Exeter III leading Queen's III past the College barges during the racing in Division VI at Oxford, where Eights Week began yesterday. This year the "Week" has been reduced to four days.
An Oxford Rowing Innovation
Only Four Days in Eights WeekThis year, for the first time in the history of Oxford rowing, there will be only four days' racing in Eights week, which has remained constant at six days since 1877, when it was reduced from eight. Naturally there is some opposition among the colleges to the change, but the truth is that it is a reform which had long been overdue.
There was always something of an anticlimax after the weekend, and Wednesday was not a good night on which to finish the racing; but the real heart of the matter is that the new arrangement makes it possible to start Eights week six days later, so that there is an additional week in which to practise. It may well be that H. M. C. Quick has done a greater service to Oxford rowing in the long run, by shortening and changing the date of Eights week, than he did by leading the University crew to victory in the Boat Race.
More Crews Than EverThere has alredy been a great show of enthusiasm among the colleges, and a larger number of crews than ever before were practising before term began. At one time there were more than a dozen eights at Henley, and others elsewhere, on the Tideway and at Wallingford. All that can be said as yet is that the general standard of crews in the first two divisions looks like being above average, and that is something to be thankful for, even if there are still no outstanding crews at the top of the river.
Magdalen, who went head on the last night last year, have a powerful crew, with J. A. Gobbo, the new president, at seven. They may develop pace, but at present they are very stiff and ponderous, and they will probably be hard put to remain head. Recent Balliol crews have had a way of being faster than their form suggested, but they are still an unknown quantity. Merton, however, stroked by B. S. Mawer, who was tried for the University, and with Quick at seven, and R. D. T. Raikes at six, really do have the makings of a good crew, and they will certainly be out to regain the headship which they lost in 1952. Of the other crews Christ Church, Oriel, Pembroke, and Queen's all look better than for some years. Trinity have migrated to Godstow, but are reported to be quite fast, which they may well be, with J. J. H. Harrison at stroke. One imagines, too, that E. V. Vine should be able to do something to bring B.N.C. back from the middle of the second division, whither they descended last summer. E. O. G. Pain, if he rows, may have a harder task with Lincoln, since they are already in the first division.
Sir, — There may have been, as your Rowing Correspondent asserts, something of an anti-climax after the Sunday of the traditional Eights week, but this anti-climax was felt not by the humble oarsman of the lower divisions, nor by the mere enthusiastic spectator, but by the tycoons of the Oxford University Boat Club; this disparity of view makes them all the less justified in reducing it to four days. The suffrage of spectators has elevated Eights week into a social occasion; if it ceased to be so, Oxford as a whole would be the losed.
Wednesday may not have been a good night to finish the racing, but it avoided the conflict soo the be felt by the social undergraduate between the calls of the customary celebration of the last night, and of the visitors with whom he has dutifully burdened himself. Already the barges (which add so much to the unsophisticated joys of the occasion) are being scrapped in the interests of rowing; what happens when these interests are too vigorously pursued can be observed in the dullness of the May races.
Exeter College, Oxford
Sir, — It is interesting that Mr. Brindley's letter of May 19 on tampering with Eights week should follow Sr Alan Herbert's on tampering with the air, for it was while member for Oxford University that Sir Alan suggested a Society for Leaving Something Alone. To my sorrow, members of Merton College are placing a prominent part in all this. A little over 50 years ago I subscribed a crippling £5 towards the new Merton barge, only to find about 40 years later that my college was building a boathouse downstream and had let the barge, still in its old position, as a residence. Fortunately it sank shortly afterwards.
Owen B. Howell
Royal Aero Club, 199, Piccadilly, W.1.
Start of Eights Week
Merton's ChanceThere is no doubt that the general standard of the crews at Oxford, where Eights Week will be begun to-day, is the highest for several years, if not since the war. That is not to say that there is any really outstanding crew, but rather than there are more quite good ones, and certainly less really bad ones in the first two divisions. It certainly looks as though there has been far more constructive coaching. Whether this is due to the stimulus of winning the Boat Race, or to the later date of Eights Week, it is hard to say.
To-night's racing in the first division should be most exciting, and it may well decide the headship. Magdalen, starting at head, and with J. A. Gobbo, the new president, at seven, are a powerful crew, but they seem ponderous and stiff. They should be quite fast for a distance, but whether it will be the full distance remains to be seen. Balliol, behind them, are reputed to be fast, but they seem to have done most of their training on foreign waters, or in the late evening, and have thus evaded the critics' eye. One suspects that they must catch Magdalen to-night or not at all.
Merton have perhaps the strongest material of all, with H. M. C. Quick at seven, and R. D. T. Raikes at six. Undoubtedly they have pace, but they do not look to have much stride. On paper they ought to be capable of catching Balliol, and if they do that their chances of gong ahead [sic] must be good. But if they cannot catch Balliol in second place, their chance of later displacing either Balliol or Magdalen from the headship must be slim.
