Like tetrus but with rowers!
25.07.2006 32 °C
Cambridge university has two annual races known as 'The Bumps'. The main ones are the May Bumps or 'The Mays' (you may bump in May - you may not!)
For decades, many rowers from the university have stayed in the area and continued to row at the town clubs and - as you'd expect - they wanted to have all the excitement of Bumps even if they weren't at college anymore. And so Town Bumps were born.
Occurring in July (after the University year has finished) the Town Bumps involves all the town clubs and a few from out of town racing over four evenings - Tuesday to Friday. They kick off from Baits Bite lock and head up stream towards the railway bridge (you can find maps of the Cam on line if you want to see what I mean).
There are 2 divisions for women and 3 for men (to accommodate the number of boats entered). You have up to 20 or so boats in a division. Each boat in a division has a specific start point along the edge of the river - one behind the other - so that the entire division races at once - each boat chasing the boat in front and trying not to be caught by the boat behind. When you have overlap or your boat or oars (blades) touch that is a bump and the cox of the boat that has been bumped must acknowledge this by raising their hand. Then you get down to all sorts of technical details that you can find online if you are interested but I wont cover them here.
Once you have bumped the boat in front/been bumped you both pull over to the edge of the river and allow all the other boats still racing to get by you. If you don't bump or get bumped you must row right to the finish of the course - called a 'row over'.
Then the next day you do it all again. The only difference beign where you start and who you are chasing. Bumped boats swap starting place with the boats the bumped them, row overs stay the same.
If you bump the boat ahead on each of the four nights you get 'blades'. If you get bumped on each of the fourn nights you get 'spoons' (blade and spoon being words used to talk about the oar you row with).
Right explanation over - now onto the all important information:
!!!!!My boat got Blades!!!!!
We bumped within 50 strokes on each night and managed to earn our blades in less than 150 strokes overall! We didn't even make it to the first corner of the course before we had bumped.
This is my crew heading for the bump (only a stroke or two away) versus Simoco on the second night. I'm in the bow seat at the front of the boat and am the first person to feel any impact - the action seat. It was brilliant if darn scary the first couple of times. Brilliant because you can see what is going on and you can hear the other boat and you know straight away when the bump has happened. Scary because you are the first thing that will get hit by the other boat or rowers oars if things go wrong or they wont concede and you have to row through them (what happened on the first night).
Once you have bumped you then get willow branches and leaves to put in your hair and down the back of your one-piece so the people watching the racing can see you have bumped. Then they clap and cheer as you go past which is awesome!
Then there is the party on the final night ... but thats a story for another time.