Position Marshals

Position Marshals - 2016

If you are new to marshalling or the Bumps, you must come to a marshals meeting. These will be held on Friday 15th and Monday 18th July at 8.00 pm in The Annexe St Andrew’s Church Hall, St Andrew’s Road Chesterton.

Please remember that marshals must act impartially as they are, and must be, independent of their Club affiliation.

It would be helpful if you have read these notes; the Rules; the notes for Coxes and the Bumps Safety Information all available on the CRA’s website. Nothing can beat experience and these are only notes so if you have any queries, ask fellow Club members who have taken part in the Bumps in the past and who will know how the event works.

Please print off a starting order from the CRA's website to bring with you together with a writing implement. A pencil may be best if it is wet. Please check-in at the control point by Peters Posts on your way down to your position and collect a reflective jacket together with a loud hailer and radio. (Please remember to return it all later.)

Please observe what is going on during races and report to the Control Point or Senior Umpire if you witness any pile-ups by your position. You may need to radio for first aid. Your observation of crews chasing each other closely may help the Senior Umpire determine an outcome that is difficult to judge. Your recollection may be invaluable in reaching a final decision. Radio your report to the control point during a suitable lull in the proceedings. Please remember that we cannot all speak at once on the radios so keep use of them to a minimum and ensure you do not "cut in" on anyone. If you wish to speak to someone, address their position and also their name, if known.

All marshals need to be aware of the need to help to keep the river clear. The Rules require that the crew making the Bump should stop rowing while the crew being bumped should carry on rowing. In practice, the latter can "collapse" while the former remain "fired up". You may need to warn spectators to move out of the way if you see a crew heading towards the bank at speed. They may not realise that the blades can take their legs from underneath them.

I am sure I do not need to spell out the need to exercise extreme care in the event of any contact with any protesters. Keep a note of the time of any incident and obtain names and contact details from any witnesses so that a full report can be submitted to the River Manager. Let the Senior Umpire and the Bumps Secretary know by radio immediately there is any sign of activity by protesters. If there is any incident involving any boat not connection with the Races, please fill in an accident report form at the control point.


The lock keeper watches for pleasure boats coming up through Baits Bite, holding them back to suit the Divisions, as necessary. He also helps liaise with Georgina. He knows the area and various contacts. Please alert him as soon as any boat intending to go downstream through Baits Bite makes its intentions known to you so we can follow its course down to the lock. Ask the lock keeper to have the lock ready so the boat can steer straight into the lock and so off the course.


A careful watch needs to be kept on the racing as it approaches. Be ready to assist in the event of a pile-up. If necessary, use your loud hailer to shout a warning if it appears a cox is not acknowledging and there is risk of a collision. After a Bump is made, the river needs to be cleared as quickly as possible. If a bump is made in the Gut, if possible, get the crews to keep going to Grassy Corner and pull in on the towpath side. This would require crews to be nearly to Grassy Corner and to be quick. If this is not possible, then get crews to pull in to the towpath side in the Gut. (The bank on the Fen Ditton side has many trees and it is difficult for crews to pull either their boats or their blades in far enough to leave the river clear for following crews.) Crews need to be directed to the outside of bends and all crews need reminding to pull their blades in clear of both following crews and the towpath.

Keep in touch with the marshals at Grassy Corner so that the Gut is kept as clear as possible. If there is a serious pile-up then use the Red Flag and loud hailer to stop the Division. Safety remains paramount throughout the Bumps.


Please bear in mind what your neighbour in the First Post position is tasked to do and be ready to assist him/her in clearing the Gut, if necessary. If necessary, use your loud hailer to shout a warning if it appears a cox is not acknowledging and there is risk of a collision. Keep an eye out for quad bikes or local troublemakers exhibiting threatening behaviour on the towpath, especially by the cut through from Fen Road. Report any problem to the Control Point. Help sell programmes, if necessary. Spectators often stand on the towpath and block progress of cyclists, so both are a danger to each other. When a race is approaching, try to warn folk to keep the towpath clear. If any cyclists, who are clearly not involved with the Bumps, pass you, heading towards the start when you know a race is approaching, try to warn them. The First Aiders find their "customers" are largely cyclists. We have no rights to stop folk, but we can point out the dangers. Radio to control and the finish marshal when the last boat in a division passes you so they can warn the next Division to be ready to move off towards the start.


