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TORPIDS – Oxford University Colleges Winter Rowing Races,
27th February – 2nd March 2019
 (Qualifying or “Rowing On” is on 22nd February)

Torpids is the winter series of bumping rowing races  held every year on the river Thames (known in Oxford as the River Isis) between Donnington bridge (nearest the start) and Folly bridge (nearest the finish), a distance of 1800 meteres for the top ‘eight’ in each division.

STOP PRESS: The starting line-up for 2019

Bumping races evolved in Oxford as the river is too narrow for normal side by side racing.

Competing crews start the race lined up in order, one behind another, with their coxes (the person who steers) holding ropes attached to the bank, with gaps of about 1.5 boat lengths between the bow (front) of one boat and the stern (back) of the one in front.

Racing is started by the firing of a cannon.

Crews attempt to progress up their division by hitting (‘bumping’) the boat in front without being hit by the boat behind, with the ultimate aim of becoming “Head Of The River” i.e. top of the first division. The Head of the River is awarded the Torpids Challenge Cup.

Once a bump has taken place, the crew whose boat was hit has to continue racing (and is liable to be bumped again) whilst the bumping crew moves to the side. This can lead to a crew moving down several places during a day’s racing. This is the principal difference in the rules between Torpids and Summer Eights, the summer rowing event, where both crews stop racing.

The name ‘Torpids’ derives from the event’s origins as a race for the second boats of the colleges, which were of course slower than the first boats. The status of the event – still adjudged below that of Summer Eights on account of the absence of varsity oarsmen and women – only began to rise at the very end of the nineteenth century, when colleges began to form first boats to compete. Nowadays there is no limit on the number of boats a college may enter, although crews in the last two divisions and crews without a position have to qualify to race by competing in a timed race the preceding Friday, known as ‘rowing on’.

courtesy Wikipedia (edited).

NB    VISITORS:
The attached Google Map shows the position on the majority of the college boathouses on the north bank of the river.
The University boathouse (and some college boathouses) are on the south bank of the river.

Racing may be viewed from either side of the river accessed (on foot) from either Donnington or Folly bridges.

There is access through Christ Church meadows to the north bank of the river and a majority of boathouses, only.

You can walk the length of the course on the south bank of the river ONLY, accessing it from either end of the course.

Terms of reference:
North bank of the river is the bank nearest the university and city centre.
South bank is the other bank of the river.   

See you there.