M1 Day 1 – Andrew Tucker
Wednesday saw a very positive start to our Torpids campaign with a comfortable row over. We pulled many boat lengths away from a chasing Mansfield M1 (the closest they came to bumping us being post-race when they nearly dropped their boat on our prized Empacher) and took nearly 7 boat lengths (almost 4 positions in the start order) out of St John’s M1 ahead of us. Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite close out the race with a bump, but a very strong performance nonetheless! Individual performances of note included Paul “hitting the wall” (of the Isis canal) after only his first stroke, and Jody, inspired by his own pre-race recital of Invictus, only taking two false strokes the entire race – the rest being entirely flawless. Special mention also goes to Richard for overcoming a pre-race jetty mishap involving a wet shoe – true grit and determination to overcome such adversity with a stellar performance from him at bow.
W1 Day 1 – Georgie Lang
Torpids has finally returned! After a term of training and three IWLs, it’s finally time to put all the hard work to the test in the biggest regatta of term and nerves are high. Five of our W1 have never raced bumps racing before and of the remaining three, I haven’t done so in three years! We watch some earlier divisions, get used to the sound of the cannon at the bung line, warm up on the ergs, and then we’re on the water. It’s a few strokes into the warm up that our bad luck hits – the cox box that we’d borrowed from another college is broken! Ned shouts his way through the warm up with just the power of his lungs and we try to keep our calm on the way down to the bung line. The one minute gun sounds as we’re turning into position. With 10 seconds to go, the bung line helper manages to hand us a new cox box. As the start gun sounds, I genuinely don’t know if we’ll be able to hear Ned or not!
“Half, half, three quarter” – the new box works and we’re off! In the chaos of the cox box switch, we’re a little shaken and it isn’t our cleanest start. Wadham gain on us quickly and get a bump in before Donny bridge but now we’ve settled into our rate and are going strong. With everyone’s heads in the boat we power through the gut staying strong all the way to head of the river. We’ve got Keble in our eye line and their presence motivates us to keep the pressure on every stroke. The spinning area at head of the river is a huge testament to the team spirit and comradery of Oxford rowing – congratulations are passed between boats and within crews. We’re all exhausted but smiling. Keble say they’ll catch us tomorrow but we know now that we can hold them off and there’ll have to fight for it. The first day nerves are passed – I’m looking forward to seeing what we can pull out the bag for the rest of the week!
M2 Day 1 – Jeremy Thomas
Don’t forget to check your gates. Our first race as an M2 was an elementary reminder to do the simplest of things. We began excited for our first race and everyone’s first Torpids. During time trials, we managed to bump our way into Div V and were ready to bump our way to the top (one crew member projected we may even be Head of the River – gasp). Spirits are high, the race is nigh, no swans in sight.
After two klaxons from men’s Div VI and women’s Div V, we are ready. The race begins – we’re going fast – r36. Then chaos strikes. A gate bursts open. Recovery. Another gate bursts open. Catastrophe. While we manage to stay dry, our stalling lets Trinity bump us. As we prepare to row the course, our cox Harriet notices a ninth red blade. Scoops out of the river, realizes it belongs to Regent’s Park College and proceeds. With the cheers (equally patronizing and kind) from the banks, we successfully traverse the course. Then, Harriet realizes we have bumped. According to rule 39.2 of the OURCs Handbook, our crew (Harriet) touched Regent’s (the orphan blade). Suddenly, not only have we managed to leap NINE places in the order, but we have also done so after a dreadful intervention. Alas, it was not meant to be. The OURCs officials are heartless and lawless: in their eyes (and race rules) the clear contact between our two crews was not a bump. With our heads high, gates open, and blood thirsty, we went home to row again. F.T.D.