Race Reports 2016-17

May Bumps 2017 - W1

Day 1

NCBC W1 had an incredibly strong first day. Having sent a strong message to FaT on the row up, our minds were firmly on the boat ahead. Starting under the bridge is never ideal, and it took us a few strokes to really hit our stride but once we did we were moving well, munching into Emma ahead of us, with FaT fast becoming a spot in the distance.

Coming around grassy the water was very rough with three boats all close together. Unfortunately as we nudged inside station on Emma, we started to hear the whistles they had on Girton. As is the frustration of bumps, Girton couldn't hold on for long enough for us to get Emma, so Emma and Girton bumped out ahead. We nevertheless had a strong race until the end, even closing in significantly on Clare down the reach.

Girton - today we're coming for you!

By Fliss Hall

Day 2

Bumped Girton W1

Day 3

Bumped Clare W1

May Bumps 2017 - W2

Day 1

Rowed Over

Day 2

Having rowed over the first day, we were hungry for the bump. As we pushed off we put the rowdy leisure boat and the cannon on either side of us out of our head and were set in our task. Our start was snappy and we closed in on Selwyn W1 coming in to grassy. Darwin W1 was hot on our heals, a mere boat length away. Pulling away with a bump 10, we stayed Selwyn's bow for 10 strokes before a massive call for legs sealed their fate.

By Sarah Byrne

Day 3

Rowed Over

May Bumps 2017 - W3

Day 1

W3 were excited to start off bumps felling strong having trained hard all term. From the gun we had a strong start, gelling well as a boat however Christ’s W2 who we were chasing also had a quick start, pulling away from us as we rowed through First Post Corner and Grassy.

We never gave up as we continued a strong row onto the Reach where some great coxing saw us speed towards Christ’s to move inside station on them. Christ’s were not initially phased continuing to retain the distance between us, yet along the course of the Reach as a crew W3 kept a strong rhythm and kept gaining on Christ’s. Following some superb coxing calls W3 surged towards Christ’s past the Railway Bridge to gain a very well fought bump!

By Hannah Marks

Day 2

W3 were on a mission. We’d prepared ourselves for the sound of whistles from Christs W2 who we’d bumped past the railway bridge the day before, but with Medwards W2 in our sights we knew it was going to be a shorter race than yesterday, and determination was fierce as we rowed up.

Jelly sweets in our stomachs, lucky granites in our hatches and, in the words of Sophia, our fear truly feeling like ‘DETERMINATION misinterpreted’, we were ready. With the sound of the cannon just feet away, our start was executed with absolute ferocity and the whistles from Christs never came. They were outside station and with passion in our hearts we began closing in on Medwards.

One whistle came as Newnham Bridge was still in our sights and the boat felt alive. With Medwards taking somewhat unusual angles around the course, Sophia our much-experienced cox took the perfect racing line and one whistle quickly became three. Our crew being an exceptionally excitable bunch of rowers, we heard the ‘KILL CALL’ from Sophia and focused so much on the imminent bump and power in our strokes that we briefly lost touch with our rhythm. Having had three whistles and overlaps for the best part of 60 seconds, we brought it back together and with a final power ten we did it, we BUMPED!

Our crew pasta, garlic bread, salad and chocolate that evening never tasted so wonderful! As the highest W3 on the river, higher than 16 W1 and W2s below us, our 6 sessions of training a week and next level crew friendship brought us to this point and our determination only grows stronger – Tit Hall you are next (Even if your Canadian rowing coach is magnificent)!

By Sophie Baldwin

Day 3

Today, the pressure was firmly on W3 to catch Tit Hall W2, without being caught by Murray Edwards behind us. We knew it was going to be a long and exhausting race, but we were confident that we could cope with the test of our endurance, since we’d only caught Christ’s W2 after the railway bridge on the first day of bumps. Nerves were high, but so was excitement – Matt told us before the race that “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over”, and so we all had that in our minds as the cannon went off.

