Here, you will find a glossary of Cambridge-specific rowing terms. For general rowing terms, British Rowing has a helpful glossary of terms available online. Physical locations can be found on the map below.
2k – a test that consists of rowing 2000m on an erg as quickly as possible, often used as a judge of general fitness and aid to crew selection
ABH – at the boathouse.
All-in-one – a one-piece rowing kit item with no arms
BCD – Boat Club Dinner. A formal dinner that takes place at the end of each term.
Blades – besides meaning oars, Blades is when you bump up or row over head at all four opportunities during a set of bumps races
Boatie – a person who rows
Bump – the act of a boat hitting another boat, usually the one which started in front, in the bumps race
Bumps – the bumping races held over four days in Lent and May terms, involving several divisions of eighteen boats starting 1½ lengths apart with starting orders which are retained from day to day and year to year, in which each boat attempts to catch and bump the next while avoiding being bumped by the boat chasing them.
Cam – the river, flowing through Cambridge, on which we row.
CUBC – Cambridge University Boat Club, which puts forward the Blue boat and Goldie (reserve boat) for the annual Boat Race against Oxford on the Thames tideway.
CUCBC – Cambridge University Combined Boat Clubs, which regulates rowing by Cambridge Colleges, and organises various races (most notably bumps)
CUL/CULRC – Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club, which puts forward one boat to race against Oxford at the Henley Boat Races. Previously, a reserve lightweight boat also raced.
CUW/CUWBC – Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club, which puts forwards three boats to race against Oxford at the Henley Boat Races (the Blue Boat; Blondie, the reserve boat; and a Lightweight Boat)
Erg – Short for ergonometer. A rowing machine.
Fairbairns – the main race of Michaelmas term, rowed after the end of term over a course of about 5km between Jesus College and the motorway bridge.
FaT – First and Third. The boat club of Trinity College
Flag – the flag colour is set by CUCBC based on weather, and restricts who can go out the river. A Green Flag means that there are no restrictions on who can boat. The flag status can be checked online
Foliage – willow leaves that rowers decorate themselves with if they bump the boat ahead of them in the Bumps races
GDBO – God Damn Bloody Oxford
Grassy corner – a fickle bend in the river which coxes often misjudge when steering around
Head – the crew or boat club holding the Headship
Head race – a race in which crews compete and are timed over a set distance (cf. regatta)
Headship – top position in either the Lent or May bumps
LBC – lower boats captain. A senior rower who is responsible for teaching novices and organising their training schedule.
Lady Margaret Boat Club – the boat club of St. John’s College
Lents – the Lent bumps
Lighting down – the earliest time college rowers are allowed to be on the river. The time is set according to sunrise and is displayed on the CUCBC website.
Lighting up – the latest time college rowers are allowed to be on the river. The time is set according to sunset and is displayed on the CUCBC website.
Lightweight – a rower under 11½ stone (approx.) who is entitled to compete in competitions for light rowers
LMBC – Lady Margaret Boat Club, the boat club of St. John’s College
Long Reach – The longest straight(ish) section of the River Cam, between the Railway Bridge and Ditton Corner
Maggie – slang for Lady Margaret Boat Club
Mays – the May bumps
Novice – someone who has never rowed before (cf. senior)
Outing – a rowing training session on the water
OTL – over the lock. Rowing downstream of Baits Bite Lock (see “The Lock”).
Overbump – a bump on the boat which started three boats in front in the bumps, occurring after the boats in between have stopped after having bumped or been bumped
P&E – The Pike and Eel pub, sometimes now referred to as the Penny Ferry. Although it was demolished in 2014, this pub is still used as a landmark on the river
Quergs – Queens’ Ergs. An intercollegiate 500m erg race for novices that takes place in October at Queens’ College
Sandwich boat – the boat which leads any division (except the first) of the bumps once that division has been completed, and must race again at the bottom of the division above (with no chasing boat)
Senior – a rower with some experience, or specifically, one who has rowed in Novice Fairbairns
Spoon – the painted end part of the oar which enters the water. 2. To be bumped at all four opportunities during a set of bumps races
The Lock – generally refers to Baits Bite Lock. This is the furthest downstream that crews usually train. Rowing downstream of the lock is restricted to first boats, University crews and any other boats in the top two divisions of May Bumps.
Yeah Christ’s! – phrase shouted whenever you see a Christ’s boat