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A1: General Rules of Racing

A1.1 Definitions

  1. Members of College Boat Clubs are classified either as:
    1. Student Members
      • Bona fide students (in accordance with University Statute II) of the respective college, until such time as:

        Should a students course involve both (ii) and (iii), with a delay inbetween these, then the latter marks the end their eligibility as a bona fide student.
        • they leave or suspend their course of study; or
        • a pass list or class list marking the end of the course is published; or
        • leave to supplicate for the degree is granted.
      • Visiting Students holding a valid University Card, who are affiliated to that college.

    2. Fellowship Members

      Senior 'Full' Fellows or Junior Research Fellows of the respective college, only for the time during which this status is enjoyed at the college. [Emeritus, honorary and visiting fellows are excluded.]

    3. Student Honorary Members, Staff Honorary Members

      At a Captain’s Meeting, the captains may choose to grant a person the status of Staff or Student Honorary Member of a College Boat Club for a period of no more than three consecutive terms, subject to the following rules:

      1. An Honorary Membership may only be proposed as follows:
        • All Honorary Memberships must be brought in accordance with the procedural rules associated with a constitutional alteration under XXX, but an Honorary Membership is not a constitutional alteration.
        • The proposal must include:
          1. Name of the person in question.
          2. Details of the type of University card they hold, and the number (if relevant).
          3. Their status within the University and the date of the termination of this status.
          4. Proof of this status. For Staff this requires a copy of their contract counter-signed by the relevant college authority, for Students this requires an enrolment certificate signed by the Senior Tutor or Bursar or an equivalent. For the purposes of the motion this must be received and verified by the OURCs Sabbatical Officer prior to the publishing of the agenda
          5. The date that they wish the Honorary Membership to expire, which shall be no further in the future than 3 consecutive terms (including the term in which the motion is proposed).

          • Associate Members

    A1.2 Race Secretary

    The Race Secretary for each event shall be responsible for the overall organisation of the event. Their duties shall be to :


    1. Fix the dates, times, entry fees, entry deadlines and late entry fees for the event, subject to the approval of a Captains' Meeting;
    2. Send out entry forms to all College Boat Clubs detailing this information;
    3. Appoint a Race Committee and nominate the Senior Umpire(s) for the event. Those eligible to be nominated for Torpids and Eights shall have been ratified by a Captains’ meeting within the past academic year, except during racing when a Senior Umpire may be appointed with the agreement of the ratified Senior Umpires and the Race Secretary;
    4. Make crew-lists available for inspection during the event;
    5. Maintain a list of fines incurred during the event and notify the Boat Clubs concerned of the amount and reason for all fines incurred;
    6. With the advice of the Captain of Coxes or his/her nominated substitute senior cox, maintain a list of notable coxing actions during the competition, including both penalised errors and praiseworthy coxing.

    G2. Race Committee

    The Race Committee shall be responsible for the running of each OURCs event. In addition, this committee shall have the authority to:

    1. Decide, in conjunction with the Senior Umpires, Boatmen, Area Safety Officer (Sport), and on the advice of the EA, whether conditions are safe for the event to be held, and, if necessary, alter the race format to meet safety requirements;
    2. Alter the rules of the river for the duration of the event;
    3. Require participating Boat Clubs to supply umpires and marshals for specified periods;
    4. Require participating Boat Clubs to restrict the number of cyclists accompanying crews;
    5. Require participating coxes and at least one officer from each College Boat Club to attend preparatory meetings;
    6. Impose fines on Boat Clubs for not complying with the above rules, such fines to be confirmed by the Race Secretary, who shall notify the Colleges involved.
    7. Impose other penalties such as disqualification; time penalties, penalty bumps, demotion of coxes, or suspension of a cox (on the advice of the Captain of Coxes) or crew from racing, for dangerous conduct or violations of rules of racing.
    8. Any member of the Race Committee may make a decision under rules G5.1 and 5.2 (ordinary substitutions), G8.2 (registration of disputes), and G8.3 (action to be taken upon the registration of a dispute). Decisions made under rules G5.3 (extraordinary substitutions), B11 (technical bumps), B12 (penalty bumps), B13 (row-overs), B5.4 (time penalties in Rowing On), and B5.5 (time bonuses in Rowing On) shall be made by three neutral members of the Race Committee with an appeal lying only to the Senior Umpire in accordance with G8 (disputes procedure).

