Summer Eights 2014   Leave a comment

I returned to Oxford in time to train for and race in one last bumps race: Summer Eights 2014. In a Wolfson rebuilding year, I was rowing in our men’s first boat and coxing the women’s second boat. Both crews performed strongly. While the men were bumped down over the first two days by speedy Magdalen and Trinity boats, we were able to hold position over Friday and Saturday — the latter in front of a very respectable Balliol. We finished seventh on the river, confirming the tenacity that the past several years have brought out in Wolfson.

The women’s second boat had a stronger performance still. We bumped St. John’s II on Wednesday, followed by a powerful row-over Thursday. We went on to bump St. Hilda’s on Friday, and rowed over Saturday, securing our highest finish since the modern women’s Summer Eights patterns started in the early 1980’s.

Eights14 1

I also had the chance to announce some of the morning races. To liven things up a bit, I adapted a few historical and fictional speeches with a bumps bent.

Eights 14 Announcing

These included Winston Churchill:

We shall go on to the bump. We shall fight on the catch, we shall fight on the legs and backs, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength on the finish, we shall defend our stern, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight in the gut, we shall fight on the green banks, we shall fight by the boathouses and to the finish line; we shall never concede.

(But please do concede if the bump is inevitable.)

Teddy Roosevelt:

The credit belongs to the men and women who are actually on the Isis, whose faces are marred by river water and goose poo and blood; who strive valiantly; who err, who are bumped again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who do actually strive to do the deeds; who know great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best know in the end the triumph of a bump, and who at the worst, if they are bumped, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Aragorn of Lord of the Rings:

Hold your finishes! Hold your finishes! Sons of John’s, of Peter’s, of Hilda’s, my brothers, I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the strength of rowers fails, when we forsake our catches and break all bonds of timing, but it is not this day. An hour of crabs and shattered blades, when the age of bumps comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we row! By all that you hold dear on this good Isis, I bid you stand, Men of Oxford!

And finally, Winston Churchill once again:

If we fail, then the whole boat club, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the ambitions of the filthy Tabs. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if Oxford University and its Colleges last for another thousand years, at Eights dinners they will still say, “This was their finest bump.”

Posted 31 May 2014 by John McManigle in Rowing

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