Wolfson College Boat Club, Oxford

Summer Eights

Summer Eights

The premiere event on Oxford’s collegiate rowing calendar, Summer Eights takes place each May or June. Eights Week traditionally falls under sunny skies, and Blues rowers — that is, those who compete against Cambridge in the Varsity boats — are eligible to row for their colleges.

Because much of the Isis is too narrow for side-by-side racing, the bumps format was developed. At the beginning of each division, thirteen crews line up front-to-back down the river, with one and a half boat-lengths of clear water between them. When a cannon is fired, the crews start rowing, and each tries to bump the boat in front before being bumped by the boat behind. The start order for subsequent races is adjusted to move successful boats up, while unsuccessful boats move down. Over the years, boats aspire to reach “head of the river”, first place in the first division. Trophy oars termed “blades” are awarded to boats which successfully bump up on each of the four days of racing without themselves being bumped. Boats may only be bumped once each race in Summer Eights, leading to more stability in the bumps charts. Sunny weather and strong crews attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the river for Summer Eights; it truly is a sight to behold.

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Summer Eights 2010

Summer Eights 2010

The men’s side got more bumps than any other college on the river, with M1 and M2 both earning blades, and M1 finishing at their highest ever position. Also tremendous achievement from the women’s side, with spectacular bumps all around. All six crews ended their campaigns at their starting positions or higher.