Oriel not expected to remain headAlthough they have four of last year's successful crew Oriel are not expected to remain head of the summer eights at Oxford, which start today, writes Richard Burnell. They may not succumb as easily as some of their critics suggest, but it will be a remarkable achievement if they survive.
The situation at the top of the first division promises some interesting racing. Possibly, but not necessarily probably Christ Church can catch Oriel. Probably St. Edmund Hall can catch Christ Church. Possibly Keble are faster than St. Edmund Hall, but it is improbable that they can make up a length and a quarter to bump them.
Element of luckThis means that there can be an element of luck, and certainly of tactics, in the next four days before a final order is reached. Merton, starting fifth, are also useful. But they can hardly hope to improve their position unless everything goes wrong for Oriel.
There is little promise lower down the first division, and St. Edmund Hall II may well secure their position at the tail-end. Worcester, Corpus Christi, and Wadham all have some merit in the second division. But with a strong stream running (if the present blustery wind continues) almost anything can happen.
Keble close gapFrom Richard Burnell, Rowing Correspondent
St. Edmund Hall took the first step towards regaining their place at the head of the river at Oxford yesterday bumping Christ Church well below the O.U.B.C. Barring some unforeseeable disaster, they must surely take a second step tonight. But it still remains to be seen whether, having reached the top, they will be able to stay there.
Last night, in conditions which would have shamed Torpids, Keble came up the barges most impressively, at 39 having closed the two-crew gap between themselves and Oriel to about two lengths of clear water.
Blood lustOriel were not pressed, of course, but at 37 they were not dawdling. Keble could reach St. Edmund Hall on Saturday night, which promises an exciting climax to the week.
The only excitement in the first division was St. Edmund Hall II's escape from Exeter, byt little more than the varnish on their rudder. The credit was entirely due to P. S. B. Brennan, the St. Edmund Hall cox.
Oriel fail at boat houseFrom Richard Burnell, Rowing Correspondent.
St. Edmund Hall bumped Oriel at the University Boat House yesterday, and so dispelled the rumour that they might hold off their challenge for the headship in the Oxford summer eights until tonight, in order to deprive Keble of an opportunity of displacing them on Saturday.
This would have been a perfectly legitimate tactic, though I cannot recall it ever being tried at the Head of the River. But it would have involved the risk that they might have failed to catch Oriel in time today. Last night's result suggests that this was a real risk, for Oriel fought doggedly, and were almost within sight of home when they succumbed.
Keble caught Christ Church at the bottom of the green bank, not far from the point at which St. Edmund Hall hit them on Wednesday. Perhaps there is some evidence here that, with the advantage of a virtual lay day today, and rowing in undisturbed water at the head of the procession, St. Edmund Hall ought to be able to hold their own.
St. Edmund Hall II, who so narrowly escaped Exeter on Wednesday were quite safe yesterday, finishing outside their distance. In the second division a pile up was narrowly averted after Brasenose bumped Magdalen at Tim's boat house.
Three other bumps followed in close order, and Wadham and Christ Church II finally emerged, the former on Berkshire [towpath] and the latter on the Oxfordshire station, apparently rowing side by side. Christ Church then laid waht their cox doubtless calculated to be a collision course, for a point halfway up the green bank.
Had he consulted Giles Chichester, who rowed in the Christ Church first boat, he might perhaps have been in less of a hurry to "turn the corner" and might perchance have made his land, or rather boat-fall. As it was he slid behind Wadham's stern like an abortive torpedo, and got not second chance.
In division eight, Oriel V, Balliol IV and University VI will re-row today.
Struggle for head of riverThe stage is set for a great struggle today between St. Edmund Hall and Keble for the head of the river in the Oxford Summer Eights.
But, before then, between Donnington Bridge and the Gut, St. Edmund Hall, at 41, had been hard pushed to keep away from Oriel and the distance between the boats at that point was less than a canvas. But the effort was too much for Oriel, who faded away to fall to Keble.
Keble catch St. Edmund HallAfter closing steadily from the start, Keble got within a quarter of a length of St. Edmund Hall in the Gut in the Oxford summer eights on Saturday. And, although the Hall went desperately to 40 up the Green Bank, Keble caught them at the Oxford University Boat Club. This may seem a rather inadequate description, but with no access to the Green Bank, no trees lopped, and no bicycling permitted, or indeed possible, the Oxford eights can scarcely be seen these days.
Both Keble and St. Edmund Hall were strong with Blues and Isis men, though the present university crew were not rowing. Neither crew were outstanding, but well up to standard. There were no other crews with any pretension to class, but several, if not pleasing to the eye, were fit and effective.
In many ways the high spot of the week was Oriel's gallant bid to regain the headship on Friday. Knowing that they must otherwise be caught by Keble, Oriel's gambled on a blitzkrieg start, and got within feet of catching St. Edmund Hall. Whatever the disadvantages of bumping races, this possibility of David unseating Goliath is always an attraction.
Having failed on Friday, Oriel fell again to Merton, at the O.U.B.C., on Saturday. Brasenose provided one of the surprises of the first division for, frankly, they did not look capable of catching anybody, but in fact made four creditable places. Lastly, but sadly, it must be recorded that Magdalen, so long the bulwark of Oxford rowing, descended another four places, to finish 17th.
|B:||A. A. David (Bryanston)||12st 12lb|
|2:||P. H. P. Shaw (Winchester)||12st 1lb|
|3:||S. K. Porter (Bryanston)||13st 3lb|
|4:||A. M. Hewlett (St. Paul's)||13st|
|5:||J. M. Duncan (Shrewsbury)||14st 3lb|
|6:||F. C. Carr (Eton)||14st 8lb|
|7:||D. G. C. Thomson (Westminster)||13st 13lb|
|S:||P. Wingfield (Radley)||12st 6lb|
|C:||H. P. Vollmer (St. Edward's)||9st 7lb|
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