February or March each year brings Torpids, the first bumps race of the year. 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.

In Torpids, a boat that bumps successfully stops rowing, and is safe from itself being bumped. However, the same is not true for a boat that is bumped, and so occasionally crews can be bumped multiple times over the course of a single race. 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.

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

  • Torpids 2024 (Tug of Warpids)

    Torpids 2024 (Tug of Warpids)

    Dear Balliol College Boat Club, It is with great excitement and a hint of oar-ful disappointment that I present to you the riveting tale of BCBC’s recent rowing escapade at Warpids. While Torpids may be on hiatus, PCBC invited us to indulge in a different kind of rowing revelry – the Tug of War Extravaganza!…

  • Torpids 2023

    Torpids 2023

    Women’s side In Hilary Term, the second VIII qualified comfortably for Torpids – a great improvement on the previous year. Overall, the women’s side had the most success Torpids since before the pandemic. W2 went +2 despite multiple klaxons in their division, and W1 also went +2, moving up to 5th in Division 2. Open…

  • HT19 Update

    HT19 Update

    A term’s worth of training culminated in Torpids 2019 where we entered two women’s boats, with W1 starting 3rd in Division II, and W2 starting 5th in Division IV. Our W1 stormed their way through the 4 days of racing, bumping twice on day 2 to get them into Division I, and winning Blades for…