Last day

[This post written in arrears and given an in-arrears date, so few people will see it. But I care.]

So, day 4. Champs 1 again ahead of us, and we sort-of resolved to go for it rather harder this time, but in a slightly vague way. We mostly decided that we would aim to get them by the Plough; and if we didn’t, we’d take the race from there. And we knew Champs 2 were fast off the start but we knew if we held them to first post they would fade from there.

I’d watched the early divisions. Div 3 was notable for practice starts in bright sunshine followed by it pissing with rain on the division. Ah well.


At the start, I felt fairly relaxed. The terrible anticipation of the previous 3 days wasn’t there – calm instead. Good. I didn’t analyse why for fear of dispelling it. And so we went off – fairly hard, but: not quite with that killer sprint that we needed. And so we got whistles by first post, and maybe two by the Plough, but not enough. Meanwhile, behind us, Champs 2 were not playing to the plan either: they had started fast, but failed to fade in the approved fashion. By Ditton corner it was serious: they probably had a fraction of overlap. Out of the corner we pushed and dropped them, but it was close: we should have pushed earlier I think, in retrospect. In fact in retrospect, we should have given it everything down Plough reach. Champs 2 had a bowcam, so you can watch for yourself.

But they pushed us all the way to the railway bridge, so it was a good row – well worth it. We cheered them, they cheered us, we cheered Champs 1. And then it was all over for another year. A brief stop at the beer tree. Back to Corpus so we could take the boat apart (Steven, Katherine and others taking a mixed VIII to St Neots: lost to Cygnet, apparently). And then the post-bumps party at Goldie, courtesy of Chris Smith, which was awfully decent of him. Even more so at around 11 when he invited the survivors up to his flat above. Lovely balcony view. Paul had a very special pair of underpants and Simon wore his spoon with pride. I left around 1 though things were still in full flow…


* Day 3 (row over)
* Day 2 (up, City 3)
* Day 1 (row over)
* Last year, day 4
* Club blog

Mirror, mirror

Still on the rowing I’m afraid. A row-over today: two years ago we’d have killed for a high-quality row-over like tonight, but after yesterdays superb bump-up, tonight felt like a let down.

Thinking (and drinking, in the Waterman again, a pub I’m coming to like) about it afterwards, it all seemed like an unwelcome mirror of last years M2, also on day 3, albeit at a far higher standard. Just like then, we’d bumped up the day before so had no fear of what was behind us; just like then we had a crew ahead that we knew we were faster than; just like then we were a bit too confident of grinding them down, and failed to sparkle and kill them early.

The pic is from Jet Photographic, as I think you can tell from the huge letters. I hope they don’t mind me advertising their wares.

We did close on them – we had a whistle by Grassy and two (and even three) whistles later; but afterwards it became clear we’d never got closer than 1/2 a length. And down the reach we were either level or falling back a bit – I’m not sure.

Elsewhere… M2 carelessly let themselves be overwhelmed by the gleam of Tabs 7’s shiny new Stampfli, rowed like spanners and went down. M3 down (spoons beckon). W2 rowed over (again! But apparently its been really exciting) and W1 rowed over, which they are very happy with, having been chased all the way. And they have Champs 2 down ahead of them, so tomorrow beckons.


* M1 video from Rob Payne.
* GPS track
* Amy on W1
* W1 video from MadProf77.

All around my hat

…I will wear the green willow. Yes, we went up: yay! Though that doesn’t begin to capture it.


L to R: Andy Southgate (4); Steven Andrews (5); Chris Wood (2); Ollie Crabb (S); James Tidy (Cox); Chris Metcalfe (3); William Connolley (B); James Howard (7; with George); Chris Smith (6).

Yesterday, Tabs 3 caught City 3 round about Grassy; and since we mostly held station with Tabs, we were happy that we could get City in a fair fight. But! Behind us, Champs 2 had caught Nines 3 not much after the motorway bridge: and while we’d pulled away from Nines by at least 1/2 a length, that was still a touch disquieting. We told ourselves that Champs had a start but nothing more.

