Keble should hold off threatBy Douglas Calder
Amid the proper clamour of guns and bells Keble today begin their struggle to preserve their place at the head of the river in the Oxford Summer Eights. Last year Keble bumped St. Edmund Hall out of first place on the final day of racing in one of the most exciting races for many years. This year it is the turn of the vanquished to challenge the victors and it is anyone's guess who will be supreme when racing finishes on Saturday.
If names are anything to go by then Keble should have the edge. David Thomson, who rowed in last year's race and who has since won a Blue, is rowing at seven this week. Behind him is Simon Willder, who rowed in the London University crew which won the Grand at Henley in 1963 and who is now doing research at Oxford.
St. Edmund Hall have no such stars, but they have been coached by John Bockstoce and will no doubt display the will to win which has been their hallmark in recent years.
One thing is certain. There is no other crew which will be able to challenge either St. Edmund Hall or Keble. Unlike Torpids, the Summer Eights are still a straightforward bumping race. In four days of racing only one of the first five crews can expect to bump their way to the head of the river.
Although Merton and Christ Church, who start third and fifth respectively, are well drilled they are still not in the same class as St. Edmund Hall and Keble.
In fact only New College could offer a serious challenge. With Dan Topolski, a blue, at seven and Jim Preston from Yale at six, they are reported to have given both Keble and St. Edmund Hall some nasty scares in practice. But they start eighth and the most they can reasonably hope for is to finish fourth.
Balliol, who have been coached by Jonathan Hawksley, are respectable, as expected after their performance in Torpids, and they should give New College a good run for their money today.
Of the rest, both Trinity and Jesus have markedly improved. They are both well down in the second division and should rise rapidly. Unfortunately for one of them they are in adjacent positions today, so one of them must be robbed of their full quota of four bumps, unless they can score some overbumps.
Keble under pressure all the wayBy Douglas Calder
Keble kept their place at the head of the river on the first day of the Oxford Summer Eights yesterday. Although they were never in any real danger of being caught by St. Edmund Hall they were nevertheless under pressure all the way.
Peter Wingfield took Keble off at 43 but they were soon down to 38. As the crews entered the Gut St. Edmund Hall, striking 37, were only one length away. At this stage Merton were excelling themselves, being only half a length away from St. Edmund Hall. At Tim's Boathouse a hopeful gun fired for Merton but to no avail. Oriel, too, have closed on Merton,
Passing the O.U.B.C. St. Edmund Hall. had closed to half a length on Keble, but neither they nor anyone else looked capable of the devastating spurt required to succeed. New College illustrated this point nicely. They closed to within a canvas on Balliol at Tim's Boathouse and there they remained all the way home.
Further down in the first division chaos prevailed. Very early on Brasenose decided they had already bumped Lincoln and stopped. No-one saw the bump and none was in fact allowed. University, behind, clashed with Brasenose and then swept by claiming the bump. After prolonged discussion a re-row was ordered for Lincoln, Brasenose and University.
In this re-row Brasenose caught Lincoln, before the Gut, so scoring the only bump of the day in the first division.
Keble just keep in frontBy Douglas Calder
Keble just survived at the head of the Oxford Summer Eights yesterday by the narrowest of margins — about four feet. Since they are reputed to be short of training together they must now be having serious doubts as to whether they can remain head when racing finishes tomorrow.
Keble started at 44 then dropped to 36, and maintained that rate of striking the whole way over. At Tim's Boathouse St. Edmund Hall, also striking 36, were a good length away. But up the Green Bank St. Edmund Hall quickened and began to close the gap slowly but surely.
Keble continued at 36 and past the St. Edmund Hall boathouse, no doubt encouraged by huge cheers from the partisan crowds, St. Edmund Hall spurted hard. The gap closed, the guns began to fire, but all to no avail. Keble just scrambled home, no doubt to their immense relief.
After Wednesday's paucity of bumps in the first division, the crowds were treated to quite a feast yesterday right in front of their noses. Having closed fast on Merton in the early stages, Oriel managed to summon up the necessary spurt and caught Merton at the Pink Post. Since Merton had closed on St. Edmund Hall Oriel, theoretically, are in with a chance of gaining the headship tomorrow. But to do so they will have to catch St. Edmund Hall today, and they are notoriously hard to bump.
After their belated success on Wednesday Brasenose decided not to retire from their labours too soon yesterday. Perseverance brought its just reward when they scored a second success, this time over Queen's right in front of all the spectators at the O.U.B.C..
Keble hang on againBy Douglas Calder
Keble can congratulate themselves on hanging on to first place in the Oxford Summer Eights yesterday in one of the most exciting races for many years. St. Edmund Hall were only 6ft. away from them at the bottom of the Green Bank, but Peter Wingfield, stroking Keble, kept his head and they just managed to save their skins.
The first three crews gave us a fascinating race. For Oriel, starting third, it was do or die if they were to aim for the top. Perhaps the best drilled college crew on the Isis, they are fast off the start but with not a single man above 12 stone they lack the staying power of some of their more experienced rivals.
St. Edmund Hall were in a cleft-stick, knowing that Oriel would be after their blood. The three leading crews went off at something approaching 44 and at Long Bridges they had all closed on each other. Keble were only 10ft. clear of St. Edmund Hall and Oriel only a canvas behind. If either St. Edmund Hall or Oriel could have given an electrifying spurt at this moment either of them could have secured the headship there and then.
But Keble clung on and, at 37 to St. Edmund Hall's 39, if anything they drew away as they raced to the finish. It was undoubtedly the turning point of the week's racing. Both St. Edmund Hall and Oriel had their moment of truth at the Long Bridges when either of them should have been able to go in for the kill. They were both found wanting, and left Keble to prove to themselves that they could survive once more. If they can do it three times albeit by the skin of their teeth, they can do it again today.
Keble hold top placeBy Cedric Venables
For the fourth and final time Keble had a tense struggle with St. Edmund Hall for the Head of the River in Oxford's Summer Eights on Saturday, but, by a third of a length, held their place for the second year. It was only by the same distance that St. Edmund Hall escaped being bumped by Oriel.
A rare happening enlivened the Fourth Division. Christ Church III made a double overbump on Exeter II to take themselves to the top of the division and then finished a good day's work with a bump on Pembroke II at the bottom of Division III.
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