Back to all news
Written by:
Trinity Hall
19 Jun 2019

I am happy to report that the title of this blog is an extremely accurate summary of my very first experience of the May Bumps, which served as an amazing and extremely successful end to my first academic year in Cambridge.

I am enormously proud that Trinity Hall qualified a total of seven boats for the Mays this year – four men’s boats and three from the women’s squad. Over the week almost 70 of our students raced and for over 20 of them it was their first experience of this slightly surreal event.


M4 kicked off the week with a gutsy row but were unfortunate to be chased by a Downing M4 crew that flew off the start, bumping THBC in relatively short order. The THBC crew members were now aware of the importance of the start in Bumps racing!

W3, a crew with six of this years’ novices on board and seven who had not experienced Bumps before, were fortunate to be steered for the week by the experienced Lizzie Gaunt. A row-over was an excellent way for this crew to experience Bumps for the first time and prepared them well for the remainder of the week.

M3 began their Mays campaign as they meant to go on by bumping St Edmund’s M2 in very short order and saving their energy for later in the week.

W2 had an incredibly strong start catching Clare W2 and pulling away from Hughes Hall W1 along First Post Reach. Unfortunately, a technical infringement from the THBC boat meant that the Umpires overruled the Bump, awarding Clare a row-over and Hughes Hall a technical bump against TH… that would serve to fire up the TH women for the remainder of the week!

M2 had an excellent start to their week, bumping Lady Margaret M3 very comfortably along First Post Reach.

W1 were the Div 1/Div 2 sandwich boat being chased by a King’s W1 boat that we had not seen on the water all term, meaning that we were uncertain of their speed. Suffice to say it was no row-over! King’s produced a very large and fast crew forcing the THBC W1 to row possibly their best and fastest of the year to hold them off along the Long Reach. King’s got within three feet of the TH stern before we pulled away to hold a lead of over a length by Top Finish. This result was a display that, as their coach, made me enormously proud. It showed the mental and physical strength that our W1 has developed this year as well as the technical advances we have made so that the rhythm and rowing did not falter despite the onslaught from a strong King’s W1. Unfortunately, this race had taken its toll physically and this led to W1 rowing over in the Div 1 race an hour later when racing the fresh legs of the other boats.

M1 made short work of Homerton M1 and set the tone for the rest of the week by displaying to all, but most importantly to themselves, the progress made since October and especially the speed found over the preceding four weeks and over the difficult exam period. A very strong start for M1!

Four bumps on day one!


M4 produced a much better row on day two lasting much longer on the course than the previous day before being bumped by Selwyn M3. More lessons learned and a great ‘onwards and upwards’ attitude shown by the crew.

A great day for W3 when they bumped Clare through The Gut, giving seven of this crew their first ever Bump! The look on the faces of the crew when they bumped was one of the standout images of the week – the joy, the excitement, the exhilaration and the realisation of ‘this is why we do this’ was a joy to watch from the bank!

M3 bumped Girton M2 before First Post Corner and the mumblings of possible blades began to be heard…

W2 post-bump on day 2 of May Bumps 2018/19

W2 post-bump on day 2 of May Bumps 2018/19

W2 put Wednesday’s disappointment behind them and reacted in the best way possible by dominating Hughes Hall W1 (who had been placed above them via a technical bump the previous day) by bumping them through The Gut having raced an incredibly mature and powerful race for a crew with three of this year’s novices on board. The crew certainly felt that justice had been done! The week was back on track.

M2 had a strong row-over almost catching St Catharine’s M2 round Ditton Corner before the 20mph headwind on the Long Reach assisted in keeping the crews apart for the rest of the course.

W1 were the sandwich boat again and King’s came out of the blocks like a scolded cat. They rowed their best race of the week and on this occasion, despite the best efforts of the THBC W1, they were the faster crew on the day deserving their Bump.

M1, buoyed by yesterday’s Bump, raced hard through The Gut to overhaul the Girton M1 boat along The Plough Reach, learning many lessons and making many mental notes for the coming days along the way. An extremely strong first two days for our M1 and confidence was building on what could be possible and a great end to the day for THBC.

Three Bumps on day two, bringing the total to seven for the first two days.


Friday was (in golfing terminology) ‘moving day’, where the crews that are looking to make serious inroads in the Bumps charts maintain their momentum and step up a level while those seeking Blades (M1 and M3) really focus their minds so as not to undo the super work over the first two days.

M4 suffered a bump by a strong Peterhouse M3 that eventually went up five places in their 2019 Mays campaign. M4 would have to work hard to avoid the dreaded ‘spoons’ on the final day…could they do it?

W3 learned much about themselves in their third day and rowed over strongly after crews in front of them bumped out and they were chased from behind all the way to the finish. A great effort from a relatively inexperienced crew – huge progress.

M3 rowed with such maturity (despite over half the boat being novices at the start of the year) and such a clinical and focussed mind-set that Anglia Ruskin M1 never had a chance with the race being over before Grassy Corner. One more row….would they win their Blades?

W2 righted another piece of baggage by bumping Clare W2 (who were the beneficiaries of day one’s events) very quickly and for the second time in the week! What a positive response from our W2 crew!

