to break up the monotony, and something to give you a chance for a slight lift to keep up the pace. And it definitely beats being overtaken a lot. Fairly soon after the lock a double appeared in the distance behind us. Slowly slowly slowly it crept up on us; I think we pushed a little to hold them off, and once or twice they got a bad corner whereas James T's coxing got us good lines. But then they caught us and came past, again slowly. But that was the only crew to pass us, and they ended up fourth overall.
And then, all of a sudden, we'd finished. Suddenly you transition from full-on race mode to sit-quietly-on-the-water for a bit, then come-on-get-the-boat-out, where to put the blades, find some trestles (we'd left ours at the start, of course, and had forgotten we out to have left a second pair at the finish), section the boat, put it on the trailer, go get some tea and...
Is there anyone here from Chesterton Rowing Club?Yes indeed there is! And yes we'll happily take some of those rather nice pots off you. Technically I think we were a Chesterton / Cantabs composite (for Ulrike). But never mind the fussy details.
After that, well, it's time to go home. And this really did feel like the End of the Affair. We'd stretched our the eight to Peterborough and (just!) to Boston, but now the season is over. We say goodbye with regret to James Howard and wend our way back to Cambridge to put away "Octo" in the rain and a final pint in the Waterman. The End.
Secrets and LiesOr, vaguely useful advice. See also last's years thoughts.
* It isn't 50 k; its 49.1. Don't be fooled by the distance markers, because while it ends at 50 it starts at 1 (work it out :).
* I've been advised that driving yourself / your trailer back afterwards is dangerous / a bad idea: well, your mileage may well vary, but we didn't find any problem, after an hour's rest.
* Having now tried it, I advise mostly energy gels for food if you're in a hurry, with perhaps a banana or two to be eaten if you happen to have a bit more time for whatever reason. I didn't finish my litre of water.
ps: did I ever mention how much I loathe the awful auto-formatting that blogger does?
Monday, 12 August 2013
[Note: this post requires updates from the various crews for their versions of events; do send me updates.]
Overall, our results were:
Saturday (1km)IM3 8+ (M1): Won heat in 3:10.6. Final 1st 3:08.1. Also fastest time of the day.
Nov 4+ (M2): Second in heat with 3:45.8. Reached semi finals.
W Nov 4+: Won heat by a margin of 5 seconds. In the final, very close 2nd: 4:10.6 against Leeds' 4:09.4.
Sunday (500m)IM3 4+: lost in heat (fastest heat of 4).
Nov 4+: reached repechage.
IM3 2-: reached repechage.
W Nov 4+: Final, close 2nd (1:55.0, 2.7 secs behind First and Third).
Stories from the crews
W Nov 4+Very close finals for the ladies, who narrowly missed out on taking home novice pots. Next time they're yours!
Nov 4+Ah, they struggled mightily, but a point at novice is hard to come by.
IM3 VIIIThe mighty Chesterton M1 crew, fresh from their 3 up in bumps, came together for one last hurrah before scattering to the winds like thistledown. We even managed some practice outings, one with the full crew - and they felt good. And we had a pre-heat paddle on the Nene. Heat one was against Peterborough and CORC. CORC had two IM3 VIII's in the regatta, and as a big club could quite possibly have at least one good crew. As it happened we got the better one but they weren't good enough: we were clearly up by 500m and we kept clear water to the line (yes: I did sneak peeks occasionally; its good for my concentration and anti-nervousness: after 10 strokes it was clear we were pulling ahead of the closest crew, and at 250m we were clearly in the lead). We were also the fastest heat.
The heat was just before 2, the final just after 7. The interval was spent dossing in the sunshine, watching races, drinking tea and reading. Now we had three opponents instead of two: CORC from our heat weren't going to touch us, York were second in their heat; so the danger was the Twk-men who (despite their fetching pink-n-purple flowery one-pieces) were only 3 secs behind our heat time; and they looked young and fit and bigger than us mostly. I was sufficiently nervous on the start line to forget to set my GPS off (sorry). We started well; James called us a seat or so up after 250m and I think he was on their 3-man at 500m. But after that they began to pull back oh-so-slowly and we all had to dig deep. James called our push at 750m and we started to hold them; going over the finish line was agonising and the result was too close for anyone to call; we and the Twk-men sat on the water, exhausted, and wondering who had won. Then there were cheers from the bank and! It was us! Woooooooo! A point, and at IM3! I started rowing in 1983 (before Young Wykeham was born, I suspect) so could be considered to have waited 30 years for this. Hmm, thinking of that, the crew mostly divides into young / old based on extent-of-hair-coverage; only the boyish Ralph bucks the Hand of Time.
