First off, a couple of images for the girls in WII who couldn't race on Saturday and who have had most of their outings in the last week cancelled due to the wind.
It could be worse. Those pics are of my nan's car, and as far as I know only the car was damaged and nobody was hurt. Robert Kubica was not involved (though on a serious note, Kubica's crash was pretty horrific and I really hope it won't be the end of his F1 career).
Last weekend Downing M2 won their class for the not-particularly-esteemed and wind-struck Newnham Short Course (which is also not even a short course any more, but the standard bridge to bridge head course). The epic wind meant that the times probably aren't that comparable between divisions, and don't provide the best indication of true pace for bumps (unless it's just as windy for that week), but it's nice to start the term with a win and with some pretty good pace.
Most of the boats around us in Lents didn't actually compete (Jesus M2, LMBC M2, FaT M2), but setting the same pace in the same division as Sidney Sussex M1 is promising, given they're three places above us. Not being far off Christs M1 is positive as well, though they're pretty high up, and it's not likely that we'd actually end up behind them unless we came up several and they were going the other way. St Cats M1 seem to be pretty quick, but again, they're half a dozen places above us so I'm not really paying too much attention to them.
Downing M1 did pretty well, and while there's no FaT M1 to compare against, things definitely don't look horrible for the headship. At the very least, Caius and Pembroke don't look so much faster that they're going to be much more than potentially dangerous at this stage. Given that we were struggling to fill a men's first VIII last term, and with four people rowing for Cambridge crews the general feeling at the start of this year seemed to be "Lents might be a bit shit, but Mays will be awesome", we're not doing bad. If anything, the feeling since training camp has shifted far more to "Lents should be pretty damn good and Mays will be epic", because the guys moving up from the lowerboats are doing a pretty good job now of driving the squad.
Robinson Head is on Friday, and Bedford Head is Sunday (this weekend is so packed with stuff for me D:), so they'll probably provide the best marker before Pembroke Regatta and then Lent Bumps the week after. There's only so much you can interpret from the results of head races which are a couple of weeks before the main event, but it'd be awesome if M2 could win Robinson and then put in a decent row at Bedford to really give us some momentum heading into the business end of term.
The fact that Downing W1 had a huge crab from she-who-shall-not-be-named and around thirty to forty seconds being stationary to sort it out, and yet still posted the fastest W1 time is a little bit ridiculous. Despite that, they were still 20 seconds ahead of FaT W1, and unless there's some serious shenanigans going on there, the women's headship shouldn't really be much more than a formality. They are, to quote the messageboards, "badgering fast". W2 are pretty far down the charts so should hopefully make decent progress, but that's a bit harder to predict without any times from the lower women's divisions.
Despite the people the squad is missing, things seem really damn positive for the bumps campaign, and I really can't wait for the starting gun in three weeks' time. There is definitely reason to believe that the First & Third dynasty of Lents headship can finally be brought to an abrupt end for their M1, W1 and their M2 crews.