Bumps 2019 day 5

Last night all done. Blades for W2 (vid) and M3 (vid). Followed by an excellent night at the Waterman where I may have drunk a little more than I intended, followed by City where I definitely did.

Of M3: Congratualtions on your blades. Dave B says it's been a narrative arc from utter shite to M2.5 standard.

Of M1: a splendid powerful row-over. We were chasing Robs 2 (again! They’d failed to quite get Tabs 3 last night) and chased by Peterborough, who had got City 2 really quite quickly, so we were on our mettle (also they’d been poncing around Queens’ wearing flags prematurely…). We upped our start tempo and held it longer, resulting in Peterborough never getting more than on station, and us getting a whistle on Robs just before FP. After that we held P and chased R until we chased them onto Tabs around Ditton, which saw some exciting and good coxing by Manja to see us round the bumped-out boats and onto the reach, and home. Very satisfying and well worth the effort.

Bumps 2019, day 4

Rachel’s round-up:

W4 down :( a much better row than our first outing on Monday - the furthest so far. Let's hold 99 9 off tomorrow. Vid.

M3 up! Well done boys. Vid.

W3 - super epic gutsy row over from canvas to escaping - awesome effort ladies. Same again tomorrow? - you've got to push those pesky kids away. Vid (combo with W2)

W2 - another bump up! Nice so you're on for at least one bottle of rose (as it stands) and nine straws. Vid (combo with W3)

M2 - a row over :/ the Sharks were just a bit quicker on Xpress 2 than you were on them. Vid. [Editors comment: M2 didn’t sign on for rowing this far, but then again neither did Sharks…]

W1 - a row over - and even though I do say so myself the best row to date. Never in any real danger from city 2 we decided to make Cantabs work. Vid.

Finally M1 - a row over - the most miles rowed in the club so far. Vids: Jo, bowcam.

Here may be a good place to acknowledge Jo Crisall’s excellent videoing work for us all.

Bumps 2019, day 3

The relentless bumping action continues…

M3: rest day

M2: up. Blog. Vid (1/4 length up after 6 strokes; down to a length at 10; 1/2 length at 20; 3 whistles at 30; overlap at 46 (you’re slowing down boyz…); very late concede from City at 63 with Chris sternly telling their cox to be sensible).

M1: row-over (but a good one, you understand). Vid.

W1: down. Vid. Slowmo of start.

W2: up

W3: up (no vid :-)

Image sources: many, culled from facebook.

Of M1: another smooth row-down, a few drops of rain nothing to worry about, time to relax-aka-stress before the four-minute gun, and the one minute has gone and I remember to take my tech-top off so that usefully gets me to 45 seconds, push off, maybe we’re pointing out a bit too much but we get a smooth start anyway and the race is on again. With day one gone the stress is less (good; but also I need to remember that the “fun” of that uncertainty is only there for a day, savour it while it lasts) and City dutifully fall back (possibly they try a charge off the start but if so it comes to nothing) and it all feels good but there are no whistles… this isn’t totally unexpected as we’re not really hoping to get them before the reach, possibly this is a mistake. After Grassy it gets really bumpy for a bit, but it isn’t until we’re on the Reach that we really start trying to reel them in. By the bridge we’re down to 3/4, but that’s not quite enough… Bowriggercam vid.

Bumps 2019, day 2

The big one…

M1: Well I don’t know about you but I was a bit nervous, somewhat damped down by having a lot to do and only waking up at 18:30. At the boathouse well in time and Conor and Steve O were already there, as well as a buzz of Robs and Press and Champs and so we could rest and admire our new C*** tech tops, thank you Jonathan. Breathing helped, and we boat, and row to Stourbridge to wait, with Tom W in City 3 just ahead, and always there’s that wondering how good you are this year and how good everyone else is. A still evening, getting a bit dark, a good row down, a good practice start at the Plough, and onto station with Simon and Ralph waiting, and get out for a bit, then the 4 minute gun and arrange kit, turn on camera, last drink of water and empty the bottle, and before you know it we’re poling out and coming forward on ten and squared on seven and maybe pointing out just a tiny bit too much and we’re off. By first post the nerves are gone and it’s plain we’re faster than City two behind, have gone through a good start and are doing fine, and can hear Simon from the bank telling us we’re on station with Nines, which is where we stay until they bump out down the Reach, and so we row over, throwing in a pretend attempt at the overbump on Tabs 3 towards the end. Vid Jo; Jonathan; riggercam.

