The Boat Club is a really special part of Oriel College’s community and has become the dominant college rowing club in Oxford in the last 50 years. From fierce competition in bumps racing to casual rowing, OCBC brings together elite rowers, complete novices and everyone in between.
Torpids and Summer Eights are the most prominent inter-collegiate sporting competitions at Oxford and are truly unique racing experiences in the world of rowing. They comprise four days of college boats chasing each other in single file along the Isis. In front of the roaring crowds and festival atmosphere on Boat House Island, boats attempt to bump the boat in front without being caught by the boat behind. The ultimate triumph is to go Head of the River.
We do not confine ourselves to Oxford’s two annual Bumps competitions. Instead we take on the Cambridge colleges at Fairbairns in Michaelmas term and often square up to their best at the Henley Boat Races. In the winter we often race at Upper Thames Head, Wallingford Head and Head of the River Race; come the summer we usually compete at Wallingford and Bedford regatta. If we are carrying out a Henley campaign then we also race at Marlow and Metropolitan. More often than not we are the only Oxford college crew competing in these events.
Head of the River
33 Summer Eights
Only Torpids Double Headship winner
Taking place in Hilary Term, those trialling for the University boats are not eligible to row for their college at Torpids, a rule emphasising the importance of quality of training and commitment rather than personnel. In 1972 Oriel Men went Head of the River in Torpids and stayed there for 25 years. Oriel Women started in 1985 and rose rapidly, taking Double Headship with the men in Torpids in 2006, a feat which no other college has matched. The club holds 35 Torpids headships – more than any other college.
Summer Eights takes place in June when the University rowers join their college VIIIs. The number of Oriel Summer Eights Headships stands at a total of 33 – the highest count among all of the Oxford colleges.
Currently, the club holds the men’s Torpids and Summer Eight’s headships, with the women competing fiercely in the first divisions. The ultimate accolade of going Head of the River is celebrated with the burning of a wooden boat in first quad before taking to Hall for some merry celebrations. The commissioning an oar painted with the crew's names and bumping scalps, and marking of the quad’s walls eternalises the victory.