Trinity, stroked by J. J. H. Harrison, are one of the most pleasing crews to watch, because they have real rhythm. They ought to catch University and New College, though the latter are by no means slow, but whether they can get up among the leaders will depend on to-night's racing. Lincoln, with E. O. G. Pain at seven, are not slow, though they have some inexperienced men in the crew, and they may well make Oriel and St. Edmund Hall uncomfortable.
There is also an interesting query about the movements of Pembroke and Queen's, at the top of the second division. Both of them should be capable of establishing themselves in the first division, but it is a question whether Queen's will miss a night, and follow Pembroke up, or catch them to-day, and perhaps make an extra bump as sandwich boat.
Eights Week Opens at Oxford
No changes at the topThe first of the four days' racing in the Oxford University Summer Eights had good weather and the racing was watched by a big crowd.
There were 25 bumps, including two overbumps. Magdalen were never in danger of losing the position at head to Balliol.
Magdalen still at the HeadIn the second day's racing of the Oxford University Summer Eights yesterday there were again 25 bumps. For the first Division race the crews had quite a strong following wind and the probability is that times were better than on the opening night.
Magdalen were again more than their distance ahead of Balliol, who, in turn, were never in danger from Merton.
A Question AnsweredAfter two days of relative kindness the weather at Oxford yesterday could hardly have been worse, and a steady downpour deterred all but the most enthusiastic spectators from watching the most interesting racing in Summer Eights so far seen.
The top four crews rowed over, and so answered the question as to what effect Trinity would have after joining the leaders. Though they did not get very close, they probably helped to drive Merton up on Balliol, and Balliol, at the finish, up on Magdalen. But there was never any real prospect of a bump.
Magdalen have now rowed over at the Head of the River for three nights. Certainly they are a little heavy-handed, but they have far more length than Balliol, and, barring accidents, there should be no doubt about their holding the headship to-night. In actual fact there has been little to choose between Magdalen, Balliol, Merton, and Trinity.
Magdalen stay Head
Four Days' Racing JustifiedIn spite of another wet day there was a large crowd at Oxford on Saturday to watch the last night of Eights Week. They were rewarded with some good racing, and perhaps the highest and most consistent standard of rowing since the war. It is true that there was still no crew of Grand class, but the first four boats were probably all as good as the head boat last year. The top seven crews rowed over without a bump on Saturday, which was a good answer to those who maintained that four nights would be insufficient to allow the crews to find their proper level.
Magdalen at last found their top form, and rowed over outside their distance from Balliol for most of the way. They were a powerful crew, with a long swing and well covered blades, but rather lacked poise and rhythm. Though their showing on the previous nights was a little disappointing, in that they tended to fade away up the barges, they really pulled themselves together on the final night and fully deserved to finish head. Balliol were done less than justice by the reports that they never threatened Magdalen. In fact they were withing6ft. on the first night, and actually overlapped on Friday, though with a considerable lateral distance between the boats. They commanded a formidable finishing spurt, but left it so late that it was probably true to say that Magdalen were never in imminent danger of being caught. But threatened they certainly were.
Great ExpectationsMerton were a little disappointing, in that a lot had been expected of them. Several times they were within their distance of Balliol, but only on the last night, opposite the O.U.B.C. , did they really look threatening, which was the more remarkable since H. M. C. Quick was unwell and there had been talk of rowing a substitute. Potentially Merton were probably slightly the fastest of the three leading crews. Trinity looked promising, and made two bumps; but they were unable to make any impression on Merton.
Lincoln did well to make a net gain of two places, after catching a crab and being bumped on the first night. In 1947 they were in the Third Division, finishing twenty-seventh, and this year they finished eighth. Queen's, a rought but hard-working crew, ended up in the First Division for the first time since the war, having made four bumps, including one as sandwich boat. They might possibly have made a fifth if they had not been robbed on the second night, when Lincoln were rebumping Jesus. St. Catherine's and Hertford both showed a welcome revival, with three bumps each, while Magdalen II finished substantially the highest of the second boats. Balliol III, helped by an overbump as sandwich boat on Wednesday, made no fewer than seven places in all, which was no mean feat in fours days' racing.
|B:||G. Sargood (Melbourne University)||10st 10lb|
|2:||J. M. Croome (Bryanston)||12st|
|3:||W. B. Patterson (University of S, Sewanee)||12st 8lb|
|4:||Q. S. Earl (Eton)||14st 1lb|
|5:||R. M. Van Ost (Radley)||13st|
|6:||D. P. Wells (Stowe)||13st 4lv|
|7:||J. A. Gobbo (Melbourne University)||12st 7lb|
|S:||H. B. Holt (Merchant Taylors, Crosby)||12st 3lb|
|C:||J. D. Feltham (Melbourne University)||9st|
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