May Bumps 2013 – Day Three

(M1 – Tit Hall, Churchill, Selwyn sandwich – so close!)

No bumps for S.C.B.C. today sadly, but things are looking promising for the final day thanks to the groundwork laid down today.

M4, freshly arrived in Divison 5 after yesterday’s bump on Homerton, found themselves chasing Corpus III but with a keen Clare V now in sandwich boat position behind them. A strong start saw them gain on Corpus, but quite soon afterwards the division was halted due to carnage ahead. A re-row was announced for Selwyn, Corpus and Clare only and this time Corpus hit a much stronger start. They now had a clean-water advantage as well, and held Selwyn off much better. Clare pushed up and eventually got the bump just on First Post Corner. A disappointing day, and a return to sandwich boat position for M4, but another chance to re-enter Division 5 awaits tomorrow. The Pimm’s boat fared slightly better, achieving a solid row-over along with the crews ahead and behind them. They will start in the same order tomorrow, and will be hoping to at least equal today’s performance.

In Division 4, M3 looked to halt their downward slide, and managed it in style. Aware that they had been bumped by two of the fastest boats in the division, they had a strong start ahead of Christ’s III (their fellows’ boat) and matched their every push, preventing the veteran crew behind getting more than a whistle. Things got desperate for Christ’s on Plough Reach, as Corpus II pushed up on them, but unable to make ground on Selwyn, they were bumped outside the Plough. M3 continued the solid race pace they had held thus far, and gobbled up ground down the Long Reach, looking for the double overbump on Downing IV, who were making heavy work it. Sadly this feat proved a little too much, but M3 were within three lengths of Downing (from a starting station 11.5 lengths behind) at the finish. Tomorrow, they look to give Wolfson II their spoons, whilst denying Corpus II their blades.

With the overbump-and-a-half-ed Pembroke III behind them, whom they had so nearly caught on Day 1, W2 knew they could focus on trying to revenge themselves on Girton II. In the event, this proved too much, but a solid row-over ensued and they chase the same opposition tomorrow. On the other hand M2, after yesterday’s row-over found themselves between a falling Clare II and a climbing St Cat’s II: holding station on Clare through to Grassy, M2 found themselves losing ground to Cat’s slowly but surely. In the end, the Cat’s crew’s superior experience showed and they gained their bump as M2 rounded Ditton onto the Long Reach.

Having the previous day revenged themselves for what has become known as the ‘Historically Disputed Bump’ on Robinson in Mays 2010, M1 knew they would face a tougher challenge today chasing Churchill, not least because of a spooning Trinity Hall ahead of them. The result was one hell of a race, but unfortunately not in Selwyn’s favour: by Grassy all three crews were compressing, and round Ditton all three were pretty much overlapping. Churchill clipped Trinity Hall before Selwyn could finish the job though, forcing Selwyn to extricate themselves and row home, never threatened by Robinson behind. They will be hoping to take out some of their frustration on Trinity Hall themselves on the final day. W1 too are hopeful of a positive ending to the week, after a strong row-over today: never threatened by Magdalene behind, Selwyn made a brave attempt at keeping up with Peterhouse as they caught Girton, and were then left to chase a remote but not impossible overbump on Trinity Hall. They made up a lot of ground on a flagging Trinity Hall down the Long Reach (estimates of around 18 seconds), but didn’t quite have long enough to reel them all the way in. Tomorrow they have another shot at Girton, to whom they got so close on Day 2.

All in all, tomorrow looks promising – bring on the last day and Boat Club Dinner!

May Bumps 2013 – Day Two

Another eventful day on the Cam, with exactly the same overall results as the first day for S.C.B.C.

The day started with the Hermes M4 boat restored to their sandwich boat position at the head of Division 6 thanks to a scratch from F.a.T. V higher up in Div. 5. A strong row over at head was followed by an impressive long-haul bump on Homerton III, which took from the Lock until Ditton. The Hermes boys will be hoping to continue their ascent today. The Pimm’s boat gave a much better showing of themselves on Day 2, gaining one whistle on Clare III, who had had the advantage of W3’s crash yesterday. Sadly, Emmanuel IV, who had overbumped the day before, were steadily pressing up on Selwyn, and despite some sturdy resistence from the girls, got the bump.

