Bumps is a revered tradition at Eton College. Believed to have been the birthplace of rowing, Bumps has served a special place in the heart of Eton’s summer calendar for two centuries and 2022 saw the Bumping competition back in full swing! Press Officer and rower Jamie G tells us all about it.

This year saw the momentous return to the Brocas of house supporters for the first time in three years. Whilst the race for the headship was not as close as we have been used to, spectacular racing was nevertheless on display.

The action began even before the five minute gun sounded on the first night. WING, described by the ninth man as “this year’s resident safety hazard”, were demoted from their strong position near the top of the second division to the footship. 

Amidst the myriad bumping, the highlight undoubtedly came from AMM, one of the fastest crews on the river, who flexed their superior speed by sailing past AGDF with only three oars in hand – a move which may well be a first for the record books. 

For once, the chaos of the first division outclassed that of its sibling as EJNR, seen by some as a threat for the front before the races, elected to instead have a chat with the spectators and steer into the bank off the start. 

Still, their fall was nothing compared to last year’s runners-up JCAJ who, just when it looked like they might hold off the much faster MAG crew, produced the week’s memorable moment by upending their boat 10 strokes from the line. Unable to swim over ahead of AMM, they managed to achieve their aim of reaching the headship – unfortunately, as top of the second division. 

At the front, College rowed over by a sizable margin, foreshadowing what was to come for the rest of the week. 

In comparison, the succeeding two nights were much calmer. Notable were the continued descent of JCAJ, who unsatisfied with their opening heroics crashed once again into the bank on the second night, and NPTL’s third night disqualification. They missed the start whilst attempting – in a far from orthodox spot halfway down the course – to swap two rowers in and out of the boat. Thankfully, their tardiness was only to cost them one place. 

As the crews to beat charged through the field in pursuit of the bumping cup, the sharper end of the field saw bumps galore. The defending champions and early favourites AMM led the rampage, securing six bumps over three nights, with HJRM, PGW, and HWTA right in their wake. Given how high up the field they were, HWTA’s escapades on this front were particularly impressive, as it takes that little bit extra to make it past the crews at the top unaided by the crashes and chaos that happen further down. 

Going into the last night, there was all to play for both on this front and at the front, where MAG remained convinced that a superior start would deny College a seventh year at the headship.

The final night saw excitement reach fever pitch. Taking a leaf out of IRG’s book, house spirit was on full display, with the Brocas awash not just with their chocolate and orange, but also with the purple and white of College, not to mention the competing red and black armies of BJH and AGDF, all displaying their house colours both on their shirts and with a slap of war paint. 

The first celebrations of the night came from WING, who began their redemption arc by lifting themselves off the footship in a major victory for such an undercooked crew. HJRM and PGW both made bumps to draw level with AMM in the race for the bumping cup. Still, AMM had a race in hand. 

In the first division, despite deafening chanting, all crews managed to hear the gun and start on time (an achievement in itself) and the race was on. AMM secured their bump on PEPW in good time to secure back-to-back bumping cups, adding to their monumental seven in total. Action continued right down the Brocas as HWTA overtook MAG in the dying stages of the race to put themselves in prime position for next year’s hunt for the headship. Out in front, however, there only ever looked like being one winner, as College rowed over for another four nights to secure a seventh year with the headship, placing JAGF only one short of Dr Pooley’s record. In the annals of bumps, 2022 certainly did not disappoint. 

Our thanks go to RECS, Mr Cross, and all the boatmen for ensuring the smooth running of the event, and allowing us to get back out on the water for one of the best moments of the year.