Torpids

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Torpids 2005: Men's division one, places 2 to 5.
New College Boat Club with a broken rudder and bow oar on Saturday in 2008
Worcester College in Torpids 2012

Torpids is one of two series of bumping races, a type of rowing race, held yearly at Oxford University, the other race being Eights.[1] Over 130 men's and women's crews race for their colleges in six men's divisions and five women's; almost 1,200 participants in total. The racing takes place on the Isis (part of the River Thames) usually in the 7th week of Hilary Term on four successive days from Wednesday to Saturday (around the start of March).

Overview[edit]

Main article: Bumps race

Bumping races evolved in Oxford as the river is too narrow for normal side by side racing. Competing crews start the race lined up in order, one behind another, with their coxes holding ropes attached to the bank, with gaps of about 1.5 boat lengths between the bow of one boat and the stern of the one in front. Racing is started by the firing of a cannon.

Crews attempt to progress up their division by hitting ('bumping') the boat in front without being hit by the boat behind, with the ultimate aim of becoming "Head Of The River" i.e. top of the first division. The Head of the River is awarded the Torpids Challenge Cup, presented to the OUBC by President T.C. Edwards-Moss of Brasenose College Boat Club. Once a bump has taken place, the crew whose boat was hit has to continue racing (and is liable to be bumped again) whilst the bumping crew moves to the side. This can lead to a crew moving down several places during a day's racing. This is the principal difference in the rules between Torpids and Summer Eights, where both crews stop racing.

The first day's starting order is based on the previous year's finishing positions, and each subsequent day's starting order is based on the previous day's finishing positions. A crew that bumps on every day without being bumped itself or that finishes at the Head of the River is awarded 'blades' - the right to get trophy oars painted up in their college colours with the names and weights of the successful crew emblazoned on them. Less sought after is the possibility of getting 'spoons', where the crew has been bumped on every single day. However, the most unusual possibility is 'spades', where the crew is bumped off the start[clarification needed], and then proceeds to bump a crew in front of it before the end of the race, thus being both the bumper and the bumped on the same day. Only two boats have ever managed this feat on every day of the event.[citation needed]

The name 'Torpids' derives from the event's origins as a race for the second boats of the colleges, which were of course slower than the first boats. The status of the event - still adjudged below that of Summer Eights on account of the absence of varsity oarsmen and women - only began to rise at the very end of the nineteenth century, when colleges began to form first boats to compete. Nowadays there is no limit on the number of boats a college may enter, although crews in the last two divisions and crews without a position have to qualify to race by competing in a timed race the preceding Friday, known as 'rowing on'.

Rowers competing in that year's Boat Race or any of the Henley Boat Races against Cambridge may not compete in Torpids, but may compete in Summer Eights.

Double Headship[edit]

The double headship winning Oriel Men's and Women's Eights crews in 2006.

The 'Double Headship' is an accolade awarded to any college finishing with both their men's and women's crews at the 'Head of the River'. Oriel College is the only college to have achieved a Double Headship in Torpids, having both men's and women's crews at the Head of the River in 2006.

Men's Head of Torpids[edit]

Summary
College Total Headships Last Headship Longest time held
Oriel 32 2006 1972-90
Brasenose 22 1894 1886-94
Christ Church 13 2011 1907-10
Exeter 13 1868 1854-57
Balliol 11 1971 1968-71
University 9 1926 1869-73
New 7 1904 1900-04
Pembroke 7 2013 1877-79
St Edmund Hall 5 1966 1962-66
Magdalen 4 2008 1912-13
Corpus 3 1885 1883-85
Trinity 3 1880
Queen's 2 1958
St John's 2 1967
Worcester 2 1922
Wadham 2 1849

Torpids has been held since 1838. The following gives the colleges that were Head of the River (Head of Torpids) in these years.[2]

