Bumper to Bumper

High-class graffito at Brasenose College, Oxford. Only rowing successes are allowed to mark the old and hallowed walls. Picture: shoffmire.blogspot.com

14 March 2019

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch collects recent results from the Cam and the Isis.

The old rivals that are the Universities of Oxford and of Cambridge may not care to admit it, but there is more that unites them than divides them. On the rowing front, both have two sets of intra-university ‘bumping races’ for eights every year, one in early spring and one in early summer. At Cambridge, these are called ‘Lents’ and ‘Mays’ respectively, while at Oxford they are known as ‘Torpids’ and ‘Summer Eights’ or ‘Eights Week’.

This year, Oxford’s Hilary Term finished with ‘Torpids’ running between Wednesday, 27 February and Saturday, 2 March, while at Cambridge, the end of the Lent Term had ‘Lents’ taking place between Wednesday, 6 March and Saturday, 9 March.

Torpids and Lents are both more ‘low key’ than their summer equivalents; firstly because the weather is often not conducive to spectating, secondly because exams are not yet over, and thirdly because the standard is lower, many of the best rowers not taking part as they are busy training in an attempt to earn a place in a Blue Boat. Indeed, the name ‘Torpids’ derives from the event’s origins as a race for college second boats.

A physical ‘bump’ is not required, an overlap is enough. The bumped cox raises their hand to concede. Uniquely, Torpids has a cruel twist to its rules in that a bumped boat carries on racing, only the boat that did the bumping stops (usually, both boats involved pull into the side and do not race again that day). Thus, a crew could be bumped more than once in a day. This picture actually shows Pembroke II bumping Christ Church II in the 2014 Summer Eights.

For those unsure about how this particular form of boat racing works, my report from the 2016 Summer Eights contains an explanation.

Below are the 2019 results from Lents and Torpids Men’s and Women’s First Division, interspersed with pictures culled from the Internet.

Torpids, Women’s Division 1. Wadham displaces Oriel to go ‘Head’. An upward line means that the crew made a bump, downward indicates that they were bumped themselves, horizontal means that they ‘rowed over’, i.e. did not make a bump and were not bumped.
The Trinity women are happy, they rose three places over the four days. Picture: @trinitycollegejcr.jpg
Torpids, Men’s Division 1. Oriel ‘rowed over’ every day to stay Head.
Most college porters’ lodges display a low-tech results board during bumps. This is for St Edmund Hall and shows that the men’s first boat (M1) bumped every day and its crew is thus eligible for illuminated ‘blades’ recording their success. The college’s only women’s crew did less well and dropped eleven places. Picture: @stedmundhall.
An illuminated blade from the Torpids of 1930.
Lents, Women’s Division 1. Newnham goes Head, replacing Jesus.
Downing W2 got blades. The foliage in their hair indicates that they have made a bump. Picture: @Trudie_Davidson
Lents, Men’s Division 1. Caius replaces Lady Margaret at the top.
Feeling the strain. Picture: @Trudie_Davidson

The full results for Torpids are here  and the same for Lents are here.

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