CUBC: "most college coxswains have had at most 4 weeks of training on the Cam over the past 12 months"Wikimedia Commons

This week, the Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs (CUCBC) sent an email to rowers detailing their decision to cancel the 2021 edition of the May Bumps.

This decision comes a year after the May Bumps of 2020 were cancelled and replaced by virtual races. In previous years, the event has usually taken place in the second week of June. 

The email read: "It is with regret that the CUCBC Committees have taken the hard decision to cancel May Bumps 2021."

CUCBC have explained that their decision to cancel the event was based on the lack of time available for preparation. “Given the recent announcement from the Vice-Chancellor that students are unlikely to be allowed to return en masse before Monday 17th May,” said the statement, “we feel that it is not possible to safely organise the traditional May Bumps at the end of the academic year."

The CUCBC further explained that, as a result, they estimate that, within the last year, coxswains and novices, who often play an important role in the smaller college boats will have had a maximum of four weeks practice on the River Cam. As a result, they believe it unfeasible to hold a May Bumps in its traditional form.

However, it has been suggested that another form of “non-contact rowing event” may be able to take place at the end of the term. “Such an event would not require a 12-outing rule and could potentially take different formats, or have different divisions, for novice and senior crews, allowing more people to safely take part,” said the club.

The club have also sent out surveys to captains in order to gauge interest in such an idea and understand what type of event would be preferable. These surveys will be completed by 2pm on Thursday (15/04) to allow sufficient planning time.

This decision means that there will be a three-year gap between the last May Bumps, held in 2019, and the next, to be held in 2022. In the last edition, Caius men took the headship from Lady Margaret (St. John’s), after starting in fourth and bumping both Pembroke and Magdalene in consecutive days. In the women’s races, Newnham bumped Jesus to take their headship.