We had a strong start, and didn’t concede any ground to Murray Edwards behind us, despite the overzealous whistles of their coach on the bank. However, Tit Hall weren’t going to give in easily, and they had to be ground down over nearly the entire course. It was a hard race, no doubt about it, but the cheering from the Plough and after the railway bridge re-energised us despite our exhausted legs.

Our bodies were tired, but our determination remained strong throughout, and we finally got a whistle on Tit Hall along the reach. They managed to keep a length’s advantage on us for quite a while, but when we finally heard two whistles we gritted our teeth and pushed as hard as we physically could.

We got the bump and slammed the brakes on, screaming with excitement and satisfaction – they had thought that they could keep us off until the finish, but we caught them 100m before they were safely home. And now, going forward to Saturday’s race, we can finally dare to start saying the ‘B word’ – no matter what happens, with three bumps behind us, we can at least say we got a First (75%) in May Bumps!

By Cait Findlay

Lent Bumps 2017 - W1

Day 1

We approached the first day of bumps confident that we are a strong crew, but also knowing that the race would be tough. When the cannon went off, we did not perform the best of our starts (but hey, the nerves!) and it took us few more strokes than usual to settle into our rhythm. Shortly, the nerves calmed down and we performed a strong and solid race keeping the power up throughout the whole course.

While nothing much happened all the way to the reach, we got one whistle on Downing while approaching the railway bridge. We then got to half a length at about Morley’s Holt and kept gaining on Downing – up to two whistles. Unfortunately, we did not manage to bump them before the finish. We will try again tomorrow!

By Chiara Avancini

W1 on Day 1 of Lent Bumps 2017

Day 2

Rowed Over

Day 3

Having had solid row overs for the previous two days the boat was determined to put pressure on Downing I yet again.

Today, however, we had Clare I chasing us. We had raced Clare I previously in Pembroke Regatta and had come out on top, but we knew they had a fast start and we needed to watch out!

Then cannon went and as suspected Clare came up on us. We kept pushing hard, but they soon had 1 whistle on us, however at the same time we were gaining on Downing up ahead.

With Katie screaming we powered on but by the top of the reach Clare were a mere metre from us (and Cam FM decided a bump had occured and even stopped broadcasting at this point) we now had a whistle on Downing. Round the corner we absolutely beasted it and drew away from Clare, providing spectators with much excitement!

Down the reach everyone was pushing like we'd never pushed before, making sure we 'pushed everything out' by the end of the race. Unfortunately today Clare just had the edge and just before the Railway bridge we couldn't hold them off any longer and we were forced to concede.

Even if the bump was disappointing, we can take away from the race that when we were put under pressure we rowed really well and held off Clare for a good 500m after they appeared to be about to bump.

Back at the boat house with the traditional post race cake, brought by Fliss today, we looked at the positives and decided that maybe it was a good thing that we'd been bumped. Now in 4th we are still in with a shot of headship, by over-bumping on the last day, where in third, with only one day left, headship would be impossible. Tommorrow is a new day, and it's all to play for...

By Pippa Dakin and Karen Habermann

Lent Bumps 2017 - W2

Day 1

Despite an ‘incident’ on the row up (for those who haven’t seen Spotted on the Cam Spotted: River Cam post, Queens' rowed into us as we rowed up to the start, and we managed to take a considerable chunk out of their boat), it was a great race to start our Bumps campaign. Chasing Corpus Christi W1, we got the bump only a few metres after the motorway bridge - so a very successful 200m or so of rowing!

By Rhiannon Smith

W2 on Day 1 of Lent Bumps 2017

Day 2

For Day 2 of bumps, we were in the advantageous position of knowing we had a slower boat behind us, having bumped Corpus W1 the day before. Nonetheless, we knew we had to keep our heads in the game. It was a beautiful, sunny day for racing. Having felt how good our starter bump tasted, it was time for the antipasti (extended metaphor courtesy of coach Charlotte).

