Amy’s boat (City W6): Up 1
About to bump Champs 4 (photo: Will C)
James’s boat (Chesterton M1): Up 1
The victorious M1, with their coach, Kate
More willow for the Willows, as we had another great night for both our boats. My City ladies caught Champs 4 very swiftly, and James’s M1 caught St Neots M1 much quicker than they expected. This means that they have avoided having to fight off the mighty City M3 for a second time. Tonight, they have X-Press M1 in their sights, a boat which bumped them some years ago, and revenge would be sweet!
Will C’s write up of M1’s row
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. Bring on Friday.
My boat have an interesting night ahead, as the boat we need to catch is our City W5. Clubs aren’t supposed to catch each others’ boats (we’re supposed to be in speed order but it’s difficult to know who is fastest sometimes). However, we will not be holding back, despite the fact that the club will be due a fine if we do bump them!
Of our race last night, Emily writes:
It was a confident W6 who paddled to the start, keen to continue to build on our fist two bumps. Tonight we were chasing Champs 4, who were potentially a bit speedier than the crews we’d caught previously. Cox John was once again worrying about his socks, but caused himself some problems in that department by spilling red bull all over them.
It was another short row for us, though tonight we did have to go round a corner. We caught them just before grassy corner. Our attempts to row quickly home in order to boat swap were slightly marred by a diligent and enthusiastic marshal. As ever, we stayed cool.
We’re looking forward to a longer, chunkier race tomorrow.
Apologies that rowing has taken over the blog for a few days! Normal service will resume at the weekend! Tonight’s row will be followed by the epic Last Night of the Town Bumps Party at City, which normally goes on until dawn. We will see how long we last, but unlike previous years, we won’t be cruising off into the sunrise, it’s James’s birthday BBQ tomorrow, and we have the gas man coming next week, so there’s lots to do on Willow, and we’ll be staying put.
Next weekend we have something very exciting planned but we’re not sure yet if it’s going ahead…