SSBC had an excellent May Bumps 2019 and achieved a +1 overall. Charlie Spicer, Sidney's current Captain of Boats, provides a round-up to share how Sidney's crews got on.

You train hard throughout term, you spend many an hour on the sunny Cam, you finish your exams and then suddenly you’re thrown into the exhilarating four days of May Bumps which are the highlight of the Cambridge rowing calendar. Bumps never fails to supply stories of near misses, plucky escapes and rapid bumps, and the 2019 May Bumps was no exception.

Final Results

W1: 0

M1: -2

W2: 0

M2: +3



M1 started the week having not been bumped in Mays since 2015. Now midway into Div 2 they faced stiff competition but knew that they would face each day as if it were another day at the office.  

Day 1 saw them being chased by a ferociously fast Pembroke II, and an equally strong Caius II lay ahead of them in front. This may have been one of the shortest racers the M1 rowers had ever experienced, as despite a good start and good focus in the boat they were caught before First Post Corner. Rather than feeling disappointed, M1 felt great admiration for Pembroke II, but were determined not to drop any further.

Bumped by Pembroke II

Day 2 was one of the most exhilarating bumps races of recent memory. Downing II put incredible pressure on M1 and by grassy were on 3 whistles. M1 calmly pushed off them, but by Ditton Downing II achieved overlap and were about 6 inches away from making contact. This distance was maintained for what felt like forever as each crew repeatedly made attacking and escape moves respectively. M1 put every last drop of effort in down the reach and by the finish line had extended the separation to about a length. Not a race for the faint hearted.

Rowed over

Day 3 and the pressure dropped as a stronger start meant Downing II never made it close. A row over ensued.

Rowed over

M1 knew their division was fiercely competitive and Day 4 showed them that. Emmanual II were on for blades and chasing them so the crew planned to go out as hard as possible to escape the bump and hopefully catch Corpus. This didn’t work out and unfortunately Emmanual II achieved their final bump on M1.

Down 2 but not disappointed, M1 felt they had achieved a lot and shown great resolve by not dropping any further.

Bumped by Emmanuel II


W1 had one of the hardest weeks of work of any crew on the Cam this Mays, with 4 tough row overs.

W1 started the week being chased by Selwyn and chasing Murray Edwards. Day 1 saw most of their division row over, and W1 was no exception as Selwyn failed to apply any pressure to them and Murray Edwards were just out of reach.

Rowed over

Day 2 and a slightly different tactic: go out hard and catch Murray Edwards early. In a row described as ‘heroic’ by coach Tim Newton, they reached ¾ of a length on Murray Edwards but failed to gain the bump.

Rowed over

Day 3 and Sidney now had pressure from behind in the form of a Downing II crew with a fast start. They managed to put 3 whistles onto W1 but - focussed as always – W1 managed to pull away around grassy just before an unfortunate Downing II crab caused carnage for the lower half of the division. Sidney escaped comfortably for a 3rd row-over.

Rowed over

Day 4 offered a final opportunity for W1 to achieve a bump on a Wolfson crew on for spoons. W1 ignored their aches and pains, gave it their all and made it to within ½ a length on the Wolfson crew but didn’t quite have enough to avoid a 4th and final row over.

Rowed over


W2 were unfortunate in not making it onto this year’s Lent Bumps, and so for many of the crew this was their first ever taste of bumps. This made no difference as they were thrown in at the deep end and proved their strength with an excellent campaign.

Day 1 saw W2 chasing Fitz II and straight away moving up on them. An unexpected ‘hold it up’ call from the bank stopped them in their tracks, as carnage higher up in the division had caused W2 and the rest of their division to be awarded a technical row over. Feelings were positive at the boathouse as W2 felt they were able to give more and were excited to do so over the next 3 days.

Technical row over

Unfortunately, LMBC III put on hold these plans as they caught W2 by grassy corner on Day 2. This dampened W2s spirits, but little did they know what lay ahead over the next few days.

Bumped by LMBC III

Day 3 and there was drama on the start line. 7-Seat Lauren had already been taken ill and was being replaced by super-sub Jemima, but Stroke Jocelyn had been suffering from a repeating back injury and felt unable to row just before the 4-minute cannon. As always, physical health comes first and as Jocelyn stepped out of the boat, W2 felt the terrifying reality that they might not be to row. However, Sidney Alumnus Kate Shipley was on the bank with CUCBC and had other ideas. Just before the race began, she was allowed to sub in as stroke, and the new stern pair were quickly given the race instructions. The cannon went off and all went to plan as the Trinity Hall III crew chasing W2 disappeared into the distance and LMBC III were shortly under the pressure of 3 whistles. Despite achieving overlap on LMBC III, W2 didn’t make the bump, and instead rowed the entire course applying pressure the whole way.

Rowed over

W2 had high hopes on Day 4. The original crew was back out in force, other than that Jocelyn was still too injured so Anna (who had stroked them throughout the term) took on the stroke seat. The cannon went off and W2 went about grinding LMBC III down: 1 whistle at grassy, 2 at the plough and a canvas by Ditton. An LMBC crab ended their attempts of escape as W2 successfully mowed them down and regained the position in which they had started day 1.



M2 won’t mind me saying that they were the surprise crew of the year. They were unfortunate enough not to make it onto Lent Bumps, and into Mays they started with a nearly entirely new look crew. However, that didn’t stop them nearly getting blades.

M2 went into Day 1 with very little knowledge of the crews around them, other than that they were being chased by St Edmund’s II who typically have a very fast start, and they were chasing Girton II. However, it was not St Edmund’s II which had the fast start! Within 2 minutes M2 had caught Girton II, just before First Post corner. Despite the bump M2 stated afterwards that this was not their best race; a lack of experience had made the row both nervous and adrenaline fuelled as they never settled down to a maintainable rate. Lessons taken on board they set out hungry for more bumps.

Bumped Girton II

On Day 2 they achieved another, catching Anglia Ruskin in an even shorter race than the day before. Excitement was brewing in M2 but they knew that to catch the crews higher up in the division they would need to achieve an even cleaner and more technical row over the next two days.

Bumped ARU I

That’s exactly what they managed on Day 3: a clean, powerful, focussed row that saw Darwin II succumb to their speed. The bump on Darwin demonstrated that this was a crew with both the raw power and technical ability required to achieve consistent success in bumps no matter what boats were ahead or behind them on the river. With yet another rapid bump in the bag, only one more bump was needed to achieve blades but the crew knew not to think about it and instead to race each race like it was any other.

Bumped Darwin II

M2 recognised this day would be the hardest as this was the strongest crew they had chased yet and they would likely have to row past First Post Corner for the first time, all with the pressure of blades looming above the crew. Despite all of their effort they only managed to achieve one whistle on a Kings II crew who were just too far out of reach. As the adage goes: “an excellent crew goes up 3, a lucky crew goes up 4” and unfortunately Bumps didn’t adorn M2 with blades this term. Although disappointed, they knew they had surpassed all expectations to rise as high as they did and achieve a result that they and the rest of the boat club are exceptionally proud of.

Rowed over

To discover more about the Map Bumps, including how it works, visit the Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs website.

Written by Charlie Spicer

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About Charlie Spicer

Captain of Boats at Sidney Sussex