Bumps 2013: Night 1

Amy’s boat (City W6): Up 1


Rowing to the start

James’s boat (Chesterton M1): Row Over


This week, we’re rowing every night, in the annual Town Bumps races. For anyone new to our blog, Bumps racing is a type of rowing race almost exclusive to Oxbridge rowing. Basically, all the crews line up along the bank at regular intervals, are pushed out into the stream with long poles, and then all set off at the same time, at a cannon. You then have to catch up with and ‘bump’ the boat in front. Literally sometimes. And all before the boat behind catches up with you. Crazy? Yes. Dangerous? Occasionally. Fun? Of course! Traditionally, boats who successfully ‘bump’ the boat in front wear willow in their hair, which seemed particularly appropriate this year!

My crew had a good race, bumping the boat in front fairly quickly. Our stroke girl wrote up the night’s action:

During training W6 had suffered from a tendency to row slower as soon as anyone started watching. Asking the  spectators who would inevitably be lining the Cam banks to close their eyes when we approached didn’t seem like a viable option, so it was with some nervousness that we approached the first day of bumps. We would be chasing Champs W3, a boat which included the boss of one of our crew, so the stakes were high.  We had to stay focused; we had to stay calm. We had to think of John’s favourite phrase echoing down the river: ‘Keep. A. Lid. On. It.’ Our row down, despite a delayed practice start due to an inconvenient family of ducks, had great control and concentration, and helped us to get into a winning frame of mind – seven’s flow of suggestions for Harry Potter themed calls trickled out, and cox John soon stopped worrying about his socks.Our station was a little too close to the canon for comfort (by the outflow), especially for those who had not experienced bumps before. Managing to remain unphased, though, we had a solid start despite the gun firing a few seconds earlier than expected. It seemed that we had barely settled into a rhythm and become used to rowing in Champs’ wake before whistles started sounding from the towpath, a noise which few of the crew could believe was connected to us. Unbeknown to the W6 rowers, there was some concern on the bank that Champs would bump out before we managed to reach them. Fortunately, we responded to John’s carefully rehearsed calls asking us to focus and to push on, and bumped Champs in time, at first post corner. It was foliage and smiles all round on the row home, and we’re all looking forward to racing in day two – when we’ll once again row like there’s no-one watching. Emily A

James’s crew were pleased with their row – one of the crew wrote it up here:

Brief race description: we’d expected the Sharks (City 3, behind us) to be fast but blow up after 500m. We’d expected St Neots to be OK, but not as good as last year. That latter turned out to be true: we got a whistle on them soon after the start. What we’d omitted to think of was how slow Nines 2 were; St Neots got them around the top of First Post Reach. Happily James (helped by John on the bank) saw them well in time to steer round with minimal loss of speed. That left us with plan B: row past FP and wait for the Sharks to blow up. Alas, they failed to comply, and after dropping back to maybe 2 lengths they began to gain ground around Grassy, to perhaps a length down at the top of the Reach. Still, its now far down the Reach (oh yeah) and they’d only closed to within 3-6 feet by the time we were safe and sound.

We were all very happy with the row: we felt we’d done well, and “defeated” (if we hadn’t been faster than them over the whole course, we’d done well enough to avoid the bump) a powerful opponent (you can read what they say about themselves at http://www.cityrc.co.uk/images/bumps2013/BumpsProgramMenv7.pdf: they’re hot). Will C

So we’re both going into tonight’s racing feeling confident, and looking forwards to racing.

Full results here. And Jet photographic caught the moment we bumped, and there’s a video here (from 1:00)

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One thought on “Bumps 2013: Night 1

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