After the starting gun, it was all so quick that there honestly isn’t much to report. Our start sequence had definitely improved, and we munched into Christ's W2, gaining whistles almost immediately. 1, 2, 3, continuous…we bumped just after the motorway bridge. We couldn’t believe it – once again we had barely finished our start sequence! The sun properly came out as we rowed home, glorious in our greenery. This has made us even more focused for tomorrow, where we chase LMBC W2. Day 3 is make it or break it (the main course) so we really hope for good results.

By Kate Randall and Ellie Holloway

Day 3

Day Three. The Main Course. We knew this was to be our toughest day yet – LMBC W2 ahead of us were catchable, but Pembroke W2 ahead of them even more so. There was no space for complacency after our first two bumps as we knew we had to catch Maggie quickly, before they could bump out with Pembroke.

A focussed paddle down saw a much more subdued crew as we prepared to do battle. But we were to channel our nervous energy into the row of our lives. The canon sounded and we were flying, our start ‘terrifyingly fast’, and we were gaining. We knew there was no time to mess around and led strategically by our stroke, a powerful rate 36 brought us closer. Whistles sounded – us? Them? Both? Carnage ahead had forced Pembroke to stop, allowing Maggie to gain on them, but thanks to a heroic restart they held off the bump. And what a restart – it gave us the space we needed and with a final push we ploughed into Maggie with a crunch just past the motorway bridge. We may not have raced for long, but we raced HARD.

We were hungry for it today, and now we’re ready for pudding tomorrow.

By Costanza Pearce

Day 4

W2 Bladed on Day 4 of Lent Bumps 2017

Lent Bumps 2017 - W3

Day 1

Glycogen stores full to bursting thanks to no less than six garlic baguettes the night before; nails adorned with NCBC colours by beautician Sophie (‘I won a nail painting competition in year five!’); and hair tied with blue and gold bows made by Jenna, W3 set off in windy conditions with purpose and pride. After two brief pitstops – one to carry out a haka to keep warm and one to refuel with jelly sweets – we were pushed out by our bank party and before we knew it, the race had begun.

After a difficult start, the wind and a power imbalance pushing us towards the reeds, we managed to avoid stopping and swiftly got back on track. By the end of our start sequence, it was clear that the distance between us and Caius W2 was closing rapidly. As Sophie (stroke) puts it, ‘as we passed under Newnham Bridge, our rhythm felt as powerful as Jenna's motivational emails and we were 100% focussed on bumping (slaughtering) Caius (not the swans)’. However, this is Bumps, and no victory is a given. Unfortunately, due to carnage up ahead as a result of several boats’ inability to clear the river, we were forced to hold it up. Despite attempting to restart, it soon transpired that the race was going to have to come to a halt. We were awarded a technical row over, and paddled home frustrated, but not defeated.

Tomorrow we face different waters, with the possibility of an overbump; indeed, with Caius W2 chasing the ‘dire’ Trinity Hall W2, we will potentially have a shot at taking the position of Churchill W2. This will be no mean feat, but we are confident that it is something we can achieve thanks to our crew spirit and quality training: ‘our yellow and blue nails may be chipped, but our determination remains as strong as ever!’ (Sophie). Bring on Wednesday!

By Sophia Russell

Day 2

W3 set of in better conditions today, with Sophie still refusing to wear enough layers to protect against the cold. Again fueled by jelly sweets, we started the race well and tried hard to catch Cauis W2 before they bumped Trinity Hall W2. However, our hopes were dashed as we powered past the two crews tucked in at the side having bumped.

Undeterred, we pushed on aiming for the coveted overbump guided by our amazing cox Sophia. Coming under the railway bridge, we hit a wall of noise as the second division marshalling crews cheered us on and we managed to bump Churchill with 100m to go, a feat summarised succinctly by Jenna, ‘They hit a wall and we powered through’. Big shout out to Rhiannon and Jenna for much needed motivational yelling from the bank!