    G3. Senior Umpire

    The Race Secretary for each event shall appoint at least one Senior Umpire. For Torpids and Eights it is presumed that all ratified senior umpires will be appointed. Once ratified, a Senior Umpire shall only be removed by a vote of a Captains’ meeting, except during racing when a Senior Umpire may be removed by the Race Secretary and a majority of the other ratified Senior Umpires acting together. In accordance with the event plan for Torpids and Eights, a person shall be eligible for ratification as a Senior Umpire following a suitable period of training by the existing ratified Senior Umpires.

    At any one point during racing, one senior umpire will be known to be on duty and acting as the Senior Umpire with regard to G3.2 or 3. The ratified senior umpires will consult with each other and act wherever possible collectively and by agreement under G3.1. The ratified senior umpires will agree a coordinating senior umpire to act on their behalf as necessary under G3.4 before racing, though the duty Senior Umpire shall operate G3.4 during the hours of racing.

    The Senior Umpire has the authority to:

    1. Interpret the OURCs rules in the event of any dispute, such a ruling to be binding;
    2. Make the operational decision as to when it is safe for each race to start;
    3. Exclude any crew deemed not ready to start at the designated time or with unpaid fines under G6.3;
    4. With the Secretary, make modifications to the format of racing, either before or during the event, in accordance with the approved event plan and risk assessment to ensure that the maximal amount of safe racing may take place.


    G4. Entry Requirements

    All crews entered for OURCs events shall:

    1. Represent a single College Boat Club as recognised under C5.
    2. Consist entirely of members of that College Boat Club as recognised under C6, Associate Members in accordance with B4 in bumps races, or Associate Members without restriction on all other OURCs competitions.  (Associate Members do not need to be members of a College Boat Club as per C6.1.  Associate Members are subject to OURCs rules while training and racing with OURCs College Boat Clubs.)
    3. Accept the rules of racing, as published on the OURCs website at the time of entry, as binding during the competition.
    4. Enter entirely at their own risk, taking into account the nature of the event and the Event Plan published on the OURCs website by the relevant Race Committee.
    5. All crewmembers must be named on the entry form.
    6. Men may cox in "Women's" events and women may cox in "Men's" events.
    7. Women may row in "Men's" events.
    8. Formal extended memberships of College Boat Clubs are as follows:

      a.       Wolfson College Boat Club includes members of St. Cross College.

      b.     St Benet’s Hall Boat Club includes male members of Blackfriars. Female members of Blackfriars may choose to be members of either St Benet’s Hall, or Green Templeton, but may only row for one in  any given academic year, except by being granted honorary           membership under C6.4.

      c.       Linacre College Boat Club includes members of Nuffield College.

      d.      Queen's College Boat Club includes members of Wycliffe Hall.

      e.       Clinical Medical students may choose between membership of their College Boat Club and Osler House Boat Club, but may only row for one club in OURCs events in any given academic year, except by being granted honorary membership under C6.4. 

      f.       Wadham College Boat Club includes members of Harris Manchester College.

      g.      Christ Church Boat Club includes members of Kellogg College.

      h.      Magdalen College Boat Club includes members of All Souls College.

     G5. Substitutions

    Substitutions fall under two categories; regular and extra-ordinary.

