It is a truth universally acknowledged* that the British, if they possibly can, will take a perfectly sensible sport and devise a race:
- With rules so complex that they are impenetrable to any outsider.
- Which is so potentially dangerous that, had it been invented today it would be banned.
- Where there is a clear hierarchy that is very difficult to challenge.
- That has its own nomenclature and arcane rituals.
- Where the spectators can drink copious amounts of alcohol in very pleasant surroundings and treat actually watching the racing as an option.
The form of boat racing known as ‘bumps’ at Oxford University’s ‘Summer Eights’ or ‘Eights Week’ ticks all these boxes – but this is not a criticism. In fact, ‘Eights’ is a brilliant and fair way of allowing the maximum number of participants of extremely varying abilities to race on a most unsuitable stretch of river and, moreover, it results in a large proportion of them becoming ‘winners’ in one way or another.
And thus Tim Koch opens a photographically illustrated blog post about the Oxford Bumping Races.
Anyone care to mention other events which fit Tim’s 5 qualifying criteria?
* Of course the original quote is from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”