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Saturday 23d April 2005

Bumping Races

Bumping races are processional races in which the object is to ‘bump’ (i.e. catch up with, or overtake) the boat in front. There are usually four rounds, and after each one the bumped and the bumping crew exchange places in the starting order. A successful crew is one which achieves at least one bump each race, and is entitled to a trophy - usually a 'blade'.  A crew which is consistently successful from year to year will rise up the starting order until it reaches the top, earning the title of ‘Head of the River’.  (See Steve Travis' descriptions of bumping races.)

The Oxford City Bumping Races

Oxford City Bumping Races are raced in coxed fours on the Isis over the same course as the Oxford University Bumps. The event is open to crews from any club affiliated to the A.R.A. and is not restricted to crews from Oxford. It is held under A.R.A. Rules of Racing, subject to local rules.

Boats are grouped into divisions, with each division racing four times in one day. Within a division, boats are staked 120' apart along the river bank, stretching from Donnington Bridge to the Isis Tavern (see map of the course). The start is signalled by a sequence of siren blasts (5 minute warning, 1 minute warning, and start). The strategy is to sprint off the start to avoid being bumped by the boat behind, and to keep going until either the crew in front has been caught ('bumped') or until the finishing post is reached (‘rowing over’). As soon as a bump occurs, the bumping crew drops out of the race while the bumped crew continues ('Torpids' rules). The two crews then exchange start positions in the next race. Every crew is guaranteed four races.


Separate Men’s and Women’s competitions will be held in coxed fours. Each crew must be accompanied by a poleman and judge equipped with a bicycle, who will be briefed fully on the day. Starting order will be determined by draw according to status, taking into account the previous year's finish order. 


Crews that progress four or more places in the starting order during the day will be awarded prizes. In addition, crews finishing at the head of the Men’s and Women’s will be awarded specially struck medals, and their names added to the Bumping Races Challenge Cup. 


Entries will be accepted by telephone and email, though precedence will be given to postal entries submitted on A.R.A. forms accompanied by cheques. The entry fee is £40 per crew in advance, or £48 on the day, payable to City of Oxford Rowing Club. Note that the event is affiliated to the A.R.A., and so racing licences must be presented, or day tickets purchased, on registration. Doubling up, or sharing of equipment or coxswains, is not permitted, except at the Secretary's discretion.

Entries and enquiries should be addressed to: Robin Edwards, 14 Church Way, Iffley, Oxford OX4 4DY, Tel. 07768 712534, email:

Entries close at 12.00 noon on Sunday 17th April 2005.


Revised: 19 March 2005 .

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