    1. It is the responsibility of the club captains to ensure that such substitutes are legal, noting specifically that the online system may not recognise an illegal substitute. All substitutions approved, whether regular or extra-ordinary, are conditional on the validity of the information provided. In the instance of a substitution being subsequently discovered to be in breach of any of the rules contained in G5, the substitute will be considered ineligible to race and the crew will face penalty from the race committee.
    2. All substitutes must be on the OURCs swim-test database.
    3. If substitutes conform to the entry requirements laid out in G4, as modified by B3 and B4, then that substitute is considered regular. Any substitution that does not so conform is to be considered extra-ordinary. This includes swapping a rower between crews.
    4. Coxing substitutions that are within the defined coxing restrictions, which may be relaxed for poor conditions, are deemed regular but must still be done in accordance with G5.1. All coxes must be on the OURCs cox database.
    5. Regular substitutions will be approved by the race committee upon receipt of the information required and having confirmed that they conform to the rules of racing.
    6. Extra-ordinary substitutes may be permitted at the discretion of the race committee in circumstances including, but not limited to, sudden injury:
      1. If a rower in a given boat is injured, it is encouraged that a rower from a lower boat is substituted up; further consequential substitutionsof this type are equally encouraged such that the vacant seat is in the college's lowest boat. It is not expected that men's crews substitute a rower from a fixed division boat in a women's division.
      2. It is expected that this vacancy is then resolved by the use of a regular substitution; examples include: the use of any associate rowers under B4; or the use of rowers of either gender (where applicable) that failed to Row On.
      3. If the college's lowest boat, as in G5.6a is in a Rowing On division, and all three associate member slots are in use, a fourth associate member will be permitted. If this boat is in a fixed division, an associate member may be permitted at the discretion of the Race Committee.
      4. In each of the cases in G5.6c, the associate member must provide the Race Committee with a summary of their previous rowing experience. If this is judged to be an enhancement to the crew, then the substitution will be refused. If this associate member is eligible to row with another college boat club as defined by C6.1, then written or oral permission must be given by the relevant club captain, and the decision is still at the discretion of the Race Committee.
      5. If an extra-ordinary substitution is permitted, this must be announced, most often through the tannoy, between 60 and 5 minutes before the relevant division(s) are due to start. Appeals may be lodged at any point until 10 minutes after the results have been announced.
      6. It is at the discretion of the Race Committee to allow any person who has been moved to a higher-ranked boat to move back down to their original boat on subsequent days. This permission will not be granted in the case of Rowing On


    G6. Starting Requirements

    Starting requirements for OURCs races are as follows:

    1. The crew and boat must conform to the safety requirements as detailed in R2 and R3.
    2. The crew must conform to the rules on entry requirements and substitutions.
    3. The College Boat Club must have paid all debts (including fines) incurred up to and including the previous day.
      1. before ANY boat of that college races in Autumn Fours or the Isis Winter League.
      2. before the TOP boat of that college races in Torpids or Eights proper, or the LAST racing crew of that college races in Rowing On.
    4. No boat shall be allowed to start in a race with more or less than its full crew and, having started, no crew member may voluntarily leave the boat.
    5. Crews must row with blades recognisable as belonging to their College Boat Club, unless they have the permission of the Race Secretary to do otherwise.

    G7. Identification

    To assist in resolving disputes over crew identification, the following rules will apply:

    1. Coxswains shall be required to be in possession of identification for all crewmembers while they are on the water. Such identification must contain a picture of the person being identified. A University card or coxing permit will be sufficient for competitors who satisfy C6.1.
    2. Such identification may be used by the Race Committee for adjudication in the event of a dispute concerning crew composition.
    3. Lack of identification may result in automatic loss of a dispute over crew composition.
    4. Complaints about crew composition must be made while the allegedly offending crew is still on the water.

    G8. Disputes Procedure

    Registration of complaints or appeals can be made directly to the Race Committee at Race Desk, or via a marshal with a radio.  The procedure for handling complaints or appeals is as follows:

    1. Complaints against other crews must be registered with the Race Committee within 10 minutes of the incident.
    2. Appeals against routine Race Committee decisions (i.e. excluding those treated as resolutions of disputes) must be registered with the Race Committee within 10 minutes of the announced decision. The Captain of the appealing boat club may withdraw the appeal up until the appeal is decided by the Race Comittee.
    3. Having been notified of a complaint or an appeal, the Race Committee shall inform all other interested parties, who then have 10 minutes in which to send a representative to put their case.  In exceptional circumstance, people can contact Race Desk by phone. No evidence shall be accepted more than 20 miutes after the announcement of the appeal. Evidence shall be accepted by a member of Race Committee.
    4. All disputes shall be resolved by a minimum of 3 neutral members of the Race Committee. When ruling on an initial appeal, the Race Committee shall treat the sppeal as a challenge to the original decision at first instance. Evidence must be provided that supports the need to overturn or to re-consider it (including an error by the original decision-maker or new evidence). In the absence of such evidence, the original decision should stand.
    5. The only grounds for appeal against the Race Committee ruling on a complaint or initial appeal are if the OURCs rules have not been adhered to, in which case the appeal must be registered with the Senior Umpire, stating the rule(s) in question, within 10 minutes of the Race Committee ruling.
    6. In the event of the Senior Umpire not being neutral in an appeal against a Race Committee ruling (including the grounds of having been involved in the original ruling), another Senior Umpire or an agreed member of the Race Committee shall be appointed to act as Senior Umpire to rule on the appeal.
    7. The Senior Umpire shall have the authority to interpret the OURCs rules, and may make a ruling as to whether the race committee decision adheres to those rules. The SU may re-submit the appeal to the race committee to re-decide within the rules, or order it to be considered by an alternative race committee if appropriate. Nothing in G8 shall be read as permitting a Senior Umpire at appeal to decide the facts, nor validates a decision by any person or persons that is outside of the rules.