Year College Year College Year College Year College Year College
1838 Worcester 1839 Oriel 1840 Wadham 1841 Trinity 1842 Brasenose
1843 University 1844 Oriel 1845 Brasenose 1846 Exeter 1847 Exeter
1848 Brasenose 1849 Wadham 1850 Brasenose 1851 Brasenose 1852 Brasenose
1853 Brasenose 1854 Exeter 1855 Exeter 1856 Exeter 1857 Exeter
1858 Pembroke 1859 Exeter 1860 Exeter 1861 Brasenose 1862 Brasenose
1863 Exeter 1864 Exeter 1865 Exeter 1866 Brasenose 1867 Exeter
1868 Exeter 1869 University 1870 University 1871 University 1872 University
1873 University 1874 Brasenose 1875 Brasenose 1876 Trinity 1877 Pembroke
1878 Pembroke 1879 Pembroke 1880 Trinity 1881 Brasenose 1882 New College
1883 Corpus 1884 Corpus 1885 Corpus 1886 Brasenose 1887 Brasenose
1888 Brasenose 1889 Brasenose 1890 Brasenose 1891 Brasenose 1892 Brasenose
1893 Brasenose 1894 Brasenose 1895 No races 1896 New College 1897 Balliol
1898 Balliol 1899 Balliol 1900 New College 1901 New College 1902 New College
1903 New College 1904 New College 1905 University 1906 University 1907 Christ Church
1908 Christ Church 1909 Christ Church 1910 Christ Church 1911 Balliol 1912 Magdalen
1913 Magdalen 1914 Christ Church 1915-19 No races due to World War I 1920 Christ Church 1921 Christ Church
1922 Worcester 1923 Magdalen 1924 Christ Church 1925 Christ Church 1926 University
1927 No Racing 1928 Balliol 1929 Balliol 1930-1940  ? 1940-45 No races dues to World War II
1946-56  ? 1957 Queen's 1958 Queen's 1959 Balliol 1960 St Edmund Hall
1961 St John's 1962 St Edmund Hall 1963 No Racing 1964 St Edmund Hall 1965 St Edmund Hall
1966 St Edmund Hall 1967 St John's 1968 Balliol 1969 Balliol 1970 Balliol
1971 Balliol 1972 Oriel 1973 Oriel 1974 Oriel 1975 Oriel
1976 Oriel 1977 No Racing 1978 Oriel 1979 Oriel 1980 Oriel
1981 Oriel 1982 Oriel 1983 Oriel 1984 Oriel 1985 Oriel
1986 Oriel 1987 Oriel 1988 Oriel 1989 Oriel 1990 Oriel
1991 Christ Church 1992 Oriel 1993 Oriel 1994 Oriel 1995 Oriel
1996 Oriel 1997 Oriel 1998 Oriel 1999 Pembroke 2000 No Racing
2001 Oriel 2002 No Racing 2003 Oriel 2004 Oriel 2005 Oriel
2006 Oriel 2007 No Racing 2008 Magdalen 2009 Christ Church 2010 Christ Church
2011 Christ Church 2012 Pembroke 2013 Pembroke 2014 No Racing
  • In 1986, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1998 and 2003, racing was held on fewer than four days
  • In 1991, Oriel were penalty bumped four places for training while the river was in flood.
  • 2000, 2002, 2007, 2014 - No racing due to high stream

Women's Head of Torpids[edit]

Women's division in Torpids have existed since 1978. This was delayed from 1977 when the river was flooded and Torpids was cancelled.[3] [4]

Summary
College Total Headships
Osler-Green 5
Somerville 5
Jesus 4
Osler House 4
Magdalen 4
St Catherine's 3
Merton 2
New 1
Oriel 1
St Hugh's 1
Wadham 1
Year College Year College Year College Year College
1979 Wadham 1980 Jesus 1981 Jesus 1982 Jesus
1983 Jesus 1984 Osler House 1985 St Hugh's 1986 Osler House
1987 Somerville 1988 Osler House 1989 Osler House 1990 No Racing
1991 Somerville 1992 Somerville 1993 Somerville 1994 Somerville
1995 Osler-Green 1996 Osler-Green 1997 Osler-Green 1998 Osler-Green
1999 Osler-Green 2000 No Racing 2001 St Catherine's 2002 No Racing
2003 Merton 2004 Merton 2005 New College 2006 Oriel
2007 No Racing 2008 St Catherine's 2009 St Catherine's 2010 Magdalen
2011 Magdalen 2012 Magdalen 2013 Magdalen 2014 No Racing
  • 1990 - A fast stream meant that only informal racing was held.
  • 1977, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2014 - No racing due to high stream
  • 1963 - No racing due to ice on the river.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sherwood, W. E. (1900). "The Torpids". Rowing: A History of Boat-Racing at Oxford from the Earliest Times. Oxford and London: Henry Frowde, Archive.org. pp. 43–49. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ Sherwood, W. E. (1900). "The Torpids (results)". Rowing: A History of Boat-Racing at Oxford from the Earliest Times. Oxford and London: Henry Frowde, Archive.org. pp. 147–170. Retrieved April 11, 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.atm.ox.ac.uk/rowing/history.html#women
  4. ^ http://www.atm.ox.ac.uk/rowing/bumps/

External links[edit]