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

More hot bumping action

I had such fun watching the last three divisions today that I’m going to bore you with yet more rowing. First, here is Corpus M1 (hello Rob!) catching Christs M2 (note cox’s hand half raised in the process of acknowledging the bump) to cement their place in division 2 and their hopes of blades tomorrow. Pembroke II look on in admiration, having bumped the brightly coloured Darwin.

Continue reading “More hot bumping action”

Head or Dead

head-or-dead-Lents-2011 This week is the Lent bumps, and I’ve been down to watch (except tuesday, when I forgot – since when do the bumps run over 5 days? – and thursday, when it was grey and miserable). Today was a lovely still sunny chill March afternoon, and I was rewarded with some fine bumping action to watch. First I should explain the image, which I stole from a Downing chap. First and Third were head last year (and, I think, a few years before – but I don’t really connect to college rowing) but looked weak on wednesday. The results say that Downing caught them on thursday (video here), and today they were convincingly ahead. So as my Downing chap says, their only trouble might be Caius tomorrow, but I think they are likely to stay head (ahem. I was wrong). Their ladies seem to do well, too. Peterhouse are up as well, in which I take some vicarious pride, as we share their boathouse.

The pic below is from thursday (via this blog, but its actually a Girton-cam video, and well worth a watch; that blog also has the breathlessly exciting story of the bump), and alas I didn’t see it: Downing are closing in on First and Third, but behind them LMBC take a distinctly innovative approach to steering, reminiscent of a certain Chesterton crew from a few years back [James T’s photo of the “dent”].


My favoured position is to watch from first post corner, so you can see the start, maybe watch the head boat come past, then walk / run down watching for an exciting pair to follow. But taking care not to get run over on the towpath, since the boat parties expect to get right of way. Today’s excitement was at Grassy, where there was a desperately exciting thre-boat chase – but showing what a rubbish reporter I am, I can’t even remember which three they were. This was followed by an even more exciting multi-boat pile up, whose centerpiece was ?Fitz? stacking into Magdalene with enough force to nearly rip off stroke’s rigger and, as quickly became apparent, put a huge rent under the boat, which will probably write off the rear section. Oops. Completely pointless too.

[Update: Saturday dawned sunny, and it was a delight to be alive. Sadly I wasn’t, at least to start with. By the time I’d woken up there was a thin high haze tempering the sun, and though I took my top off for our last piece (much to Naz’s excitement) I regretted it: the light splash of cold water was very cold.

I watch M3 and W2 with some of the Chesterton folk on Grassy. Here we see Trinity Hall II bumping Clare II, with F&T getting a lucky escape:


Then it was time for a coffee back in town to warm up, and say hello to M. Return for W1 and M1.


Downing ladies stayed head by quite a margin.

By the afternoon it was grey, and by the time for M1 there was a gentle drizzle. But it was well worth watching: Caius surged to with 3-4 feet of Downing by the Plough (it looked like they were deliberately trying to time their bump for the audience there; that didn’t quite work), and then convincingly bumped then not far from the top of the reach. One man was so excited he threw himself and his bicycle into the river, although to be fair it may not have been deliberate – there was a huge press of Caius folk who had been outside the Plough and wanted to see down the reach. And then another couple of bumps occurred – I think Queens got Pembroke and maybe Magdalene on Emma? Anyway, it was jolly exciting. And I found my lenscap – thank to whoever left it on the bin by the end. And so home, to pick up Miranda who had made scones with Sophie.


The victorious Caius, having knocked Downing off their brief headship on the last day.]

Cold again


and yet more photo spam:


Last week it was cold. It was warmer at the weekend. But this week it is cold again. Though as RC points out, its not going to be the coldest winter for a millenium.

DSC_5853-phoebe-a-table We went rowing tonight. Oddly enough we were the only crew out. We had to stop past the Elizabeth way bridge due to ice on the river – not solid sheets at that point, but enough floating bits to warn us that worse was coming. Very cold, I rowed with a glove on my inner hand and only survived by sticking my outer hand down my trousers when we span. Still it was a good warm-up for a pint in the Fort. Christmas Head this weekend. We are “Rage against the machine”, apparently a popular beat combo.

The pic is out front-garden fennel, with those cute icy spikes that grow when it is substantially sub-zero (about -4 oC) and very still. Close-up of the spikes on a branch, though the light is poor.

In other news just in, our cat is cute.


* Amy is iced in
* Apparently in other bits of England its a bit more serious
* Hansen points out that while its been cold here it has been warm elsewhere.


DSCN1494-snow-foot Exciting news just in – its cold in Cambridgeshire. All over the UK I expect, but I haven’t checked. indeed I haven’t checked out all of Cambridgeshire, let alone Cambridge, but never mind I’ll trust the reports. I tried putting my foot onto the snow and I can confirm: yes, it is cold. Not much snow mind: maybe 1 cm when fresh.

DSCN1495-boating Cycling is fun too. I haven’t come off, but then again it is dry-cold mostly in the evening coming back, and in the morning the streets at least are ice-free. Rowing this evening was distinctly chilly. Don’t click on the photo to the left – its rubbish. See the Fort St George glowing cheerfully at us across the dark cold Cam.

DSCN1499 We did three reaches with a piece of about 1 km back on each, enough to warm us up. The away-from-the-city end was dark (oddly enough) and spooky because for some reason the swans were nervous and kept moving around and hugely flapping their wings. Apart from hands cold to the point of numbness it was an excellent outing. This picture is supposed to show the all-important ice-forming-on-the-hull to prove how cold it was. Look closely; I’m sure you’ll see it.

I even had time for a brief walk around at noon:


New erg

DSC_5803 I didn’t promise to cull all the boring rowing stuff off this blog, only the routine stuff. And obviously Anticipation of a new ergs arrival, The is far from routine. Let alone the actual arrival.

Here we see Darling Daughter pulling down firmly into her stomach in violation of all the best practices, but never mind, she is but young.

DSC_5800 It comes in a nice cardboard box, and isn’t even especially large – foolishly, I got it delivered to home, which meant I got a phonecall in the middle of the day and had to rush off. Argh. I should just have got it sent to work – it would have fit easily into the car.

DSC_5801 It peeks shyly out of its case like a young maiden awiting her first love. With E’s assistance I put it together in ~10 mins – you screw the front legs on, then clip the slidey-bar into the front unit (which looks to have been improved over the model C fixing). This is a model D – there seemed to be no obvious reason to pay the extra for the E. I’m not even sure the D is that much better than the C, except the rotor-unit seems a bit better. And it comes with a PM3 as standard – I didn’t splash out on the PM4, but now wish I had, since PM3’s won’t talk to Garmin Ant+ heart rate belts. The handle is different to the C: more ergonomically shaped, perhaps. And of course this one is rather cleaner than any unit I’ve ever used before. Never mind: as Julia said, that won’t last.

As to the rowing, it appears to work. 7101m for 30 mins, which is the second in my pyramid starting at 7000m. I’m not sure where the apex will be: probably 7500 for this round because I’m still hoping to actually get into the habit of enjoynig ergs rather than dreading them.

Perhaps this is a good place to point out all the exciting things you’ve missed on the other blog:

* Peterborough half marathon and my pathetic excuses for my rubbish time,
* The Robs Head,
* Rainy tuesday night on the river.