M3 were also looking to make up for a disappointing first day, hoping to hold off St Cat’s III for the course. Despite some pre-cannon drama ahead of us, with Wolfson II losing a gate on the row-up (they got it fixed in time, but still only held Jesus halfway down First Post reach), M3 had a much calmer and stronger start than yesterday, and settled into a good race rhythm. Cat’s began creeping up and though M3 held it together strongly, and made them fight all the way to the Gut, they were just unable to muster that extra 10% to start pushing away. Day 3 will see them attempt to learn from this with Christ’s III (their fellows’ boat) behind.

M3 Row Home. (c) L. Santinelli

After Day 1’s disappointement, W2 were looking for a strong performance to give themselves another shot at Pembroke, whom they had nearly bumped on the first day. With a strong Girton II crew pushing from behind, W2 started well and a massive crab from St Cat’s ahead gave them hope of a revenge bump. Sadly, Girton gave it everything and managed to catch the girls just before they could hit Cat’s, who were parked on the bank. The resulting clearing led to Cat’s being trapped and granted a technical row-over, allowing Magdalene II to power through and get an unconventional ‘Overbump and A Half’ on Pembroke III, with the three crews between them out of action.

M2 knew that Darwin I would be more of a challenge than F.a.T. III had been, especially with a catchable Clare II ahead of them. A strong start saw them stay on station with Darwin and maintain that all the way through to the Railway bridge, where Darwin finally ground down Clare for the bump. A strong row-over for M2 though and high hopes for chasing Clare on Day 3. Meanwhile, F.a.T. behind them were bumped by Cat’s and caused a re-row of the entire division below 6th.

In the 2nd division, M1 continued their climb with a powerful bump on Robinson, who had given Peterhouse a long race the day before. Selwyn looked to finish the job early though, and a few strong shunts in the Gut, combined with some erratic steering from ‘Binson saw them get the bump just before Grassy. W1 had a similar fly or die attitude in their race, pushing well up into Girton, as Peterhouse pressed hard behind. With Selwyn hovering less than half a length off Girton’s stern, Peterhouse put in a push to finish it off though, and got the bump.

M1 after bumping. (c) L.Santinelli

May Bumps 2013 – Day One

Mixed fortunes on the first day of the 2013 May Bumps for S.C.B.C., with two bumps, one row-over and four crews going down.

The first Selwyn boat in action was M4, representatives of the Hermes Club, who faced a tough row at the head of the 6th division being chased by Darwin III, their fellows’ boat. Their superior experience showed in both their rowing and their choice to wear lycra even in Division 6, and despite some solid racing from M4, Darwin caught them on Grassy (managing in the process to give the bow of Laurie a closer acquaintance with the bank than was ideal). Darwin went on to bump Homerton III as sandwich boat, so M4 will at least have a new target in their sights, although the scratching of FaT V has possibly led to some rejigging of the start order. The Hermes boat’s female counterparts, the Sirens Club, rowing as W3, definitely had circumstances against them in the 4th division: a rushed push-out, the strong headwind and then a snapped rudder line saw them career into the bank before really getting going in their race, leading to them being caught by Clare III. The girls will be hoping to acquit themselves better tomorrow.

Next up was the recently assembled, mostly MCR M3. With a swift Jesus III crew behind, it was a matter of trying to hit Darwin II in front as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Jesus proved too fast, although a collision with Darwin, after they had bumped Wolfson II ahead, led to some confusion: Jesus’ bump was awarded at the time, but The Tab later reported (at 16.13), erroneously it seems, that the decision had been overruled and technical row-overs given instead.

Both the men’s and women’s second boats started strongly in their respective races in the 3rd divisions. W2 had three whistles on Pembroke III in the Gut, but couldn’t quite finish the job before St Catherine’s II behind them came back strongly for the Bump on Grassy Corner. M2 on the other hand took advantage of their strong start to reel in First and Third III and complete the bump just before entering Grassy.

