Monday, 7 March 2011

Our First Cambridge Rowing Experience

On Saturday we went down to the banks of the river Cam to watch the Lent Bumps races. It was a most excellent day - we went with Javiera & her son, Manuel, and Ignacia & her husband Francisco & their 3 kids. Then some more Chilean folks joined us, and we all had a picnic outside this pub called The Plough, and watched some rowing. Even though it wasn't warm outside, everyone had a great time. We spent the whole afternoon outside on a grey, drizzly day, and it was awesome. Who doesn't love grey skies, rowing & beer?

What are the Bumps, you might ask - well, if you want an 'actual' explanation for them: But here is the quick & dirty version: The races happen over 5 days in March. Instead of lining up in a horizontal row, the boats from the Colleges line up vertically along the river. The goal is to actually hit the boat in front of you. If that happens, the two boats involved (Bumper and Bumpee) both pull over to the side of the river - the race is over for them. But on the next days' race, the Bumper goes ahead of the Bumpee. Sometimes boats will 'overbump' - this is a bit tricky to explain. Imagine boat #3 bumps boat #2 - they both pull over. Then imagine boat #4 rows like crazy, and catches up to boat #1 and bumps them - that is called overbumping. There is a possibility of double-over-bumping, but I guess it's pretty rare. There are 4 mens divisions and 3 womens, and a new race starts every 40 minutes. To signal 4 minutes & 1 minute to a race starting, they fire off a cannon. Seriously. I love England.
See how the Pink & White Stripeys are trying to avoid the boat coming up?
They got bumped anyways by these White Stripeys. Poor Pink & White Stripeys. I went crazy with cheering & excitement. I'm sure you can imagine.
 But the best part is that after everyone is done the race - either by going the distance or by bumping/being bumped - they have the row-of-champions and the row-of-losers. The Bumpees all row down to the end of the river, and get the polite British clap, and then the Bumpers come along. Once the Bumper boats have pulled over to the side of the river, their fans cut off leafy branches of trees, and they put them in their hair or around their necks, and the cox holds up the College's flag for their victory row. I totally wanted to put leaves in my hair - it was hard to resist.
See how the Cox has leaves in her hair? Matthew took these photos on his camera, so they're high resolution (or something) and therefore I can't enlarge them because then they go all pixel-ated. Sorry.
It's hard to tell, but a few of these girls have leaves in their hair. Honest.

Each college has specific colours,
and you'd think that by the end of the day I would have learned which colours are for which College, but no. I did, however, resist cheering for Gryffindor when Selwyn rowed past:

A couple of guys from Matthew's lab were rowing, so we had someone to cheer for. But let's get serious: I cheered like crazy anytime any boat got even close to bumping. We saw two bumps and on the first one I almost fell in the river while cheering. 

I have to include one last picture of The Most British Man In England. He had a tweed coat with elbow patches, a satchel, a cap, wellies, a massive hearing aid, bad teeth, and a one-legged stool thing - it had a spike on the end to drive it into the ground, and then he had a little seat. I am so sad this is the only shot we have of him:

1 comment:

Susan said...


Awesome! There is really a Gryffindor and a Selyn? British sports are certainly ... interesting ... Mind you, we have curling.

Lotsa love to all,