M2 rowed well but were eventually overhauled by a strong Jesus M3 crew that went up three and were undefeated in the years Mays.

W1 had clearly eaten their Weetabix (other breakfast cereals are available!) and came out all guns blazing on the third day. No longer the sandwich boat our W1 were relaxed and that transferred into their row as they rowed down King’s W1 in magnificent style at Ditton Corner, leaving a shell-shocked King’s boat in their wake. In the second race W1 were clinical and rowed a fantastic race to comfortably defeat Peterhouse W1 before First Post Corner and in doing so enter Division 1. What a 24 hours for W1!

M1, having greeted W1 with a deafening ‘Row Hall’ as they passed one another, had the same opportunity having earned the right to be the sandwich boat in the men’s divisions the previous evening. They also had the added incentive of continuing their run towards winning their Blades. Churchill M1 stood in their way…until The Plough Reach. M1 produced a very strong row implementing lessons learned from the previous evening in a dominant display, which they followed up with a clean row against Wolfson M1 shortly afterwards to secure a place in Division 1 for the final day. Blades were on, as was securing a place in the top division for the first time in a number of years. A great day for M1.

Six Bumps in total for THBC on day three and 13 for the week so far, as well as both First Boats in the top division.


Could M4 avoid winning the dreaded ‘spoons’? Of course they could! M4 had by far their best start of the week, holding Magdalene and deserving the technical row-over awarded as a result of absolute carnage in front of them meaning that the division was stopped. On a serious note, this crew had such a great attitude all week, always keeping their heads up and genuinely enjoying their rowing. A credit to the club.

W3 were bumped by Magdalene W2 but ended the week level. A great result for a crew with seven students in their first ever Bumps. Lizzie Gaunt proved to be a great influence on this crew and we look forward to welcoming many of the crew back in future years.

M3 bumped Darwin M2 just after Grassy Corner to bump for the fourth successive day and win their blades! What a week for this boat. To see the belief grow over the week was hugely rewarding and for them to ‘close the deal’ as clinically as they did was the perfect reward for the work and progress put in since returning from the Easter break.

W2 rowed over, ending the week up one. Next year’s crew will start in third position in Division 3. This has been a great W2 crew and the progress these student athletes have made since September has been staggering. They should be rightly proud of their Mays and their year in general.

M2 were bumped by Churchill M2 but they take great pride in the progress made in a short period and lessons learned bode well for the future. Huge thanks to Geoff Macintyre who has led this crew so well this year. We will miss his presence as he leaves TH for pastures new.

W1 bumped Homerton W1 in quick time before First Post corner in front of the Master, meaning up three places for the week and now firmly established in Division 1 of the Mays.

M1 bumped Selwyn M1 by the Railway Bridge winning blades after five bumps during the week! This crew should be enormously proud of what they have achieved and to end the Mays where they have will set up future crews with an opportunity to move THBC further forward in the years to come. To make such short work of the often-dreaded sandwich boat scenario was a pleasure to watch from the bank.

May Bumps 2018/19 results board

May Bumps 2018/19 results board

THBC bumped on 16 occasions over the four days – what a week!

Both M1 and W1 are now securely in the top division of the Mays for the first time since 2012 and the future looks very bright!

It has been great effort from all seven of our crews this week who rowed with great spirit, enormous effort, excellent technique and with the very best sportsmanship shown at all times. We should all be very proud!

On a personal level

On a personal level, I have absolutely loved my first year in Cambridge and this was a perfect way for it to come to a close. I have so many people to thank for making my first year so positive and for helping me throughout.

We are extremely lucky to have such a supportive College behind us. We have a hugely supportive Master and Fellows and the interest shown by so many members of staff has been very much appreciated. I am consistently asked how the Boat Club is doing every time I am in College. There is a genuine interest in what and how we are doing.

We have enormously supportive alumni who wish to see us develop, continue to move forward and succeed.

We have a incredibly supportive Advisory Committee and I feel it appropriate to make special mention for the amazing input we receive from Dr Graham Pullan, Kate Grose and Dr Walter Scott who continue to provide so much advice, experience and guidance for our Boat Club as well as helping with training camps and coaching at every possible opportunity.

Thanks must go to those that have helped me with coaching this year including Dr Walter Scott, Kate Grose, Joseph Whiting, Isaac Uden, Alice Archer, Lucy Pike, Lizzie Gaunt, Alice Tilley, Nathan Clark and so many more who have given their time voluntarily to help our crews maximise their potential. Job done this year and thank you all for your efforts!

This year’s Captains have helped me on a daily basis assisting me in (trying) to understand Cambridge and rowing on the Cam and their advice has been invaluable throughout. I am hugely grateful.

And finally, the students! They are the heart of the Boat Club and the work that these athletes have put in has been excellent this year. They have adapted to many new ways of doing things in most aspects of what we do at the Boat Club which cannot have always been easy after being so used to the system established over so many years under my predecessor Martin. However, adapt they have and the results they have achieved are testament to the attitude and application of every one of the athletes. I am incredibly proud of them all and to see them develop (as rowers and also as individuals) over the short time I have known them is a source of enormous pride for me as their coach.

Thank you to everyone for an amazing first year and as ever…Row Hall!


Paul Townshend, Rowing Coach & Boathouse Manager