W1: row over (our new and noisy position for this year at 7. We rowed over - a long and strong row over watching City2 getting bumped behind us by Cantabs4 and chasing cantabs3 who eventually bumped Nines 1 as we headed for the railway bridge. A strong start (our fastest row to date) holding our position at 7). Vid.

M2, W2, W3: rest day

M3: up! (the mighty M3 - remaining mighty with another bump up)

W4: row over (carnage ensued on first post corner (w1 saw the slightly shortened Isle of Ely boat on the row to the start). I've been told 99 7 bumped the Isle of Ely 2 (not what the chart says) and then there was some confusing involving rowing on - rechasing, boat bending and then river blocking and stopping the race and another nines crew joining the mess and then Champs claiming technical bump on us.....but anyway (tl/dr) w4 got a technical row over). Vid.

Bumps, 2019, day 1

Gosh, is it that time already? We’ll skip the long lead-in and move straight onto…

W4 unfortunately we got bumped by 99's 8 (vid) but had a super strong start - we just need to curb the enthusiasm... tomorrow you will have a less loud position for the gun and someone who knows what they are doing coxing you.
M3 - bumped up catching champs 4 somewhere before first post corner.
W3 had a gloriously strong looking row over after the boats ahead bumped out.
W2 bumped champs 4.
And lastly and leastly M2 bumped up (vid) bumping cantabs 6 (the crew formerly known as tab 2…). To quote the immortal Paul H “tag your emotions to each stroke and trace your finger along the lines of memory that radiate from the starting gun’s roar”.

Tomorrow sees w4 and m3 racing (as above) and w1 starting at 7th on the river racing at 20:10 chasing Cantabs 3 and M1 starting at 11th racing at 20:45 chasing nines 2.

Winter League, 2019

We had rather a lot of boats in this year, largely thanks to the Ladies squad, but an outbreak of sculling also contributed.

Of the weather: WL3 was a beautiful day, with a mild headwind. WL2 was pretty damn windy. WL1 I forget.

Of the small boats

Conor: 00:12:04.800:12:06.9 00:11:36.5 00:35:48.2 (2/4)

Richard: 00:12:46.100:13:42.300:12:51.8 00:39:20.2 (3/6)

Steve O: 00:12:27.8 00:13:11.2 00:12:40.1 00:38:19.1 (2/5)

William: 00:13:45.8 00:14:23.2 00:13:24.2 00:41:33.2 (4/5)

Felicity: 00:14:14.2 00:15:23.5 00:14:26.5 00:44:04.2 (2/4)

Conor / Steve O: (DNS) 00:11:58.2 00:11:16.9 00:23:15.1 (2/2)

Jonathan / Dave: 00:11:36.9 00:11:56.0 00:11:16.8 00:34:49.7 (2/4)

Of the IVs and 4x’s

W 4- (Turvill): 00:12:25.3 00:12:24.4 00:11:56.7 00:36:46.4 (2/3)

W 4- (Burgess) : 00:12:15.7 00:13:30.8 00:12:32.3 00:38:18.8 (3/3)

W 4+ (Coetzee): 00:13:47.4 00:14:31.5 00:12:59.3 00:41:18.2 (1/2)

W 4x- (Coates-Holland): 00:13:07.8 00:13:20.6 00:13:22.6 00:39:51.0 (5/5)

M 4x- (Richards): 00:11:33.5 00:11:32.2 00:10:47.8 00:33:53.5 (2/3)

