Torpids race reports
An exceptionally sunny and reasonably dry Hilary Term with only three days of red flag in early February meant that Torpids was hotly contested as all clubs had ample time to get their crews on the water. Despite this one club decided not to field any men’s boats at all, Merton fielded a second women’s Torpid for the first time since 2013. Successfully qualifying in rowing on, four boats were vying for success during the week.
The following reports were written on the day an distributed on the alumni Facebook group
W2 [WDiv 5 – bungline 12] + 1
The boat to start everything off technically started their Torpids campaign last Friday already. Their qualification in Rowing On ensured Merton having a second Women’s Torpid for the first time since 2013. Despite them having to start at a very unfavourable bungline in the bay between the Isis Tavern and Isis Boathouse and having a crew which was faster in rowing on placed behind them, they managed to capitalise on Exeter’s start and the subsequent unrest with a bump.
M2 [MDiv 5 – bungline 6] + 2
After last year, the unexpected drop out of both Magdalen men’s crews which had fixed division bunglines allowed M2 to rise a further two bunglines before the first racing stroke was even taken. Undeterred they continued the game of chasing down Wolfson M3. After eluding the M2 last year, this years crew was finally able to garner themselves a wolf pelt. The navigational skill took M2 past Wolfson who seemingly favoured a closer inspection of the river bank.
A particularly skilful St Hugh’s M2 being handed down half the division gave M2 another boost, leaving them on bungline 4 for tomorrow.
W1 [WDiv 3 – bungline 10] +1
W1 bumped St Peter’s W1. The first Torpids bump since Thursday of Torpids 2015 and only the second one since 2012. This could be a turning point!
M1 [MDiv 2 – bungline 9] -1
Unfortunately M1 could not complete the day in the same fashion the other crews had. While pushing LMH very hard off the start and closing down considerable distance on them, Keble chased M1 hard off the gun and caught up with them just after Donnington Bridge. A slight fluster during the concession allowed LMH to run away a little bit which M1 was unfortunately not quite able to close again and was left with the arduous row over.
Overall a very decent day for Merton rowers at Torpids, especially considering the training constraints under flag and the last-minute crew changes in W1 and W2. Three more days and many more chances for bumps.
The second day of Torpids 2017 was another solid performance from the Boat Club. Still continuing overall in the plus and two crews with chances of further glory!
W2 [WDiv 5 – bungline 11] +1
A rocky start allowed Exeter to close to nearly a canvas to which a crab contributed, but was quickly recovered. Once more it showed that bumps racing is a mix of skill, luck, and lack of skill on part of the opposition. Passing Keble W2 who had already bumped, Exeter’s blades clashed with theirs which gave W2 to the necessary breathing room to gain their composure and push for the bump. After 500m W2’s race was over as St Hilda’s W2 conceded at the entrance to the Gut.
M2 [MDiv 5 – bungline 4] -1
After a successful first day, the foreshadowed results from the Isis Winter League in which Regent’s Park M1 posted a considerably fast time came to be today. M2 had to concede though showed a strong and determined row thereafter, making successful inroads for an over bump on Trinity M3 though unfortunately not quite able to close the last gap.
W1 [WDiv 3 – bungline 9] +1
After years of having to balance the previous crews having been very strong, W1 has now seemingly found its place, though not quite its equilibrium. After a long row pushing the crew to their limits, W1 bumped Corpus Christi W1 at the top end of Boathouse Island. No amount of running across the river by Corpus, nor the last-minute crab in Merton’s stroke seat could stop W1 from claiming their second bump of the week.
M1 [MDiv2 – bungline 10] rowed over
With a solid start M1 tried to avenge yesterdays bumps on them. Settling into a strong pace the crew followed the ideal race line out of the Gut and up Greenbank while both Keble and LMH ahead were chasing up the towpath side. A push to make inroads on Keble along Greenbank and in the crossing did unfortunately not cover the necessary distance. With Keble bumping Worcester at the top of Boathouse Island, todays hard row over will hopefully be somewhat balanced by (hopefully) a bump on Worcester, who so far have -7 to their name, tomorrow.
Some say the third day is the hardest of bumps racing. Today certainly proved to be a trialling one for Merton rowers.
