Jesus College Boat Club (JCBC) is a rowing club for students at Jesus College, Oxford. With c.150 active members we are one of the largest college sports clubs in the University, and regularly have more crews competing in Torpids and Summer Eights than any other college. Membership of the club is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students regardless of experience, with all freshers strongly encouraged to try out the sport. As a result, the club boasts an incredibly strong community spirit whilst producing strong showings in inter-college regattas.
With a history stretching back to 1815, Jesus College Boat Club – along with Brasenose College Boat Club – is the joint oldest rowing club at the University of Oxford. The two clubs in turn are amongst the oldest in the world and made history by competing against each other in what is thought to be the first inter-club rowing race on record. The format of the race saw students row to the Inn at Sandford-on-Thames, a few miles south of Oxford, and race each other on the way back. Iffley Lock was used as the starting point and the crews finished by King’s Barge, moored just off Christ Church Meadow. Flags hoisted on the barge would indicate the finishing order of the crews. Crews would set off one behind the other, the trailing boats trying to catch, or “bump”, the boat ahead. The bumped boat and the bumping boat then swapped places and raced again the next day. The aim was to become the lead boat, known as Head of the River. Over time the event grew in size and eventually evolved into what is now the annual Summer Eights regatta.
In its infancy the race was consistently won by Brasenose, although after a few years the level of competition increased with the fielding of crews by Exeter, Christ Church and Queen’s Colleges. As a result Jesus never managed to take the headship. The closest the club ever came was in 1822 when a Brasenose rower apparently “caught a crab”, slowing their boat. The Brasenose boat was bumped by the Jesus boat, but rowed on regardless and claimed to remain head of the river. Jesus and Brasenose men competed over which flag should be hoisted as head. It was eventually agreed to row the race again – the Brasenose crew winning the rematch. Since then the club’s fortunes have been mixed, with the club’s 1st VIII starting in second position on the river when official records of inter-college races began in 1837 (by this point there were several colleges fielding crews) only to slump in the rankings. The turn of the 20th century however saw the college rise up the rankings once again, generally finishing either towards the top end of the second division in Summer Eights or at the lower end of the first. The men’s 1st VIII currently sits in division one for both Torpids and Eights, whilst the women’s 1st VIII sits near the top of division two for both events.
For more information, visit the club’s Wikipedia page.