Isle of Ely enjoy bump-er weekend on River Cam

Isle of Ely women's crew rowing back home wearing the traditional willow branches signifying they ha

Isle of Ely women's crew rowing back home wearing the traditional willow branches signifying they had just made a bump. From l to r: Christian Schosland (cox), Jill McCulloch, Alison Davies, Elzabeth Kerr, Rachel Watson, Jane Atkinson, Nicki Glen, Nicola MCarthy, Zoe Owen - Credit: Archant

Rowing Isle of Ely Rowing Club revelled in their best result in the Cambridge Bumps for a decade.

A men’s eight and a women’s eight joined more than 100 other boats for the annual bumps event - where crews compete in pursuit races over four nights, trying to catch and ‘bump’ the crew ahead of them.

Both Ely crews achieved two bumps, moving them up the Cambridgeshire rankings; and putting them third out of 11 clubs in the John Jenner Trophy, which is awarded to the club with the best average performance over the week.

Tuesday night saw both crews finding their feet, rowing over the course without bumping. The men pressed Champs 7 hard, and exercised their right to row an extra distance in their attempt to try to catch them, but Champs managed to hold them off. The women were closing on City 7, but when the City crew bumped a Champs crew ahead of them, and so dropped out of the race, Ely lost their opportunity for a bump. Having put everything into their attempt to catch City, they then had to draw on all their reserves and determination to hold off the X-press 2 boat chasing behind them, which they did to the line.

Tuesday night had proved both crews were capable of catching the boat in front; and there was high optimism on Wednesday.

The men were off first and, in a tight race approaching Grassy Corner, Ely were closing on the heels of Champs 7, whilst St Ives were pressing Ely hard from behind. As the three boats came into the tight bend together, they found another boat which had already been bumped had stopped right on the bend, restricting the water.

Ely clashed blades with the parked boat and had to stop. Behind them, St Ives did exactly the same and also had to stop. Ahead of them, Champs, presumably seeing St Ives and Ely stop, and presumably thinking they had bumped and that the pressure was off them, relaxed their effort.

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From this melee, the Ely men were first to recover their wits and, after a fresh start, quickly pounced on Champs to bump them at the Plough Inn.

The women’s bump was much more elegant. After a good start they steadily overhauled Champs 6 to bump them at First Post Corner, a mere third of the way down the course.

This provided a double benefit - firstly a short race; followed by the opportunity to parade their victors’ willows all the way along the course past their cheering supporters.

Thursday was an easy second bump for the men. A mistake by Cantabs 9 meant that Ely were able bump them early in the race at First Post Corner.

The women had a harder time chasing City 7. Although they closed the gap, City held them off, and as pursuing boats had not been able to catch Ely, the Ely women were awarded a row-over.

Friday was the final night. The men pursued City 9, and although gaining ground on them were unable to bump them before the end of the course, and were awarded a second row over.

The women faced a tough challenge. Ahead of them was the City 7, crew they had failed to bump the night before; and behind them was the in-form St Neots 2 crew, who had bumped every night, and therefore moving up the start order to challenge Ely from behind. After a fast start, they caught City 7 early in the race at First Post Corner.