    Rules of Autumn Fours:

    Rules of Bumps Racing:

    B1. Dates

    Unless resolved otherwise by a Captains' Meeting,

    1. Torpids shall be held from Wednesday to Saturday of 7th week of Hilary Term, except for those years in which it clashes with the Women's Eights Head when it shall be held from Wednesday to Saturday of 6th week of Hilary Term.
    2. Eights shall be held from Wednesday to Saturday of 5th week of Trinity Term.

    B2. Divisions

    Unless resolved otherwise by a Captains' Meeting or the Race Committee:

    1. Torpids shall consist of 6 Men's divisions and 5 Women's divisions. The top 5 Men's divisions and the top 4 Women's divisions shall be designated "Fixed Divisions" and the remainder "Rowing On Divisions".
    2. Eights shall consist of 7 Men's divisions and 6 Women's divisions, with the top 5 Men's divisions and the top 4 Women's divisions designated "Fixed Divisions", and the remainder "Rowing On Divisions".
    3. Divisions shall consist of 13 boats, plus the "Sandwich Boat", except for the bottom divisions, which shall consist of 14 boats.
    4. Divisions to be raced in descending order numerically (division 1 being the top division, and last division to race).
    5. The boat that finishes first in each division may row as "Sandwich Boat" at the bottom of the next highest division in the same day's racing.
    6. The boat finishing at the bottom of each division shall row at the head of the next lowest division the next day.
    7. Men's divisions 1, 2 and 3, and Women's divisions 1 and 2 shall be designated "Senior Divisions".
    8. All boats competing shall be stern-coxed Eights.

    B3. Eligibility

    In addition to the general entry requirements for OURCs events listed in G4:

    1. University squad rowers and coxes are not allowed to compete in Torpids if they have been selected for a Boat Race crew (this does not include designated spares), or if, in the instance of their squad not having made its selection before Torpids, they are still in contention for a seat in a crew.
    2. No person may row in two crews or cox two crews, although it is permitted to row in one crew and cox another. This does not include crews which have failed to row on under rule B5.
    3. All crewmembers must be listed as having passed on the OURCs swim test database.

    B4. Associate Members

    'Associate Members' of College Boat Clubs may row in bumps races subject to the following restrictions:

    1. Each College is permitted a maximum of three Associate Members in its Men's crews and three in its Women's crews.
    2. Associate Members may only compete in Rowing On crews, unless a College has no Rowing On crews, in which case they may compete in the College's lowest boat, provided it is not in a Senior Division, including the Sandwich Boats, at the start of the competition.
    3. If a College's lowest crew is in a Senior Division, Associate Members may still be used if specific permission is given by a Captains' Meeting.  All other Associate Member rules must still be followed.
    4. Anyone wishing to appear as an Associate Member for one College who is eligible to appear for another College must have the signed written permission of both College Captains concerned, specifically given for that event/regatta.
    5. Associate Members must be indicated as such on the Entry Form.

