Wolfson College Boat Club, Oxford

Oxford City Bumps 2015


Wolfson entered four crews into Oxford City Bumps, a bumping race organised by the local City of Oxford Rowing Club. The race is contested in coxed fours (bow- or stern-loading) and contains a non-contact element: a bump is awarded by cycling umpires if overlap is maintained throughout a whole stroke in order to avoid the necessity for contact and risk of damage. The whole race (four races per division in each of four divisions) is rowed in one day, so each crew races about every two hours.

Wolfson entered two men’s fours and two women’s fours, each consisting primarily of members of the respective first boats. No Wolfson crew was bumped, and all bumped at least three times!

The men’s ‘A’ crew* (Neil Dhir, stroke; Peter Treharne; David Asker; Lucian Purvis, bow; and Edward Mills, cox) had a successful campaign, rowing over at the head of Division II in their first race before bumping the Oxford Academicals in Division I. In the second round, the men rowed over when Univ bumped out in front of them. In their third and fourth races, the men bumped Trinity and Univ, respectively. More details are in Ed’s race report, below.

The Men 'B' crew ceremonially tosses Stef Wragg (cox) into the Isis after earning blades in City Bumps 2015.The men’s ‘B’ crew (Thomas Aarholt, stroke; Jasper Barth; Achim Wolf; Freddie Hamilton, bow; Stefany Wragg, cox) also had a great campaign. After not starting in their first race*, the men went on to bump Corpus Christi, the Oxford Academicals, and St Catherine’s College in three sequential Division II races. This put them at the head of Division II, and the crew went on to bump Trinity racing as the sandwich boat in Division I. Given their bumps at every opportunity, the crew was awarded (miniature City of Oxford) blades, and ceremonially tossed Stef into the river.

The women’s ‘A’ crew (Mickaela Nixon, stroke; Jess Dunham; Lea Sefer; Flannery Cunningham; bow; Niclas Palmius, cox) powered through Division I. In their first race, they rowed over after a strong Hertford crew pulled away to bump the Oxford Academicals just outside of Univ boathouse. Wolfson went on to get their revenge on the Academicals and bump Hertford and Lincoln Colleges in their second, third, and fourth races, moving up three on the day and proud of their results.

The women’s ‘B’ crew (Charlotte Diffey, stroke; Sofia Hauck; Nik Kitson; Annie Bochu, bow; John McManigle, cox) also had great success. Despite rowing in a vintage boat borrowed from St Peter’s College and clipping the bank during their first two races, the women managed to bump Hertford and a crashed City of Oxford crew in their first two races. The women rowed over in their third race, as Univ bumped out in front of them and they couldn’t quite reach the Oxford Academicals for the over-bump. They would get their revenge in the final race of the day, bumping the Academicals to move up three places overall.

* Aside from beautiful Wolfson rowing, the major story of the day was race organisation. The published race order changed considerably on the day, without being updated online or mentioned by organisers at the morning briefing. This caused a number of crews to start out of position or not at all, and led to a switch of our men’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ crews. When errors came to the organisers’ attention with boats on the starting line, the umpires consistently started races with crews out of position — including perpendicular to the racing line. After an extremely well-orchestrated Torpids 2015, it was with a mix of surprise and bemusement that Wolfson rowers experienced City Bumps.

Men’s ‘A’ Race Report

By Edward Mills, cox.

The M1 four of Neil Dhir, Peter Treharne, David Asker, Lucian Purvis and Edward Mills (cox) began their racing, after some confusion regarding the start order, at the head of Division 2. Carnage below them led to a somewhat scrappy, but comfortable row-over, as Lucian responded to Edward’s questions of ‘distance?’ with the laconic reply, ‘can’t see them.’

After this row-over at rate 18, the second race of the day, an hour later at the foot of Division 1, was more eventful. Chasing a University College men’s first four, the boys flew out of the start at 35, closing to a canvas just after Donnington Bridge. The wash from the Univ crew, however, proved challenging, and led to longer being needed to seal the deal. Happily, the crew was able to get the inside line coming through the Gut, moving away from the wash and getting the overlap (and hence the bump) halfway up the Green Bank. As it turned out, however, Univ had already bumped on an Academicals crew very early in the race; the speed at which it had happened had meant that they had simply kept on racing. As such, it was deemed that both crews should go up one.

For the second round of Mens’s Division 1 — their third race overall — Neil’s crew were racing Univ again, this time starting as station nine. This was by far the most interesting race of the day, as Univ refused to submit, pushing hard onto the Trinity crew in front of them and catching them as Wolfson moved to within one foot. Nor were Wolfson able to secure the overbump, leading to their only row-over at rate of the day.

This Trinity crew was next in Wolfson’s sights: having taken two and a half lengths out of them in the previous race, they lined up confident in their ability to avenge the second round. The bump that ensued was the quickest of the day, as they coped much better with the wash, stayed loose, and caught Trinity mid-way through the Gut. Upon returning home, news broke that Univ had rowed over ahead of Trinity, giving the boys a chance for revenge in the final race of the day. Up three overall would mean a day of improvements; up two would equal stagnation.

Nerves on the start for this race were more palpable than they had previously been. Nevertheless, the start was strong, and the boys began to close the gap through City of Oxford’s boathouse. Although less sudden than in the second race, the move into Univ was much cleaner this time, until a quarter-length margin became a canvas around Longbridges. Amidst constant reminders to stay loose, the bump was awarded halfway up the Green Bank, and Univ were condemned to a painful row to the Head.

The boys ended the day up three overall, an extremely promising result given the strength of the crews around them and the extent to which they had had to work to achieve their bumps. With valuable experience under their belts, every member of the crew is now looking forward to pushing on towards Summer Eights.