Each term produced events on the river which attracted the crowds. The first term, known as Michaelmas, produced the Fairbairn's Cup, named after Nicholas Fairbairn, a legendary oarsman who pioneered a style of rowing which challenged the established technique and influenced all later styles. It was a timed race involving a procession of boats starting from the college boathouses and finishing over 2 miles downstream from Cambridge.
The river is not wide enough to row side by side, so a form of race was devised many years ago known as the 'Bumps'. These are held in the second and third terms (Lent Races and May Races) and each college enters a number of crews competing in a number of divisions. The Bumps are rowed in the opposite direction to the Fairbairn's - boats have to paddle down from their boathouses to be positioned along the river bank, a few yards apart. On a given signal each boat is pushed out into the centre of the river and at the starting pistol as many as 15 crews set off in pursuit of the boat in front (although it's technically behind, as you row backwards!) The object of the exercise is to literally bump the next boat. When that happens the two boats involved stop rowing. There are four days of racing so the following day the two boats involved in the 'bump' swap places in the division.
During the summer term the Boat Club attracted many other people who wanted to row in the May Races for fun. The rugby and soccer clubs had a boat, also the medics. There was also a 'Gentleman's' boat which consisted of boat club members who couldn't afford the time to train regularly, particularly in their final year.
At the end of each term there was a special Boat Club dinner called a Bump Supper. These were always well attended and rather rowdy. We always drank far too much and often people would nip out of college into town later in the evening to perform some kind of prank. I was once bold enough to join such a group and was nearly caught by the Proctor and the police trying to push a large cable roller through the town back to college. Other stunts involved capturing one of the swans from the pond and depositing it in someone's room, changing the position of furniture in a room before filling it full of scrunched-up newspaper and a university golf player chipping golf balls from the rear garden over the Sir Christopher Wren designed chapel roof.
On another occasion a friend of mine, who is now a famous QC, somehow climbed up the front of the cinema which was across the road from Emmanuel and removed a huge cardboard cut-out of Elizabeth Taylor. He took this back to his room. The film, rather appropriately, was called 'Giant'.