First day of the Summer Eights: Exeter III cach Merton III, while ahead of them Oriel III row over at the head of Division 6.
Finishing off Eights Week, Christ Church row over at the head of the river.
Dawn of a new Oxford rowing eraFor a second year in succession it seems reasonable to forecast an improved standard in summer eights, which begin at Oxford to-day. One may go further, and say that there is a sense of urgency and expectation on the Isis which at least hints on the dawn of a new era in Oxford rowing.
There must be no misunderstanding about this. There are still no crews which could be called good by absolute standards and only two Christ Church and St. Edmund Hall, which, if they are able to get to Henley unchanged, may be regarded as fair Ladies' Plate prospects. But up and down the river there is evidence that coaches have been working intelligently, and that even those college boat clubs which are numerically too weak to have any chance, at present, of producing good crews, have begun to realise that rowing is not just a matter of logging up the miles and doing what comes naturally.
It used to be said — and there are still some who say it — that orthodox rowing is too difficult to be attained by any but the most expert. That doctrine was the beginning of the downfall of the British rowing. This is not a question of styles but of principles; for once it is accepted that there is merit in aiming at the second best, the best soon becomes unattainable. What is wanted at Oxford now is a success at the top, to encourage and confirm the rightness of this new trend.
It is always difficult to forecast the results at Oxford, because the course is so short that even a marked superiority may not guarantee a bump. Queen's look stiff and awkward, but on this course they will not cede their hard earned headship easily. Nevertheless, Christ Church ought to catch them. Equally, St. Edmund Hall should finish second, but they could easily be robbed, for Merton, Magdalen and Balliol are all rather unknown quantities.
In the rest of the first division and in the second division, too, racing is likely to be open. Crews like Lincoln and Hertford could make bumps, but they will find it harder than in recent years. Worcester should certainly come up to the first division, while, if one had to pick a first eight to make four bumps, Keble would be the most obvious choice.
Summer Eights Excitement — Christ Church close up on Queen'sThere was a light following cross wind blowing when the Summer Eights were begun at Oxford yesterday, making conditions fast and not unduly testing. Apart from a few spots, the rain held off, but the racing deserved to be watched by more spectators.
Chief interest in the first division centred on seeing how Christ Church and St. Edmund Hall would set about their appointed task of finishing first and second on the river. In fact, they both made their bumps, but Merton closed up very considerably on Queen's before succumbing to Christ Church. Had they caught Queen's, and thus deprived Christ Church of their bump, an interesting situation would have resulted, for St. Edmund Hall would then lmost certainly have had a chance of catching Christ Church, which they cannot now do.
Behind these two the rest of the first division ploughed over energetically, but without avail. But in the second division Worcester made no mistake about their first bump over Oriel, which left them as sandwich boat. Then they quickly diplaced Brasenose, to establish themselves in the first division. Pembroke had a much harder struggle before catching University, not far short of the Pembroke barge. Having now overcome this hurdle, they must stand a good chance of following Worcester upwards. Keble, as expected, made their first bump without difficulty.
The third division was remarkably lacking in bumps — generally a good sign, for all too often half the crews down here are so bad that they must get bumped every night come what may.
Christ Church go Head of the River — an honour regained after 30 yearsIt is just 30 years since Christ Church lost the headship of the river at Oxford and two members of the last Christ Church crew which rowed head, in 1927, W. Rathbone and H. R. A. Edwards, were at Oxford yesterday to see their respective sons regain the place of honour.
As usually happens on these occasions, the head crew, Queen's, took a good deal longer to capitulate than the previous night's racing had suggested. They had little more than a quarter of a length of clear water when they came out of the Gut, but they managed to spin this out all along the Green Bank before Christ Church caught them at the mouth of the Cherwell, appropriately opposite their own boathouse.
St. Edmund Hall caught Magdalen below the Gut, and Worcester safely made their third bump at the expense of Hertford. Pembroke and St. John's both continued their upward way, though once again Pembroke had a stern chase before catching Oriel above the O.U.B.C..