And so it proved. We got a marginally better start than yesterday, Champs maybe took 1/2 a length off us, but stopped coming after the motorway bridge and had faded by first post. We started getting whistles around the motorway bridge – very good to hear. It was very choppy there – its bad enough normally, worse when closing on a crew. We stayed on one whistle for a while, then up to two whistles a little after first post – it was all going beautifully, all we needed was to keep going. And we did. somewhere – it felt like the corner coming out of the Plough, though things are a touch hazy to be honest – we made a token effort to stuff it up: James T took a superb line around the corner: superb except for the fact that there was a boat bumped out there. they pulled their blades in as best they could but #3 clipped them and caught a mini-crab, just as I could see City’s stern oh-so-close out of the corner of my eye.

That must have lost us half a length, but we soon pulled it back and caught City 3 at the top of the Reach (we came up on their inside, so there was a time – maybe 3 strokes – when I could have reached across and bopped their stern. Which might have been cool, but had I stuffed it up, missed, crabbed, and ruined a certain bump I’d have been killed). Thanks to them for being quality opposition and not giving up – it was a good race. In fact it was an excellent race; once we got into our stride, which takes us a while – first post maybe – it was a pleasure to row, despite the pain.

And back for drinks – the beer tree had run out, so Waterman again – and congratulations to M2 who also went up.

Oh – and I nearly forgot to mention – we were touched by the presence of the excellent Chris “you’re all rubbish” Smith, subbing in for Tom Watt who took the tapering a bit too seriously and collapsed a lung, again, the silly boy. Best wishes to him for a speedy recovery.

And since yesterday’s plan went so well today, what is the plan for tomorrow? We think we have the measure of City 3 behind us; which will do wonders to relax us. Ahead, Tabs 3 have sent down Champs 1, which is intriguing – we should have a fair to decent chance at them, which would be very satisfying.


* Day 1: almost a bump
* GPS track


Oh very well, though I know you don’t care. It is traditional for crews that bump up to show this as they row back by taking some willow from the bank and putting it on themselves. The whistles: to encourage crews (who can’t see what is ahead of them, of course) the bank party that cycles along will blow whistles in an arranged scheme: one whistle for a length down; two whistles for 1/2 length; 3 whistles for “really close”; and continuous for overlap. First Post is First Post corner, which is about 2 minutes in to the race from our starting chain. Chains are 150 feet apart, which is 46 meters, which is ~2.5 boat length (a boat being about 18 meters), which means you have 1.5 boat lengths to gain (about 30 meters) plus a bit more to actually get the bump. Plus the wash from the boat ahead is worth about an extra half length advantage.

Almost a bump

Bumps again, hurrah. The distant sound of gunfire. The culmination of a lot of peoples training for a long time. And, as I discovered once again while waiting for the start, a deeply unpleasant / scary / unnerving experience. It didn’t help that we had to stand around for 20 mins waiting for the 4-minute gun, wondering what the hold up was: it turned out to be the bloody Georgina. Meanwhile we’re chatting, thinking, looking about, going for a wee, trying to dispel the nerves. Early rain had given way to a beautiful evening, though getting dark now. We’d done a good start after the railway bridge and a superb one after the Plough – oh no, I though, there’s our best start of the night wasted in practice. We know little about the crews around us.


(no, that isn’t us, that is M3 going round Grassy)

4 minute gun; back in the boat. Minute. Count down: push off at 30, light tap from bow (me) at 15 to straighten us off. We’re starting 14 so can cut the corner. Square at 7. Gun.

bumps-map A fair start, we’re off, nothing is happening, exactly as expected. We get through the choppy water under the motorway bridge and are settling – possibly just a bit too settled for maximum speed. Nines (3) behind us aren’t closing. Faint whistles, but not for us. First post, and behind us Nines are bumped by Champs 2. Into the gut and it starts to feel good; still no whistles for us. We expect Tabs 3 to be fast off the start. Suddenly, after the Plough, we’re screamed at to hold it up. I turn round and slap their stern in brief joy – but no, we haven’t bumped them, they’ve bumped City 3 who failed to clear. So we have to stop and restart. If it was a close race, or there was stuff behind us, this would be a disaster. But it isn’t and there isn’t, so it really doesn’t matter. Having been forced to stop for 10 secs the overbump is clearly unrealistic but James pushes us down the Reach anyway; not sure that was a good idea.

Brief stop at the beer tree, to talk over the race. Back to the boat house, more talk. To the Waterman, for some more and some beer. Delightful. Agree that tomorrow will be the test: City 3 are there for the taking, if we row well, and stay away from Champs 2.