Of the VIIIs

M Club B: 00:10:57.8 00:10:53.2 00:10:02.8 00:31:53.8 (4/5)

M Nov: 00:12:09.8 00:11:35.7 00:11:37.1 00:35:22.6 (4/6)

W Club B (Barkes): 00:11:53.1 00:13:08.0 00:11:22.4 00:36:23.5 (2/6)

W Club B (Campbell): 00:12:05.1 00:12:53.8 00:11:52.1 00:36:51.0 (4/6)

W Nov: 00:13:06.2 00:13:07.1 00:12:46.6 00:38:59.9 (2/5)

Loch Ness; or, An antidote to the Tideway

By “Dr A”.

With the regatta season winding down, racing tends to move towards the long-distance variety. And this year, a Northern alternative to the Boston Marathon was proposed for two intrepid / foolhardy members of Chesterton Rowing Club.

Instead of a river race, this would be in the land of mythic monsters and crashing waves. Loch Ness. Fort Augustus to Dores. 22.7 miles. What was there not to like? Chasing the record set by the legendary Scot, World Champion sculler Peter Haining, but also simply as an exercise in survival and wave surfing (of which more below) and self-discovery.

So, when Jonathan suggested we do it I was quick to agree. A boat was organised (a rather fabulous coastal double in, do our eyes deceive us, Chesterton blue) and we were in. It was only as we drove down from Inverness (it takes about an hour to drive the length of the Loch!) and saw the waves that serious concerns and a creeping sense of foreboding started to fill our heads. The acclimatisation paddle on the evening before was perfectly lovely and the loch surface was barely troubled by the gentlest of breezes. Conditions couldn’t get much better than that we thought.

It was all going so well… Our heroes: Steven Andrews and Jon a than Pilgrim.

It was all going so well… Our heroes: Steven Andrews and Jonathan Pilgrim.

The next morning, arriving at the launch site, the water was the like of which numerous locals hadn’t seem for some considerable while, a mirror-smooth surface that looked like one could see the reflection of the entire sky.  In fact the only perturbation seemed to lie on the horizon where the horizon met the loch, a result of the length of the piece of water that lay ahead and the curvature of the earth.

The start was admirably informal, with a nice assortment of river racing craft and more robust vessels.  The first half was just lovely. The first quarter being amazing. Starting off on a glassy millpond the only concern was that it was quite a long way and at least one of the crew slightly resented pulling along such an impressively heavy boat.

A strong start saw us only led by a racing quad and eight. After a quick pause to remove some layers of clothing, we rowed the rest of the way just in just our club all-in-one’s. Just warm enough for the sustained effort to keep us warm (2:20 to 2:30 split, for those who are interested).

The second half was a different matter. Slowly but surely the waves started to get bigger and it started to get harder to figure out how to hold any kind of split. 2:30 was the aim but 2:40 And 2:20 would randomly pop up. And it just got rougher as was obvious when the eight appeared again in front of us, all of its crew looking rather bedraggled. We would eventually pass them as they were sinking, having gone the wrong way around a fish farm. By this stage my glutes were on fire (training, or even some Sculling in the last year may have helped that) and the waves meant that every now and then you would be rowing uphill. The effort leading to the occasional yelp of pain. Luckily this was balanced by the whoops of enjoyment as we surfed down the other side. But what an amazing piece of water to row on, hemmed in by the steep sides of the great glen, a feature delineated by an ancient geological fault that splits Scotland in two, and the departure point slowly dipping below the horizon.

Ah, that’s  much  better.

Ah, that’s much better.

Then there was just the finish to deal with. Trying to exit the boat in crashing waves and the potential to be smashed against some ill-placed rocks. We were very glad when Audrey, our fabulous bank party and photographer, jumped in to help. And that our legs didn't give way when we jumped out. Quite an effort to lift the boat out and on to trestles and then collapse. A well-earned beer followed and some fraternal banter with our fellow competitors.

So, we finished second overall, only beaten by a very fancy Empacher quad, the like of which one would expect to see at an Olympic regatta, which sank twice. They did it in 2:45 to our 3:12. The fastest crossing in a coastal boat, ever! (perhaps…..)

