The first division of Summer Eights does not start till 6.15 to-day to allow old rowing men to catch a convenient train from London.
Oriel, who start Head for the second year in succession, are a mediocre crew. They row in a genuinely Metropolitan style, as do Exeter and Jesus, and, alone with those two crews, they have attained that smooth run of the boat which has long distinguished such crews as Jesus, Pembroke, and Selwyn at Cambridge. Oriel had a disappointing experience in Torpids and their Torpid crew has only been reinforced by two old eights men. Nevertheless they are really well together, which is more than any of the orthodox crews behind them them are. With this advantage and the advantage of clear water which any crew starting Head possesses, they may retain their position. If they do it will mean that the standard of Oxford rowing low. New College, who start second, have three Blues rowing. Hope, the new President, is at No. 5; Hogg, who rowed at No. 5 in last year's winning Grand Challenge Cup crew, is at No. 7, and Mynors at No. 4. This crew are quick on to the beginning and combine their bodies and legs well in the first part of the stroke, but they are rather weak at the finish and they are not nearly so well together as Oriel. Hogg is rowing well at Seven.
The Promise of Magdalen
Balliol, the third crew are inexperienced save for Ryan at No. 7. They have been coaced by Mr. R. C. Sheriff. They are well together and quite quick on to the beginning. Nor are they ponderous, as so many Balliol crews have been in the past, but they are very short and it does not look as if they can keep their place so high in the First Division. Magdalen, Christ Church, and University are all substantially faster. Probably the best crew is Magdalen. They have been coached by Mr. E. D. Horsfall and Mr. G. O. Nickalls, who have brought to them some understanding of the methods by which the Magdalen crews of their own day won the Grand Challenge Cup. Here is no showy, but useless, lift of the body, which is so often regarded as orthodox rowing, but a genuine kick off the stretcher extended to the end of the slide by the proper use of the body. The crew are for the most part very young and inexperienced. They do not keep time well and they are clumsy, but it is the nearest approach in Oxford to good rowing, and they have good rhythm and a fair turn of pace. The University selectors will have to look at this crew.
Sturrock, at over 14 st., is stroking, and stroking extraordinarily well. His No, 7 is very small, but he keeps time with him and gives the rest plenty of length. Merrell, an Etonian Freshman at No. 5. rows a deep, yet effective blade, and Baillieu, the Freshman, son of and old Blue, at No. 4, is a hard worker, who should develop if he can remember his legs and forget his back. On the whole this crew is the most likely to go Head, though they are not much faster than New College or Oriel. They have certainly developed astonishingly since the Head of the River race in April.
Worcester, who start fourth, have a smooth, easy style, though No. 6 rather breaks the appearance of the boat with his hunched shoulders and crooked swing, but they are slow into the water and are not strong enough or long enough. The same applies to Brasenose, who are now sixth, though they are longer than Worcester. It is disappointing to be unable to pick out promising young oarsmen outside the 16 who rowed in Trial Eights. Christ Church start seventh, so that they could go Head if they made a bump every night. It seems probable that they will by next Wednesday have improved their position at the expense of Brasenose, Worcester, and Balliol. They are generally regarded as the best crew, but they are a little disappointing when rowing. They have been coached by K. Payne, the ex-Cambridge President, who, together with J. A. MacNabb and J. Prideaux, is now trying to revive Oxford College rowing.
A Good Example
When paddling Christ Church look like a really good Third Trinity crew, though they are a good deal more powerful than any Third Trinity crews of recent years. Couchman, who is rowing very well, is stroking them and is setting them a good example. An unobtrusive oarsman, his merits have never been fully recognized. Bankes is at 6, and he, too, is rowing very well. In a college crew which rows at a slow rate he is to be seen at his very best. There is no question of his hurrying forward, so he can use his great strength to the best advantage. Of the two Trial Eightsmen, Barker and Eugster, the latter at 5, who is even heavier than Bankes, is an extremely attractive oarsman to watch. Impressive as they are when paddling this crew are not really together in their work and they are undeniably ponderous. Their pace is consequently disappointing. They may be by a narrow margin the fastest crew on the river, but I do not think that they are. Were their rowing as good as their paddling they would be the best college crew seen at Oxford since the Christ Church crew of 1925.
Actually it is by no means improbable that University College, who start behind them, will gain on them till the Gut. With Tomlin at stroke and Ogilvie and Sciortino behind him, their stern four is as good as that of any crew on the river. They are easily the hardest working crew and can row 38 all over the course. It is not a rhythmical 38, but a high stroke in itself has a virtue in bumping races. The bow four are weak; indeed it is less than a fortnight since they put in two men from their second crew, but the stern four are admirably together and this crew seem certain to improve their position.
