Eights Week

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Summer Eights
OURCs Logo.png
Head of the River
Oriel Men [1] Wadham Women [1]
Oriel College Boat Club Rowing Blade.svg Wadham College Rowing Blade.svg
Highest 2nd Eight (Men) Pembroke (Division II) [1]
Highest 2nd Eight (Women) Wolfson (Division III) [1]
Course Isis (upstream)
Course length c. 1800m
Current sponsor Neptune Investment Management
Note: Last Eights 25 – 28 May 2016[1]
OURCs - Summer Eights
Eights Week May 2009 Men's Division 1, showing racing between (from front) Keble College, New College, St Edmund Hall.

Eights Week, also known as Summer Eights, is a four-day regatta of bumps races which constitutes the University of Oxford's main intercollegiate rowing event of the year. The regatta takes place in May of each year, from the Wednesday to the Saturday of the fifth week of Trinity Term. Men's and women's coxed eights compete in separate divisions for their colleges, with some colleges entering as many as five crews for each sex.

Summer VIIIs has seven men's divisions alongside six for women's, encompassing a total of 171 boats and around 1,500 participants. Including the qualifying rounds, in which success is termed "Rowing On", the number of participants in 2003 was over 1,800.

Overview[edit]

A busy riverbank scene as a boat is returned to one of the college boathouses in Eights Week 1982.
The scene at Boathouse Island during Eights Week 2005, crammed with spectators awaiting the next race.
Further information: Bumps race

The racing takes place on the Isis, a length of the River Thames, which is generally too narrow for side by side racing. For each division, thirteen boats line up at the downstream end of the stretch, each cox holding onto a rope attached to the bank, leaving around 1.5 boat lengths between each boat. The start of racing is signalled by the firing of a cannon, each crew attempting to progress up their division by bumping the boat in front, while avoiding being bumped by the boat behind. Once a bump has taken place, both of the crews involved stop racing and move to the side to allow the rest of the division to pass. It is possible to "over bump" if the 2 crews in front of your boat bump (and so drop out) and your boat can catch the boat that was in front of them. They then swap places for the next day's racing, whether that be the calendar day or the first day of racing in the next year's competition.

The ultimate aim of a crew is to become "Head of the River" (top of the first division) and stay there. This entitles the winning crew to commission trophy oars in their college colours with the names and weights of the successful crew on them — commonly called "winning blades". As this is only possible for crews already near the top of division one, another way to win blades is to bump on each day of the competition. As the responsibility for awarding blades to crews rests with the individual colleges concerned, there are slight differences in the criteria required.

Double Headship[edit]

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" in their respective divisions. Pembroke College is the only college to have achieved a Double Headship in Eights, having both men's and women's crews at the Head of the River in 2003.

A silver "Double Headship Trophy" was commissioned from the silversmith Peter Musson [2] in 2003, to commemorate the historic occasion. Pembroke College retains this trophy.

Early History of Eights[edit]

Although regular races between professional watermen had been known since 1715 when Doggett's Coat and Badge was instituted, amateur racing was unknown before 1808.[3] The first such race may have been held in Yarmouth in that year. These races were, however, "scratch" races between ad hoc crews entering on the day.

Meanwhile, recreational rowing had begun in Oxford very much earlier, with students rowing in single wherries at least as early as 1769.[4]

The first amateur races between organised clubs which prepared and trained for the event began in Oxford in 1815. In this year, crews from Brasenose College and Jesus College raced for the Head of the River, from Iffley Lock to Mr King's Barge, which was moored near the current Head of the River hotel. The event is also notable for the fact that both crews rowed in eight oared boats, specially built for the purpose. Such recreational as occurred at this time was usually conducted in pairs, or four or six oared cutters. The fact the racing was conducted in eight oared boats gave rise to the event being known as Eights.[5]

Brasenose College and Jesus College recontested the event in 1816, with Brasenose again triumphing. Christ Church joined in the event from 1817, when they went Head, a position they retained until 1819.

Christ Church did not row in 1820, and it is unknown whether any racing occurred. The next recorded races, between Brasenose and Jesus, were in 1821 and 1822. A dispute about professional watermen being allowed in college crews precluded racing in 1823. Until this time, Jesus and Brasenose had each used paid coaches who rowed in the stroke seats of the crews.

From 1824, Christ Church and Exeter College began racing, with Exeter going Head in that year. A rule banning the use of "out college men" (i.e. men from other colleges) rowing in college crews saw the entry of Worcester College in 1825, University and Balliol Colleges in 1827, and Oriel and Trinity Colleges in 1828.