[Crew: James Howard (stroke); William Connolley (7); Andy Southgate (6); Chris Wood (5); Will Wykeham (4); Ian Foster (3); Ralph Hancock (2); Dave Richards (1). Cox: James Tidy.]
From AS: Awesome moment today. 1000m (3-and-a-bit minutes-ish) rowing race in the final at Peterborough Regatta where there were inches between us at the finish. In the haze of post-race death I heard the oppo's cox say "I don't think we got it...".
Aside: the Nov VIII was won in 3:13.0 in a straight final. We beat that by 5 seconds, but they weren't pushed, being 15 secs ahead of their closest competitors. So very likely we'd have won novice (had we been able to enter; James Howard and Andy Southgate already had points) but it would have been close. This illustrates (sez I) how hard it is to get a point: it took the best M1 crew we've had for quite a few years to do it.
There's video of our heat here.
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Um well last day and a real opponent, Xpress. They are normally a good crew but this year they were weakened by loss of their stroke, who didn't technically fit within bumps rules, and for whom they'd failed to apply for a dispensation. So far they were down 2, yesterday to Champs 1. I'd've preferred a shot at Champs, but James H was keen for Xpress due to some history from the Olde Dayes.
The pre-race talk was (again) about how they would be a proper challenge this time, and we'd get them on the reach if anywhere. And once again I believed it. Once again we were earlyish to Stourbridge, sat around chatting, nodded to St Neots who would be behind us and had pulled up next to us (wearing "Entries close Saturday 6pm" on their tops, since their regatta is next weekend), admired the fine weather and waited. W1 passed us with willow - well done them - which (coupled with W2 and M2 rowing over) meant we were well-placed for the JJ and would almost certainly win it if we bumped up. The row-up was as usual, with a rolling start under the Railway bridge and a standing start at the Plough. All well. Up, spin, wait.
The GPS trace shows that our start was OK without being outstanding; but we got our first whistle after 10-15 strokes (from memory. Having now re-watched Press's rigger-cam it sounds to me like we got it on their tenth stroke). That was encouraging but (just like yesterday) I didn't take it too seriously. But then the rest of the race did turn into an eerie repeat of yesterday, and we got them pretty well where we got St Neots, in the gut.
We close down to 2 whistles on FP reach, then 3, then continuous / overlap as we come around the corner and you see the tents on the meadow in the video. Then just as we pass "beached boat" the video abruptly cuts off - whether this is due to the tape running out, or is discretely drawing a veil over someone's crab, I don't know. But there's nothing in the video very obviously wrong with them; we were just faster. They have so-last-century wooden handle blades; we wouldn't be seen dead with such any more. By my count they take 15 secs for the first 10 stokes (that's 40), and the next 10, and the next; 16 for the next 10 (that's 38) and the next. So they weren't under rating us.
Elation; again. Its a wonderful feeling. We pulled over to those two boathouses with landings and, very cutely, some young children there enthusiastically tore willow off their trees for us; once they'd started it was hard to stop them.
This time we got to stop at the beer tree on the way back. And then the traditional row-home with cox in stroke's seat, and me in the cox's seat. We managed "cutting the cake" all the way up to the catch. And so home. Andy S supplied tinned Gin-n-tonic, then after that it all starts to blur. It certainly involved celebrations in the Waterman for the whole club as the John Jenner trophy was brought in triumphantly; there was drinking on the hard outside City and a modicum of naked rowing. For me it ended up with a walk home at 4:30 as the sky was lightening towards dawn.