St. Edmund Hall Disappointed — Merton hold summer eights placeThe sun shone at Oxford on the third day of Eights Week, and brought with it forgotten frocks, white trousers and boaters that are associated with the occasion. But if bumping races are for bumping it was a disappointing evening. True, there were plenty of bumps in the lower divisions, but it is among the Kings and Princes of the first division that one looks for the real joy of those whose starting place on the morrow will be one place nearer the Head, and the ache of those who could not resist the insistent challenge of the crew behind.
Smiles and tearsAnd here then was only the inevitable advance of Lincoln at the expense of New College and Worcester at that of Trinity to bring smiles and tears. For all that, St. Edmund Hall will be disappointed that they could not catch Merton, and Queen's satisfied that they showed themselves worthy of second place on the river and confident of holding their place for next year.
Among the top crews the parallel lines of the chart fairly represent the manner of the racing, for even the House [Christ Church] did not exert themselves to draw away from Queen's. Indeed, at the end of the day one was left to wonder not what would happen on the last night but whether the House could win the Ladies' at Henley in five weeks' time.
Christ Church the fastest crew — Five bumps only in two top divisionsThe balance of power in bumping races moves gradually, and is sometimes scarcely noticeable. Although the order of finishing in Eights Week changes from year to year, one tends to think of the same group of colleges as remaining at the top. Once in a while it may be salutary to look back at the records of 20 years ago.
To an expatriate Oxford graduate of 1939, this year's order of finishing would surely provide two surprises. Of the three colleges which were head of the river in the years preceding the war two, Trinity and New College, now find themselves struggling for survival in the first division, and a third, Oriel, have already slipped back into the second division. And three crews which were at the bottom of the second division 20 years ago, Merton, Jesus, and Lincoln, have now finished respectively third, seventh, and eighth on the river.
The same expatriate, no doubt distressed to find that in the interim he has himself acquired the status of a rowing heavy, might also discern another change, perhaps more baffling. It is the fact that, with an overall increase in the number of men rowing, there has been a levelling of the standard throughout the first two divisions, with indications that the same process is spreading down to the third division. It is suggested that it is due to the fact that there is no longer a concentration of public school oarsmen in a few fortunate colleges. Whether or not this change is for the general well being of rowing is debatable but it is certain that the increase in quantity has not brought a corresponding improvement in quality at the top.
Large crowdSaturday's racing, watched by a large crowd in not unkind weather, was in some respects an anti-climax to a week which had promised many thrills, for there were only five bumps in the two top divisions — proof in itself of the levelling standard. Christ Church confirmed themselves as indisputably the fastest crew on the Isis, though it was difficult to see them as so much superior to their last year's crew as their supporters would have them. But then, of course, one remembers Christ Church as they finished in the Ladies' Plate last year rather than in Eights.
Queen's must be well satisfied to have finished second, and Merton rightly proud to have gone near to regaining their starting position. They pressed Queen's hard but never threatened an imminent bump. St. Edmund Hall were disappointing, for technically they looked the most polished crew on the Isis, yet could get nowhere near Merton.
Worcester, making their fifth bump to finish ninth, were one of the fastest crews on the river, a tribute to the greatly improved rowing of the new president, R. L. Howard.
Plan to Save Oxford BargesFrom our Correspondent, Oxford, June 1
A plan has been put forward in Oxford this weekend which may save the remaining college barges on the Isis from extinction, thus preserving one of the city's most attractive and familiar views. Mr. C. V. Davidge, Bursar of Keble College and Senior Treasurer of the University Boat Club, has suggested that the remaining barges could be kept afloat by sheathing them below the waterline with fibre glass.
A "save the barges" appeal has been proposed in the Eights Week issue of the Oxford Magazine which estimated that about £1000 would have to be spent on each barge to keep it afloat for another 100 years.
|B:||M. Aitken-Sneath (Bryanston)||12st 12lb|
|2:||L. L. Farrar (Princeton)||12st 13lb|
|3:||W. Rathbone (Radley)||13st 3lb|
|4:||S. G. Sandford (Shrewsbury)||12st 1lb|
|5:||F. D. M. Badcock (Harrow)||13st 4lb|
|6:||D. C. R. Edwards (Downside)||13st 2lb|
|7:||D. O. Lloyd-Jacob (Westminster)||12st 13lb|
|S:||J. R. H. Lander (Shrewsbury)||12st|
|C:||P. H. D. Wetton (Westminster)||9st 12lb|
Return to Bumps Index