Lent Bumps Day One: Carry On Rowing, Darwin Heroics and Queens’ Washout

Image credit: Ellie Heikel

When Union speaker Katherine Grainger was asked for some words of encouragement for apprehensive debutants on the eve of Lent Bumps, she was a bit bemused. “I’ve never done Bumps before,” she laughed. “I think most people outside of Oxford and Cambridge would think it’s a bit mad.” With snapped blades, controversial re-rows and a high-speed crash into a tree, the first day of Lent Bumps 2018 certainly lived up to Grainger’s sage words.

College of the Cam: Hughes Hall, both of their first crews securing promotion, before backing it up with bumps in W2 and M2

And with the TCS Colours: Darwin M1, securing the first overbump of 2018 after dropping down four places and receiving a wooden spoon last campaign


Bumps: Caius 3 on St Catherine 3; Wolfson 2 on Downing 3; Trinity Hall 3 on Pembroke 3; Hughes Hall 2 on Queens’ 4

Sandwich Boat: Sidney Sussex 2

For the day of drama that was to come, the two-thirds full M4 division proved to be a fairly drab affair, with few teams managing to stake a claim for promotion.

First bump of 2018 belonged to Wolfson as they swiftly caught a rather pedestrian Downing boat by First Post corner. It was a more hotly contested battle between Catz and Caius at the top of the division. From the whistle Caius pushed Catz’s second crew – and their pressure soon tolled, Catz duly crashing into the bank. It made for a comfortable row for division leaders Sidney 2, who kept a clean, tight line all the way, and cruised into M3 contention. Homerton 2 leisurely brought up the rear, rowing over in a distant 12th.


Bumps: Sidney Sussex 2 on Queens’ 3; Emmanuel 3 on Homerton 2

Sandwich Boat: Lucy Cavendish 2

W4 saw a similarly sparse field with only six boats pushing out on the Cam at five past two. For all the lack of occasion, though, Cavendish fired out of the blocks, rapidly opening up an unassailable lead over second-place Queens’ 3. Indeed, it proved to be another disappointing race for the big club, caught by minnows Sidney Sussex. Emma meanwhile were in hot pursuit of Homerton, and managed one of the earliest bumps of the day ahead of First Post. Pembroke sped past, but an overbump was beyond them after Queens’ travails, only an imperious Lucy Cav crew left on the water.


Bumps: St Edmund’s 1 on Queens’ 2; Jesus 3 on First and Third 2; St Catherine’s 2 on Murray Edwards 2; King’s 2 on Darwin 2; Trinity Hall 2 on Newnham 3; Lady Margaret 3 on Clare 3; Lucy Cavendish 2 on Murray Edwards 3

Sandwich Boat: Hughes Hall 1

There were bumps galore in the W3 division at 2:40 as only four boats of the 18-strong field made it to the finish line. Hughes Hall were heading the pack, and despite second-place Corpus holding a remarkably tight line throughout the race, the W1 crew held steady for a two boat lengths’ lead. A few boats back, Medwards were in hot pursuit of an improvised Jesus 3 crew, although featuring fastest novice erg time-trialist Cara Bronwen James. The Jesus boat caught First and Third just in time, but then vaudevillian scenes ensued. “The cox tried to pull us over to the wrong side of the river,” James smiled, a Bumps debutant. “So then we had all of bowside rowing to get us to the other side. We were going quite fast and we speared a tree. The end of the boat went a good half a metre into the tree. Poppy who was at bow had to take her oar out of the gate and lever it against the tree to properly push off. When we finally got free there was about 30 people watching.”

But while it was all smiles and blushes for Jesus, Murray Edwards were being made to pay for their early exertions, and were agonisingly caught by Catz midway through the race. Amidst the chaos in the bottom half of the division, only Caius rowed over, having quickly opened up a big gap over Newnham. It was another bitter defeat for Queens, bumped by St Ed’s after a disastrously wide line at Grassy corner, surely ending their hopes of promotion.


