This week sees the biggest event in college rowing return to the Isis. Summer Eights takes place between Wednesday 28th May and Saturday 31st May between 11:50am and 6:45pm, except on Saturday when racing is between 10:45am and 5:45pm.

The traditional Bumps event, in which a number of boats chase each other in single file, with each crew attempting to catch and “bump” the boat in front without being caught by the boat behind, is expected to attract thousands of spectators to the boathouses and banks of the Isis. The crowd, made up of students and alumni, flock to the river to see the rowing but also to experience to bustling atmosphere on race day and perhaos even to enjoy a glass of Pimms in the sun.

Rowing on, the qualifying event for the race, took place last week, attracting crews of all abilities to take to the water in pursuit of glory, and a set of blades. The time trial event saw Mansfield M2 and Wolfson M3, and Jesus W3 and Green Templeton W3, come top of the men’s and women’s qualifiers respectively. The day’s action saw only one disqualification with Jesus M4 Captain evacuating the boat after the crew posted a time that would have seen them qualify.

The competition itself sees Pembroke chased by Christ Church and Oriel in the M1 division. Oriel M1 are favourites amongst the rowing faithful, with Malcolm Howard, president of the 2014 Boat Race winning OUBC, in their crew. The Women’s division 1 sees St. John’s followed by Wadham, Teddy Hall and Pembroke, with Wadham W1 looking strong as favourites. 

The top of the Women’s division is set to be a tight contest too, with St. John’s and Wadham hosting no Blues or university rowers.

Trinity is host to one of the most decorated crews, with Blues Constantine Louloudis and Michael DiSanto, and Isis rower James Fraser-Mackenzie rowing for their M1. They start in eigth position however, so are likely to make fourth or fifth spot this year, setting them in good stead for victory next year.

Sam Skillcorn, Vice Captain of Jesus College Boat Club, predicts that “Keble M1 are going to smash it from the bottom of division 1, since they have loads of internationals and ex-Olympians in their boat”. To mention only one of them; Tim Foster is part of their crew, and was part of the Sydney 2000 Olympic GB Gold Medal winning four alongside Matthew Pinsent, Sir Steve Redgrave and James Cracknell. 

Having only recently entered the rowing scene, Green Templeton have been on the rise since they entered the summer eights competition. Having moved up the divisons every year, they are now 11th in division 4, and are likely to continue their climb.

At the other end of the spectrum, Exeter are rumoured to have relatively poor crews, and don’t seem to be backing themselves either by only entering M1 and W1 boats. Both crews are rowing in division two, so will face tight competition.

Now in full swing, summer eights is set to be as exciting and as hotly-contested as ever.