By Harriet Haysom and Katie Jones

W3 having Overbumped on Day 2 of Lent Bumps 2017

Day 3

On the dawn of day 3, we were all a bit nervous. If we couldn’t bump King’s before they reached ARU, we would have to try for another overbump. The additional intimidation of being chased by a very strong Caius W2, combined with torrential rain as we set off towards Baits Bite lock, was starting to sink in.

But we remained steadfast. The sky had cleared and we were ready to fight – inch by inch and stroke by stroke. At the sound of the cannon, we took our best start yet and quickly gained on King’s. However, Bumps is often a question of how good the crews in front of you are, and not your speed. Today’s bump was not meant to be. All the crews in front of us bumped out, and there was nobody left to chase – except us.

Newnham W3 and Caius W2 were the last ones on the river now, and we started another power ten in order to hold them off until the finish line. Our stroke Sophie kept a strong and steady pace, undeterred by Caius’ looming bow ball, and we clawed our way ahead. We really put the power down, and were halfway to the finish.

The winding nature of the Cam, however, was not in our favor, and Caius caught us a bit before the Plough. We had faced a tough opponent and given it everything we had, so we rowed back proudly, with our heads held high in the face of defeat.

Tomorrow we hold nothing back. We know we will have to go for the overbump once more, but this one is coveted. We’re hungry for it. Countless early morning outings and 2x6ks have given us both the physical and mental strength to get it. King’s had better sleep with one eye open, because we will pass out before we die. Bring it on!

By Cait Findlay and Karla Boxall

Day 4

After a roller-coaster ride in the first few days, including a frustrating technical row-over, an exhilarating overbump, and a bump by Caius, the final day of Lent Bumps dawned with opportunity (groan-inducing pun on ‘oar’ resisted with difficulty) in the air. We anticipated that Caius would bump ARU almost immediately, leaving us with a clear shot at King’s for a potential second overbump. We knew it would be a long and hard race, but after Jenna’s words of encouragement and weeks of training, we were ready for anything. Buoyed up by excitement and fuelled by our favourite jelly sweets, we rowed down to our station to anticipate the final cannon.

After a slightly messy start, our first prediction came true, and Caius bumped ARU, which meant we could have a run at bumping King’s. Fortunately for them, but unfortunately for us, they were a little bit too good, and bumped Clare Hall, meaning that the overbump was impossible. Undeterred, we gritted our teeth and pushed down through our legs, determined not to let Trinity Hall come anywhere near us.

Tiredness began to weary our legs after the first kilometre, and Tit Hall crept up on us little by little. However, we had the edge in terms of fitness, and our fighting spirit kicked in – we would not be bumped today. After a rhythm reset and a strong power ten along the river which had been cleared by earlier bumps, we pulled away from Tit Hall along the Reach and left them in our dust. When we crossed the finish line to whoops and cheers from the boats who were marshalling near the railway bridge, they were miles behind us.

Jenna cracked open a bottle of cava once we’d pulled over, and we all had a well-deserved swig after weeks on a drinking ban. We were celebrating a net result of +2 for next year’s Bumps, as well as acknowledging all the hard work and early mornings which had led to our wonderful result of which the whole crew can be extremely proud. We have worked so hard, and every single erg, outing, and team chat built us up to be a formidable W3 of whom other crews should be extremely wary.

Special thanks, of course, go to Jenna for her tireless dedication and – somewhat unusual – motivational emails. Who would have thought that being told “you will pass out before you die” could be so encouraging? Nevertheless, she has been a wonderful coach, never tiring of shouting for us to slow down the slide, and always turning up with a smile on her face and determination in her messages.

Also, to our wonderful cox, Sophia: we love you so much, and could not have managed any of our successes without you. For the pasta parties and the support which you never fail to give, even when we are dying in a long piece or seemingly endless race – thank you so much.


By Sophia, Sophie, Paige, Harriet, Maria, Katie, Eleanor, Izzy, Cait, and Karla

Pembroke Regatta 2017 - Overview

18 February 2017

A truly dominant performance by the Boat Club resulted in victories for both the first and second eights this weekend at Pembroke Regatta. First up, W2 made short work of Lucy/Hughes W2 before comprehensively beating First and Third Trinity W2 in the quarter-final and repeating the feat in the semi-final against Clare W2. A tough Emmanuel W2 was then beaten by a distance in the final.

