Sunday, 25 May 2008

Saturday of Eights

I was in Oxford yesterday to watch one of my favourite events of the year.

No, not Eurovision.

Yesterday was Saturday of Eights - the final day of a four-day bumps racing event for eights, which is competed between Oxford colleges. Bumps racing developed as a way in which crews could race each other on a river too narrow to permit side-by-side racing. Instead, boats line up along the length of the river, separated by a fixed number of boat lengths at the start, and all start at the same time. The aim is to catch the boat ahead and achieve a 'bump' on that boat by doing one of the following:

  • any part of your boat, blades or crew making physical contact with any of the boat ahead's boat, blades or crew;
  • the cox of the boat ahead raising their arm to concede that a bump is inevitable (hopefully done in time to prevent damage to boat or crew);
  • rowing past the boat ahead, such that the stern of your boat has fully passed the bows of the boat which started ahead (usually achieved by the boat ahead crashing into the bank in the lower divisions).

Bumps racing is excellent fun, and I have fond memories of rowing in an excellent crew in Summer Eights, which is still now probably the best crew I have rowed in (or at least the best crew over the thirty or forty strokes it would take us to bump the boat ahead). I have an illuminated, trophy blade from my efforts in a crew a good few years ago who achieved a bump on each of the four days of racing, and thus 'won blades'. We also won a 'Bump Supper' - a free four course meal for the rest of the college to celebrate the achievement (and thus became instantly very popular).

Saturday of Eights brings boaties back to college. I knew full well the usual suspects from my university days would be gathering at the boathouse to cheer on the crews yesterday, and catch up over a Pimms or two. Unfortunately, in the event, I was too busy catching up over a few pints of Pimms to watch much of the racing or take any pictures, so here're a few pictures from 2006 to give a flavour of the day:

Saturday of Eights - Lots of People, Lots of Pimms

One of the old guard in the college boathouse - trophy blades on the wall behind

Women's 1st VIIIs paddling down to the start

...And did I mention the Pimms?

After racing - the fast way to cool off

Well... racing is thirsty work...


Kahless said...

Bumps racing sounds like good fun. I love your rowing posts. Kind of makes me feel like I am fit myself for some reason. Not sure why!

Kahless said...

I am surprised a rower doesnt like frogs? Dont know why really; guess I assumed an amphibian kindredness.

How about a bug?

But Why? said...

It's the best. It's alo the mot insanely painful form of racing imaginable, as the only sane way to race the course is to go off as hard as possible and hang on at that speed for as long as possible. Any other approach will rapidly lead to being bumped by the crew behind you taking the fly-and-die approach to racing.

And I'm not really amphibious. I've capsized only twice. And I am slowly getting better with the frogs. (For the diversity record, should it be required, I am talking about amphibians and not our French cousins acros the channel...)

DJ Kirkby said...

Great post, count me in...I'll be the one drinking the Pimms...

But Why? said...

You'll find you're not alone in drinking Pimms... I did wonder the following day (prompted by a slightly fuzzy head) if maybe, just maybe, the pint wasn't the best measure to serve Pimms by? But no matter. Pimms by the pint is a tradition, and in Oxford all are powerless in the face of a rampaging Tradition..

Bollinger Byrd said...

WHAT? you weren't watching the Eurovision! What were you thinking of.
Actually neither did I, so can't really labour the point.
But you could have had Pimms in front of it as well.

Reading the Signs said...

I tried spotting my son in these and then realised that of course he couldn't have been there yet if it was 2006. He did the Extreme Rowing thing in his first term and then took up jazz singing instead. There is a connection, I think. Or, at any rate, I pick up the same kind of enthusiasm from the way you speak about rowing and he about the jazz.

Casdok said...

Drinking again!! Sounds like excellent fun!!

But Why? said...

No, I'm afraid Eurovision didn't figure. And it sounds like even the most reliable Eurovision stalwart, Mr Terry Wogan, has had enough. And without Terry, there will be no reason to watch Eurovision ever again!

Yes, rowing and jazz go hand in hand. Not simultaneously, though, the one has to follow the other. Many is the time when all I'm fit or after a workout is to listen to a bit of jazz. But I wouldn't try to sing it, and definitely not whilst erging. I tried to sing through my workout on Tuesday and succeeded only in emptying the gym and being in more discomfort. But a workout then jazz is just about perfect.

It wouldn't be the same without the Pimms. (I might have seen the racing had I have made fewer trips to the bar!)