Behind University College are Trinity, with Sutcliffe at 6, Mosley the ex-President, at bow, and Duntze, the Trial Eights man, at 4. Sutcliffe is rowing as perfectly as ever, but the crew are very badly together, and he cannot carry them on his shoulders. Of the other crews in the First Division, St. Edmund Hall and St. John's both row in a body-catching style and are likely to fall victims to Exeter, who do let their boat run well.
In the Second Division the Corpus crew are not so good as that which made six bumps last year, but Winser is, if anything, stroking them better than ever. He has got great drive and far more rhythm and length than ever he showed in the University crew, and he leads his crew as a stroke with personality should lead his college crew. Of the others, Queen's, immediately behind Corpus, row hard, but the standard is definitely disappointing.
The Oxford Summer Eights were begun yesterday ... The weather was gloriously fine, but there was a very strong east wind which swept across Iffley Fields and seriously interfered with the steering...
[Div V] There was a mix-up at the start, for although the leading boat Exeter [III], got away the wind caught Brasenose III. who collided with a starting punt and so fell victims to Oriel III..
[Div IV] New College III. had bad luck as the wind drove them into the bank immediately after the start and Lincoln II. rowed past them.
[Div III] There was another mishap lower down as Christ Church II. fouled the bank just after the start and were bumped by Keble II.. Exeter II. who followed, were unable to get clear and Queen's II. rowed past them, thus securing a bump. Disaster also overtook St. John's II., who were driven into the bank near Haystack Corner and thus fell easy victims to Brasenose II.
[Div II] St. Peter's Hall lost a place to New College [II] as they collided with a Trinity eight going down to the post and severely damaged their boat.
[Div I] New College gained on Oriel over the first half of the course and about a length separated them at the Boathouse. From this point, however, despite strenuous efforts by New College along the Wall, they failed to make any further impression and Oriel, rowing well within themselves, finished with a length in hand.
As a result of the claims and objections made on Thursday, St. Peter's Hall, who were run into by Trinity on their way to the starting post, rowed against New College II. in the morning to decide who should start behind Merton in the Second Division. New College II. were right up on their opponents at the New Boathouse, but they took a rather a wide course along the Wall, which enabled St. Peter's Hall to pass the post with a few feet in hand.
[Div V] New College IV. experienced bad luck, as something went wrong with the steering, and, going right across the river at the start, they were bumped by St. Edmund Hall III. at Haystack Corner.
[Div III] Queen's II., who had rowed past Exeter II. the previous afternoon but whose claim of a bump was disallowed, made amends for their bad luck on that occasion as they went up at the start and caught Exeter II. before reaching the Weirs Bridge.
[Div II] ... New College II., improving on their previous performance, caught St. Peter's Hall as the boats were leaving the Gut.
[Div III] Coming through the Gut Exeter II. were right on to Queen's II. and, being under the impression that they had made a bump, drew into the bank. Brasenose II. went on in hot pursuit of Queen's II., who had continued rowing, and eventually overtook them at the University Boat House. Afterwards it was decided that Queen's II. should keep their place and Brasenose II. were awarded a bump over Exeter II..
[Div IV] Balliol III. soon had the measure of St. Catherine's II. and bumped them at Haystack Corner. The cox failed to acknowledge the bump, however, and Balliol III. drove them into the bank and smashed their bows.
[Div I] New College began coming up on Oriel at the end of Iffley Reach and generally had the pace of them, although Oriel spurted again and again to keep clear. Passing the Cherwell, New College made a final effort, but Oriel held them and, drawing away in the last 100 yards, had a quarter of a length to spare at the finish.
In the Fifth Division Magdalen IV. bumped Merton III. at Haystack Corner, and New College IV. rowed past in an effort to overtake Trinity III., which they did near the Cherwell, and so the latter crew changed places with them. Overbumps in the Summer races are very rare, the last one occurring in 1909.
The racing in the Summer Eights was concluded at Oxford yesterday, when Oriel retained the Headship of the River. Yesterday evening Oriel were never in danger of losing their position and it was apparent that the leading crews had started in their proper order, as the first four rowed over on each of the six days.
Corpus, a very fast crew, made another bump yesterday, which was their seventh during the week... Worcester, on the other hand, had a disastrous time, the first boat losing four places, the second six places, and the third five places. St. Catherine's II. also lost a place each night.
[Div V] ... Trinity III., who caused much amusement by rowing in caps and gowns, ran into Merton III. at the Hedge, the latter catching a crab at the start.
[Div IV] St. Peter's II. experienced bad luck on their way to the Post, as No. 5 broke his rigger. A temporary repair was effected with a piece of string, but it promptly gave way under the strain and Magdalen III. bumped them immediately after the start.
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