Bumps: First and Third 3 on St Catherine’s 2; Jesus 3 on Churchill 2; Clare 3 on Peterhouse 2

Sandwich boat: Hughes Hall 1

All in all, one of the most confused M3 divisions in a long time. Jesus 3 mercifully managed to extricate themselves from the carnage that was about to unfold, with a shock bump over Churchill 2 after the crew suffered a snapped blade. The six remaining boats of the division, though, all failed to come through onto Grassy.

“It was a little bit of a mess,” one of the umpires admitted sheepishly, speaking to Cam FM. “When Clare bumped Peterhouse they blocked the river causing crews at the back of the division to have to stop.” There’s nothing like the perverse thrill of a proper good old log jam.

In the event, Queens 3 and Sidney 2 were allowed a technical row over, and so it was only Fitz 2 and King’s 2 that controversially took to the Cam once more. The race ended in row overs for both, but King’s seventh man seemed to be rowing with half a blade. They will certainly be looking to bump up tomorrow.

Mid-table saw some marginally more competent and assured rowing, with Magdalene 2 in particular accelerating away from the field, agonisingly close to the First and Third 3 boat at Railway Bridge before they caught Catz. The Catz boat was slow to clear, and Magdalene had to hold up to avoid lancing into them – another strong case for a re-row, you would have thought. Lady Margaret 3, Trinity Hall 2 and Clare 1 all rowed over. Although ailing Emma were almost caught by Robinson, the top four ultimately saw no reshuffles.  


Bumps: Fitzwilliam 1 on Peterhouse 1; Emmanuel 1 on Magdalene 1; Darwin 1 on Selwyn 1; Wolfson 1 on Pembroke 2; Hughes Hall 1 on Christ’s 2

Sandwich boat: King’s 1

In spite of the sub-zero temperatures, few crews had looked in need of a warm-up breaking into their first strokes, and the W2 division was no expection. Wolfson and Hughes Hall made flying starts, catching Pembroke and Christ’s before First Post. Homerton 1 looked determined to make amends for underwhelming 2’s displays, but hopes of a promotion challenge took a damaging blow after Peterhouse suffered a successive bump by Grassy.

It was though, inevitably, a race of two halves following such a frenetic start. After opening up a big gap from Darwin 1, who looked vulnerable to a Sussex bump, Selwyn were shockingly caught by their first crew counterparts. Jesus also looked jaded on the Long Reach, slipping from half a boat to a two-boat deficit to Homerton. It was heartbreak for Magdalene as they were caught late on the final straight by Emma – also ending hopes of a dramatic last-gasp Sidney overbump. Towards the bottom of the division, there was a Herculean effort from the Lady Margaret boat to hold off Clare.


Bumps: Corpus Christi 1 on Jesus 2; First and Third 2 on Homerton 1; St Edmund’s 1 on Clare 2; Darwin 1 on Downing 2 (overbump); Sidney Sussex 2 on Queens’ 2; Hughes Hall 1 on Pembroke 2

Sandwich boat: Magdalene 1

As the top five all rowed over, it was the lower echelons of the division that provided the drama in this one. Jesus 2 went out hard for a lightning bump on Lady Margaret, but their stamina ebbed away on the approach to Grassy, and Corpus Christi capitalised. Sidney’s tenacity was rewarded as they also caught Queens’ on Grassy for the second time that afternoon. Hughes Hall put in another surprise display as sandwich boat, virtually overlapping Pembroke 2’s on the Long Reach before finally securing the light blue colours.

But the most eye-catching crew proved to be Darwin. After the nadir of spoons last year, they were awarded an overtake overbump on Downing M2 who appeared to crash out on the straight under Motorway Bridge, lifting themselves up to 11th. The Darwin crew were also reportedly sporting blues stash in the stroke seat. St Edmund’s 1’s stroke seat also deserves an honourable mention for his get-up, having the hardiness to row down to the start line in shorts.  

Despite not being in their boat with two minutes to go, Magdalene 1 comfortably rowed over at the top of the division. They’re certainly a good shout for a bump in M1 this afternoon.


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