    B5. Rowing On

    In the event of there being more entries than places available, crews not assigned places in the Fixed Divisions will be required to qualify by 'Rowing On'

    1. Rowing On races shall be held as an OURCs event under the jurisdiction of the Race Committee with the powers defined in G2.
    2. Rowing On races shall normally take place on the Friday preceding the bumps races.
    3. Rowing On races shall be timed rows with a rolling start, measured from Longbridges raft to a semaphore placed approximately midway between Univ Boathouse and the Head, with the fastest crews to qualify.
    4. Crews being overtaken during Rowing On are required to give way. Failure to do so may result in a time penalty.
    5. Crews impeded by other craft during Rowing On may be awarded a time bonus.
    6. In the event of crews having an equal time and if this affects the starting order, the crews involved may organise a private rerow and notify the Race Committee of the result.
    7. Crews failing to Row On shall be refunded half their entry fee.
    8. All members of crews succeeding in Rowing On, irrespective of whether they were properly entered as part of that crew, shall be subject to the restrictions of rule B3.2 as if they were a bona fide part of that crew.
    9. Rowing On results shall become finalised on midnight of the following day, after which no further appeals will be considered and the Race Committee shall resolve any remaining ties by ballot.

    B6. Withdrawals

    1. The Race Secretary should be notified, in writing, of any withdrawals.
    2. Any crew withdrawn prior to midnight before Rowing On, or, in the absence of Rowing On races, prior to the Friday before the bumps race starts, shall be refunded their full entry fee, and regarded as 'not entered'.
    3. Provided no lower crews of the same sex from the same College Boat Club are entered, Fixed Division crews that were 'not entered' shall be reinserted 6 places lower in the Starting Order for the following year in Torpids, 4 places lower in the Starting Order for Eights. If lower crews of the same sex from the same College Boat Club ARE entered, Fixed Division crews that were not entered will NOT BE REINSERTED.
    4. In the event of a crew withdrawn after the deadline in B6.1, but before the Starting Order is finalised, the crew shall be removed entirely from the Starting Order and NOT REINSERTED THE FOLLOWING YEAR, all other crews moved up one place and the fastest crew failing to Row On shall be invited to start at the bottom of the lowest division.
    5. In the event of the Senior Umpires permitting early or late withdrawals from bumps races on safety grounds, arising from a significant loss of river time to colleges, such crews will maintain their places in the following year's Starting Order without penalty. A request for such a withdrawal must be made in writing and signed by the club captain.
    6. Crews withdrawing after the Start Order is finalised, or failing to boat for their race are withdrawn from the competition and not reinserted the following year. Crews in the division are moved up one place and a bungline left empty at the bottom of the division for the day's racing. In the Start Order for the following day all other crews are moved up one place and the fastest crew failing to Row On shall be invited to start at the bottom of the lowest division.
    7. If a crew fails to boat for its race, it shall be regarded as having withdrawn from the competition.
    8. The Race Committee may decide to allow a crew to withdraw for one day of racing.
      1. In Eights, the withdrawn crew's bungline is left empty and the crew subject to a technical bump as in B11.
      2. In Torpids, the crew may be reinserted the following day a number of places lower by the discretion of the Race Committee based on the reasons for withdrawal. Other crews in the division are moved up one place and a bungline left empty at the bottom of the division for the day's racing.

    B7. Starting Order

    A Provisional Starting Order shall be prepared by the Race Committee as soon as possible after the Rowing On races and shall be circulated to all College Captains.

    1. Having moved up all crews to fill spaces caused by crews not entering or withdrawn under B6.1, the order shall be:
      1. The finishing order of the previous year's Fixed Divisions,
      2. The finishing order of the previous year's Rowing On Divisions for those boats succeeding in qualifying.
      3. New entries succeeding in qualifying, in random order, determined by drawing lots.
      4. Crews from each College Boat Club shall be numbered sequentially in the first day's starting order, regardless of their designations in the previous year's finishing order or their Rowing On finishing positions.
    2. Unless Captains request otherwise, their crews in the Rowing On divisions will be allocated places in order of qualifying speed.
    3. The starting order shall be finalised at midnight before each day's racing, until which time the provisional starting order may be amended in the event of further withdrawals.

    B8. Starting Procedure

    1. Each boat shall be started from a rope 50 feet in length, held by the coxswain, the other end of the rope to be fastened to a post on the towpath.
    2. The distance between each starting post shall be 130 feet.
    3. Divisions in bumping races shall be raced at intervals of not less than 25 minutes and not more than 45 minutes (unless safety dictates otherwise).
    4. Not less than five minutes before the start of the division, the Senior Umpire shall order the firing of the 'Five Minute Gun'.
    5. Four minutes later, or later if safety dictates, the Senior Umpire shall order the firing of the 'One Minute Gun'.
    6. One minute later, another gun shall be fired to signal the start.
    7. If the Starting Gun has not fired within seventy seconds from the One Minute Gun the Senior Umpire will notify crews that the sequence of guns shall be repeated from the One Minute Gun.
    8. For a race to be deemed to have taken place, 10 of the 14 boats must be attached to their bunglines when the Starting Gun is fired.