All in all, a really rather special event and there will certainly be another attempt from the Club. A rough day on the Tideway will never quite hold the same terror for these two club members.

Video (see 1:14). More (9:45; actually a bit earlier you get to see the quad trying to land, which is fun).


One a fine sunny Sunday in autumn a variety of Chesterton crews headed downriver, halting not at Bates Bite but yet continuing to The Bridge at Clayhithe, where we had a pint or two.

Simon E was the Evil Genius behind the plan.

A couple of notes may be worth noting, for those thinking of similar. Firstly, the edge at the Bridge has been raised along most of the length, so apart from the bit at the end, under the willow, getting in is really quite awkward, as some of the pix show. And the “low” section is only really long enough for a IV - as you’ll notice the VIII parked opposite, and that somewhat uneasily. Second, the pub itself didn’t seem desperately rower-friendly. They sold us drinks, but - perhaps this was only over the phone beforehand - didn’t seem keen. Well, no matter, it was sunny and we sat outside.

Nines regatta report

We had quite a few crews for the Nines Autumn Regatta. The draw is here. M1 were blessed with a straight final against Downing, which we duly lost. Young master Burgess started off well in the sculls but discovered that rowing upside down is slow. Old Mr Pilgrim won his first round “easily” but was then defeated by some youth from Magdalene. That suffices for the men, but wait there is rather more to be said on the women’s side.

[Watermarked pictures copyright Al Craigie (fb)]

Of the Ladies

By Sarah call-me-Burgess.

Chesterton Ladies had a very successful day yesterday will all 3 of our boats getting to their finals. We started off proceedings at 8:34 with our open coxed IV and finished at 17:45 with our Masters coxed IV. 

Our Ladies Masters Quad (Sarah C-H, Amanda, Meg and Katherine) had a bye to the final and were up against a very experienced Masters crew (composite of Peterborough and Leicester). Being a Master category above our ladies they also got a head start on the race, always making it difficult on such a short race to get them back. A very good row by our ladies!

Our Open Ladies Coxed IV (Meg, Eleanor, Catherine, Sarah B, Rachel) were less fortunate and in a category of 5 crews and got the short straw with Gravesend as the first race on the river at 8:34. It was a beautiful morning and when finally on the river it was lovely! Winning the first race by just over a length. The second race was up against one of the two Peterborough crews in the early afternoon with a win of two and a half lengths. The other Peterborough crew was also knocked out by our next competition Darwin College. Probably our youngest competition of the day and we had seen them out training the week before. The final was our best race of the day but also our third and the Darwin crew were just a little longer and faster beating us by 1 3/4 lengths.

Our Masters Coxed IV (Anne, Angela, Pamela, Renata, Kate) a different line up to the last year but still a very successful crew. Winning their Semi-Final against St Ives by 4 lengths (not sure when easily is put!) and coming back for the Final (one of the last races of the day) to take on Devils Elbow and taking home the pots by winning by 1 and a third lengths. Well Done Ladies, Renata's first pot with Chesterton and Anne's first coxing pot. 

Masters Coxed IV

Race report from Anne.

Sunday 9 September dawned fine and sunny for 99s regatta. We had entered a Master’s C IV+ with Angela, Pamela, Renata, Kate and me coxing only my second regatta. 99s in their infinite wisdom, compelled all coxes to complete a totally time-wasting exercise of being weighed on Ditton Field, which is totally inconvenient if you are boating from town Surprise, surprise, I weighed more than 55Kg.

Back now to the business of the race. We had only had one outing in this combination which had been scrappy to be polite. The 3 stalwarts of W2 insisted we had the same start as W2 in bumps which did at least avoid any discussion on that point. Bow pair needed to row together more evenly to stop any lurch to stroke side off the start – very scary for a cox.

