Summer Eights

The premiere event on Oxford’s collegiate rowing calendar, Summer Eights takes place each May or June. Eights Week traditionally falls under sunny skies, and Blues rowers — that is, those who compete against Cambridge in the Varsity boats — are eligible to row for their colleges.

Because much of the Isis is too narrow for side-by-side racing, the bumps format was developed. At the beginning of each division, thirteen crews line up front-to-back down the river, with one and a half boat-lengths of clear water between them. When a cannon is fired, the crews start rowing, and each tries to bump the boat in front before being bumped by the boat behind. The start order for subsequent races is adjusted to move successful boats up, while unsuccessful boats move down. Over the years, boats aspire to reach “head of the river”, first place in the first division. Trophy oars termed “blades” are awarded to boats which successfully bump up on each of the four days of racing without themselves being bumped. Boats may only be bumped once each race in Summer Eights, leading to more stability in the bumps charts. Sunny weather and strong crews attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the river for Summer Eights; it truly is a sight to behold.

Below, you’ll find all of our related website posts. Be sure to check back; we’re adding more all the time!

  • Summer Eights 2023

    Summer Eights 2023

    Women’s side Trinity Term saw a boost in training and moral, with W1 cycling to Abingdon for the first time. W2 once again qualified for Summer Eights, rowing on with ease. It was a great week of rowing, with lots of supporters cheering on the crews, and everyone racing sporting the iconic red bucket hat.…

  • Eights 2019

    Eights 2019

    Summer VIIIs 2019 marked a good week for BCWBC. W1 continued their strong performance from Torpids and climbed +3 into div one, which is the biggest net gain since the glorious headship days. The girls started out on top of div 2 on Wednesday but got bumped by a strong Jesus W1 only a few…

  • Eights 2018

    Eights 2018

    BCWBC had a strong performance at Summer Eights this year, reflecting a year of hard work. W2 bumped Lincoln W3 on the first day, followed by Regent’s Park W1 on the second. An unfortunate incident with the bank meant they were bumped by Regent’s on the third day, but they came back strong and returned…

  • Eights 2017

    Eights 2017

    Balliol College Boat Club had a very successful Summer Eights campaign in uncharacteristic, glorious sunshine. The club entered four men’s and three women’s boats. Each boat faced strong competition from the other colleges, achieving varying degrees of success in the lower divisions. The women’s first boat remained in Division 1, giving hard fought performances on…