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Torpids is the first of two bumps racing events in the Oxford college rowing calendar, taking place in 7th week of Hilary term. Originally held exclusively for colleges’ second boats, the regatta now hosts over 1000 competitors over 6 men’s and 5 women’s divisions. The competition spans 4 days, Wednesday to Saturday, with every division racing on every day. Crews start the race lined up back to back with 1.5 boat lengths between each team and race over a course just under 2km long from Iffley Lock to the head.

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The objective in bumps racing is to catch up with the boat ahead, without being caught by the one behind. In Torpids a boat stops racing if it ‘bumps’ the boat ahead, but otherwise continues racing to the head. This allows a crew to both bump and be bumped on the same day. There are several ways to bump a crew in front: any contact between the two boats, a concession from the chasing crew's cox when they see that a collision is inevitable, or a clean row past (the stern of the chasing boat passes the bow of the boat being chased) all constitute a bump. The finish order at the end of the last day of racing carries over to the following year, determining the new start order.

Recent Performance

Freezing temperatures on top of heavy wind and rain can make training for Torpids gruelling, but this is something which Mansfield crews relish. Three years of consecutive blades from 2015-2017 let our M1 soar to the top of division 2, but in 2018 poor weather conditions lead to a cancelled training camp and a large amount of racing being cancelled. A lack of returning athletes in 2019 meant that we struggled to hold our own against more experienced crews from other colleges, but a crash from the Pembroke M2 meant that we avoided ‘spoons’ (being bumped on all 4 days) and retained a place in division 2. Despite this slightly disappointing result, our resolve holds strong and with a firm base of new rowers established, our M1 is looking to come back fighting next year.

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 Incredibly strong performances from the W1 in 2016 and 2017 saw us recover from a poor run in 2012-2013 to regain a strong position in division 2, winning blades in the process. In the most recent regatta our girls rowed impressively but were unfortunately bumped by St Catz on day 1; they came back with a vengeance on day 2, successfully holding off Worcester W1 to row over at the top of division 3 before bumping Teddy Hall as the sandwich boat to regain their position in division 2. Strong performances on days 3 and 4 saw the girls overbump Linacre W1 and bump Wolfson W2 to finish in 10th position in division 2, going +3 overall.  

Our second boats continued to improve with our M2 reaching fixed divisions for the first time in 2015 and repeating that feat again in 2017. Again, a lack of returning athletes meant that we just missed out on qualifying in the last two competitions, but we’re optimistic for next year now that we have the numbers once more. Our W2 won its first set of blades in history in 2017 before almost repeating this feat in 2019: despite finishing +4 at the end of the competition, our girls were unfortunately bumped by Christchurch W2 on day 3 before bumping Jesus W2 which means that they did not quite qualify for blades (to win blades a crew must bump on all 4 days without being bumped). A very impressive set of results nonetheless, we overtook crews from Worcester, Hertford and Lincoln to firmly establish ourselves as a force to be reckoned with in division 4.  


2019 also saw the formation of a W3 for the first time since 1999 – although they unfortunately just missed out on qualifying, a special thanks must go to the women’s captains and coach, Jeanne Lerasle, Erin Minogue and Meg Dunlop, for going above and beyond to make this possible. 


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In Torpids 2022, our O2 very unluckily lost a coin toss so didn't qualify. The W2 had two strong row overs, including one as the sandwich boat but unfortunately had two rough days and ended up dropping 6 positions. The O1 were hit with a flurry of substitutions and also ended up falling. The W1 bravely rowed over 3 days and had a spectacular bump on St John's on day 3. 


2021 Summer Torpids saw our W2 keep their position in fixed divs with two bumps on the first and last days. The W1 rowed over (along side the several boats above them and below them) for the first three days. Despite getting so close to bumping St Catz on the third day sadly, on the last day sadly Wolfson W2 managed to bump us. Our M1 had huge successes pushing up to new Div2, with a massive bump before the gut! Overall they moved up two places. Closing out racing for TT21, our M2 got a crucial bump on the last day, to avoid footship. Special mention goes out to Dan Guest and Luci Mullen for subbing in last minute. 

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