Bumps victory sees first ‘blades’ for Women’s top boat in almost 40 years

Last week’s May Bumps 2022 saw a welcome return of the iconic annual rowing competition to the River Cam after a pandemic-driven hiatus.

Trinity Hall crew rowing on the River Cam

Trinity Hall had six boats competing: three men’s and three women’s with W1 providing the most bumps.

Our First Women’s boat (W1) claimed four victories in four days during the May Bumps with a fast bump on Clare College’s W1, securing Blades for the first time since 1983.

Speaking of the final day of racing on Saturday, Club Captain (and first crew member) Isobel Nichol, said: “What a week! On Saturday we rounded of the 2022 May Bumps campaign with a fantastic day for the Hall. M3 had an incredibly strong row over, almost catching ARU M1 – sadly running out of river before making the bump. Well rowed M3.

“Our women’s Third Boat rounded off their week with a really strong fight and maintained their positive attitude and smiles that they’ve had since day one!

“M2 and W2 had incredibly strong row over – with some of their best rowing we’ve seen all year! Notably, W2 rowed away from Hughes Hall W1 – a huge achievement.”

“M1 threw their kitchen sink at their final race of the week. Sadly coming up just a little short with Catz catching them, before Catz could be caught by a fast moving Caius.”

“Our superstars of the week are W1 who completed their run with a fast bump onto Clare W1 on First Post corner! W1 proudly claimed their May Blades after having not had to row more than 1300m all week!

“A huge well done to the whole crew and their coach – we are very proud to say that next year’s boat will start of at station 12 in division 1 of the Mays.”

“Thank you so much to all our coaches, alumni, and ever enthusiastic bank supporters for all of their amazing support. Cannot wait to get back on the river again soon.”

Paul Townshend, Head Coach and Boathouse manager, said: “Our first Mays since 2019 has once again seen our students representing the College with great pride, application and skill. We started the week with only one athlete who had rowed in the Mays before so to see all our students grow day by day was so inspiring.

“All crews should be enormously proud of their efforts not only this week but also over the previous three terms. The highlight of the week has to be the W1 blades – our first W1 Mays blades since 1983! The 2023 incarnation of W1 will now start the Mays on Station 12 in Division 1 which will be the highest starting position for THBC W1 since 2013.

“I cannot wait to get started again in the next academic year after a well-deserved summer break for all. Row Hall!”

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Some unreliable notes on the May Bumps

More detailed information can be found on the CUCBC website but here is a very brief overview of the idiosyncratic May Bumps

The May Bumps are held in June. They involve rowing VIIIs (eights: which contain eight rowers and a cox… so nine people) chasing each other along the narrow River Cam for approximately 2km (it’s too narrow for lengthy side-by-side racing).

They set off in groups of around 18 boats called “divisions” from starting positions (“stations”) placed at equidistant points along the river, with the head boat stationed just beyond the A14 bridge and the last boat at Baits Bite Lock. A cannon starts the race which then involves each crew trying to catch up to and hit or overlap with (“bump”) the crew ahead. If they bump they start the next day “up” one station and the bumped crew starts “down” one station. If they neither bump nor get bumped they row the full course: known as a “row over”. It happens over four days and if you bump up four times you get your Blades: a high honour. If you’re bumped four times you get spoons: a mildly humorous embarrassment.