Wolfson College Boat Club, Oxford

Torpids 2013


Wolfson had a strong Torpids 2013 campaign, with M1 holding a strong finish position, W1 pushing ever closer to Division I, and huge gains by the lower boats!


Wolfson entered five crews in Torpids 2013.

Men’s First Boat


After spectacular results over the past decade, Wolfson’s M1 had a new goal for this Torpids: to prove themselves worthy of the top half of Division I during a rebuilding year. The men did their job on Wednesday, easily holding off St. John’s before falling to St. Catherine’s on Thursday. Friday proved a contentious result: after narrowly holding off and then pushing away from Oriel, a race committee decided on appeal that in fact Oriel had bumped M1. The chaps did their job Saturday, pushing strongly throughout the length. They finished 7th on the river.

bow Mario Recker Division I
2 Michael Heaton
3 Paul Wikramaratna
4 Andrew Watt
5 Paul Kelly
6 Philipp Becker
7 Maximilien von Berg
str Tyler Spencer
cox Nanda Pirie
coach Cliff Sofield

Women’s First Boat


After a brisk climb of the Torpids charts over the past couple of years, W1 found themselves in a strong field at the top of Division II this year. But that didn’t hold them back. On Wednesday, W1 achieved a snappy bump on Exeter. On Thursday, they bumped Queen’s in about 30 strokes at the top of Division II before racing again as the sandwich boat and forcing a glorious quadruple overbump on Hertford, reaching Division I. Hearts were broken on Friday, when W1 narrowly missed Univ, only to be bumped by Balliol alongside Boathouse Island. On Saturday, they rowed over at the top of Division II before missing one last attempt to secure a Division I berth when two crews bumped out ahead of them. One thing is for sure: the wolves are hungry for Torpids 2014.

bow Alexandra Bridges Division II
2 Nicky Huskens
3 Emma Middleton
4 Elizabeth Leicht
5 Miriam Driessen
6 Laura Hawkins
7 Zoe Goodwin
str Aurélie Cuénod
cox Lea Carrott
coach Zoe Lundy

Men’s Second Boat


Wolfson’s M2 was the star of the show in Torpids 2013. On Wednesday, one of our oarsmen misplaced his feet leading to a quick bump by Hertford II, but M2 went on to recover and bump Univ II in the gut, moving up a place on the day as Univ II went on to bump Lincoln II. The men got their revenge on Hertford II in a Thursday tangle-up. They went on to easily bump Jesus II on Friday and St. John’s II on Saturday, moving up a grand total of five positions over their four Torpids races, missing blades only because of the Wednesday mishap.

bow Rémi Tirfoin Division IV
2 Nelson Goering
3 Guy Thomas
4 Oscar Yang
5 Matteo Gianella-Borradori
6 Paul Armstrong
7 Morgan Di Rodi
str Alex Caputo
cox Susan Graham
coach Gregers Bangert

Women’s Second Boat


Wolfson’s W2 put in a strong performance in Torpids 2013. Though they didn’t quite catch St. Peter’s on Wednesday, they overbumped on Worcester II on Thursday. Friday held a strong row-over for W2, and on Saturday they finally caught St. Peter’s, in the process denying St. Anne’s blades and moving up a total of two spots over the week.

bow Roos-Marijn Berbers Division IV
2 Ingrid Cloete
3 Maryanna Price
4 Natalie Hill
5 Jacqueline Ratner
6 Emma Webber
7 Erin McGowan
str Lindsay Morehouse
cox Stefany Wragg
coach Stephanie Solywoda

Men’s Third Boat


Wolfson’s M3 performed well throughout its Torpids campaign. Starting as the last boat on the river, they had far to go. After strong bumps on Wednesday and Thursday, they missed St. John’s III by inches on Friday, bumping them just after the finish line. But they had their revenge Saturday, bumping John’s who went on to bump Christ Church III. Overall, M3 moved up four places over their campaign.

bow Marc Witte Division VI
2 Duncan Palmer
3 Joel May
4 Ulrik Lyngs
5 Erik Hedlund
6 Lutz Sager
7 Thomas Quartermain
str Joshua Kahn
cox Iana Alexeeva
coach Gido van de Ven

Cliff’s Race Reports

Clifford Sofield, one of Wolfson’s longest-serving members, has offered to regale us with his daily observations of Torpids 2013. As the excitement unfolded, Cliff was was there to chronicle the details. Read on below!


Torpids is underway! Wolfson had a pretty successful first day. Luck was on our side in the first race of the day, as M3 rowed past St. Benet’s Hall, who had managed to get themselves stuck on the Green Bank.

