May Bumps Preview

The Tab looks at headship and spoon contenders as well as those likely to bump.

boat race bumps lent bumps may bumps Rowing Trinity


The number of people around Cambridge sporting lycra shaped tan-lines and daring to use boatie jargon in public can only mean one thing, May Bumps is almost upon us. From Wednesday to Saturday, 172 crews (over 1500 people) will compete against each other, aiming to win blades, avoid spoons, and most importantly, to earn bragging rights at Boat Club Dinner.

On the men’s side it is First and Third Trinity who start in pole position, in a first division with little to pick between the top seven crews, their headship looks to be the most threatened it has been since they won it from Caius in 2008. Caius, starting second, will be hoping the addition of a Goldie rower and a CUBC spare, along with a very expensive new boat, is enough to propel them to the top spot. Spectators might be hoping they don’t repeat last terms stunt of dying their hair the same colour as the boat though. Every member of First and Third’s boat has experience of holding on to a headship, so they must start as slight favourites.

The other serious contender for the headship is Pembroke, who boast a blue, and 3 lightweight blues returning to bolster their Lent term boat. Starting 5th, it would require blades for them to take the headship, a tremendously difficult feat to pull off, even if your crew is the fastest, so they must be considered a long shot. Their challenge all depends on what happens on the first day, with the battle between Jesus, LMBC and Pembroke, in 3rd , 4th and 5th respectively, difficult to predict.

Downing and Queens in 6th and 7th will have to wait for Jesus and LMBC to fall before they can go up Looking further down the first division, everybody’s favourite ‘spoonbarge’ from Lents, Clare, look set to repeat that feat this term. This term’s race results depict them as one of the slowest first boats around. St. Catz and Fitzwilliam will be more than happy to take the easy bump. Christ’s and First and Third II look likely to be relegated from the first division, with Kings moving up a couple to secure their 1st Division spot.


The women’s headship is held by Pembroke, and they look set to hold on to it without any difficulties, the only possible challenge could come from Downing on the last day, if Downing manage to bump up on each of the first 3 days. Christ’s are starting in 7th, and look to have an excellent chance for blades.

Behind them, there could be a 3 boat sandwich on day 1 as Girton, First and Third and Newnham are in reverse order of speed. Lent term’s dominant First and Third crew have seen several rowers leave the boat and the replacements have not shown anywhere near the same kind of speed. They will struggle to hold off a quick Newnham crew and have to hope they can catch Girton promptly. Lower down in the division is more difficult to predict, but Queens’ and Clare look strong, and Jesus II look near certainties to drop out of the first division.

The men’s second division should also see some action, Robinson look likely to gain promotion to the 1st division, but will probably have to wait until Thursday to do so, having to row over as head of the division twice before having a chance to go up. Peterhouse will look to stop Robinson going up by bumping them on Thursday, but even if they fail, they should have a chance to gain promotion themselves on Friday or Saturday.

LMBC II look the most likely crew to spoon in Div 2, but their recent results have shown some improvement from their woeful performance in the Head-2-Head last month. Selwyn also look likely to drop a few places. Further back, St. Edmunds will be looking to make up for their embarrassment of Mays 2009, when a crew containing 5 blues only managed to go up 2 places after their attempt at an overbump on Jesus II spectacularly failed. This year Eddies only have 4 blues to call upon, whether or not they can get blades will depend on how much training as a crew they have managed to get.

Predictions for other divisions are anybody’s guess, with many crews relative unknowns due to not entering this term races, and results often dependent on who copes with nerves at the start line, and who manages to row well on the day.