Caius knocked off top spot

19 June 2008

The men of 1st and 3rd Trinity Boat Club dislodged Gonville and Caius from the from the head of the river to end their dominance of May Bumps. 1st and 3rd bumped their rivals on Wednesday 11th June, the first day of racing, and never looked like losing the headship.

Caius had experienced 21 consecutive row-overs at the top of the Men’s charts, the longest any crew has been Head of the river for over 100 years, but now there is a new name at the top of the bumps charts.

With four university standard rowers in the stern of their boat, many people fancied Caius to make it seven years at the top. However their commitments to CUBC had left little time for the Caius boat to gel as a crew, and when the cannon was fired on Wednesday evening, 1st & 3rd showed the importance of having a settled eight.

Caius were never going to give up the headship easily and they held off their rivals until the start of the long reach. However 1st and 3rd had slowly worn down Caius’ one and a half length advantage, and a momentous push out of Ditton corner proved fatal for the leaders.

Caius’ reign was ended, and both Lady Margaret and Jesus proved anxious to capitalise on their chance to move above them.

On Thursday LMBC were held off for most of the long reach before the Caius Cox raised his arm in concession. And after maintaining their position on the river on Friday, Caius’ miserable week was topped off as Jesus found that little bit extra on Saturday in front of the huge crowds lining the banks.

There was change in the Women’s headship this year as well. Pembroke put together a very strong crew which included Samantha Bennett from the Blue Boat. Jesus had lost half of last year’s boat, and have struggled this year to find the right combination. But with the Jesus boat showing impressive and improving form in recent weeks, Wednesday’s race was predicted to be a close one.

A solid start was made by both the Jesus and Pembroke women, yet Jesus were rating higher and began to fatigue in the second half of the course. The Pembroke boat began to catch the gutsy Jesuans, and despite a massive effort from the headship, they were at the railway bridge, just a couple of hundred meters from the finish.

Pembroke captain Alex Raftery was ecstatic, telling The Cambridge Student, “it feels fantastic! Thanks to Jesus for some great racing and making it a headship worth the taking.”

The best bumps action nearly always happens further down the bumps charts, and this was a particularly exciting year, with 17 crews bumping every time, earning themselves blades. Joy for those 17 was matched by despondency for others, with 26 boats having the dubious honour of earning themselves spoons, by being bumped every day.

St. Edmund’s College will be celebrating this week, after two of their boats managed double overbumps (bumping the boat 5 places ahead), a feat rarely accomplished by any boat, made all the more remarkable by the fact that two boats from the same college did so within a couple of hours of each other.

Eddies have found the key to a rapid rise up the bumps charts in the past couple years, winning the Michell cup for the best performing boat club both this year and last, due, in no small part, to the two double overbumps on Thursday.

The week though, belongs to 1st and 3rd, having earned back the men’s headship for the first time in 35 years. They are now Head of the River in both Lent and May Bumps, and if anyone is going to challenge them they have many more early mornings and erg sessions to look forward to next year. Then again, ask any of Chung’s 1st and 3rd Men’s 1st VIII and I’m sure they’ll tell you it’s worth it!