BUMPS: The good, the bad and the ugly.

We have done some digging to bring you the (completely factual and not at all historically questionable) line-up of the biggest and baddest bumps of all time.

2016 bumps Cambridge Cantab may bumps mays row Rowing

The May Bumps are upon us again (and the Tab’s guide is here). Ever helpful, we have compiled the definitive guide (maybe) to utterly factual (again, maybe) bumps trivia. 

The bump that started it all (1827):

The first recorded bump was on February 26th 1827 when ‘King Edward’ (a Trinity VIII) bumped the ‘Monarch’ (a Trinity ten-oared boat). The two boats exchanged headship every day for the rest of the week, showing that a. Trinity is only really competing with itself and that b. John’s is never able to catch up to them.

Lady Margaret (John’s) are just holding themselves back, ejector crabs and all. Image Credit: Eaden Lilley

The bump that spawned a thousand may balls (1838):

1838 saw First Trinity in headship and Third Trinity in second place, leading to a night of celebration at the local pub that somehow, over the next 150-odd years became a night of white tie extravagance that nearly got Taylor Swift to perform (#stillhoping #TayloratTrinity).

The fatal bump that almost certainly never happened (1876):

The legendary bumps when the John’s rowers attached a sword to the front of one of their boats to sink any boat foolish enough to stand in their way. The plan worked, but also killed the Second Trinity cox, confirming once and for all that John’s are evil and that Second Trinity once existed (and that First and Third are not a symptom of Trinity undergraduates’ inability to count properly).

The fatal bump that tragically did happen (1888):

Clare bumped Queens’ and both boats drew in to Grassy. All would have been fine if Tit Hall M3 hadn’t missed the corner, veered across the river and struck the 4 seat in Clare’s boat just over his heart, killing him instantly. Evidently Tit Hall are more than just a menace to the ducks on the River Cam.

The bump that brought an end to the patriarchy (1974):

Newnham W1 bumped New Hall W1 (ironically hurting the #sisterhood) for the first bump in the newly created Women’s division of May Bumps in 1974. Even though women were allowed to compete in bumps for the first time this year, however, they rowed in IVs instead of VIIIs (meaning that Medwards’ famous VIII Octopussy couldn’t have competed).

Newnham College fighting the Man since 1919 #DownWithThePatriarchy #ThisGirlCan

The bump that beat them all (1986):

The Tab has it on good authority (read: Robert Shearme) that the biggest bump in history was a quadruple over-bump by Peterhouse W1 in 1986. Your author would have done more research to verify this, if not for the fact that Peterhouse W1 is her old crew and she wants to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The bump that saw Magdalene pull a Queens’:

… and sink into the River Cam.

A picture says a thousand words.

The bump that could have been (2015):

Tragically we will never know how well Lady Margaret’s M4 could have done last year as the crew showed up to the wrong division on the first day. Classic John’s, expecting that division times revolve around their needs.

For anyone looking for more carnage, watch the video below or follow the Tab’s coverage of May bumps.


Use our list of the most famous and infamous bumps to chat up rowers, impress other Cantabs and end conversations about bumps. You’re welcome.