Shrewsbury School

Bumping Races


Thursday 27th June - CANCELLED owing to high water levels

Friday 28th June - Bumping Races are ON Rounds 1 & 2 Division 3:  1.55 pm and 3.25pm
Division 2:  2.25pm and 3.55pm
Division 1:  2.55pm and 4.25pm
Saturday 29th June Finals 2.55 pm

The Bumping Races, ‘Bumpers’ or just ‘Bumps’ have been the climax of our inter-house rowing races at Shrewsbury since 1867. The original objective was to catch up and literally ‘bump’ the boat immediately in front of you. These days we are a little less cavalier, and have replaced physical ‘bumping’ with overlapping the boat in front by approximately two metres.

There are four rounds of Bumps and three divisions. Each boys’ house has a boat in all three divisions and the girls’ houses compete in divisions 2 and 3. The boats line up one behind the other before the start, with about 30 metres of water between each. (The starting line is the far side of Kingsland Bridge and the boats race down the river past the School Boathouse.) 

The order of the boats is determined by their position at the end of the previous year, with the winners at the front. A hooter sounds to indicate warnings at five minutes, two minutes, one minute, and then the start.

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 managed to ‘bump’ the boat that was three in front – known as an ‘overbump’ – which results in a dramatic position change for both boats involved.

They are fun and exciting races for rowers and spectators alike.

Please note, spectators are kindly requested to stay on the school side of the river and to keep clear of the pontoons at all times.  For safety reasons, only Umpires and Housemasters should be on the town side of the river.

The Bumps Charts

A complete and continuous record of each House's fortunes (and misfortunes) during the Bumping races has been recorded from 1867 to the present day on the 'Bumps Charts'. Each line represents a boat in its House colours. A line sloping upwards records a bump made; it crosses the line of the disappointed 'bumped' boat. A straight line indicates no bump ('rowing over').

The chart below shows the results of each of last year's races (one column for each of the four rounds of races). The order of boats in the right-hand edge shows both the finishing positions on Speech Day 2018 and their starting positions for the 2019 Bumping Races.

The Bumps Charts adorn the walls of the Bowring Room in the School Boat House, but they can also be viewed and explored online here:

This digital version of the Bumps Charts was created by Ed Carroll (Ch 2010-15).  A keen member of the Boat Club as well as a self-confessed computer 'nerd', Ed began writing a computer program that could generate the Bumps Chart in his first year at the School. He refined it each year as his knowledge of computer programming grew, and eventually made it the focus of his A Level Computing project. He went on to study Computer Science at Oxford University.  Please see 'The Bumps Charts Online - a lasting legacy to the School' for the full story.

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