M2 Wednesday
M2 pulling in for their greenery at Grassy Corner. (c) L.Santinelli

And finally to the first boats: M1 raced first, chasing Downing II in the 2nd division. Downing put up a sturdy resistance, but Selwyn steadily ground them down, pushing inside a length by Grassy, and finally getting the bump on Ditton. W1 put in a solid performance in the 1st division, rowing over after crews bumped out ahead and behind them: having gained some ground on St Catherine’s in front, this was soon lost as Cat’s pushed into a flagging Girton, eventually catching them by the Plough. Tomorrow brings an interesting line-up with Selwyn getting a shot at Girton, while being chased from behind by Peterhouse, who caught Magdalene today.

M1 Wednesday
M1 chasing down Downing II. (c) L.Santinelli

A tentative start for S.C.B.C. all round, but one which bears some promise for the rest of the week!


UPDATE – Full race reports are now up on the website:

M1 – Wednesday – bumped Downing II

W1 – Wednesday – rowed over

M2 – Wednesday – bumped FaT III

W2 – Wednesday – bumped by Catz II

M3 – Wednesday – bumped by Jesus III

Pimm’s boat (W3) – Wednesday – bumped by Clare III

Hermes boat (M4) – Wednesday – bumped by Darwin fellows

The old ones are still the best

Bow: Benedict ‘Comrade’ Gliniecki (SE 2009)
2: Sebastian ‘Spoons’ Palmer (SE 2007)
3: Richard ‘Chorizo’ Cartwright (SE 2009)
4: Christian ‘Shorts’ Vaquero-Stainer (SE 2009)
5:  David ‘Flag Dave’ Lambert (SE 2009)
6: James ‘Textbook Boatie’ Robinson (SE 2008)
7: James ‘Silver Fox’ Hugall (SE 2008)
Stroke: Joshua ‘Museum Piece’ Pugh-Ginn (SE 2007)
Cox: Emily ‘Steering for the Bump’ Hopkinson (SE 2008)

Selwyn College Boat Club has, over the course of its 130 year history, produced many fine rowers who have gone on to great things in the sport. It has also produced the nine individuals who gathered from the farthest flung corners of the South-East to race in the alumni division of City Sprints.

It was a fine sunny afternoon when we gathered at the familiar edifice that is the Combined Boathouse. A motley collection of recent graduates and recent retirees from the rowing scene, we certainly had pedigree: 28 sets of Lents and Mays colours between us, and almost as many sets of spoons too. What could a crew of such calibre not achieve with a whole afternoon of training under their belt?

While the rest of us waited for Richard ‘Chorizo’ Cartwright (SE 2010) to finish his daily 2k, we spoke to Captain Matthias about which boat we should use. Offers to M1 of sparring (either with boats or fists) to decide which of us should get Eivind were sadly declined, and we made do with Laurie. We placed the sleek hull in the insalubrious waters of the Cam and then were faced with deciding the crew order. Miraculously, we discovered our crew consisted of four bowsiders, four strokesiders and a cox: from there it was simple. Emily ‘Steering for Bump’ Hopkinson (SE 2008) at the helm was reunited with her stern pair from M2 Mays 2009, Joshua ‘Museum Piece’ Pugh Ginn (SE 2007) and James ‘Silver Fox’ Hugall (SE 2008). Our intrepid and erstwhile captain, James ‘Textbook Boatie’ Robinson (SE 2008) took the six-seat, while David ‘Flag Dave’ Lambert, Christian ‘Shorts’ Vaquero-Stainer (both SE 2009) and Richard ‘Climbing?’ Cartwright comprised the rest of the powerhouse middle four. Bow pair saw Sebastian ‘Spoons’ Palmer (SE 2007) and Benedict ‘Comrade’ Gliniecki (SE 2009) return to their familiar seats.

