High water outside St Catharine’s College BoathouseAbbie Hastie

Racing has been called off on the fourth and penultimate day of Lent Bumps (10/03) due to inclement weather conditions.

In a statement, Cambridge University Combined Boat Club (CUCBC), who run Bumps for the college boat clubs, said: “Due to high water level and strong stream, coupled with rain and freezing temperatures, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all racing today on safety grounds. We’ll reassess tomorrow.”

The decision has led to great disappointment among the university’s college rowers, with many taking to the Facebook page Rowbridge Reborn to vent their frustration. One angry boathouse-dweller said “CUCBC really need to get a grip and consider all the people they are screwing over for no reason.”


Mountain View

Lent Bumps cancelled due to extreme weather conditions

Then highlighting what they perceived to be hypocrisy in the extreme weather contingencies of the race organisers, they argued: “We can race in the cold and snow and excessive Easter term heat but a bit too much water does it for you?”

They were not alone in highlighting the extreme temperatures which pervaded last year’s May Bumps, as another commenter asked: “We could race in 38 [degree] heat in Mays, was that not also dangerous??”

It is likely that the decision related more to flooding and the high water level of the river than the temperature. Water levels are increased after rain on Thursday and heavy snow early this morning, much of which melted amid more rain and sleet from mid-morning onwards. Flooding on the river is dangerous, as it means the water displaced by rowers (which is significant during Bumps when all boats in a division race at once) will more easily rise onto the riverbank.

The river was at an extremely high level as of Friday lunchtime, with speculation that some of the boathouses at the side of the river were in danger of becoming flooded. The last time Bumps was cancelled was due to the Beast from the East in March 2018, which brought arctic temperatures to eastern Britain.

In that case, technical row-overs were awarded to all crews, which meant that the starting order of boats was the same as it had been left at before racing was cancelled.

Such a scenario would leave Lady Margaret Boat Club (St John’s) at the headship of the M1 Division, and Jesus at the top of the W1 division after their bumping of Newnham yesterday.

The open-ended nature of the end of CUCBC’s statement suggests that if conditions do not improve then racing may again be cancelled tomorrow. However, dry conditions are forecast for the rest of the day on Friday.

Temperatures will be below freezing from this evening until tomorrow morning, but will reach a positively balmy 5C by 12.40pm, when racing is scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon, which should give hope to obsessive rowers deprived of the chance to race today.