W2 [WDiv5 – bungline 10] -3
A solid start marred by a slight scrape on the bank. While pushing away from St Hilda’s W2 and closing distance to Christ Church W2, unfortunately 4 seat caught a boat stopper crab. With a full restart W2 manage to once again close Christ Church W2 down to overlap in the Gut, but this time 3 seat decided it was time for a crayfish break. Recovery at race pace, pressure steering, and hard rudder should have brought the crew out of the Gut… Should have since a solid crunch heard all the way to racedesk at Longbridges Boathouse indicated W2 had tried the overland shortcut. The safety launches extracted the bow three rowers before safely towing the boat stern first from the bank. All rowers are safe and despite everything the total tally is one bent backstay in bow seat.
For completeness sake: being stuck in a tree on top of the bank resulted in crews bumping by row past. As coveted the footship of Torpids may be, onwards and upwards tomorrow.
M2 [MDiv5 – bungline 5] -1
Being chased by a strong Wolfson crew, the M2 went off with the gun and held the hungry wolves until the Middle Gut when they had to concede. Blatantly ignoring the coxing strategy of W2, a smooth line out of the Gut took M2 along the course while being chased down by LMH M2. Knowing when to run and which line to take is an important part of bumps coxing and with running away across the river and holding them at a canvas, M2 crossed the finish line denying LMH M2 their blades potential. For tomorrow the chase with LMH M2 is back in the cards, but there is also Trinity M3 being handed down.
W1 [WDiv3 – bungline 8] rowed over
With a plummeting Corpus behind W1 acting as a very generous buffer, the boat went in for the long-haul race chasing St Hilda’s. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a long-haul for good and both crews rowed over the whole course. Same set-up at the bunglines tomorrow, though since Corpus has disappeared into WDiv4, St Antony’s W1 will be lining up on bungline 9.
M1 [MDiv2 – bungline 10] +1
Once more M1 is somewhat bucking the trend of the other boats, this time fortunately going upwards. A bump on Worcester in Middle Gut placed M1 back onto its starting bungline of the week. All this happened undeterred by the cox box issues leaving the valiant cox with having to shout at the crew (and the poor stroke having to take the brunt of it). A short race in Torpids is a successful race. Tomorrow the crew will be tasked with chasing down LMH while holding Exeter at bay who are trying to get blades having come up from MDiv3.
W2 [WDiv5 – bungline 13] +1
Having been somewhat tree-related relegated to the foot of the river, W2 made solid start despite the crosswinds. St Hilda’s W2 bumping out before Donnington Bridge left W2 chasing Exeter W2 whom they had already bumped once on Wednesday. Steadily closing distance and being at half a length coxing into the Gut, this time the tree was given a wide berth a text book push out of the Gut sealed the over bump on Exeter W2 outside Longbridges.
M2 [MDiv5 – bungline 6] rowed over due to klaxon
After a strong start and tidy rowing, M2 was set to push hard again on Wolfson M3 having reeled them in already to 3/4 of a length by Donnington Bridge, the crew got robbed of success on the last day by a klaxon due to swans in the race line.
W1 [WDiv3 – bungline 8] rowed over
Chasing St Hilda’s W1 once again but holding off a strong St Antony’s W1 at the same time showed that W1 has settled into more sustainable realms of the bumps tables. With not many boats having bumped out, the race was still going strong coming out of the Gut by which stage St Antony’s had cut the distance to W1’s stern to a mere half length. Seemingly having spent their pennies though, St Antony’s got lost slowly but steadily ground again along Greenbank though the final verdict can only be speculated: a St Hilda’s rower decided that the sunshine and all the spectators were enticing enough to opt for a race-pace Cambridge swim test leaving the second of our crews in one day victim to a klaxon.
M1 [MDiv2 – bungline 9] rowed over
On the final day M1 was once more left with chasing down LMH on whom they had closed considerably on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the start and leading up to Donnington Bridge was not quite matching LMH who added a tiny bit of distance onto the starting lengths. That being said, strong race rhythm pushed the crew along the course and leaving Exeter, who were chasing for blades, behind in their wash. A strong row-over ended the Torpids on the starting bungline of the week.
Overall summary for this years Torpids:
Start: 9th Div II
Finish: 9th Div II
Start: 6th Div V
Finish: 6th Div V
Start: 10th Div III
Finish: 8th Div III
Start: 12th Div V
Finish: 12th Div V
Jaime Valdemoros Gomez
Jame Valdemoros Gomoz
Frances Des Forges
Hilary Cockhill (JEO)