    B9. Delays

    1. Delays, subject to B8.3, may be granted by the Senior Umpire provided that the request is delivered before the One Minute Gun.
    2. Crews needlessly causing the start to be delayed are liable to be fined, at the discretion of the Senior Umpire.

    B10. Bumps

    1. A bump shall be deemed to have taken place when the Race Committee is satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that one of the following has occurred:
      1. A boat touches any part of the boat in front of it, the term "boat" to include oars, rudder and crew; or
      2. When the coxswain of the leading boat acknowledges, by raising his arm, that a bump is inevitable; or
      3. When one boat rows clean by another.
    2. A boat shall be liable to be bumped until every part of it has crossed the finishing line.
    3. On achieving a bump, a boat ceases to be part of a race.
    4. In Eights Week, the boat bumped also ceases to be part of the race.

    B11. Technical Bumps

    The Race Committee may award technical bumps if a boat does not start in accordance with OURCs regulations.

    1. In the event of a technical bump, the division shall proceed as normal except that the offending crew shall lose one place.
    2. If the offending crew has attempted to start, any bumps gained by it shall be disallowed while any bumps gained on it shall stand.
    3. The Race Committee may choose not to award a technical bump in Torpids if they decide that a crew never intended to start, in which case the rest of the division shall proceed as normal save that the offending crew shall be placed at the bottom of the division.
    4. The crew benefiting from a technical bump may choose to decline it.

    B12. Penalty Bumps

    Penalty bumps may be awarded by the Race Committee in the event of dangerous conduct, illegal interference with other crews racing, or incompetence leading to a klaxon.

    1. The number of places lost through a penalty bump is at the discretion of the Race Committee
    2. Crews receiving penalty bumps shall automatically have any valid bump gained disallowed.
    3. Penalty bumps shall not be awarded until the crew involved has been invited to present their case, and shall follow the disputes procedure G8.
    4. Any crew that causes a race to be klaxoned due to reasons that do not relate to the actions of another crew should be given a penalty bump (for example due to rudder failure or a person entering the water).
    5. Penalty or racing bumps shall not be awarded against crews that, after gaining a bump, continue to race safely due to reasonable uncertainty over whether or not the bump had occurred

    B13. Row-Overs

    The Race Committee may disallow otherwise valid bumps and award row-overs to the crews involved in the following circumstances:

    1. Bumps on crews that were only caught due to unavoidable external influences shall be disallowed.
    2. Boats that have had bumps disallowed shall be awarded row-overs unless they have also accumulated penalty bumps.
    3. Boats easying under a reasonable misapprehension that they have gained a bump may be awarded a row-over. In Eights week, boats easying under a reasonable misapprehension that they have been bumped may be awarded a row-over, otherwise all boats are expected to complete the course where possible. The decision in such situations will be entirely at the discretion of the Race Committee.
    4. Over bumps shall stand despite crews in between subsequently being awarded row-overs.

    B14. Finishing Order

    The finishing order of a division shall be:

    1. In Torpids, the order in which the remaining boats cross the finishing line except that all boats achieving a bump shall be placed above the boat bumped.
    2. In Eights, the same as the starting order except that the two boats involved in each bump shall exchange places.

    B15. Stopping Racing

    In the event of a klaxon sounding during a race,

    1. All boats shall cease racing immediately.
    2. Bumps gained prior to the klaxon shall stand. Any bumps after the first klaxon sounding anywhere on the course are not counted irrespective of whether crews involved have heard it or not.
    3. Crews still racing when the klaxon sounded shall be awarded a row-over.

    B16. Cyclists

    1. During every day of Torpids, and the first three days of Summer Eights, each crew may only have one bank rider cycling alongside them, unless with the permission of the Race Secretary and the Senior Umpire.
    2. On the Saturday of Summer Eights, cycling is banned on the towpath from bungline 14 to the Head.

    B17. Equipment

    1. Oars with sharp protrusions on the spoons are not permitted.