Welcome to the website of Balliol College Boat Club (BCBC). Whether you’re a current member, prospective student or alumni you should find everything you need related to BCBC right here.

Balliol College is not one of the traditional ‘rowing colleges’ and certainly never one of the critics favourites; despite this recent years have seen resurgent success for the club with the Men’s 1st VIII taking the Summer VIIIs headship in 2008, the first time in 52 years, and the Women’s 1st VIII taking the headship in 2010 for the first time in their 30 year history.

We have an extremely generous group of alumni and we should remember that it is through their kind donations that Headship success was made possible

We would like to encourage you to sign up, after which you will be able to join one or more of our growing number of social groups, and receive invitations to all the events we will be holding. We are also forming an archive of crew lists, which you are highly encouraged to contribute towards, by remembering those who you rowed with.

Torpids 2015 – M1

2:54 pm in Torpids 2015 by Thomas McDonald

courtesy of Louis Chambers, Men’s Captain 2014-15

A change of coach at the start of term and the loss of the stroke man from Michaelmas saw M1 begin their Torpids campaign on the back foot, but when Robert “Wadders” Wadsworth, former Balliol rower and a renowned writer of BCBC blog posts since 2012, stepped back into the fray the crew were in safe hands. The crew included five returning rowers from the Summer VIIIs first crew and two novices from the Christ Church Regatta finalist crew in Michaelmas Term. 

Ranked fourth on the river, Balliol rowed over on Day One, gaining some ground on Christ Church off the start before settling for the remainder of the race. On Day Two, with a powerful Oriel crew behind them and a fast Wolfson boat following Oriel, Balliol went out hard, again gaining some initial ground on Christ Church before conceding to Oriel just before the gut and then holding off Wolfson for the rest of the race.

Day Three was a calamitous, once-in-a-generation day for the 1st Torpid. The Balliol crew embarked on some evasive action to avoid Wolfson’s aggressive pursuit, the end point of which was Balliol being pinned into the bank by a Wolfson crew that did not wind down following the Balliol cox’s concession. Unable to move, the crew eventually managed to come unstuck from the bump, although the preliminary result was the M1 conceding seven bumps. With a decent amount of popular support and indignation in their hearts, the M1 appealed six of the bumps – happy to let the Wolfson bump stand. The final decision was delayed until the next morning when it was decided that the bumps stood as declared the day before. The reason given was that Wolfson could not see the Balliol cox’s concession in time to wind down and that Balliol, having taken a risky line, should bear the consequences.

The M1 approached Day Four determined to prove that their position did not reflect their ability. They did this in style, bumping St John’s before Donnington Bridge and within the first minute or so of the race. Despite this successful final day, the crew finished Torpids down seven places in eleventh – not since 1984 has a Balliol M1 boat fallen that far in Torpids.

What to make of it all? Bad luck and carnage are all part of the fun when it comes to Torpids. Cognisant of the years of hard work that put Balliol at #4 on the river, the crew of 2015 are already beginning their march back up: bring on Torpids 2016.

Torpids 2015 – W1

2:48 pm in Torpids 2015 by Thomas McDonald

courtesy of Jenny Bright (2013), Women’s Captain 2014-15

A formidable Balliol W1, comprised of 4 first-year rowers and a first-year cox, started off its Torpids campaign in a tough position at 10th in the top division. After staving off Univ all of last year’s Summer Eights, W1 were unfortunately bumped by Univ just coming into the gut on the first day of Torpids 2015. However, nothing could stop the crew from charging ahead and heroically overcoming this bump with a heavily contested over-bump on Catz, literally centimeters from the finish line to end the day in the same position at which they started.

The second day of Torpids saw W1 rowing over at a chunky rate 30, with Catz posing no threat.

Day 3 was epic. The tension on the startline was palpable as Balliol knew they had to seize the opportunity to take New College before a strong Worcester crew encroached on Balliol. Employing a technique of “giving literally everything at the start” which had gone unsuccessfully last Summer Eights, Balliol were rewarded with a bump just after Donny Bridge, an amazingly gutsy feat. Ross went wild.

On day 4, Balliol had the opportunity to seek revenge on Univ. They knew that employing the tactic from the previous day was their only chance. They fought valiantly. See here (@3:30) for how it worked out.

The successes of the week were celebrated with a great Torpids dinner and throwing some shapes on the dancefloor of Warehouse (well done Mike).   

Torpids 2015 – M2

2:45 pm in Torpids 2015 by Thomas McDonald

courtesy of Joshua Warwick (2013), M2 Stroke and captain .

Day One

We rowed between Mansfield M1, who were extremely quick, and Wadham M2 – who we knew were quick last eights. As expected Mansfield M1 bumped out early, leaving us to hunt down Corpus and push off Wadham. We put lengths & lengths into Wadham down greenbanks, but not quite quick enough to catch Corpus.

Day Two

We were bumped by a fast Keble M1 just before Donny bridge, again we were left hunting down corpus – who managed to bump out. St. Peters were next for us to chase down greenbanks. We fought hard and were given a huge boost when at the end of boathouse island they caught a monster crab (ed: literally a pair of boatstopping crabs). We took the rate & pressure up before they had no choice but to concede. Success. 

Day Three

We knew that ahead of us there was a falling St hughs followed by Corpus, Keble then us. Corpus managed to bump Hugh’s before Donny bridge, and Keble bumped out in the gut, leaving them to us as we entered the gut. We closed to about a length through the gut, where we put in a big push out of it. Closing rapidly, we again took the rate up and within the power 10, they conceded. 2 bumps and +1, not bad.

On Friday, M2 hit a 5 year streak of not dropping a place in Torpids, which was at the time the 2nd longest streak on the river. Magdalen M1 had a day on us, but neither streak would last to the end of the week…

Day Four 

We held a pacey Oriel M2 to the middle of the gut, where they just had the inside canvas as we needed to turn: we had to concede else face a similar fate to the M1s. Coming out of the gut was quite messy, not the control we had the days before. We were being hunted by vengeful St. Peters M1 down greenbanks, they were gaining rapidly. We managed to get a better rhythm by boathouse island, with them about 1/2 a length off. We held this till halfway, where they put in a push to take it to canvas at the end of the island. At this point, we attempted a push – but to no avail and unfortunately they bumped us.


Overall not the best result (-1), but good experience of both pushing off crews, and being able to put down the power to earn a bump.