Things went fairly to plan for M2. We got off to a decent start, we held station until First Post corner, and then they started to crack a little bit and we moved up. Things got down to about a canvas down the Plough Reach and they held us there for a while, but we kept slowly closing the gap. It seemed to take forever, but when they turned to take Ditton, I took a straighter line to maintain the speed a bit more, and we hit them as we entered the corner.
It was my first actual bump (my record so far is a fairly abysmal minus six, mostly from coxing W3 in Mays 2009), and the awesome aspect of it was slightly overtaken by the instant panic of trying to clear the river. Clearing to the outside of the corner (ie. what you're meant to do, and what we were told to do) was made somewhat more difficult by the fact that St. lolCats had crashed on the outside of Ditton (and had been bumped by FaT M2 as a result), and so there was limited space for both us and LMBC to move across. We did, and while the guys were a bit unresponsive, and I was worried about our bows crashing into Cats and as a result took a while to tuck the stern in, I felt there was still more than enough space on the inside of the corner to get a boat through by the time Jesus M2 came up behind.
The issue with that was that Jesus M2 apparently didn't want to take the racing line into the inside of the corner, and instead were taking a ridiculously wide arc around Ditton, right towards where us and St Cats were parked, and as a result they stopped behind us and got bumped by Wolfson. I do have to say that I'm thankful that they at least stopped behind us, rather than careening full-tilt straight into us, but I reckon if they'd actually taken the corner properly then they'd have gotten through fairly comfortably, and I'll be a bit annoyed if a fine gets levied at us for failing to clear. I could probably have cleared quicker, but it was a bit panicked, and I didn't take that long. We'd actually have been better off parking on the inside of the bend, but the hindsight that the crews immediately behind are apparently shit at steering wasn't something I had at the time.
A selection of photos, courtesy of Bethan Jones (click for full-res)
We got back to the boathouse, had some snacks, and then rushed off to watch M1 from the meadow side of the Plough Reach. In the mean time W1 had an easy and uneventful row-over at the head of the division, with all the boats immediately behind them bumping out without giving them any trouble. The meadow side of the reach was basically occupied entirely by Downing M2 and FaT M2, which made the cheering fairly interesting.
M1 came round Ditton about a quarter to half a length off, and for a while the gap didn't really change. As we charged down on bike shouting and cheering them on, I have to admit I was somewhat worried that the bump wasn't going to happen, because we didn't seem much closer than yesterday and we didn't seem to be making progress either.
I don't know if there was some sort of 'Head or dead' call, but suddenly we picked up a shitload of speed and basically just reeled them in. The gap got smaller and smaller each stroke, and it wasn't long before AOL twatted his blade against their stern and it was all over. I nearly fell off my bike from celebrating with both hands in the air, until I hit a rock and they returned quite swiftly to the handlebars. There was also a Trinity girl (I think she was their M2 cox) who fell off her bike into the mud at the gap in between the railings, causing something of a panic behind her as everyone tried to rush past to keep up with the action.
The point at which we hit them, and Sarah pulled into our side of the bank, reminded me so much of the scene when Shevchenko's penalty was saved in Istanbul of all the Liverpool players running from the halfway line to celebrate with Dudek and the fans. Perhaps a little bit overly dramatic, but it felt that way as we all threw our bikes down and ran across the meadow to the boat. In some ways, I was happier after seeing the M1 bump than I was for our own bump (helped by the fact that I didn't have to worry about clearing the river when they bumped). After yesterday I think there was an aspect of deflation, and perhaps niggling worries that perhaps things would go as they did last year, and we'd just row over behind them every day (or worse, with Caius in the mix). It was great to get over those thoughts and to finally hit them. We've still got to defend it for the rest of the week, and the task is far from over, but for now we are the headship crew for both the men's and women's divisions, and it is a great feeling.
Kudos to FaT as well, who were pretty gracious and generally well-mannered in defeat on the bank. All the best for them to hold of Caius tomorrow (so long as they don't bump us back! :P).
I have no idea how things are going to pan out for M2 tomorrow. Cats have pretty much destroyed any hope of M2 headship for us by crashing and letting FaT M2 overtake them. Unless Sidney hit Caius back, and Cats crash again to let us overbump, then it's pretty much beyond all hope. I'm not really sure whether we're fast enough to catch Sidney Sussex M1 or not, but if we could it'd be nice revenge for them stealing pots away from us at Bedford Head. I think the race plan tomorrow will probably be to absolutely sprint to the exit of Grassy corner, and then see what's ahead of us and decide whether we're going to push for a bump, overbump, or just settle down for the long-haul and row over.
Another reasonable lol du jour is LMBC M1 managing to completely beach their boat into the bank in the Gut as they were hit by Caius. I have no fucking clue how or why they managed to do that, because it looks to me like they beached themselves before Caius made any contact, but either way Girton have some quite impressive footage of it (and them sorting the boat out at the end of the video):