|Head of the River Pub (next to the Folly Bridge) – a good|
place to observe the rowing scene. All photos by JT Marlin.
They bring out some 170 boats and 1,500 participants.
At one time, the Summer Eights races took six full days.
The boats compete to be in first place, i.e., Head of the River.
|Brigid Marlin, artist, at Folly Bridge. She is the sister|
of two Oxonians (Randal and me), mother of a third
(Chris), and aunt of two others (Christine and
Kate). Photo by JT Marlin.
They compete in single file because the Thames–a.k.a. the Isis in the Oxford segment above Iffley Lock, can't accommodate very many boats abreast.
A boat advances one place in the long line by "bumping" the boat ahead. Colleges have "bump" suppers after the event to celebrate their advancement(s).
The event, sponsored by Neptune Investment Management, has its own website.
History of Summer VIIIs
|Is your Oxford college blade|
On this clever clock arrayed?
Is one of them your very own,
Of 36 blades that here are shown?
Recreational rowing at Oxford was under way in 1769. Students then used single wherries, which were designed for choppy seas and have keels and higher sides than than today's flat-bottomed single sculls.
For Isis use, the gunnels were lowered and then the keel was eliminated. A history of competitive-rowing boat design is here.
The first boat-racing clubs at Oxford were organized in 1815, when Brasenose and Jesus Colleges competed for Head of the River in eights, giving the event its name.
Exeter claims to have been the fourth entrant and that seems to fit with the available historical record.
|Guide to markings of Oxford college oars.|
The eights of course actually have nine on board. The cox is the one in the back who steers and shouts the rowing rhythm.
Since the cox is baggage, he (or she) is preferably smaller than the others in the boat.
The cox needs good timing, a big voice, sharp eyes and cough drops.
Christ Church added itself as a competitor in 1817. Seven years on, when Exeter went Head of the River, the crews agreed not to bring in rowers from other colleges. This generated five new college boats – the fifth boat being Worcester in 1824 or 1825, Balliol and Univ (6th and 7th) in 1827, and Oriel and Trinity (8th and 9th) in 1828.
Location of the Boathouses
A visiting Cantabridgian has written a frank tour guide of the Oxford boathouses and he is mostly impressed.
A map of the locations of the boathouses is provided below. The links to the boat clubs don't work because this is a screen shot, but I have included after the screen shot some links that work. The Folly Bridge notations show Salter's and the Head of the River Public House, but are missing the new Folly Bridge restaurant and the attached boathouse that provides boats to visitors.
University and College Boat Club Websites
Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club
Oxford University Women's Lightweight Rowing Club
Osler House (Med students)
St Edmund Hall
Other Rowing Posts: Rowing Blazers . 2012 NYC Boat Race Dinner . Punting . Head of Charles . 2017 Summer Eights