* Chesterton club blog
* GPS track

Day 2: four out of five ain’t bad

DSC_5057-pump Yesterday we rowed over, but discovered that we could leave the crew behind us and most likely catch the crew (Nines 5) that Cantabs 7 dropped for us. And so we did, just under the motorway bridge, which was a pleasantly short row. We had just a teensy tiny little moment of panic on the second stroke when someone on bowside got a minor crablet but we recovered from that quite nicely (we had managed a truely storming practice start on the reach that fairly whizzed us along. Alas that used up our one good start of the day :-(). We’ll need to row rather better tomorrow if we want to get Cantabs 7, but that is another day.


Here is us being happy (note willow). For future ref: top row, L to R: Nick Lee (5), Michael Schmidt (3), William Dulyea (6), Kate Hurst (stroke), me (7), Tom Mansfield (4). Bottom row: Dave Richards (bow), Emma Metcalf (cox), Paul Holland (2). We’re outside Corpus boathouse ‘cos we borrowed a Corpus boat, which is why we have those odd red blades with the white stripe. Yes, I know, I look like an idiot and the hat diesn’t suit me but it does keep the sweat out of my eyes.

News from the rest of the club is good: W2 bumped up again, M3 bumped up, and so were sandwich boat in division 3, where they rowed over. Well, the exercise is good for them. W1 also went up, so coming into M1 we were on a clean sweep. Alas M1 fell victim to the mighty Cantabs 2, though they did better than Nines 3 by getting into the gut, and closing to within maybe half a length on City 3.

Tonights list, at the moment. And don’t forget to check Paul Holland’s blog for the Cambridge News.

DSC_5097-remains-of-bow-bobble That is all that is left of our bow bobble. We came into the side rather hard after the bump, this happens in all the excitement. Thankfully Andy “Turkish boat repair man” Nicol had a spare to hand. If you have access to the club website, Chris Wood put up some wednesday night photos of M2 and M3.

Meanwhile, TS says:

It reminds me of Peter Tinniswood’s Tales from a Long Room, as narrated by Robin Bailey. I have only a vague idea what you’re talking about but it’s still amusing.

Ha! This is the premier sporting event of the year that you’re dissing old monster.

+ / – / . / . / .

It is the first night of the bumps (and see? I haven’t bored you with the boaties for ages).


This isn’t us – this is Cantabs II in M1 just about to catch what must be 99’s III, I’d guess. Congratulations to all of them and in particular Petr Arnold at bow. He certainly looked very happy afterwards. Slightly bad news for our M1 who are now ahead of them tomorrow.

To explain my cryptic notation in the title: W2 went up; M3 went down; we (M2) rowed over; W1 and M1 rowed over.

Our race was quite interesting. St Ives (rather an unknown quantity behind us) gained a little on the start but fell away after about 500 m or the first corner. Well before then the crew we were chasing, Cantabs 7, (who we, the glorious M2 of two years ago, caught after a hard row on the third night) had bumped Nines 5; we’d pretty well settled down to a row-over, as as far as we could tell everything ahead of us had bumped out. Then, excitingly, some Cantabs boat (#21, 11 places ahead of us) suddenly appeared, rowing. So we chased them down the Reach and caught them between the White house and the Railway bridge. But, it wasn’t fair, as they’d had some bizarre marshalling instructions and we only caught them because of some humungous crabs they got. For extra comedy points we weren’t sure where our finish was, or whether we’d really bumps Cantabs. But as it turned out our finish *was* the White house, not the railway bridge, so all was well.

As for the row: pretty nervous I thought, but then the first night often is. Badly down to bowside (the true enemy wasn’t Cantabs but those b*st*rds on strokeside! Does anyone else remember Spike Milligans war memoirs? The bit where someone – perhaps Patton – is talking to the politicians back home: “The Germans? Sure, I’ll put them on the list, but first we have to whump the Limeys”). We kept going, and didn’t tire: that was the main thing. Kate claimed 39 off the start and 35 for the first 500 m; if so that explains the huge amount of water we shipped :-). By contrast, I remember watching First+Third as they cruised past the Plough in complete control: “34” whispered the cox as they powered by, totally dry and totally together.

Particular thanks for Emma for great coxing, and Jon, Chris and Emma B for bank partying.

Current charts are at but will be different by the time you read this.

Hello to Atrichoke on first post corner. Hope you enjoyed the race.