Bumps Jargon Buster

Stumped by bumps chat? JOE GOODMAN is here to gently scrape the rear end of your vessel with these essential definitions.

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All this sudden boatie chat getting you down? Still non-plussed as to what ‘rowing over’ means, unsure what the cox actually does and concerned that you’ve ‘caught a crab’? Let me help you join in the fun with these quick and easy definitions for your (least) favourite bumps jargon.

The bump: This is what it’s called when your RAG blind-date fucks off at half 8 to go have dinner with her husband. Only joking. The bump is the aim of the game, the reason for rowing, the light at the end of the tunnel, your ticket to a third. The 17 or so crews on the river each set a collision course for the boat in front in order to move up a place in the division. Remember that time you cycled into a tourist on King’s parade? Well, bumping is like that but with more crying and less blood.

Catching a Crab: We’ve all been there haven’t we? That hotchpotch late-night rendezvous ruined by the realisation you’ve contracted a contagious (if only minor) STI. It’s one bad error of judgment and you’ve been thwacked into the metaphorical murk of the river Camydia…. Yes, in this way catching a crab in the river is just like harbouring lice in your pubes: It means using you oar like an idiot and losing the respect of your friends.

Perils of the sea

The Cox: The brain of the boat, the helm of the ship, the eye of the storm, the tip of the penis. All the bravado and man-power in the world amount to nothing if you can’t get this little man to perform when duty calls. The key: it’s all about rhythm. Many a team get carried away and peak too early while true success only comes with technique, stamina and fortitude. Pulling-power is one thing, but it’s the cox’s job to preserve the team’s precious fluids until they’re ready to cum. I mean finish. I mean bump. I don’t know what I mean.

The Reach: That long straight bit along the end of the Cam. Named after the opportunity it confers for crews to gain on the boat ahead, and the perfect time for that quick reach-around of your teammate’s lycra bulge. 

The over bump: Every now and then (every Wednesday) we all like to go a bit wild and enjoy ourselves a bit too much – and boats are no exception. In extreme cases, when a boat gets a bit overexcited it can be known to bump up, not one, but two boats over the course of a race. While in the moment this is usually seen as a sign of virility and conquest, the resulting damages and child support can become a burden for many. Still, as long as they don’t put me in a residential home.

Row Over: Getting up in the morning is hard for the best of us, but the row over is pure torture by its sheer tediousness. If you’re not going to bump and you’re not going to be bumped, the whole thing is just a bunch of guys standing around with their cox in their hands.

Look at them. Having the absolute time of their short little lives

Sandwich boat: When a person loves another person very much, they sometimes like to adulterate with a third. This sounds like fun in principle, but over time the pressures of leading two lives can be exhausting and time-consuming. ‘Sandwich boat’ is the name of a boat that’s got to row twice a day because they’re at the head of the division, while sandwich-dickhead is a nickname used for people who like to complain about it.

Blades: It’s alright to be proud of yourself. And no one knows that better than us Cambridge pricks. Blades are 10ft, inscribed ceremonial oars presented to those teams who bump on every day of the week. My housemate’s blades were too big for her room so she had them cremated and then tattooed the ashes into her forehead.

A nobel blade indeed

Spoons: Blades sound good, but if only there was an equivalent prize for being shit at rowing. Oh wait there is! For every team that bumps every day there’s probably a team that gets bumped. These guys get spoons. I don’t know what spoons look like but I imagine they’re an illusory construct associated with shame and regret. I guess I’ll find out sometime spoon.

So you see, it’s really quite simple. An innuendo here, a culinary reference there: the whole thing is definitely more comprehensible than it sounds. And you could literally just make it up. As long as it sounds ridiculous enough, no one’s going to bat an eyelid. Most of the time they don’t even know what they’re talking about anyway. Now go out there and share your knowledge with the world before (god-forsake it) bumps is over and no one cares again.