Please see the Bumpers results at the bottom of this page for details of the latest races.  You may also be interested to read 'View from the Towpath', written in 2013 by the Bumpers Umpire Rob Wilson.

The Bumping Races or ‘Bumpers’ are the climax of our inter-house rowing races, and many pupils get involved – although the 1st and 2nd VIIIs are often competing at Henley when Bumpers take place.

The Bumping races have been taking place since the 1860s, when the objective was to catch up and literally ‘bump’ the house boat immediately in front.  These days we’re a little less cavalier, and the objective now is to catch up with and overlap the boat in front by approximately 6 feet.

There are four rounds of Bumps and three divisions.  Each house has a crew for each division, so there are up to 13 boats racing in each division. 

All the boats in each division line up one behind the other before the start, with about 30 metres of water between each boat.  The order of the boats is determined by their position in the previous year’s race or round, with the winners at the front.

If one boat ‘bumps’ the boat in front, both boats pull to the side of the river and drop out of the race.  The boat in front will drop down a place at the next round, swapping places with the boat that bumped it.

Very occasionally, the next boat behind manages to ‘bump’ the boat that was three in front, which results in a dramatic position change for both boats involved.

Bumpers take place during the last week of the summer term, with the final round on the afternoon of Speech Day.  They are fun, exciting races and anyone is welcome to come along and watch.

The Bumps Chart may be viewed here: http://bumps.rssbc.org.uk/

The Bumpers races take place at the end of the Summer Term, and the results are updated below after each day's races. To see the daily results from previous years, please click back through the dates (below right).

Bumpers results


Monday 4 July 2016

  • The 148th Bumping Races - Finals
    We entered the final day of the Bumping Races on Speech Day in a familiar position. Rigg's Hall were top of all three divisions (positions they almost have made their own during Peter Middleton's five-year tenure as Housemaster - for three of the last four years they have won all three divisions; in 2013 they "only" won two divisions). Amongst the girls’ crews, The Grove sat in prime position with both their boats.

    In Division 3 Oldham's III and The Grove II finished as the biggest movers, both two places higher than their positions at the start of the week. At the top of the Division, Churchill's III were chasing Rigg's III but were unable to overhaul them, with Rigg's III rowing over to finish Head of Division 3. The Grove II already had a boys’ crew between themselves and their nearest challenger Emma Darwin II, but made sure of their win by bumping School House III.

    Division 2 had a familiar look. Rigg's II sat first ahead of Churchill's II, and The Grove I were ahead of Emma Darwin I. Again Rigg's were too strong for the boys from Churchill's, and Rigg's took the Headship. The Grove and Emma Darwin were challenging for the new Elizabeth Cup donated by the President of Sabrina Club, Miles Preston (DB 1963-68) - named on the occasion of the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - to be awarded to the highest placed Girls' crew in the Bumping Races.

    The Grove I made sure of being the first winners of this prize by successfully completing a long-distance bump on Oldham's II a few feet before the finish line. Radbrook II finished as the most successful crew of the year, bumping in every race.

    On Friday in Division 1, Churchill's I bumped Moser's I in the first race to give them the opportunity to challenge Rigg's I to be Head of the River. In the second race Churchill's thought they had got their long-hoped for bump, but it was disallowed as Churchill's were judged to be in the safety lane - setting up what promised to be an epic finals day as Rigg's looked to extend their record seven years at the top and send outgoing Housemaster PJM off in style.

    As we waited for the Sabrina river cruiser to pass, the anticipation built. Further down the Division, Ridgemount bumped Ingram's and Severn Hill bumped Oldham's; but the battle for the Headship was what the crowds wanted to watch. Coming past the Boathouse Churchill's were closing fast, and just past the pontoons it happened, Churchill's bumped Riggs's. So ended Rigg's run of 7 in a row, which will take some beating. There was no fairytale ending for PJM, but 13 1st place finishes out of a potential 15 is phenomenal - particularly for a runner!

    Churchill's celebrated finishing Head of the River for the first time since 2005 - and they did so in style, including a dip in the Severn for Housemaster Richard Hudson. Churchill's also took home the Leadbitter Cup (the overall House rowing prize) with 199 points (second placed Port Hill had 140 points only 10 points ahead of 7th placed Oldham's) - could this be the beginning of an era of rowing dominance for Churchill's?

    Many thanks to all the staff who make the running of the Bumping Races possible. They work tirelessly when they are at their most tired at the end of a long school year. One in particular deserves a special mention: Dr Chris Minns retires this years. He may be better known as Head of German, a Tutor in Moser's Hall or as a football referee; but he has also served on the Impartial Committee of the Bumping Races for (we think) over 25 years, and for a number of years as its Chairman. The Impartial Committee exists to adjudicate on disputed bumps which cannot be resolved by the umpires alone. They fastidiously apply the rules fairly and even equitably. Over the years they have been called upon to make a number of controversial decisions that have angered numerous Housemasters - but Chris has remained calm in the face of adversity. He will certainly be missed next year when we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bumping Races.

    After racing, the following prizes were awarded:

    • Head of Division 3 medals (boys) – Rigg's Hall
    • Head of Division 3 medals (girls) – The Grove
    • Head of Division 2 medals (boys) – Rigg's Hall
    • Head of Division 2 medals (girls) and the Elizabeth Cup –- The Grove
    • Head of Division 1 medals and Head of the River trophy – Churchill's Hall

    Bumpers Cups - awarded for average bumping points per crew:

    • 4th (Mill Cup) – Churchill's Hall/Severn Hill (tied)
    • 3rd (Dickens Plaque) – Radbrook
    • 2nd (Bower Cup) – Rigg's Hall
    • 1st (Friends Cup) – The Grove
    • Birt Trophy (overall girls' House rowing prize) – The Grove
    • Leadbitter Cup (overall boys' House rowing prize) – Churchill's Hall

Friday 1 July 2016

  • Bumps - Day 2
    The 148th Bumping Races finally got underway today. (Yesterday’s cancellation means that it’s the first time since 1943 that there will only be three races rather than the usual four.)

    In somewhat challenging conditions the crews coped admirably and there was some impressive rowing on show.

    Radbrook II had the best day bumping twice, and are now the only crew in contention for ‘blades’. Rigg’s remain at the Head of all three divisions (surviving a number of close calls). The Grove are now the highest placed girls’ house in both Division 2 and 3.

    Confirmed bumps were as follows:

    Round 2

    Division 1
    Ch bpd M
    O bpd Rb
    I bpd Rt

    Division 2
    Rb bpd Rt
    G bpd EDH

    Division 3
    Ch bpd PH
    O bpd M
    SH bpd S
    G bpd Rt
    I bpd EDH

    Round 3

    Division 1
    Rb bpd O

    Division 2
    Rb bpd PH
    M bpd Rt

    Division 3
    Rb bpd PH
    S bpd SH
    EDH bpd I

    The Bumps Chart may be viewed here: http://bumps.rssbc.org.uk/