For the past 35 years Oriel has dominated the Oxford intercollegiate rowing scene, topping the Easter bumps races (Torpids) for 25 consecutive years and the Summer bumps races (Summer Eights, in which university-level rowers are allowed to compete) more than any other college. The astonishing ascent up the bumps chart of Oriel’s women’s crews, following their admittance to the college in 1985, saw Oriel take the first ever Double Headship in Torpids in 2006 – a feat which no other college has matched – and retake the women’s Torpids Headship in 2017.
Oriel has a strong association with the University crews. In 2016, Oriel’s own Morgan Baynham-Williams coxed the Oxford University Women’s Blue Boat to a historic victory against Cambridge, making Oriel represented in 3 of the 4 boats racing in the Boat Races that year. That said, to row for Oriel, you do not need to have this level of experience. Rowing at Oriel is open to any member of the College irrespective of previous experience – in fact most of the rowers in Oriel learned to row during their time here. If training for the first boat is not quite your idea of heaven, there are many other levels available to compete at. The second boats, for example, have some of the best records in Oxford; but if your goal is to take it easy and enjoy how fun rowing can be in the sun, Oriel typically fields 5-6 crews a year to ensure that if you want to get involved, you can!
John Faulkner currently heads the coaching of the men’s senior squads. After a series of excellent wins, the 1st VIII recaptured the headship in 2014, defending it in both 2015 and 2016. James Armitage coaches the women’s senior squad who moved up into the top division in Summer VIIIs 2016 and took the Torpids Headship in 2017.
Coxing is also a key strength within Oriel and we aim to ensure that they receive training equal to that given to the rowers, allowing them to achieve excellence on the water, whether they have learned at Oriel or have past experience.