After lunch, W2 turned in a steady, determined performance and rowed over. They gained on St Peter’s a few times, and Hertford II behind them were never a consideration. M2’s race thirty minutes later was more eventful. Bumped by Hertford II in the first minute, M2 kept it together and reeled in Univ II for a bump of their own in the Gut. They moved up one place on the day, since Univ II went on to row past a stationary Lincoln II.

By the time W1 raced, everything was running 18 minutes behind schedule, thanks to delays caused by a log in the river, a stubborn swan, and a St. Anne’s boat lodged in a tree. W1 were undeterred by their division’s late start and bumped Exeter before Donnington Bridge. In the final race of the day, M1 rowed a tidy race and rowed over at comfortable distances behind Balliol and in front of St. John’s. Balliol took a swipe at Magdalen before the finish and narrowly missed, but St. Catz caught St. John’s in the Gut — so today might be more exciting.


Thursday was almost perfect for Wolfson College Boat Club. Wolfson M3 started off the day with a textbook bump on Corpus Christi II. Having gained steadily, our M3 were less than a length off of Corpus coming into Donnington Bridge when Corpus cracked under the pressure; a few strokes later it was all over.

Wolfson W2 brought us our first epic bump of this Torpids ninety minutes later. Fending off an early challenge from Hertford II behind them and not having gained much on St. Peter’s by the Gut, W2 rowed on gallantly, and gained substantially on St. Peter’s in the second half, even as St. Peter’s were gaining on Worcester II. Alongside Boathouse Island, St. Peter’s completely rowed past Worcester II for a bump. Close behind them, W2 were in a perfect position, and they bumped Worcester II before the finish! Outstanding grit and determination.

Wolfson M2 followed with a bump of their own, although the results are provisional, pending an appeal. Coming into Donnington Bridge, Jesus II were about a canvas ahead of St Catherine’s II, who were themselves half a length ahead of Hertford II; our M2 were still about a length and a half behind Hertford. Jesus conceded to Catz, who steered right to clear the line. Hertford, not seeing that Catz had bumped out, followed them and gained overlap—so that when they realized they needed to steer left and keep racing, their bows were trapped on the right hand side of Catz’s stern. Instead of easying to let Catz get clear, Hertford kept rowing on, which only made things worse. In the meantime our M2 seized the opportunity and rowed past Hertford for the bump (as did Univ II and Green Templeton behind them). Not wishing to leave anything to chance, M2 rowed on to the finish. Hertford have appealed the result, saying they’d been unfairly impeded due to circumstances outside their control, and we await the result of that appeal.

Our most successful boat of the day was Wolfson W1, who bumped twice to secure a place in Women’s Division I! The first bump was a dandy — they bumped Queen’s in about 30 strokes, just after Donnington Bridge, to go head of Division II, and giving them a chance to row as sandwich boat in Division I. It was good that their first race was short, because the second race was even more epic than W2’s. Starting at the absolute bottom of the river, 13th in Division I, our W1 rowed hard nearly the whole length of the river as first St. Catherine’s and then Univ bumped out ahead of them. Finally chasing Hertford—who had started five places ahead of us—our W1 drew on all their resources for the final push and caught Hertford just past our boathouse for the quadruple overbump! This is the first time the Wolfson women have been in Division I since 2005 — and it’s the first time ever that Wolfson men and women have been in the first division at the same time!

Finally, in the last race of the day Wolfson suffered its first disappointment, as M1 were bumped just entering the Gut by St. Catherine’s, who are rapid in the first two minutes. With characteristic resolve our boys held their nerve and rowed well the rest of the way, but did not get close to Balliol ahead of them. Balliol did not gain on Magdalen yesterday either, but Magdalen did catch Christ Church, setting up an interesting situation ahead of us for Friday. Will Balliol be able to bump Christ Church before St Catz catch them? If so, how are Catz in the second half of the race? And how fast are Oriel, who are starting behind us, having bumped St. John’s?


Friday was exciting but tough for Wolfson rowing. The excitement began with M3, who rowed a race of two parts. Hotly pursued by. St Benet’s going through the Gut, M3 held them off at a distance of about a foot, and then pushed mightily on the Green Bank to leave St. Benet’s far behind. Then in the second half of the race they closed hard on St. John’s III. They even gained overlap by the finish, but only made contact after the boats had crossed the finish line. So it was a row-over, but an exciting race!

