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The Fairbairn Cup is a head race organised by Jesus College Boat Club and raced on the Cam in the ninth week of the Michaelmas term. In 2023 the races will take place on the 30th of November and 1st  December.


There are divisions for both novice and senior crews.

For a complete set of the rules and regulations regarding the races, please consult the Rules and Regulations.


All coxes (and bank parties of novice crews) must be familiar with the Coxes Notes; Captains are encouraged to be familiar with this document in addition to the Rules and Regulations. 

Event poster: Click here


Provisional Times

Thursday 30th:

9:15 - Men's Novice VIIIs

11:30 - Women's Novice VIIIs

14:00 - Novice VIIIs Division II

Friday 1st:

9:30 - Men's Senior VIIIs

12:00 - Women's Senior VIIIs

14:15 - Senior IVs

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Note: Invitational VIIIs race in both the Men's and Women's Senior VIIIs divisions

In the case of changing weather conditions, please check the news and join the CUCBC contacts list for updates about division times and cancellations.


The races are open to all Cambridge and Oxford colleges. Non-college clubs (as well as College crews ineligible for College divisions, such as Alumni crews) may also race in Invitational divisions with prizes awarded in separate Invitational categories. Please refer to Rules 4 and 5 in the Rules and Regulations for a full explanation of the criteria defining college and invitational crews.

Only members of college (in statu pupillare) may row in a college boat, and men and women may only row in their respective divisions. For the purposes of the Fairbairn Cup Races, a ‘Novice’ crew is one in which no rower has rowed, and no coxswain has coxed prior to October of the current year.

Concerning Trialists

Please also note that college 1st VIII colours may not row in boats below their 2nd VIII. Current trialists for CUBC and their Oxford equivalents may not row in college boats.

The Course

The Fairbairn Cup Races are a series of non-British Rowing (i.e. not under BR regulations) head races starting at Jesus College Boat House Flagpole and finishing as follows:

Event                           Finish                                    Length

Senior VIIIs                The Little Bridge               4300m

Novice VIIIs               The Railings                       2700m

Senior IVs                  The Red Grind Post          3400m

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For photographs and locations of the finishes please see the Map of the Course and the Finishes.

Crews must not stop rowing as they cross the finish line. Crews should continue rowing at light pressure until instructed to stop and spin by a marshal. Crews may not row home until the division has finished racing and will be instructed to do so by a marshal. When rowing home, normal navigation rules apply.

Start Marshalling

The first 10 crews must be on the water, within the Start Marshalling Area (upstream of Jesus Boathouse), at least 30 minutes before the division's published start time, and all other crews 20 minutes before the start time. Latecomers will receive a 5 second time penalty if they cause delay to the start of the division. Make sure you boat on time!

Crews will assemble, pulled in to the bank, upstream of Goldie Boathouse with the first half of the division pointing downstream on the Fort St. George side and the second half pointing upstream on the boathouse side. Once the first 10 crews have started racing, the remaining crews on the Fort St. George side will move up to the start, allowing the second half of the division to row to Jesus Lock and spin.

See the Start Marshalling Circulation Pattern (Map).

Crews will be allowed to get out of their boats provided that they are in position, their boat is not causing obstruction to the circulation pattern and the location of their boat allows them to do so. Crews must ensure that they remain within reach of their boats and must get back in when instructed to do so by a marshal.

Please help to maintain the flow of the circulation pattern by moving quickly and without stopping once you see the crews ahead proceeding to the start - this will help us to ensure that the races run on time.

At the start, crews will be under the control of the Starter and will be asked to move up to the start (outside Goldie Boathouse). The cox should raise their hand and signal to the Starter when straight and ready to go by lowering their hand. After a suitable gap (around 30 second intervals between crews), the starter will call "Attention, Go." Timing will begin at the Jesus College Boathouse flagpole. Please start moving on the "Go" to minimise delays to other crews.


We try to minimise the need for crews to overtake on the course by altering the gap between starting crews. For safety, there is no overtaking before Bumps Men's Top Finish (post just downstream of Chesterton Footbridge) - crews disobeying this rule will be disqualified (Rule 13.a). If crews or their Captains believe themselves to be in a position to overtake the crew in front before Men's Top Finish with a 30 second gap, they may contact the Fairbairns Secretary before Race Day to request a larger gap.

If you have to overtake or find yourself being overtaken (after Men's Top Finish), try to minimise disruption to the other crew. The slower crew should give way to the faster crew, steering out of their path. Any deliberate impedance of another crew will result in a penalty depending on the dangers resulting from your actions. Crews feeling they have been impeded in any way should speak to a Finish Marshal as soon as possible so that your concerns can be recorded. Crews should only overtake when it is safe to do so!


Prizes will be awarded, after the conclusion of racing at 5pm on Friday in Jesus Boathouse, for the following categories:

Thursday Racing:

Fastest Men's Novice VIII

Fastest Women's Novice VIII

Fastest Men's 2nd Novice VIII

Fastest Women's 2nd Novice VIII

Friday Racing:

Fastest Men's Senior VIII

Fastest Women's Senior VIII

Fastest Men's 2nd Senior VIII

Fastest Women's 2nd Senior VIII

Fastest Men's Invitational Senior VIII

Fastest Women's Invitational Senior VIII

Fastest Men's Senior IV

Fastest Women's Senior IV

Fastest Men's Invitational Senior IV

Fastest Women's Invitational Senior IV

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River Closures

The river will be closed for the Races from 08:30 until lighting-up on Thursday and Friday. During this time, the Rules and Regulations of the Fairbairn Cup Races come into place, particularly those referring to warm-up and practice paddles.

Practice and warm-up paddling on the water is not permitted after 08:30 on the days of the races. 

All crews are required to warm-up on land before their divisions.

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