Head of the River – Summary table[edit]

Blade College Men Women Headships[6] Longest time held - Men Longest time held - Women Last Headship – Men Last Headship - Women
Christ Church College Boat Club Christ Church 32 - 32 1978–84 & 1996–2002 - 2010 -
Oriel College Boat Club Oriel 32 - 32 1828–32 - 2016 -
Brasenose College Boat Club Brasenose 24 - 24 1888–91 & 1928–31 - 1931 -
Magdalen College Boat Club Magdalen 20 - 20 1892–95 & 2004–07 - 2007 -
New College Boat Club New 16 2 18 1896–99 2004–05 1986 2005
University College Boat Club University 13 - 13 1896–99 - 1986 -
Trinity College Boat Club Trinity 13 - 13 1869–71 - 1991 -
Balliol College Boat Club Balliol 10 2 12 1859–60 & 1955–56 2010–11 2008 2011
Pembroke College Boat Club Pembroke 4 5 9 2013 2000–03 2013 2012
St Edmund Hall Boat Club St Edmund Hall 5 4 9 1959–61 2006–09 1965 2009
Somerville College Boat Club Somerville - 8 8 - 1990–93 - 1993
Wadham College Boat Club Wadham 2 5 7 - 1990–93 1856 2016
Osler Housea - 5 5 - 1988–89 & 1994–95 - 1995
Osler-Greenb - 4 4 - 1996–99 - 1999
St Hugh’s College Boat Club St Hugh’s - 4 4 - 1982–84 - 1984
The Queen’s College Boat Club Queen’s 3 - 3 - - 1957 -
Corpus Christi College Boat Club Corpus Christi 2 - 2 - - 1885 -
Hertford College Boat Club Hertford 1 - 1 - - 1881 -
Lady Margaret Hall Boat Club Lady Margaret Hall - 1 1 - - - 1977
Merton College Boat Club Merton 1 - 1 - - 1951 -
St John’s - 1 1 - - - 2013
a Since 2008 this crew composition does not exist anymore. Prior to the foundation of Green Templeton College members of Green College raced with Osler House whereas members of Templeton College raced with Hertford College.
b Prior to the composite crew with Green College and after the foundation of Green Templeton Boat Club Osler has raced as an independent crew formed of clinical medical students.

Head of the River – Men[edit]

Eights Week has been held since 1815.[7][8]