NCBC W1 and W2 competing in Pembroke Regatta 2017

Not to be outshone (and with the draw showing a pleasing level of inverse symmetry) W1 started their regatta by beating Emmanuel W1 (four lengths), Clare W1 (2 lengths) and Girton W1 (a distance) on their way to the final. In the final they faced a strong Lucy/Hughes W1 and a great race saw some exciting side-by-side racing for the first 500m. After breaking their opponents' spirits, Newnham W1 moved away at the railway bridge and went on to win comfortably by 2 lengths.

Eight races – eight big wins.Well done everyone and it’s looking very good for Bumps (starting Tuesday 28th).

By Alan Hendrick

Novice Fairbairns 2016 - NW1

1 December 2016

As Michaelmas progressed, NW1 were on a mission. After coming 7th in Queens’ ergs and rowing oarsomely in Emma sprints, we were getting stronger and learning to row as one unit. With 3 outings a week plus the occasional erg, we were on the way to becoming race ready.

Fairbairns was here, and spirits were high. The previous Sunday we’d rowed like never before in our last weekend outing as a crew and we knew that if it came together, we could be great. Alice our cox navigated us to the starting position and we were ready to execute a racing start just like we’d practised.

Sadly, disaster struck! Ten strokes in and Philippa’s footplate came unscrewed, making her crab and unable to row for about 90 seconds. Katherine dropped out and desperately tried to help as we continued rowing as a six. The less than ideal start threw us slightly, but Ellie’s shouts from the river bank were exactly what we needed (in fact, crewcial) to regain focus and we pulled it together. Rowing down the river we’d gotten to know so well over the past eight weeks, we settled into a strong (riggerous) rhythm.

It just wasn’t our day though, and as we reached the halfway point, Katie’s seat slid off the sliders. We rowed bow six, giving it everything we had as she determinedly set about getting it back in place, refusing to let it signify the end of her race! Extroardinarily she got it sorted and we were back on form to end the race like we believed we could. Alice got our spirits back up again and after an immense power ten and some impassioned calls of ‘for Newnham!’ we rowed in style for the last 800m.

Whilst our final time wasn’t entirely reflective of the prowgress we made this term, we all really enjoyed the race and didn’t want to have our last row home, which we knew meant the end… Novicing together this term has been such an amazing experience, our crew really bonded as one! It certainly wouldn’t have been so enjoyable without the legendary LBC Ellie who dedicated a crazy amount of time to teaching us all, so a massive thank you from all of NW1 to her, we’re so grateful!

By Sophie Baldwin & Pippa Dakin

Novice Fairbairns 2016 - NW2

1 December 2016

As NW2 sat in the boat, ready for Fairbairns, our LBC Kate told us that the only thing that could fail us now was our equipment. We had trained as hard as we could all term, and we were ready for our final race together, thanks to Kate’s dedication, for which we are so grateful!

Rowing karma must have had it in for us after we nearly collided with Pembroke in an outing a few weeks earlier, because by the end of the race we were to find out just how true those words were.

When our turn came, we started out strong with great coxing by Molly-May to help us power through. However, after a few hundred metres, her calls were lost to the wind as the cox box broke, and utter confusion reigned. Nevertheless, we remained undaunted, and continued to row our hearts out, pushing hard round the corners and keeping up a fair speed.

At least, we thought we were, until a crew from a mature college overtook us just before the Reach. Although we could see them pass us, we didn’t let that stop us from doing as best as we could with no cox box, and still crossed the finish line in style. Or as best we could, given that Eman’s rigger had snapped off within ten metres of the finish, leaving her to desperately keep hold of it so that it didn’t sink to the bottom of the Cam.

