Torpids is a four-day regatta of bumps races, and is the main intercollegiate rowing event of Hilary Term at the University of Oxford. It usually takes place in the seventh week of the term, either at the end of February or beginning of March.
Torpids has six men’s divisions, and five women’s divisions, totalling 134 boats and around 1200 participants. For each division thirteen boats line up at the downstream end of the stretch, each coxswain holding onto a ‘bung-line’. The start of racing is signalled by the firing of the cannon, and each crew then attempts to progress up their division by bumping the boat in front, while avoiding being bumped by the boat behind. Once a bump has taken place, the bumping crew moves to the side, whilst the bumped crew continues racing. This can lead to a crew moving down several places during one day’s racing.
The ultimate aim is to become ‘Head of the River’ at the top of the first division, but crews can also ‘win blades’ for bumping at least once on each day of the four days racing.