The earliest-known scene of a race between two eight-oared boats at Oxford University. It has been suggested that the picture shows the "disputed bump" of 1822 in a race between Jesus College and Brasenose College, but this is uncertain.
Balliol College Men's 1st VIII rowing to take the Headship in 2008.
Year College Year College Year College Year College Year College
1815 Brasenose 1816 Brasenose 1817 Christ Church 1818 Christ Church 1819 Christ Church
1820 unknowna 1821 Brasenose 1822 Brasenose 1823 no racingb 1824 Exeter
1825 Christ Church 1826 Christ Church 1827 Brasenose 1828 Christ Church 1829 Christ Church
1830 Christ Church 1831 Christ Church 1832 Christ Church 1833 Queen’s 1834 Christ Church
1835 Christ Church 1836 Christ Church 1837 Queen’s 1838 Exeter 1839 Brasenose
1840 Brasenose 1841 University 1842 Oriel 1843 University 1844 Christ Church
1845 Brasenose 1846 Brasenose 1847 Christ Church 1848 Christ Church 1849 Christ Church
1850 Wadham 1851 Balliol 1852 Brasenose 1853 Brasenose 1854 Brasenose
1855 Balliol 1856 Wadham 1857 Exeter 1858 Exeter 1859 Balliol
1860 Balliol 1861 Trinity 1862 Trinity 1863 Trinity 1864 Trinity
1865 Brasenose 1866 Brasenose 1867 Brasenose 1868 Corpus Christi 1869 University
1870 University 1871 University 1872 Pembroke 1873 Balliol 1874 University
1875 University 1876 Brasenose 1877 University 1878 University 1879 Balliol
1880 Magdalen 1881 Hertford 1882 Exter 1883 Exeter 1884 Exeter
1885 Corpus Christi 1886 Magdalen 1887 New 1888 Magdalen 1889 Brasenose
1890 Brasenose 1891 Brasenose 1892 Magdalen 1893 Magdalen 1894 Magdalen
1895 Magdalen 1896 New 1897 New 1898 New 1899 New
1900 Magdalen 1901 New 1902 University 1903 New 1904 New
1905 Magdalen 1906 Magdalen 1907 Christ Church 1908 Christ Church 1909 Christ Church
1910 Magdalen 1911 New 1912 New 1913 New 1914 University
1915 -c 1916 -c 1917 -c 1918 -c 1919 -c
1920 Magdalen 1921 New 1922 New 1923 Magdalen 1924 Christ Church
1925 Christ Church 1926 Christ Church 1927 Christ Church 1928 Brasenose 1929 Brasenose
1930 Brasenose 1931 Brasenose 1932 Magdalen 1933 Oriel 1934 Oriel
1935 Oriel 1936 Oriel 1937 New 1938 Trinity 1939 Trinity
1940 -d 1941 -d 1942 -d 1943 -d 1944 -d
1945 -d 1946 Trinity 1947 Trinity 1948 Trinity 1949 Trinity
1950 New 1951 Merton 1952 Balliol 1953 Magdalen 1954 Magdalen
1955 Balliol 1956 Balliol 1957 Queen’s 1958 Christ Church 1959 St Edmund Hall
1960 St Edmund Hall 1961 St Edmund Hall 1962 Christ Church 1963 Keble 1964 St Edmund Hall
1965 St Edmund Hall 1966 Oriel 1967 Keble 1968 Keble 1969 Keble
1970 Keble 1971 Christ Church 1972 Keble 1973 Christ Church 1974 Christ Church
1975 Christ Church 1976 Oriel 1977 Keble 1978 Oriel 1979 Oriel
1980 Oriel 1981 Oriel 1982 Oriel 1983 Oriel 1984 Oriel
1985 Christ Church 1986 New 1987 Oriel 1988 Oriel 1989 Oriel
1990 University 1991 University 1992 Oriel 1993 Oriel 1994 Oriel
1995 Pembroke 1996 Oriel 1997 Oriel 1998 Oriel 1999 Oriel
2000 Oriel 2001 Oriel 2002 Oriel 2003 Pembroke 2004 Magdalen
2005 Magdalen 2006 Magdalen 2007 Magdalen 2008 Balliol 2009 Christ Church
2010 Christ Church 2011 Oriel 2012 Oriel 2013 Pembroke 2014 Oriel
2015 Oriel 2016 Oriel 2017 2018 2019
a Unknown whether any racing occurred[9]
b No racing took place due to a dispute about whether professional watermen were legitimate crew members[10]
c No racing due to World War I
d No racing due to World War II

Head of the River – Women[edit]

Oriel Women's Second Eight bump Magdalen Women's Second Eight on the third day of Summer Eights, 2005.
Year College Year College Year College Year College Year College
1976 Wadham 1977 Lady Margaret Hall 1978 Wadham 1979 St Hugh’s 1980 Somerville
1981 Somerville 1982 St Hugh’s 1983 St Hugh’s 1984 St Hugh’s 1985 Osler House
1986 Somerville 1987 Somerville 1988 Osler House 1989 Osler House 1990 Somerville
1991 Somerville 1992 Somerville 1993 Somerville 1994 Osler House 1995 Osler House
1996 Osler-Green 1997 Osler-Green 1998 Osler-Green 1999 Osler-Green 2000 Pembroke
2001 Pembroke 2002 Pembroke 2003 Pembroke 2004 New 2005 New
2006 St Edmund Hall 2007 St Edmund Hall 2008 St Edmund Hall 2009 St Edmund Hall 2010 Balliol
2011 Balliol 2012 Pembroke 2013 St John’s 2014 Wadham 2015 Wadham
2016 Wadham 2017 2018 2019 2020

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Oxford University Rowing Clubs, Eights 2016, retrieved 2 October 2016 
  2. ^ Peter Musson.
  3. ^ Norfolk Chronicle, 16 July 1808.
  4. ^ Jackson's Oxford Journal, 25 March 1769.
  5. ^ O'Chee, W.G. "Brasenose College and the Origins of Oxford rowing". Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  6. ^ http://www.atm.ox.ac.uk/rowing/bumps/estats/nhead.html
  7. ^ Sherwood, W. E. (1900). "T". , Archive.org. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  8. ^ O'Chee, W.G. "Brasenose College and the Origins of Oxford rowing". Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Sherwood, W.E. (1900). The Eights. Oxford and London: Henry Frowde. p. 109. 
  10. ^ Sherwood, W.E. (1900). The Eights. Oxford and London: Henry Frowde. p. 109. 

External links[edit]