Bumping Along

Oriel bump Keble in Women’s Division 1 on Day 3 (Thursday) of the so-called “Summer Torpids” at Oxford. Picture: @HeathWhyte

14 June 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch is watching ITV (Isis Television).

Friday, 11 June, saw the final day of the four days of bump racing between the Oxford University colleges that has been Christened the “Summer Torpids”. This has been the organisers’ (Oxford University Rowing Clubs, OURCs) response to the disruption caused to rowing training by the pandemic. OURC cancelled the 2021 Summer Eights that were due to be held 8 – 11 June and moved the 2021 Torpids from its usual early March date to the slot vacated by the Eights. Dr Rachel Quarrell, The Daily Telegraph rowing correspondent and coordinator of the group of senior umpires who oversee safety for OURCs, explained how Torpids rules made the event safer for this year’s crews and coxes, many of whom have had little time on the water:

In Torpids rules… the crew which has been bumped continues rowing and can be bumped again. However the latter doesn’t happen that often and this means that only one crew is trying (inexpertly, sometimes) to pull out of the racing line, so tangles tend to be rarer…. Our problem is ensuring that rowers who haven’t experienced bumps (all the first and second years) get as safe a try at the format as possible, hence switching to Torpids rules for this one.  

For those uninitiated in the mysteries of Oxbridge bumping, a more detailed explanation is in my recent posting, “Bumped Off”. 

The full bumps charts are here but this was the situation in both Division Ones at the end of the final day. The dotted lines indicate that appeals are still pending but the final results should not be dramatically different.

At the top of Men’s Division 1, there were no shocks or surprises, the top three boats (Oriel M1, Pembroke M1 and St Catherine’s M1) “rowed over” every day i.e. they did not bump and were not bumped, and Oriel remained “Head”. Uniquely, on the final day, all the crews in Men’s Division 1 rowed over. The top women provided greater excitement with Wolfson bumping on each of the four days and going “Head of the River”. It was a disastrous Torpids for Pembroke W1 and Keble W1 who started 1st and 2nd and who finished 4th and 7th. Hertford W1 will also be disappointed as they lost out to going to the top of Division 1 by being bumped by Wolfson on the last day.

A few Twitter pictures from the four days:

Jesus and his disciples. Picture: @JesusOxford
The Blessed Trinity. Picture: @AlannahBurdess
St Hilda’s – no longer just Girl Power. Picture: @hilda_beastoxf
Pembroke go for broke. Picture: @SuzanneForward
Jesus College posted this reminder of past bumps adorning its walls. Picture: @JesusOxford

Of course, OURCs asked spectators not to attend. Access to the boathouse island was controlled and limited to competitors only and towpath gatherings were discouraged with a combination of clear signage, security stewards and support from the local authorities. However, the entire event was live streamed and is on YouTube. The final day is here with Men’s Division 1 starting at 6.40.30 and Women’s Division 1 starting at 7.10.30.

If you want to go down the course without too much effort, a splendid cox’s eye view video from 2014 is also on YouTube.

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