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I write this report hoping that the remainder of bumps week will have seen some racing for us all. As I write this, M2 have had their equipment failure-riddled first day, and the subsequent two days of racing have been cancelled for all Churchill crews. I hope that this will not be the case for the remainder of the week and that we can go out there and show the rest of the river what we can do. I guess we can still have a dinner celebrating bumps if it didn’t even happen?
This has been a term full of challenges. From the resignation of our men’s captain at the start of term to two weeks of high winds leading to cancelled outings, red flags and some interesting coxing, to this week’s Arctic conditions, it’s been a term of ups and downs. However, it has been a privilege to watch our crews respond and adapt to the conditions. As ever, CCBC has shown me that ‘what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger’.
CCBC Overall Captain, 2017–18
After a difficult few days at the start of term, the crew quickly fell into a steady rhythm of training. Our first race was Winter Head to Head, at which we came in the lower half. This is not particularly disappointing, given that it was only the better, well trained crews that entered. And us.
We managed four outings a week, every week, which is remarkably lucky for a Lent term. The weather, though at times blistering cold and boat-tippingly windy, did not prevent us from rowing.
The next event was an individual erg event, a new race called “Downing Eliminator”. Half of the boat entered, all of whom made it to the “grand” final. Nati came second overall, and Elliot won the lightweight category outright.
Our final race before bumps was Pembroke Regatta. We held Downing pretty well for the first half of the course, but sadly they were the faster crew.
Our bumps campaign was cut short, as the first two days were stopped entirely due to bad weather.
On the third day, M1 braved the worst of the snow for a gruelling race. A scrappy and sluggish start left King's well inside station behind, and Tit Hall pulling away in front. King's, clearly gunning it, made rapid progress, and despite good corners from Cox Bradley were at three whistles in the gut. Finally we started pulling away on grassy corner, and were back to station by the top of the reach. King's, with no pressure from behind, wound it down, and we soon followed suit after increasing the gap, Tit Hall having been given a technical row over some time before.
Our final day was remarkable similar. A faster start left us inside station on Trinity Hall, but King's were quickly up behind us with whistles. However, today they were being chased by the slick Magdalene, who bumped them in the gut. Similarly, Tit Hall closed in on and then bumped a scrappy Girton, leaving us with clear water between the sandwich boat, Emma, and Catz three ahead. Even Catz bumped however, before we'd made much progress on them, and with Emma putting little pressure on us, we had a long but strong row over.
For my part, I’d like to say a special thank you to everyone who has coached us this term. The crew has improved massively in the last 6 weeks, and we wouldn’t have done it without you. I’d like to thank the boatman, but most importantly the 8 guys in the boat, without whose poor puns and irrelevant scientific analysis I would have had a much less enjoyable term.
Men’s Captain, 2017–18
Numbers on the women’s side have been sadly low this term, leaving us with no W2 and frequently searching for subs. Despite this, I have been consistently impressed by the effort all the girls have put in on and off the water, making some fantastic technical improvements and fitness gains. After putting down a strong foundation of technical work, we began working on rowing at higher rates, and on our practice starts; after some slightly rocky initial attempts, these began to feel much smoother and stronger. We also enjoyed the opportunity to try out Downing’s new rowing tank this month!
On our first day of bumps, the snow was falling fast but W1 were undaunted. Arriving at the boathouse, we donned as many warm clothes as possible and headed out to the river. The day was off to a good start when we managed to get further than the first marshalling point with no cancellations in sight, and the row down was solid.
After a strong start, we were inside station on Pembroke ahead of us, although St Catharine's were gaining on us behind and soon had two whistles (perhaps a little optimistically). Katie made the first of many kill calls and we moved to a boat length ahead of Catz. We were forced to go wide around first post corner due to a boat pulled in, but our racing line on the other corners was good. We continued to row on with Catz a boat length behind and Pembroke a boat length and a half ahead, leaving us with no option but to continue to push as hard as we could, with many kill calls being made. A slight wobble under the railway bridge gave Catz the chance to gain, but another kill move put us back ahead, and eventually, we made it to the finish with a hard-won row-over, hoping for much the same tomorrow.
W1 knew that the second race would be challenging; St Catharine's would be going off hard in an attempt to bump us before Trinity Hall caught them. This played out as expected — Catz were gaining on us, forcing us to give it everything. We implemented kill call after kill call to stay ahea, until they were bumped by Tit Hall at first post corner.
However, far from having the calmer second half we had anticipated, we found ourselves being chased by the rapid Queen's W1, who were determined to get the overbump on us. On the reach, we sat up and put everything we had onto the footplate and crossed the finish a boat length ahead of Queen's, marking our second tightly contested row over in two days and giving us net zero.
I am really grateful for all the hard work and early mornings put in by our coaching team, without whom we could not have done this - we are unrecognisable from the crew that went out at the beginning of term. Huge thanks also go out to everyone who has subbed in, and of course, thank you to the crew for making the term so enjoyable and working so hard - you’ve all come really far, especially our newer seniors. After a productive term, we head into Bumps feeling optimistic for what the week will hold.
CCBC Women’s Captain 2017–18
This term has been a very difficult term for M2, but despite that spirits remain high.
Although commitment to land training was not the best, we did manage to bring parts of the crew together for ergs twice a week, and suffering experienced during sprint ergs helped to build team spirit up. There was a considerable amount of effort to put down power and improve every erg, and this translated into a fast boat when in the water. Our efforts on land and water culminated in a victorious sparring session against our boathouse neighbours Selwyn 2, which set the tone for what would prove to be a glacial bumps week.
On the very first day of bumps we suffered a catastrophic mechanical problem just after the start and as a consequence got bumped. One of the yellow plastic rings which are mounted on the oars got detached, causing a crewmember to catch a huge crab and lose his oar. Very bad luck - we never thought about checking that specific part of the equipment. We hope this event will serve as a lesson for future Churchill crews to check their equipment thoroughly before a race.
All in all, the set and focus in this boat is promising, and considering the fact that half of the crew only started rowing this year, Churchill M2 can be optimistic and expect a good campaign in May Bumps. The whole crew would like to thank our coaches and all the subs that have helped us throughout the term.
Liam Martin and Thiago Burghi
M2 Captains 2017–18