James 'Silver Fox' Hugall
James ‘Silver Fox’ Hugall

A quick weigh-in session followed, which proved our decision not to enter the lightweight category the correct one. Thence, to the river, where a long intensive training session had been planned and cleared with CUCBC, ahead of our race at 6pm. In the event, after rowing to the P&E, stern pair voted against the rate pyramid and 6 x 1k pieces in favour of just practising a few starts. This we proceeded to do, with not entirely unpleasant results. True, seven sounded faintly asthmatic and our Captain kept shouting to relax the draw strokes (prompting Emily to demonstrate the coxing prowess that got her so far with CUL: “Do it more less rushed”), but we all agreed the rowing wasn’t as bad as we expected: we could wind to 47 quite happily and seemed to settle well on about 35.

We decided that actually doing 400m at race pace was probably a good idea (seven was dismayed to discover that our previous starts hadn’t got us that far). On spinning at the top of the Reach though, we discovered three Clare VIIIs in our way and, learning that they were about to piece, we decided to join in for a ‘bump or bridge’ piece, confidently anticipating the former. Our start gained us some ground on the hindmost Clare VIII, but we failed to capitalise from there and it was with some relief that we reached the bridge before anyone collapsed or pulled something.

We returned to the boathouse for refreshments and to collect the race numbers, confidently asserting that we had just held Clare M1 in a piece, until the Clare VIIIs rowed past and we saw the weedy oarsmen in the wooden VIII that we had raced behind. Chris was the first to realise what had happened: Clare had obviously swapped their crews around entirely at the P&E to save their embarrassment. While this prompted further discussion, including on the aerodynamics of afros, the two Jameses returned, one with the race numbers and doughnuts for later, the other with a satisfied grin, which we later discovered was due to a quick pre-race burger. At least they negotiated the cycle to and from City Boat House safely: Seb, popping home to stock up on performance energy gels, returned with a rather nasty cut on his palm from trying to dodge a parked car. Luckily it was his outside hand, and in any case, us old timers are made of sterner stuff than the current lot, so after the application of some antiseptic and the removal of some tarmac, he was good to row.

A quick pre-race snack

Thoughts now turned to our opponents, Magdalene Alumni: we confidently predicted that if they dated from an era when Magdalene were any good, they would also have to be pretty old. As we rowed down to marshal for our race, the centrepiece of the entire day’s racing, we got our first glimpse of our foe. They were doing pause-paddling. Our hearts dropped. Even James H’s optimism couldn’t come to our aid: on pointing out that their four-man looked quite old, Emily pointed out that Magdalene were probably saying the same of him. As we manoeuvred into position on the stake boats, we all mentally prepared ourselves for the coming contest. Our start was solid (though our draw strokes could have been calmer) and we used our lead into the corner to push off Magdalene, who had the advantage of the bend: there wasn’t much of a settle in evidence. The roar of the crowd spurred us on. Coming to the end of the corner, we still had a lead, Emily sitting level with their five man. She called for a push, but this was not a crew to leave anything in the tank for that sort of thing. Magdalene perhaps were, and crept back at us, drawing level and pushing a few seats ahead as we went over the line.

It was an honourable loss, and when we eventually regained our breath we gave Magdalene three cheers (theirs was worryingly soon after they crossed the line – had they perhaps been training?). James H later admitted to having a mini-stroke (the cardiac type, not an confession of inadequacy in the boat). We rowed home with heads held high, blisters forming and lungs burning: we may not have won the pots we so coveted, but there’s always Champs Head next weekend? Who knows, with a bit of training…

‘W-Pro’ alumni brave the Bumps

Bow: Lizzy Johnstone (SE 2007)
2: Ellie Healey (SE 2007)
3: Moira Kelly (SE 2008)
Stroke: Emma Dalman (SE 2008)
Cox: Emily Hopkinson (SE 2008)

A boat of recent alumni and hangers-on faced the treacherous waters of the Isis on Saturday to represent the mighty Selwyn in Oxford City bumps. Only the keenest of the keen need apply for an entire bumps week in a single day, with our IV+ including women’s captains from 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, and Tom Page award winner 2011.

