Summer Eights — Holidaymakers watching the racing of the Oxford University Summmer Eights, which were finished on Saturday. University III (foreground) and Lincoln III are seen racing in the 5th Division.
Standard lower than last yearIn Eights Week last year the three crews at the top of the river at Oxford rowed over every night, in spite of the fact that Balliol, starting second, actually overlapped Magdalen on one occasion, and that Merton, who started third, threatened Balliol. In the Eights Week racing which starts to-day it is possible that much the same story will be told.
Magdalen are criticized as ponderous, as they were last year, and again this is ascribed, in some measure, to their stroke H. B. Hold. Holt is no natural born stroke, but he took Magdalen head in 1953, kept them there last year, and there seems to be no good reason why he should not do it again. J. A. Gobbo and D. P. Wells make a strong combination behind him, and the crew is well together if not inspiring.
Balliol, by contrast, are ragged. They are said to be faster than their last year's crew, but hardly look it. But they probably have the pace to close up on Magdalen, and it remains to be seen whether hard work can make up for lack of stride in finishing the job off. Merton have the advantage of an effective stroke and seven combination, in B. S. Mawer and R. D. T. Raikes, who is about the best oar at Oxford to-day. Your correspondent has not seen them rowing, but they are reputedly the fastest crew on the river. This may well be so, but it is questonable whether there is sufficient support to enable them to clinch the matter.
For the rest there is plenty of variety — Worcester, for example, have suddenly affected the "Lady Margaret" style, while St. Catherine's parody, most energetically, the R.A.F. — and plenty of hard work, but no sort of class at all. More crews than ever were practising at Henley and elsewhere before term began, and there are few crews in the first two divisions which have no redeeming features. But the general standard, particularly at the top, seems a little below last year's.
Christ Church, stroked by G. Sorrell, and with M. S. Murray-Threipland and P. F. Barnard at six and seven, are stronger than of late, and should be able to take advantage of any weakness ahead of them. Queen's perhaps Worcester, and certainly Brasenose, who are stroked by E. V. Vine, should go up.
Balliol Regain HeadshipWhat seemed to be the first really fine Eights Week day for a very long time produced some racing worthy of the occasion, including a change of headship. Balliol, who were bumped by Magdalen on the last night of racing in 1953, re-bumped them yesterday, opposite their own barge, moored at the top of the Green Bank.
They were not a little helped in this task by the steering of the Magdalen cox, who took his crew right into the bay opposite the Free Water Stone, in the Gut. This lost them half a length, and put them into imminent danger. On the Green Bank a fine Balliol spurt put the matter beyond doubt.
Error in CoxingMerton rowed over third, rather outside their distance behind Balliol. But they must have at least a fair chance of catching Magdalen to-night. New College were within a few feet of catching Trinity opposite the O.U.B.C., but their cox made the fatal error of trying to strike too soon, and the chance was lost. Brasenose made their two bumps convincingly, catching first Worcester and then, as sandwich boat, bumping Jesus on the Green Bank. They should be set for a successful week.
At the top of the second division there was a desperate race between Pembroke, who were within a quarter of a length of St. Peter's Hall coming out of the Gut, and St. Catherine's, who came even closer to Pembroke at the O.U.B.C. However, no bump was scored.
For the first time Magdalen's glass boat was used in a race and their fourth crew found it good enough to make their bump on Merton III.
Balliol easily hold place at headWith Magdalen, whom they had already bumped, behind them, Balliol easily held their place at the Head of the River on the second day of the Summmer Eights at Oxford. Striking 36 along the Green Bank, they were three lengths up on Magdalen and finished four lengths up, while Magdalen scraped home by only three feet from Merton.
Brasenose further improved their position in Division I when they caught Oriel going into the Gut, and are certainly one of the fastest crews on the river.
Merton now lying secondBalliol seem certain to remain head of the river in the Oxford Summer Eights. They rowed up comfortably in front of Magdalen who were hard pressed by Merton. At the university boathouse Merton were only a canvas down and they made their bump halfway up to the finish.
Balliol hold their headshipConditions for the last day of Eights Week at Oxford were about as bad as the conditions on the first day were good. Not least of the trials to be faced was a river in full winter spate, and not the smallest of excitements that of watching the hazardous crossings of the ferry punts. At least two actually capsized, and that, as a Cambridge visitor remarked "must constitute as severe a test of feminine enthusiasm as anything'".
In spite of the overcast day there was a large crowd, and the racing was most exciting. Merton made a gallant attempt to rush Balliol off the start, and were within half a length of them in the Gut. But by the top of the Green Bank Balliol were well away, and so held the headship which they regained from Magdalen on Wednesday.
Magdalen rowed over third, reasonably safe from New College, who were unexpectedly hard pressed by Trinity, whom they had bumped on Thursday. At the O.U.B.C. it looked very much as though Trinity would make this bump. Queen's made their fourth bump, at the expense of Christ Church, to finish sixth, which was a highly creditable conclusion to four years of successful racing, for in 1952 Queen's started 22nd. They have now had only five blanks in 20 nights' racing. Christ Church were disappointing after showing promising form in practice, but to some extent this must have been due to the fact that M. S. Murray-Threipland, rowing six, was suffering from a strained back. In fact his place on Saturday had to be taken by a substitute.
Four crews make four bumpsBrasenose caught Lincoln, and so made their four bumps, two of which were registered on the first night, when they passed from the second to the first division. Had they not been robbed by University, who caught Lincoln on Friday, it is probable that they would have made a fifth bump.
The standard of the crews this year was not high, and was probably somewhat lower than that of last year. Nevertheless there were plenty of useful individual oarsmen and a lot of crews had obviously taken trouble. The main difficulty seems to lie in the numerical weakness of the college boat clubs, which makes it hard to produce and eight of real quality. Balliol thoroughly deserved to finish head, for, if not a stylish cew, they brought to their work an attack and determination which were not to be found generally. Balliol have no regular intake of school oarsmen, and owe their success to making the most of their novices and to infinite hard work.
|B:||R. Gillott (R.A.E. Tech.Coll., Farnborough)|
|2:||D. J. M. Clements (Blundell's)|
|3:||P. L. T. Kelly (Poole G.S.)|
|4:||A. C. Copeman (Queensland Univ, Australia)|
|5:||L. A. Mills (Kingston G.S.)|
|6:||D. A. Cross (Winchester)|
|7:||R. M. Glover (Clayesmore)|
|S:||P. E. West (Manchester G.S.)|
|C:||P. U. Kringlebotten (University of Oslo)|
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