SAM HAYES reviews the action in the top men's divisions over the course of Mays.
First and Third held on to their headship of the May Bumps mostly unthreatened from the chasing pack in an action filled four days on the Cam.
FaT used their clear water advantage to, for the most part, stay well ahead of Caius chasing them. The biggest threat came on Friday, when in the closing stages Caius got to three whistles – just 6 feet away from a bump.
The FaT race report described the Friday row as “complacent”. Caius got to this position after coming under pressure themselves from a chasing Pembroke crew, who had 3 whistles themselves at one stage.
Pembroke managed to bump Caius on Saturday, after bumping LMBC and Jesus on the first two days. Pembroke had a tendency to leave it late, as they did last year, with all their bumps coming on the reach, and the bump on LMBC being awarded only a handful of strokes before the finish line.
Pembroke had lost a length over the first half of the course and had to make up 2.5 lengths over the length of the reach. A Pembroke rower commented “we seem to settle into our rhythm earlier than other crews, and start our big pushes when we get to the Plough [roughly 1000m from the start]”.
Jesus performed better than most expected, in the end only going down one place, holding off Downing on the last two days.
Queens’ had a terrible campaign for a crew that dominated for most of the year, their new boat seemed unable to go round corners, twice parking on grassy corner. On Saturday it wasn’t the corners that undid them however; a boatstopping crab at the bottom of the reach (and right in front of the large numbers of spectators at the marquees) left them with no chance to recover before St. Catharine’s overtook for a simple bump. The Catz crew were adamant the crab merely brought forward the inevitable though “at one stage we were 4 lengths behind, but had closed to a length before the crab, we would definitely have got them”.
The bump on Queens’ means Catz are up three for the campaign, almost making up for last years spoons. The incident also meant an interesting Fitzwilliam-Catz race was curtailed, with Fitz within a length of Catz at that stage.
Fitz will be happy with their result of up 2 for the week, making it into the top ten for next year. As everyone expected, Clare got spoons, competing with Churchill (who also spooned) for worst crew in Division 1.
In Division 2, Robinson endured 8 rowovers as they remained sandwich boat on all four days, never managing to bump up into the first division. There was controversy on the last day as Selwyn, the surprise crew of the division, got incredibly close to Robinson off a fast start, and believed they had made the bump around grassy corner. The umpire following the crews failed to see any contact and Robinson pushed away, leaving Selwyn, suffering from the exertion of their start, to be caught by Peterhouse, which was a reversal of Selwyn’s bump on the first day.
The Wednesday bump led to the rest of the division behind being klaxoned, after a late concession from Peterhouse and slow clearing from Selwyn meant the Downing II boat behind crashed into Selwyn, knocking the Selwyn cox into the river. The rerow between Downing II, Girton and Caius II was uneventful, with all three crews rowing over. These crews rowed over again in the same combination for the next two races, on those occasions Caius II got close to Girton, at one stage on Thursday having overlap but being unable to convert. Saturday saw Caius caught by the blading Homerton crew.
St. Edmunds also won blades, with relatively simple bumps on the first three days, but being held off for much longer by Jesus II. Sidney Sussex were denied their second set of blades for the year, after the crew two in front, Darwin, inexplicably crashing along a straight and handing a bump to Anglia Ruskin. Corpus gained promotion to the second division on Wednesday, but were then bumped back into Div 3 as Christs’ II and Pembroke II moved up the charts, each going up 5 places in total.
Now bumps is over the focus for the top crews switches outside the Cambridge bubble, with several attempting to gain qualification for Henley Royal Regatta, the most prestigious event in the British rowing calendar, and where college clubs will hope to be able to pit their wits against top British and North American university crews.