Wolfson W2 gave their usual gutsy effort, but they couldn’t catch up to Univ II, so they rowed over. Wolfson M2 had a shorter, sweeter race, overbumping Jesus II just before Donnington Bridge. Wolfson W1, on the other hand, had a long and painful race. Despite gaining on Univ early, our girls couldn’t close out out the bump, and were instead bumped themselves alongside Boathouse Island by Balliol. Gutting result for a crew that has worked really hard and performed very well.

IMG_5120Finally the M1, rowed a tremendous race. Our boys had our fastest first minute yet, and held off Oriel by the narrowest of margins. They had overlap on the surge for several strokes in the Gut, and even continuous overlap for one stroke, before we pushed off of them coming out of the Gut and onto the Green Bank. Meanwhile St Catherine’s had not managed to pull away from us, and our boys gained to within a length on the Green Bank, before St Catz pulled away in front of the Boathouses. All crews rowed over . . . or so we thought! After the race, Oriel appealed the result, claiming that they had actually made contact in the Gut. I saw the video and photographic evidence, and although they show Oriel very close to us, they don’t show actual contact. Nevertheless, the race committee ruled in Oriel’s favor, saying that there was “sufficient evidence to say a bump had taken place”. It’s not clear whether they think they saw contact in the video or photos, or if their decision was based upon eyewitness testimony. In any case, we appealed the decision, but to no avail: we’re chasing Oriel tomorrow. To the right is the photo that comes closest to showing the “bump”, so you can decide for yourselves. It was certainly close.


The boats have been put away, the wash has settled, and the Isis is glassy flat again. (Or so I assume, sitting about a mile away.) But before it was all ended, Saturday of Torpids treated Wolfson College Boat Club well, especially crews M3, W2, and M2.

Wolfson M3 finally came into their own Saturday, bumping St. John’s III in about 20 strokes. As St. John’s went on to bump Christ Church III, they moved up two places on the day, to 9th in Division VI — up four places since Wednesday, on three bumps. Not bad for a crew that failed to row on. Our boys were so excited about their success that while rowing back to the boathouse the stroke man caught an ejector crab and had to be fished out of the river and onto the bank.


Wolfson W2 had a cracking race. Chasing St. Peter’s again, our girls were themselves being chased by St. Anne’s II, a crew on for blades (having bumped on each of the previous three days). Unfazed, our girls valiantly held St. Anne’s off at about a length all the way up the river to Boathouse Island. Our girls bumped St. Peter’s in front of the boathouse we and Peter’s share, in full view of cheering and wailing fans of both clubs. (St. Anne’s went on to row over behind St. Peter’s; our girls had denied them blades.) By bumping St. Peter’s, Wolfson W2 became head of Division IV, so an hour later they rowed again as sandwich boat to try to bump up into Division III. Unfortunately Univ II bumped out ahead of them and they rowed over. But they still had an excellent Torpids, moving up two places on two bumps to head of Division IV.

In between W2’s races, Wolfson M2 notched another tidy victory, bumping St. John’s II just before Donnington Bridge. That raised them to 7th in Division IV, an impressive five places higher than they started on Wednesday. Having bumped every day, M2 only missed out on blades because they had been bumped by Hertford II in the first few strokes of Wednesday’s race, when one of our rowers’ feet came out of his shoes. Little did they know the significance of that bump at the time! Ironically, M2 went on to bump that Hertford crew back on Thursday, and Hertford finished Torpids two places behind us.

Wolfson W1 also had two races. In their first they rowed over beautifully at the head of Division II. An hour later, they tried to bump back up into Division I, only to have their hopes dashed as Balliol ahead of them bumped out on Univ, who in turn bumped out on Worcester. Going for the double overbump, our girls closed to a little over a length off of Worcester going past the boathouses, but ended up rowing over. Still, a very good Torpids for Wolfson W1: three bumps, bumped once, and up two places to head of Division II.

Finally, Wolfson M1 finished off the day and the regatta by rowing over. It was the best race of the week for our boys. They had strong start, and Oriel failed to gain any water ahead of them. St. John’s came up to about a length behind them in the Gut, but we pushed away strongly. Our boys stayed about a length and a half behind Oriel until reaching our boathouse, when we scraped the submerged raft and lost a bit of speed. Oriel pulled away then, and all three crews rowed over. Wolfson M1 finished Torpids down two places, at 7th in Division I. A respectable showing for a mid-Div I crew that had minimal water time prior to Torpids. We are all looking forward to showing Oriel what a real bump looks like on Wednesday of Torpids 2014.