Tomorrow is the first day of Lent Bumps, the main event of the term for the rowing calendar in Cambridge. The various head races and regattas of the term so far are forgotten; this is what we've trained for. I am ridiculously excited, as I'm sure most of the rowers in Cambridge are, but especially so at Downing just because of the expectation and anticipation of fantastic results and headships. There's no motivation required any more. We just need to give it everything we have, and short of any catastrophes or huge surprises, we should be reaping the seeds we've been sowing since January and even before that.
Token Inches video:
Any chance of our confidence coming down merely to arrogance, naivety or over-estimating our own ability has been somewhat taken this week by the BumpIt predictions. Out of the 64 predictions at the time of writing, 40 have Downing M1 down for headship. The predictions for the women are even more confidence-boosting, with 41 out of 46 predictions touting Downing W1 to go head (and out of the remaining five, four of them were people claiming their own college would finish on top).
I wouldn't look too hard into BumpIt results, but it's somewhat comforting to know that it's not just some sort of self-driven club frenzy that we're quite possibly going to get a double headship. The majority of my predictions are just a result of me randomly clicking around (aside from Downing W1, the top of the M1 division, and the boats around and including M2). The men should really get headship, and it's likely that the only difficult test will be holding off Caius M1 on the final day, which relies on the fact that they'll go up every day and won't get screwed around by FaT moving down, or any other shenanigans in the racing. The women are pretty unrivalled this term, and frankly I can't see much stopping them besides something going horribly wrong on the final day (a huge crab, equipment failure, etc).
For M2, I think blades are pretty damn unlikely. I do however reckon that we can place ourselves as the highest M2 boat by the end of the week. I see the most likely scenario being that LMBC M2 aren't quick enough on the first day, get hit by Caius M2, and force us to row over. FaT M2 are almost certainly too slow to hold off Sidney Sussex (who are reasonably quick) and any chance of an overbump will vanish pretty quickly. The double overbump (lol) would be on St. Cat's, which is definitely not going to happen because they're rapid this term. Having rowed over the first day, I reckon we'll be able to bump LMBC M2 and FaT M2 as Caius send them down, and then on the final day we'll be able to have a proper crack at Caius because they should have a quick crew in front of us.
This all said, it's bumps racing, and pretty much anything can happen. If we go out hard enough and LMBC II turn out to be more resilient than we'd given them credit for, then we could well go up on the first three days and then see where we're at on Saturday. Or we could fuck up, as we did in Pembroke regatta, and get hit by Jesus M2. We'll just have to wait and see.
I'm not really sure how quick W2 are compared to the boats around them, mostly because they've not raced a huge amount, and neither have most of the boats around them. They're fairly far down the start order, so it'd be nice for them to go up a few places, and you'd think that they should really. Newnham II will almost certainly be too fast for them, but they should hopefully keep a clear margin in front so that our W2 have always got something hittable in front of them.
I we bored/excited yesterday evening and this morrning, so I made myself a desktop background, which I'll update throughout the week, and because it's on Dropbox in theory the image in that link should update as well (the one below won't - it's just there for posterity).
Something that amuses me slightly over the last couple of days, along with the Cambridge rowing messageboards was the new paint job on the A14 "motorway" bridge, courtesy of Newnham College:
Painting of the bridge is usually seen as something of a statement of dominance of the river, which is why it's a bit weird that Newnham have bothered to paint it. Their W1 haven't actually won anything on the Cam this term (except the late Fairbairns, as a Newnham rower has pointed out to me, which I guess sort of should count for this term) - Downing W1 have pretty much swept up every race there was to win. Painting it before bumps also strikes me as being very much a case of counting chickens - I'm aware that this blog post is mostly "rar rar double headship", but painting a whole bridge is very much more of a statement, and they're setting themselves up for a fair amount of stick and embarrassment if they don't have two or three crews getting blades.
The final thing is that they're bloody far down the start order - they're nowhere near headship, and they're not close enough to the top for getting blades to actually be much of an accomplishment, even if they manage it. Getting headship is a big achievement, and getting blades from sixth or seventh up the start order is also a reasonable show of speed, but getting blades from thirteenth in the start order is hardly an exceptional display of prowess.
Still, it ain't my bridge, so I'm not particularly fussed about it. If anything I'm somewhat impressed just because it's a pretty damn big bridge, and it's hardly a trivial exercise to go paint it in club colours and write the name of the college on it. The spacing is a bit dodgy, but it's far better than the previous shambles of a paint job by Queens':
The photo doesn't really do the untidy, drippy aspect of the paint job justice. The Christ's before that was even worse. As much as I don't want to praise something done by First and Third, the best one I've seen was the "BACK WHERE WE BELONG" before it got the shitty half-wash of red paint over it:
If Downing take both headships from First and Third, and if we decide that parading a boat through town and burning it on the paddock isn't quite celebration enough, then I'd want us to at least do as good a job of it as that (and if we wanted to be ironic and rub it in a little more, then we could even paint the same message). Because if you're going to paint a frigging huge bridge, you might as well paint it well.