A record year
Heading into Lent Bumps, there is strong optimism that this will be a week to remember for Wolfson College Boat Club (WCBC). Buoyed by a highly productive training camp at the start of January in Portugal (pictured), Wolfson’s teams have hit the ground running this term and are aiming high.
For only the third time in Wolfson’s history, all four crews will be competing in Lent Bumps this year. Joining the men and women's first boats (M1 and W1), Wolfson's second boats (M2 and W2) also successfully qualified on Friday after strong showings on the “Getting-On Race”.
Many rowers and coxes are relishing the opportunity for their first taste of Bumps, whereas for a few experienced members this is their penultimate shot at glory. After a challenging couple of years, the stage is set for WCBC to show the Cam what they’re capable of.
“Our whole season is spent preparing for the bumps, both in Lent and Easter,” says club captain Nancy Karreman. “We train at least six times per week, with a dedicated coach and even more dedicated crewmates.”
“Early mornings and evenings alike, we get out on the river and put in the work to make our team better. The other half of preparing is mental; we have to get good at rowing for ourselves and not letting other teams' performances get into our heads. We're very proud of where we've gotten to!”
First boat rower and committee member Scott Wilson is similarly optimistic. “There’s a wonderful spirit around the club, and a palpable sense that we’re on the cusp of something. Everyone’s been working super hard to make that possible – now we just need to seize the opportunity!”
While fortune is often the decider in Bumps, Scott feels that the Wolfson team has already been successful. “Having four crews competing is a great achievement and we’re delighted for so many to have the opportunity to compete. We’re the only college that has had every one of its crews qualify – but rest assured that we’re not satisfied with that alone!”.
What are the “Bumps”?
Taking place across four days, the Cambridge Bumps are one of the largest intra-university sporting competitions across the world. At the start of the races, crews line up - in their finishing order of the previous year - along the river with one and a half boat lengths of clear water between them. On the start signal (the firing of a cannon), they chase each other up the river.
When a bump occurs (when one crew is touched by its chasing crew), they pull over to allow the other crews to continue racing. The next day, all crews involved in a bump swap places and the race is run again. After the days of racing, the aim of the top crews is to be at the "head of the river," i.e. to lead the first division. Lower crews cannot expect to move up this much in four days, but a major goal is to win their "blades" by bumping up every day.
Additionally, the top boat of each lower division (apart from the first division) races at the bottom of the next division (the "sandwich boat") and so a continuous chart can be drawn mapping the progress of all crews.
Lent Bumps 2023 is set across five days, with each division racing for four and alternating the day on which they rest. The competition begins on Tuesday 7th March, and culminates on Saturday 11th.
- Wolfson M1 is placed in Division 2 (16:00) and will be chasing Pembroke II on Tuesday. They will rest on Wednesday, before racing at 14:40 on the remaining days.
- Wolfson W1 sits toward the top of Division 3 (15:20) and are aiming to end their campaign back in Division 2. To do so, they will first need to become the sandwich boat.
- Wolfson M2 sits right at the top of Division 4 (14.00), where they will look to maintain headship before racing in Division 3 (14:40) and climbing upwards.
- Wolfson W2 was drawn into Division 4 (14:00) and will be chasing fellow mature college Hughes Hall II on Tuesday.
Division times are not consistent across days, but can be found in full on the CUCBC website.
A rewarding experience
Belonging to a mature college with a large number of international students, the boat club reflects the diverse composition of Wolfson's student community.
“Rowing at Wolfson is an incredibly fun and rewarding experience. Just like our College, our team is really diverse in many ways, with rowers from many different places, communities, and backgrounds all together in the same boat,” says Nancy.
“A lot of our rowers have never rowed before they come to Cambridge, including me!, but grow to love the sport and the community that comes with it.”