May Bumps: Report from the Head Rowing Coach

Wednesday 22 June 2022


The following report was kindly written by Carmen Failla, the College's Head Rowing Coach & Boathouse Manager:


Overall club performance: Up 1

W3 – Down 4

W2 – Level

W1 – Up 1

M3 – Level

M2 – Up 1

M1 – Up 3

I am already very excited to see what next year has in store. St Catharine’s College Boat Club is a phenomenal place to be part of, all thanks to the students and the generous help we get from donors to provide boats, blades and extra coaching. We also really appreciated the support and cheers on the bank we get from the wider College community, with a crowd of over 80 spurring us on from the College Marquee on the riverbank on 18 June.

Our student rowers work so hard day in, day out and strive to be the best – it’s genuinely inspiring. They are forever learning – whether that’s from mistakes, successes or each other – as well as continuing to develop into mature adults. I feel so privileged and proud to be a small part of their time at St Catharine’s, and am even more grateful to them for the Boat Club that they are creating.

W3: Down 4 (spoons)

This boat had great spirit thorough out the week. Starting in fifth position in Division 4 was always going to be tough going, especially surrounded by some strong second boats and with many of our rowers having just learnt in Easter term, along with some more experienced but untrained returners. The women performed to the best of their ability and gave a huge amount of effort each day, which showed as they fended off being bumped until further down the course. Despite not having a huge number of sessions during term and lots of subbing, they did a great job.

W2: Level

Thanks to the help from the Master’s Fund, we were lucky enough to have recent alumna Izzy Backhouse (2017, Modern & Medieval Languages) come back to help coach this boat. The women selected to race in W2 were keen to improve and were the most consistent early-risers of the boat house, having two 06:30 sessions and a Saturday afternoon row every week. This boat, along with Izzy, created a great bond and fought to stay level in Division 3 in eighth place. A lot of work was done to hold position: two strong row overs and a bump on the St Edmund’s crew, who then unfortunately managed to re-bump on the last day. The commitment shown by the women in this boat was great throughout term and they should be very proud of their result.

W1: Up 1

These women had a very good May Bumps Campaign, keeping the ball rolling from Lent Bumps! The term started off with Clare Hole (a second-year Natural Sciences undergraduate) returning from Blondie to train and race with us. From the beginning of term, the women had a created a great atmosphere and were willing to work to get results. It’s always tricky to commit to the maximum level during exam term, but they (along with all other boats) found a way, getting smaller boats out if needed to try to stay on top of the water program. The women worked hard but also seemed to have a great time together which was a real pleasure to be a part of. This group might have the most unique 'mascot' / 'lucky charm' that joins them when racing, along with a great phrase and routine to get race ready, which you might be lucky enough to see, watch and hear if you follow them at future races. After starting in 15th position, they managed to move into 14th in Division 1, doing so by being bumped by a blading Trinity Hall crew, rowing over then bumping Queens’, followed by bumping Girton the next day. A great set of results and fortunately, even with our bumps, our boat (The Sandy) was kept in one piece… ready to bump again in Lent Term (hopefully). I was extremely pleased with the women’s performances each day and their attitude, I’m excited to see what next year holds for this group.

St Catharine's women rowing in the May Bumps 2022
St Catharine's women rowing in the May Bumps 2022

M3: Level

The mighty M3 boat had quite the week, with seven races in total due to being the Division 4/5 sandwich boat. They were so impressive and never lost their fight even when doing one row over to the next. I think this boat has created a new tradition in the Boat Club for all that sit in M3, of which I thoroughly enjoy. The men in this boat are a true pleasure to be around: polite, fun, enthusiastic and very hard working. They had the opportunity to have two outings per week this term but chose to do three, they were a real mix of experience, ability and characters but what a unit they created. They should be very proud of holding first position in Division 5, but let’s hope we can squeak into Division 4 next year.

M2: Up 1

This is a huge result for M2. In both Lent and May Bumps, during my time at St Catharine’s, M2 have held their positions with row overs and bumps and bumping back, so to have a +1 is fantastic! Like many of the boats this year, there was a huge rage of experience: from novices starting in Easter term, to our bow man rowing for St Catharine’s since 2018. This year (thanks to the Master’s Fund supporting the boathouse) we were able to bring back alumnus George Aylard (2018, Human Social & Political Sciences) to coach this crew three times a week. I believe it was immensely useful to have consistency with coaching and I was delighted when they (like M3) requested another water session to have four outings per week. This crew showed great focus throughout term and remained dialed in no matter who was in the crew.

M1: Up 3

What a result for M1, who are now right on the cusp of Division 1. We moved from fourth place to first in Division 2,, only missing out on moving up to the top division after a few very unlucky occurrences for us and some very lucky occurrences for Selwyn. I am so impressed with the amount of commitment this crew showed, they were pushed out of their comfort zone more than once and stayed strong as a unit to continue striving to achieve their goal. This crew led the men’s side with a huge amount passion, showing true grit and resilience. It was far from an easy term for this crew and far from an easy Bumps campaign, but from the hard work the men choose to commit to in Michaelmas and continued through to May Bumps allowed them to fight and hold their heads high in their +3 result.

Roll on 2023! For the Wheel, MIAOW!

St Catharine's men rowing in the May Bumps 2022
St Catharine's men rowing in the May Bumps 2022