Earlier in the term, M1 gained vital race experience, travelling to the Tideway for a gutsy row in Quintin Head, before heading to Henley for Henley 4s and 8s. Rowing in such famous locations, interspersed with consistent performances in IWL, significantly helped to calm the nerves for the big race of the term. On the Wednesday, the crew felt they had a strong shot at bumping Pembroke 2 in front of them, but were unfortunately unable to gain ground, struggling for a strong rhythm, and rowed over. On Thursday, M1 were again chasing Pembroke, and went off hard, seeking to put them under pressure. Although closing to within a length by Donnington Bridge, Pembroke bumped Jesus and swung out of the racing lane. Jesus have proved somewhat of a nemesis over the past few years, but after bumping in Eights last year, the jinx had been broken, and M1 rowed them down along the Greenbank, with the bump sparking mild and composed celebrations from the stern. The day improved further when it materialised that, as per their custom, Univ had crashed, and were bumped by the entire division, thus M1 went up 2. Friday again saw M1 chasing Pembroke, but despite finding a better rhythm, they were unable to close. On the Saturday, M1 had an impressive Brasenose crew in front, and a quick Queen’s crew, who had been looming on the horizon all week. Despite a new master plan, and finding a much stronger rhythm following the start, Queen’s were closing fast into the gut, only to be denied by a klaxon, as a St Anne’s cox decided to go for a swim. Although we accepted that Queen’s were the better crew on the day, and had deserved the bump, we were happy with our performance. Up 2 overall being M1’s best performance since 2003.
M2 had been showing great promise all term, consistently placing towards the top in the IWL head races, and went into Torpids with great confidence, knowing that over the length of the course, they had the cruising speed to challenge anyone in the division. So it proved. On Wednesday, they settled into a fast rhythm, and ate up the ground on a strong Univ II crew, bumping along Greenbank. On Thursday, things were easier, as they cruised through St John’s 2 before the gut. Friday didn’t pose any problems either as again an impressive LMH 2 boat were swiftly dispatched. However, as M2 crews of the past can attest, all is not fair in bumps racing, and blades are never won until the final bump is achieved. Despite finding a great rhythm and closing on a scrappy Jesus crew into the gut, some poor steering and foolish coxing from Linacre and New College caused a klaxon in the gut, and M2 were deprived the rewards they deserved. Nevertheless, their strong showing once again reiterated the depth of Lincoln rowing, and it bodes very well for Summer Eights. M3 M3 trained hard all term, and became a well oiled unit under the guidance of Torpids’ tallest cox, John Dudding. Unfortunately, in rowing on, the rudder snapped causing M3 to miss out on qualification, with the rowing on divisions proliferated by Schools’ Eights. Still, expect a strong showing in Summer VIIIs.
Torpids began for Lincoln Women on the Friday of 4th week with rowing on for all three lower boats. The memory of missing out on qualification by one second in 2010 was strong in the minds of many of W2, so we knew that nothing but our best performance would suffice. As it turned out we needn’t have worried so much. All three crews rowed well, with W2 and W3 qualifying in joint second position. W4 missed out on qualification due to a disaster with a blade coming out of its gate, but produced a very good row despite this. So fifth week came around with three boats qualified for Torpids, W2 and W3 in division five (escaping being placed next to each other as we feared!) and W1 in division three. All three boats knew that they were capable of bumping the boats around them; it was just a case of putting their long weeks of training into practice!
W3 rose from the bottom of division five, bumping Jesus II, Magdalen II, LMH III and St Peter’s II. However, one of the most impressive results of the whole week came on the Friday, when a broken seat led to them having to row over with seven. Despite this they were bumped only once, leading to an overall rise of three places over the week.
W2 also moved up three places, bumping Linacre II, St Peter’s II and Teddy Hall II. Their quest for a clean sweep was ended by a klaxon on the second day of racing, when they were just metres from the boat ahead. However, the most impressive performance of the women’s boats came from W1. From IWL results we knew that W1 were quick and they had been training hard all term, with a minimum of six training sessions a week since January. However, a large part of bumps success is down to luck, so the boat knew that they would have to row at their peak to maximise their chances of success. On the first three days the bumps came easily, with bumps on Brasenose, St Antony’s and St Anne’s (who then went on to bump Linacre) leaving Lincoln four places higher at the beginning of Saturday than they had been on Wednesday. However, we knew that Saturday’s race would not be easy. Lincoln were chasing LMH, who were also on for blades and wouldn’t be giving up without a fight. LMH caught Corpus Christi fairly quickly, leaving Lincoln to try for the overbump on Corpus. It was the longest row so far, but eventually we made contact halfway down Green Banks, leading to the immortal comment from Nic Urban at bow – “I thought I’d caught a crab…but it was their boat!”. This bump meant an overall rise of five places for W1 and most importantly, the award of blades, the first time that a Lincoln W1 has won blades in fifteen years.