We managed to scrounge a boat from ex-Henley Fund Liaison Officer ‘Big Matt’, who’s now the president of Christ Church Boat Club, and were lucky enough to have bank party support from die-hard Selwyn fan James Robinson and (less die-hard Selwyn fan) Emma’s boyfriend Nick (from Robinson).

Preparation for our bumps campaign largely* consisted of making some trestles to leave the boat on between races. This was a major achievement in itself as a) they worked, and b) they had ‘Selwyn W-Pro, Oxford Bumps 2013’ printed on the side. (They did say ‘Oxford Bumps 2012’ until James helpfully pointed out that was the wrong year.)

W-Pro trestles
Proof that the W-Pro trestles could actually hold a boat up.

We expected to start at the foot of the river, but from the start order it appeared that several of the other crews had asked to be put lower down, and we somehow ended up going off sixth in the first division.

Part One – The practice round – Down 3

As with board games, we figure the first bumps race is a ‘practice’ for the real thing. We pushed off from Christ Church and had a 1k paddle up to the start to get used to the boat – and to each other (after 2 years apart!). It wasn’t as bad as might be expected, but felt pretty nervous, with Moira saying ‘normally I’m worried we’ll get bumped, but right now I’m worried we’ll fall in’.

We lined up at the start and got ready to go. As the klaxon went off we tentatively broke into our ‘start’ and were promptly bumped by City of Oxford behind. With torpids rules, only the bumping crew gets to stop, and we had to carry on to row the course out. So we were bumped again. And again. But as the race went on, we started to gel as a crew and, more confident, pushed into the boat in front. Over the last 500 metres we reeled in Oxford Academicals (who had themselves already been bumped twice), bringing them from 4 lengths to a canvas at the finish.

Part Two – Brute strength and Ethereal grace – Up 2

The slight fear that my up 15 bumps record would be annihilated in a single day was quickly overcome by the thought of racing once more for the mighty Selwyn College Boat Club. We pulled into Oxford City boathouse and were reunited with our homemade ‘Selwyn W-Pro, Oxford Bumps 2013’ trestles. Uplifted, Ellie came up with a new aim for the day – to row with ‘Brute strength and Ethereal grace’.

Brute strength
‘Brute strength’

This was all the motivation we needed, and the second race was much better. We pushed off the start with at least some degree of brute strength and settled into a more comfortable race rhythm. We out-graced University College behind and were quickly outside station and free to focus on the crew in front. Again we were chasing down Oxford Academicals, the three boats immediately in front having bumped out within the first 600 metres. We reeled them in over the course of the race, but catching up on four stations proved a little too much, and we eventually finished with about a length and a half between us.

We were feeling confident into our third race, as we had Oxford Academicals immediately in front, and were being chased by University, the crew that had been a long way off us the race before. Even with our somewhat ropey start we were moving in on the bump rapidly. A lift off Donnington Bridge finished it off within the first 200 metres, sadly not leaving us quite enough time to demonstrate true brute strength and ethereal grace. Nonetheless, we pulled in conveniently close to Oxford City boathouse to enjoy an extended cake-break before our final race.

The plan for the final race was to row over and try and keep up with the boats that had bumped us earlier in the day (to see how much we had improved!). On the start line however, we realised that the boat in front, Lincoln College, wasn’t actually one of the ones that bumped us. We had hope for another win, and were fired up when we heard ahead ‘we can’t get got by the Tabs’. It was another quick one, and we got GDBO around ten strokes on from Donnington Bridge. Despite the brevity, rumour has it we still managed to squeeze in some signature brute strength and ethereal grace.

Ethereal grace
‘Ethereal grace’

All in all it was a great day. It was brilliant to catch up with everyone, and we were pretty chuffed to finish 7th on the river. Oxford bumps is one of the best organised and chilled-out races I’ve been to, so if you’re around in Oxford next April, why not try to boost Selwyn W-Pro further up the leaderboard, or perhaps get Selwyn M-Pro in the running.

*Largely = entirely, except for Emma’s carb-loading on a Burger King Big Whopper meal the night before.