Bumps preparation from an M2 viewpoint: I'm sure M1 and the Ladies can speak for themselves. So: a couple of weeks ago we too part in the Xpress head (see previous report) and we were, to be honest, a bit rubbish. Full results are here but, in brief, while M1 did well (9:19, 12 seconds down on City) we took 11:20 and got overtaken by a Cantabs crew (Gunning) who we had reason to suspect would be near us in the bumps. This was disappointing. Actually it was worse than that but this is a public forum.
Yesterday was the CRA Timed Race, and in true CRA style the results aren't up as I write this, so I refer you to my bootleg copy. Now (admittedly on a shorter course) we're less than a minute down on M1, and more importantly *we* overtook someone (a poor 99's third crew: alas it won't be 99's 3 in the bumps :-). Perhaps more importantly we beat the Cantabs crew (pretty sure it was the same one, it had AM stroking it again!) by 24 seconds of real time. With their Vets time adjustment they beat us by a few seconds of reported time but we don't care because, aha, there is no such adjustment in the bumps.
According to the CRA charts, and the assumption that they are Cantabs 8, they are the crew ahead of us on day 1, which would be promising, but I've known the charts to shift a little in the run-up. So who knows.
Anyway, lets play pretend: suppose all remains equal, and we're 24 seconds faster over 2,200 m. Boats are 90 feet apart  so call it 40 m on the safe side. A boat goes at 5 m/s let us say, so that is 8 seconds, so we need 2,200/(24/8) ~ 700 m to catch them. Hopefully I've got the maths right there, and I think I've erred on the safe side. That is perfectly doable, but given the chaos of the bumps almost anything could happen ahead of them in 700 m, so we have our work cut out.
Things we can do to get faster: bed down, obviously. That was our first row in the Corpus boat, and we weren't expecting a bow-rigged one, or one rigged so low. The blades were nice though. We didn't quite have our full crew. And we still have a bit more training to do (none of this affects any of the other crews, of course :-).