Please liaise with the Senior Umpire and consult the Rules to be certain of the end of the Course as it changes during the evening for various Divisions. You need to be in position so the coxes can see you as they approach you. It is up to crews and their bank parties to be aware of the early finish in each Division, you mark the end of the Course. As crews pass, you need to advise them to wind down and remind them to stay in single file, no overtaking and keeping to the right as they go back home, watching out for crews going down to the next Division where appropriate. Crews will follow where they have bumped out earlier and these need to be chivvied along with the same warnings so the course is cleared as quickly as possible.

Liaise with the Senior Umpire and Control so that when the river is clear, you can tell the waiting crews when to move off to go down to the start. Liaise with the Railway Bridge marshals, as necessary. As the finish moves up the river with each Division, a bike is useful to help monitor the situation. Please ensure that you handover to another member of your Club so that the position remains manned at all times.

Liaise also with the Railway Bridge marshals to keep crews waiting on the Common on the far side of the river in good order


Crews need to "check in" with you on their way to the start, especially on the first night and in the early divisions, when everyone will be both nervous and possibly a little uncertain on where they need to be. Advise the Senior Umpire when a Division is complete or, after the appointed time for crews to have passed you, incomplete. Let Control know as they may be able to chivvy crews up. Remind crews going down for M4 that they need to get themselves into reverse order as they progress down to the start. W1 should not progress pass you until M2 has cleared through the Railway Bridge. However, with care and suitable warning to keep to the right, they can make a move off to the start when the last one or two stragglers in M2 are making their way home.

Remind crews they must not do a racing start at the railway bridge but may do a racing start at the Plough. Tell crews going home passed you that if they are swapping boats/coxes/etc they should do so on the upper common, downstream of Green Dragon Bridge. Tell crews who wish to stop at the beer tree to pull in upstream of the bend to avoid congestion and to walk back down to the beer tree. No boats with crews attending the beer tree to be on the course. Boats should not be left unattended and blades should be pulled in clear of the towpath and the river.  


Bumps, challenges, incidents and disputes, all will be reported at the Control Point. If a marshal only provides brief information by radio, ask them to visit control to complete the details as fully as possible before they go home. Some incidents may need reporting to the River Manager. Summarise any challenges and liaise with the Senior Umpire to determine them. Keep radio traffic to a minimum. Ensure that control is not left unattended, as there is a lot of expensive and vital equipment based there. Marshal any crews that may pull in to keep their stay as brief as possible and a space in front of the car parking area large enough for an VIII to pull into in the event of an emergency. Results must be recorded IMMEDIATELY at the end of each Division. Include a note of where the Bump took place.


It is vital to the smooth running of the event that crews progress to the start as soon as it is safe to do so as control will advise in conjunction with the chief umpire. Crews should be encouraged to get themselves into the correct reverse order as they progress to the start. Crews in Division M4 must progress straight down to the start. Crews in Divisions W3 and M3 need to assemble in reverse order in the Reach along the common below the railway bridge and above the railings. Crews in W2, M2, W1 and M1 must assemble in reverse order along the upper common below Green Dragon Bridge and below Morley’s Holt. Please remind all crews as necessary and ensure they are ready for a prompt get away as soon as control confirm they should progress to the start.

Also check general marshalling where boats and/or crew changes/swapping may take place in the earlier Divisions. Boats must not be left unattended on the water and crews should be encourage to lift them out onto the bank only putting back on the water when they are ready to push off straight away. For W1 and M1, these crews should be able to take care of themselves in terms of marshalling into order but keep an eye open to ensure prompt setting off when the OK comes. Await confirmation from the Senior Umpire/Control to tell them when to push off to go to the start.


The marshal that will ride ahead of the division warning spectators, pedestrians, other cyclists, etc. that boats are approaching and that there are a large number of cyclists supporting them and if possible for these spectators, pedestrians, other cyclists to clear the path.  Collisions between cyclists and other cyclists and pedestrians provide the highest number of injuries that occur during the Bumping Races and this Marshal is key to path safety. (Suggest ‘bring a whistle’!)


The Marshal that will ride behind the last boat in a division and hurry along the boats that have bumped up or have been bumped to clear the course for the next division.     Particularly important to get boats that have bumped up to cease celebrating and get moving as there is little time between divisions.

Apologies for stating what many may regard as the "obvious". Comments and suggestions for improvements are welcome.

At the end of each day, the Bumps Committee will meet at the Control Point to finalise the results and the website is updated straight away. On the Friday night, this is usually done quickly so that everyone can get round to the CRA/Nines/City boathouses where the presentation of the Head Plate, Trophy and individual posts is made, at 9.30 pm in front of City's boathouse.