Town Bumps 2011

The Cambridge Town Bumps always arrives at my busiest time of the year. With me being a fair weather rower, the only times I tend to train are in the months leading up to the Bumps. This year, apart from the normality of Bumps starting the day after a long weekend boozing at the Latitude Festival, it followed weekends where I had been away, also boozing, in Blackpool and then Cheshire for a stag do and a wedding. Not the best preparation.

This was my 7th consecutive Bumps and I found myself in the St Radegund mens 2nd crew. Last year I rowed at stroke for the St Radegund novice boat and it was a pleasure this year to get back to bow side and my favourite position at 7.

It wasn’t a particularly successful Bumps for our crew, but could have been worse.

Tuesday

It started off bad with us being bumped on the first night. We rowed poorly and got caught on the course’s first corner (First Post corner). Although to give us a tiny amount of credit we did start a decent distance towards the back of the line-up.

Wednesday

We tried to calm the nerves and adrenaline on the the second night and had a good row-over. We made a small impression on the crew who had caught us the night before but they bumped before we could consider catching them. The boat chasing us slipped further behind and we were comfortable rowing the course. I heard on the grapevine later that the boat chasing us were pretty angry not to catch a St Radegund boat nicknamed the “Beer Boat”.

Thursday

This was an awful night. I was quite ashamed of us. The boat that didn’t catch our crew the night before made an absolutely storming start and within a few hundred metres were just about overlapping us at the bow. At which point they veered off the straight river and crashed into the bank. Rudder failure, I later found out. We didn’t know whether to celebrate or not but with another boat further down the river we thought it best to continue.

Over the middle half of the course the boat that started 2 positions behind us actually caught right up on our bow and amazingly bumped us just outside The Plough pub. This meant that we had been effectively caught by the two boats that started behind us on the river. This was really bad – being caught by one boat is not good, but being caught by two is just embarrassing!

However the outcome was that we managed to get away with being caught on both occasions and were granted a technical row-over. The first boat that caught us had not officially bumped us (it was only a metre or two short of this) before it crashed. The second boat that caught us had technically bumped the one that crashed and was not allowed to chase us. So that was that. We rowed like fat, uncoordinated pigs, but were lucky, and I was ashamed.

Friday

Last night of the Bumps. Nobody wants to have bad night. We knew we had rowed appallingly the night before so had to learn to calm down on the slide and not overly panic. I’m not totally sure what happened but we had a good start and the most solid row of the week.

The boat that caught us from two positions back the day before had a better start but could not get close to us (always at least a boast length away). And our crew slowly ground down the boat we were chasing and finally caught it towards the end of the course, just after the Plough pub. We had a bump for the first time that week!

Again I heard on the grapevine that the boat chasing us were angry that they could not catch us for a second night. I just wish we could have rowed more consistently across the week. We had two good races and two very bad ones.

Here’s a photo from a couple of minutes into the final night’s race. We are boat 47 and as you can see the boats either side of us are not too far away…

In our haste to move to the side of the river after our bump we got the bow stuck into the far bank. The boat was not budging using just oars alone so Pierre, at number 2, had to climb out into the river and pull the boat out.

Our crew made the traditional stop at the Beer Tree after the race – which was more mandatory than usual since the St Radegund mens 1st crew needed our boat to race in. Ben had selected red wigs, and optional green face paint, as our fancy dress – not totally sure why. However we did look like idiots and I guess that was the point. I recall 3 children on the bank pointing at us and shouting “clowns”!

Our St Radegund M2 crew was:

Cox: Frances
Stroke: George
7: Rob
6: Craig
5: William/Colin (Thu)
4: Ben
3: Andy
2: Pierre
Bow: Alan

I had additional support this year with my Dad coming to visit for the first time during Bumps week. Here he is demonstrating how to make full use of the Beer Tree.

The official bumps results are here.

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