The final night and we were already up two places. We had Nines 2 behind who we'd Bumped easily the night before and were chasing Champs 1, who were on for spoons and had been bumped by their second crew earlier in the week. So we felt quite relaxed. We got a good start and the boat was running well. There was no danger from behind and we started to gain ground. After a big cheer from our supporters in the Gut we were less than a length off them, a good corner round grassy by Bow and 3 and we'd Bumped. We were all ecstatic. Up 3! Fantastic result!
Row over: details to follow.
Chasing Cantabs V once again. Ali the W1 cox was subbing for Kate out with a shoulder injury. Tonight's strategy was for a more controlled start and to gradually build to grind them down. They went off strong and were on their tail but both crews were fairly evenly matched and by the finish at Ditton the gap was just less than station. Another gutsy row over. And up two places on the week.
A collection of great videos and pix
Well, the beginning of one.
Friday, 19 July 2013
M1: up (St Neots)For all of you who wish to study our final-day opposition, the Champs-Press bumps is almost on this vid; and for those who want to see what St Neots were really like, they appear here too on the row back.
Thursday turned into our make-or-break day: having escaped Sharks on day 1, and got Nines 2 easily on day 2, we needed to get St Neots or face Sharks again on Friday; and whilst I wouldn't object to giving them another go, on the whole I'd say once was enough. We were one of the first boats to Stourbridge and waited around for W1 which was delayed by Something (always nice to see the old traditions maintained). We lolled around under cloudless blue skies joking about the marshalling. James H revealed that he had a cunning frustrate-the-Sharks plan: start badly, or not start at all, and let ourselves get bumped by Nines! Which would have given us an easy day on Friday bumping Nines back. Ingenious, and not something that would have occurred to me, but naturally we didn't seriously consider it, tempting as it was.
No, we rowed for glory instead. John pushed us out on 45 (with no stream and no wind that made perfect sense, and he'd done it on Tues and Weds too) and Emma counted us down (I really should slip in some thanks to those two for bank-partying us, so here it is) and we set off perfectly aligned. The race plan was that St Neots would be a good deal harder than Nines, and we couldn't really expect to get them before the Plough, or possibly on the Reach, but that we should go off hard and try to break them. Last year they were shockingly fast, but we knew that this year we had a faster start than them.
Although looking at the GPS trace I can see that our actual start wasn't desperately impressive - peak 1:27 - we've hit 1:20 on other days.
We got one whistle fairly soon - after perhaps 15 strokes. We (well, I) regarded this as ours by right and, as planned, we really paid little attention to it - just keep it hard. Vague shouting from the bank not long after the A14 bridge suggested we'd closed to 3/4 length, which was welcome but not very important - we knew we weren't going to close just yet. Then somewhere in the fog of going round FP things started changing as we closed in to 2 whistles, and then rapidly 3; this was unexpected but quite welcome (at that point I was going through my usual mental fight with myself, which this year took the form of: "yes this hurts, but its going to hurt a lot more if you let Sharks chase you down the Reach tomorrow, so lets not let that happen"). It got somewhat choppy but we kept it up (the trace shows that, as usual, we slowed a little round FP but then we picked it back up to 1:38 / 1:39 and held that) until the bump. Which came rather suddenly in the gut.
Actually there is some (poor quality but welcome) video that establishes the sequence: we're half a length down round FP, within at most 10 strokes that closes to overlap, and within a couple more strokes we bump / they acknowledge, about at the "change sides here" sign.
Hurray for us. Next stop: Champs? Or Press? We didn't know at that point. It turned out to be Press. Bring on Friday.
W1: up (Nines 2)
Tonight a different race. Nines 2 on their way down in front and the Champs Junior Girls chasing rather than being chased. We'd seen Nines 2 out training a lot but knew they's be feeling under pressure having been Bumped on the previous two nights and that they had some inexperienced rowers and they'd been Bumped fairly early the previous two nights. So we felt confident. We had a better start, Champs Girls did gain on us but we rowed calmly and started to gain ground on Nines, soon there were calls for a length, half a length, a final push and yes "Hold it up" we'd got them just coming into First Post. All very surreal after the previous two nights long hauls. Champs behind steered to avoid us only to go careering up the bank on the other side.
M2: row-overTo be filled in. But its lunchtime now.
