Rowing at University in Cambridge

The Bumps

Rowing is a sport which takes dedication, teamwork, and a tricky combination of technical know-how with physical prowess. Or something like that anyway. So why is it that every Michaelmas scores of freshers take to the Cam to train and compete in this most difficult of sports? The two principal attractions of the college boatie life only really become apparent once you've done it for a while.

Pembroke regatta 2007
The first men warming up for the bumps by cruising to victory at Pembroke Regatta 2007

Firstly, there's the social life. Any crew or club worth its salt is fuelled not so much on the obligatory pasta and malt loaf as it is on alcohol. Formal halls with other crews, club cocktails, so-called pudding parties, pub meets and the termly boat club dinners provide frequent opportunities for booze-soaked mingling.

The women's First Lent Eight celebrate retaining the headship 2008
The women's First Lent Eight celebrate retaining the headship 2008

The other big attraction of rowing in Cambridge, and the one which keeps so many people coming back for more, is the Bumps. These races take place late in the Lent Term ("the Lents") and at the end of May Term (logically enough, "the Mays"). The May Bumps in particular attract a huge number of rowers - 172 crews in ten divisions, that's over 1500 people. (In recent years, up to ten of those crews � around ninety people � were from First and Third, which gives an idea of the size of our club.)

The Bumps are one of the most exciting things that it is possible to do as a student at Cambridge. The aim of these pages is to explain how they work, explain all the terminology such as overbump, technical row-over and sandwich, and describe some of the exciting traditions that surround the Bumps and make them what they are.

  1. A description of the Bumps - What and Why?!
  2. The Bumps Course, how to get there and a map
  3. How they work - the start, divisions, bumps, overbumps and row-overs
  4. The hooter system and bumping, celebrating, Blades, and Headships
The men's 1st May Eight celebrates
The men's First May Eight celebrate their Lents and Mays double!

This website is also the unique home of the mobile bumps results service, which allows message posts and results to be relayed to the website via email (formerly, before smartphones became widespread, they were submitted by SMS). The results are then converted into up-to-date bumps charts, which are viewable in the results section, so you can get the latest results, wherever you are, within minutes of racing.

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