Summer Rowing 2016

Rowing2016There are two types of people down at Oxford’s stretch of the Thames on Saturday of Summer VIIIs; the 15,000 spectators who sit eating burgers and drinking Pimms, and the hundreds of Lycra clad rowers gearing up for the final day of Oxford’s largest annual regatta. 

Twice a year, in the spring and summer term, every Oxford College enters boats to race against each other in the rather unusual tradition of bumps races. ‘Torpids’ in spring; ‘Summer VIIIs’ in summer. These are 4-day regattas, with every boat racing at least once each day. Each race consists of thirteen boats racing simultaneously, each boat one in front of the other with a couple of boat lengths left between them. The aim is to catch up with the boat ahead of you and ‘bump’, before the boat behind catches up with you!  A bump can constitute the cox of the boat ahead conceding or, if they refuse to concede, physically hitting into the boat. If a boat bumps every day they are awarded 'blades' and get an oar to display in their college. Conversely, if a boat gets bumped every day they are awarded the commiseration prize of 'spoons', and are presented with a wooden spoon. Tradition has it that, at the post-VIIIs celebratory dinner, everyone who’s been awarded spoons must forego conventional cutlery and eat their entire meal using the wooden spoon.

At VIIIs this year our Women’s Second boat were unfortunate, bumping three out of four times but having their race 'klaxoned' on the third day just as they were closing in on Jesus’ second boat. This meant that their dreams of blades were shattered. Despite this bad luck, it was still an incredible success for the girls considering some of them had never raced bumps before. Brasenose’s other three boats battled through their tough races, and although many would agree that this year’s VIIIs wasn’t Brasenose’s strongest performance, everyone had fun. Overall, 2015/2016 has been a successful year for Brasenose rowing. We got 4 boats out for the novice regattas, ‘Nephthys’ and ‘Christ Church’, with many of these novices progressing to senior rowing in the subsequent terms. The club also gave a strong performance in Torpids, and is looking forward to starting next year with a new committee.

Rowing at Brasenose is a friendly, fun, and addictive sport. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been involved in such a fantastic club during my time at Brasenose, and I can’t wait for next term, which will hopefully bring with it many Freshers keen to pick up a blade. I find a major strength of Brasenose rowing lies in its inclusivity. I had never rowed, or even considered rowing, before I came to Oxford from my home town, Sheffield. I probably would not have set foot in a boat had it not been for the encouragement of the club and committee. Moreover, despite this year being only the second time that women have been allowed to race on the tideway for the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, rowing at Oxford is definitely not a ‘boys only’ club. This year, Brasenose had three strong women’s crews competing in Torpids and two in VIIIs, and this diversity in the sport is something that should be recognised and celebrated.

If you have any questions about rowing at Brasenose, feel free to contact me at: [email protected]

Beth Pickford, Boat Club President

Rowing and other sports at Brasenose College are, as with all other colleges at Oxford, completely optional but something many students participate in, along with drama, music, debating, charity work, journalism, partying and many other hobbies and pursuits. Sporting abilities form no part in the admissions process, which is based purely on academic credentials and potential.

Read the Prospectus

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter for news from students and tutors, Schools Liaison and other interesting things