Out first opponents were St Ives. They didn’t look too intimidating in their row to the start. We actually got a 3 second advantage off the start as we were Masters C and they were youngsters at Masters B. I was relieved to get on the stake boat at my first attempt Remembered to keep my hand up until we were ready. Then we were off on the first go. 3,2,1, go. Then St Ives. And we kept nicely in front the whole way down the Reach. No sneaking up on us just when everyone gets a bit tired. Through to the final. Hooray.

5 hours later, we faced Devil’s Elbow, who were also Master’s C, and who we thought looked significantly younger than us. Must have been using their moisturiser. The start was much windier and our bows started floating off at 45 degrees from the stake boat. But eventually after the umpire had straightened us both up, and clearly enjoyed using his megaphone, we were both off. And steadily and consistently we slowly drew away. So long as no one caught a crab, I knew it was ours. And it was!

It’s great to pass the finish line first. Pots and showing our BR cards – the ones we bring but don’t like to mention, in case we don’t need them.


Sudbury (arch). Words by Rachel.

A Chesterton contingent went to the 138th Sudbury International Regatta yesterday! I think it is fair to say we were mostly very scratchy crews. Thursday night saw the loading of Spare Rib and WGP onto the 99's trailer and Nostromo onto the Cantabs Trailer on Friday (kindly arranged by Conor).

Saturday morning came with a bright and early start to arrive in Sudbury for 8:00am to grab a prime gazebo pitch and to get Nostromo ready for it's foray in division 1 at 9:00am against Lea RC.

For those of you not familiar with Sudbury it is a narrow river and essentially side by side, like racing round grassy corner but with more weeds. There is nowhere to warm up other than your row to the start. The eights row 350 m (missing the very tight bend) and the fours row 650 m. There are many, many crashes though out the day - indeed 99's owe us a bow ball after they ploughed into the bank!

The M4+ had a good and the only uneventful race of the day but unfortunately lost to Lea RC.

Now the fun begins.

The W8+ also against Lea RC raced at 10am in Div 3 - there was I think it is fair to say some regrettable umpiring/marshalling decisions made at the start and the staggered start did not really happen. Sadly this meant that Chesterton was pipped to the post by 2ft 😞. A very solid row and some beautiful rowing to showboat for their fans on the row up. I think we can honestly say they wuz robbed.


Division 8 saw the Chesterton mixed "Power 8" row. This crew had never been in a boat together but on paper looked pretty good. The row up felt good.....we were confident… Broxbourne went off first 1 sec ahead of us but I think that's where it went wrong - we mistimed our start and strokeside in their excitement overpowered bowside straight towards the reeds! And the whole of bowside had to rapidly learn how to cross country row through the reeds (and the bank) but we emerged unscathed and powered down the rest of the course - if we'd had an extra 100 m I reckon we would have caught them!

Jonathan then popped off to row with a Huntingdon / St Ives composite crew where they had a cracking row and made it to the final.

Division 15 - W4+ masters B/C (straight final) - yet again we were up against Lea RC! After a lot of chaos at the start we were off with a 4 sec head start on Lea (being the older of the crews) on the apex of the bend Lea RC went wide crossing into our lane and colliding with our blades. The Umpire halted our race and called it "equal blame" even though the cox of Lea admitted it was her fault - we were offered a re-row. So off we went to the end of the course to wait for the next division. We waited our turn and began to row to the start - rapidly halted by Lea RC who now had no rudder! The umpire said they could not race (in fairness they didn't want to) so we rowed off to the start to race back alone! We had a lovely race back against the clock! And were happy with our time (and the shiny pots although it does feel a little bit of an empty win).

Boats were rapidly put back on trailers and base camp packed up as it was now heading towards 6pm.

One last race with a chance for Chesterton - Jonathan in the composite crew - I think it's fair to say the four remaining Chesterton fans cheered with all their might but it wasn't quite enough.

Back to Cambridge for detrailering and re-rigging - the last boat got put away at 22:20 after some night rowing (four people in the eight and two people in the four) back from 99's to the CRA - (yes we had lights).

The weary contingent went home!