Preparation for May Bumps had begun before term had even commenced, via a successful training camp in nearby Earith. Most importantly, morale was high and a real togetherness of the club was evident both on and off the water. May Bumps was six weeks away, and everyone’s sights were firmly fixed on this goal – perhaps most of all W1, who had been devastatingly close to achieving blades in Lent.
The term proceeded well, with an early highlight being the Champs Head race where M2 won their division’s trophy and awards were given to Calum and Alina – coxes of M1 and W2. A large contingent of WCBC rowers also took place in Cambridge’s ‘Small Boats Regatta’, with entries into the women’s sculls, mixed doubles and men’s pair events. In WCSA’s ‘Sports & Societies Dinner’ -recognising College achievements throughout ’22/’23 - seventeen WCBC members were nominated for various prizes and the Club was awarded Society of the Year.
As May Bumps drew closer, strong times were put out by all crews at X-Press Head, particularly by W1. After W2 smashed their ‘getting-on’ race to earn a spot on the eve of Bumps, all crews were qualified for Mays – having had four crews also competing in Lent Bumps. Achieving this feat across both Lent and Mays has only been achieved once before in WCBC history (2016), marking the tremendous efforts from the Club this year. But Wolfson weren’t patting themselves on the back just yet, and all focus was on racing.
Placed towards the top of Division 2, M1 were surrounded by very quick crews – but showed their character on day one, after a thrilling race to push Girton away time and time again. Whilst unable to replicate their ‘superblades’ success in Lent, they perhaps enjoyed Mays even more and revelled in the long and tough racing. M2 had already shown that they were one of the fastest crews in Division 4 in races throughout the term, and rose to the occasion with a rapid bump on Sidney Sussex II. However, the severely underplaced Lucy Cavendish were in front of them on day two and quickly bumped out; this hard luck meant M2 could only row over, but stamped their authority on the remaining days to go +3.
W2 were likewise in a tough spot, but after a strong row over on day one they asserted themselves with a lightning-quick bump on Peterhouse III. Saving the best for last, W1 set the tone early by rapidly nailing Caius II, before chasing down strong Murray Edwards and Emmanuel II boats. On the final day, Darwin stood between the girls and blades, but W1 dispatched them before Grassy Corner to put their names on the Wolfson walls!
After a historic year for the club, I firstly want to say thank you to my fellow members of WCBC’s outgoing committee, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible. Moreover, perhaps even more vital – and frequently unsung – have been our coaches: Tom Hewitt (M1), Harry Michalakakis (M2), Paul Carter (W1) and Scott O’Donoghue (W2). I also want to recognise winners of the reinstated WCBC awards this year: David Richardson (2022) and Nancy Karreman (2023) for the ‘Wolfson Seat’, recognising overall contribution to the Boat Club; Manuel Garza (2020), Alex Lau (2021) and Ksenia Leonovich (2022) for the ‘Wolfson Bow’, recognising exceptional novice rowers.
Finally, the support from alumni and the wider Wolfson community has been greatly felt this year – particularly via the generous donations from Tom and Allison Ujejski for a new M1 boat, which we look forward to holding a ceremony for once it arrives. As Club Captain for ‘23/’24, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together in the last year; and yet, looking forward I’m even more excited for what is yet to come. Full introductions of the new committee will follow on the boat club website, and we’ll be in touch soon with exciting plans for WCBC alumni events.