With two Bumps under their belt tension was rising. Tonight they had Cantabs 5 to chase but knowing they'd Bumped the crew we'd Bumped on the previous night at a similar place we knew it would be a longer row tonight. Taking full advantage of the bend at the start the crew went out fast hoping to catch them early but it wasn't to be. Coming out of Grassy the bank party were erging [I think you mean "egging"; though the idea of a bank party on wheelie-mounted ergs instead of bikes is quite appealling - ed.] them on knowing they only had until Ditton to the finish. A very gutsy row over. And another chance to catch them tomorrow.
Thursday, 18 July 2013
A glorious bump up against Nines 2. Actually it wasn't really that glorious, more in the nature of Inevitable, Nines 2 having the misfortune of being a rather poor crew this year and we're pretty good.
After yesterday, today's race plan was obvious: us to get Nines 2 quite early, about where St Neots got them or perhaps a little earlier: before the end of First Post reach. But behind us, ah, the Sharks, who would surely know we had a slow crew ahead of us, and be out for blood, and therefore come up like a rocket.
The first part worked fine: we got a decent start, peak 1:20, and had only faded to 1:37 when we hit Nines. It got pretty choppy under the A14 bridge and closing in on them, but that doesn't seem to have affected our speed much. The second part didn't happen: City 3 didn't gain at all off the start, and indeed when we last saw them they were being hard pressed by Tabs 3 (who blew up not much later). What we hadn't thought of was that the Sharks knew we'd get Nines, and saw no reason to put themselves out pushing the start hard for no possible gain. Its nice that they were so confident of us.
Afterwards, to Queens for some club beer, tactfully leaving Nines (who were also boating from Peterhouse) to weep in peace.
There's a video of the M1 division on the reach which gives the lie to the Sharks' "Yours is the Reach and everything that’s in it (St Neots. Just not quite close enough for the overbump)" though perhaps they were allowing themselves poetic license.
So the same sandwich as yesterday, Champs Juniors in front and Cantabs Juniors chasing, but with a little more knowledge. It wasn't going to be easy. We had a shaky start with a few recovered crabs caused by the weeds. Cantabs gained ground but we remained calm, we'd seen them off the night before and could do it again. Coming out of Grassy we started to gain on Champs in front, a length, half a length, at the Plough we had overlap, we could do it our cox said, there were whistles from the bank and cheers from the Plough. Just 5 more strokes we had a good line round Ditton but had to take a good corner, another 5 strokes and "Hold it up" we'd done it.
As can be seen by all the willow in the picture.
Small note: the picture is a re-uploaded version of this but with the colour balance "fixed", i.e. jiggered in Gimp.
The first half of W1 is nicely captured on video here; highlight is the COWS on City.
M2 improved on their result of yesterday by rowing over. You can re-live the last few exciting seconds as they push to the line here. Ahead of them, Nine 4 have knocked Tabs 7 (Poachers) down, so they have a fair chance on Thursday.
Here they are coming round Grassy (about 2 mins in).
In their own wordsThis year, M2 are building a brand new, two storey "Bump House".
Plans drawn up, management team assembled... Architect -KW...Project manager -SE...Site forewoman-VG. Regs consultants..Wykeham Connolley & co. Crew hired..fired..head hunted..and retired. Start date 16th July 2013. Let work commence... Tuesday. In a great flurry of smoke and whistles, our old bungalow of fear and uncertainty was demolished by the great wrecking ball of 99's M4. Site(and sight) all clear. Wednesday, Sleeves rolled up, builders bum glistening, in the evening sun. We pushed, we heaved, we dug deep and laid those foundations good and strong. Thanks to our forewoman Vicky, for great leadership and direction throughout, staying very cool under pressure and ensuring we prevented a late collapse (oh...and for not eating all the pies).
Good job well done. Foundations laid.
Today W2 had Champs to chase. After a slower start than yesterday they started to gain ground by the A14, but Champs were gaining on Cantabs in front. Cantabs caught a crab and slowed right down and it looked like Champs might get them first. This was the time for a Bumps 10 and yes they got them shortly after the A14. Well done W2. Up two!
Unfortunately W2 had the poor taste to bump out early again, but you get to see them in the distance towards the tail end of this video. Amy, Emmsie and Roy are in there too.
* Amy about City.