Fantasybumps.co.uk went live on Tuesday, and applies the fantasy team model to the Eights rowing divisions. Users can now start putting together their crews, using any rowers registered in this year’s Eights competition.
The website explains the idea behind the game: “Bumps racing is unpredictable. And yet, a stroll down Oxford’s tow path will yield any number of confident assertions on the outcome of this years’ racing.
“Time to put your money where your mouth is.”
The founders of the site, who wish to preserve their anonymity, commented: “We’re three ex-rowers who wanted a project for the vac. We thrashed out the basic idea in the Mission over a burrito.”
They explained their desire to bring rowing chat to a wider audience, saying that while “everyone loves bumps speculation”, the participation in other rowing forums such as TalkRowing and S.A.D. Bumps has been “pretty narrow”.
“We wanted to see if there was a better way to crowdsource predictions and to have some fun at the same time.”
The game works by giving points to any fantasy team which include a member of a crew which bumps in a race. The fantasy crews compete with each other, allowing for friends to compare their predictions in a league format.
Each player starts with a limited budget with which to purchase crew members, and the prices rise and fall according to demand.
The site has enjoyed an explosion in popularity since its creation, with the founders observing on Tuesday: “we only launched this morning and in the first day we’ve had over 300 sign-ups and 6000 transactions, so we’re pretty excited.”
They added: “Right now we’re just praying the server doesn’t melt with the response we’ve had.”
However they pointed out that the best is still to come: “It’s still early days and things don’t really kick off until racing starts next week and the game starts rewarding players for bumps.”
Despite this, the site’s administrators have already had to deal with what might seem like an outbreak of a wild-west mentality. A message went up on the site on Tuesday evening saying: “Just to let you guys know, we’ve had to delete several player accounts this afternoon for collusion and dodgy trading,” adding, “stay classy Oxford.”
However not all rowers were pleased to find that they could be bought and sold on the site without their consent. Sarah Craddock, of St John’s W2, exclaimed on discovering the site: “What is this, you can’t buy and sell people – and if you could we would be worth a lot more than £80. I am not okay with having been ‘bought’.”
Others complained that coxes were being excluded from the fun. Laura Marsden Payne, cox for St John’s W2, expressed her dismay: “aw, what a shame, you can’t buy coxes!”
The site also generated excitement and market manipulation on Twitter, with Magdalen College Boat Club commenting: “you can let your readers know that Magdalen W1 is a bargain at the moment. While St John’s boat club overvalued.”
The founders, when asked for their own Eights predictions, commented only: “It would be nice to see a change at the top, and obviously we all have crews we’d like to see do well.” When questioned about their own rowing careers, they revealed that “we’ve been around the river for a while.”