Sunday, 28 February 2016

A Bumpy Ride


The Cambridge University students were out on the river this week doing what they've been doing for over 120 years, racing against one another in the Lent Bumps. We had a post about this a couple of years ago which baffled many of you. So here's another attempt to explain what's going on.



The river at Cambridge is too narrow to allow boats to race side by side or overtake safely, so a different kind of race had to be devised.

The boats race in groups of seventeen and start at various points along the river with one-and-a-half boat lengths between each boat. The fastest crew from the previous race starts at the front with the second fastest behind them and so on down the line.



The idea then is to try to catch up with and bump the boat ahead. Once a bump is achieved the crews involved pull over to the side of the river to let the following crews past. As you will see in the video later, this does not always go as smoothly as it might!

Sometimes bumps occur within a few hundred yards of the start, while others chase the whole length of the course to no avail. For the next race the crews involved in a bump change places in the start order. 



Successful crews decorate themselves with ivy - there being a lack of laurel leaves along the river bank.

So here's a video which I hope captures some of the excitement, exuberance and exertion of the event. There are four races featured - two Women's races and two Men's. Hold tight!



A quiet afternoon on the river - not.


Take care.

18 comments:

  1. That is such a great, exuberant race! So much energy. Love the video.

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  2. Excellent video. They do fly down the river with grace!

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  3. So enjoyed the races. Tricky to pull aside to let others pass because of the length of the oars and the narrow channel. Great and information.

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  4. Not the usual race we see. Interesting how it has been adapted to the conditions.

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  5. Would have probably ended up doing that myself if I'd not missed my grades for Cambridge by a mile

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  6. Really good video of it. Made me feel I was there! It looks lovely there.

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  7. I was amazed at how they could come to a stop in such a short distance. Thanks for showing us this.

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  8. Never realized what the bumps meant. Good explanation; I must have missed your previous post. But still sounds like chaos on the river!

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  9. That's a very interesting way to race. I'll have to show this post to my neighbor, who is very involved in rowing.

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  10. Thank you for the very interesting post and the beautiful video.
    Such an elegant sport!

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  11. That was fun to watch....looked like some gnarly traffic jams a time or two there.

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  12. Ah the peace and serenity of the swan bits.

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  13. Wow, that is pretty narrow for racing. Neat variation they've invented.

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  14. It is such a great tradition.

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  15. So interesting, thank you for sharing the piece and the knowledge.

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  16. How brilliant! I've never heard about this before. Thanks John

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  17. loved watching the "Lents Bumps" race - what fun !

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  18. Is that what those students spend their time doing.
    The Coaches on bikes look to be just as chaotic.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).