Clare College provided the best performing boats in the top divisionEmma Rutter

A whole armada of amateur rowers were drinking in their successes or drowning their sorrows across Cambridge on Saturday night, as a gruelling Lent Bumps campaign ended with movement up and down the divisions.

Clare College could be seen rocking their boathouse after they secured the Marconi Cup for the best performance throughout the five days of competition. Both their women’s and men’s crews picked up blades for bumping (aka catching) the boat in front in every first-division race.

Euan Beck, Clare Boat Club’s overall captain, led the celebrations and toasted the depth and dedication behind their victory. “I’m really proud of the stellar set of results all of our crews have managed to achieve this week,” the men’s skipper explained. “It’s a testament to the strength of the squad and the hard work put in by the crews and the coaches.”

Whilst Clare climbed from sixth to second place in the women’s regatta, Jesus held their position at the head of the river, avoiding their nearest rivals with four superlative rows to retain their title from last year.

“I love my crew to bits,” Abigail Smith gushed of her boat. “We worked incredibly hard to deliver the result we did and we got over the finish line each day by backing each other up,” the Jesus captain added.

Lady Margaret Boat Club took the head of the river as Downing broke a rudderEmma Rutter

In the men’s competition, the Lady Margaret Boat Club (representing St John’s College) bumped to the top in controversial circumstances after Downing crashed out with a broken rudder on the penultimate day.

The decisive move did not happen as the Johnians would have wanted, according to their captain Paul Myatt, but their crowning moment came on Saturday, when they smoothly swept to victory in the sunshine.

“Our highly-satisfying row over on Saturday put clear distance between us and a chasing Downing crew and certainly confirmed our status as the quickest college, deserving of the headship,” Myatt asserted.

Downing earned their own accolade in the women’s third division, however, collecting super-blades for moving up six places in their quartet of outings. Their ascent of the rankings was triggered by an impressive over-bump on the first day, catching the Trinity Hall crew three positions ahead after the boats in between bumped out.

Clare W1 bumped Downing on the final day to settle for second spot in the top divisionEmma Rutter

The Trinity Hall rowers responded to their mild ignominy with the dry humour typical of Cambridge rowers, by opening a Facebook event which pledged to over-bump King’s College the following day.

“We’re going to show them what’s what tomorrow in the biggest rowing showdown this side of Jesus’s birthday (the real guy),” it read.

Robinson’s second boat matched Downing’s feat in the men’s third division, executing a sensational over-bump against Magdalene on Friday. The crews are each the most improved of the meeting.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to be the best-performing boat and see the blue flag of ‘Binson flying high to celebrate our blades,” said the Robinson lower boat captain Lorenzo Leoni. “We're all super happy to be super-blades and can't wait to celebrate. Yeah ‘Binson!”

Murray Edwards celebrate a superb bump on the final dayEmma Rutter

For those attending the classic last day of the Bumps, one of the biggest spectacles was Murray Edwards’s firsts bumping Emmanuel in front of dozens of spectators lining the river at The Plough in Fen Ditton.

The quintessential country pub was again the setting for the perfect contrast between the genteelness of both town and gown, despite conspicuous cries from Cambridge United Football Club, and the pugnacity of the oarsmen as they pounded down the Cam.

The May Bumps need no selling, but the developing rivalries and ever-improving competition mean Freshers would be fools not to bring a bike, a picnic (and the rulebook) and catch another glimpse of this magical, sport-meets-snakes and ladders ritual after Easter

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