As bow six rowed back to the boathouse, with one oar and rigger inside the boat instead of fixed to its outside, the awareness that this was our final outing together began to set in. Though we didn’t win, and in fact didn’t even come close, we had made incredible progress from a bunch of girls who weren’t entirely sure which way round the oars went, to a strong eight and a great cox who finished Fairbairns with a smile on our faces.

By Cait Findlay

Senior Fairbairns 2016 - Gryphens

2 December 2016

For the last few years, we have been able to enter a Gryphen’s boat in Fairbairns. Wanting to continue this tradition, the call to arms was issued at the start of term, and was met by an incredible response from my fellow Gryphens, the keenness suggesting that I wasn’t the only one who had forgotten how long and cold Fairbairns is! Indeed, so many said that they would like to come back and show the youth of today how to row that we managed to enter both a VIII and an IV.

The current captains, Fliss and Katie, very generously said they would be able to lend us the boats we needed, and also invited us to come to BCD afterwards. So after a couple of months of hard training (erm, what’s an erg?) and organising (it wouldn’t be Fairbairns if there wasn’t a last minute illness crisis!), the following oarsome crews found themselves back at the boathouse once again:

Cox – Hayley McDermott (NC 2012)
Stroke – Sarah Faull (NC 2011)
7 – Louise Gale (NC 2009)
6 – Grace Wise (née Neal) (NC 2002)
5 – Jenna Dittmar (NC 2012)
4 – Sophie Clarke (NC 2013)
3 – Stephanie Werner (NC 2012)
2 – Agnès de Varine (NC 2012)
Bow – Gemma-Claire Ali (NC 2009)

The IV:
Cox – Gemma-Claire Ali (NC 2009)
Stroke – Hayley McDermott (NC 2012)
3 – Sophie Clarke (NC 2013)
2 – Amy Eccles (née Winsfield) (NC 1999)
Bow – Victoria Kimonides (NC 1993)

The VIII were up first, having decided to meet at the boathouse sufficiently early to get a brief go on the ergs before Jesus descended. This enabled us to devise a brief start sequence (5 draw strokes, then try to calm down from rate 38...) and a very in depth race plan of “we’ll see how it goes”. This all sorted, we settled down to critique the other crews as they began racing, cheer on the Newnham crews, and in my case try and think of things to say for the 18 and a bit minutes of racing. Thankfully the weather was unseasonably warm, and it was soon our turn to go. We jumped in the boat, backed it down a bit, and then set off. As proof that rowing is just like riding a bike in that you never forget how to do it, the start was nice and smooth, and we settled into a solid race rhythm between 26 and 28, which stayed that way all the way down the course. The race itself was nice and uneventful despite a brief moment where the cox forgot which way the steering worked on the way into Ditton (no harm came from this, except for an “unusual” line), and we slowly gained on the Champs crew ahead. The crew stayed strong right through to the finish, and could be very pleased with themselves for the efforts put in.

NCBC Gryphens (Alumnae) VIII in Fairbairns 2016

The IV were in the following division, and had rather less preparation thanks to three of the crew also being involved in the VIII. This meant that poor Amy’s first strokes in 15 years were the three practice ones she got before we crossed the startline. But hey, training is cheating right! The IV initially settled at a nice, calm 22, but this was quickly remedied as we too made our trip down the Cam, complete with a good fight with Xpress W1. Soon enough, the shorter course was complete, much to the relief of Sophie, who being a true star, had already rowed the complete course with the VIII, and the IV headed back to prepare for BCD, where much fun was had by all.

NCBC Gryphens (Alumnae) IV in Fairbairns 2016

When the results came out, we saw that we could be very pleased with ourselves. The VIII had a time of 18:39.0, and the IV 15:24.3. this put both crews high up among the other alumni boats, and even ahead of some current college W1s. Not bad for two scratch crews with people who hadn’t rowed in years!

It was great to come back and row on the Cam once again, and we all had a really good day. Thanks to Fliss and Katie for being so accommodating, the current members of NCBC for being so welcoming, and to all my fellow Gryphens who dug out the lycra and got involved. Same again next year?

By Hayley McDermott (NC 2012)