Fast Oriel crew could surprise the leadersBy Jim Railton
It is difficult to forecast the outcome of this year's Oxford summer eights until the leading crews show their form in today's opening race.
The head title lies between the first three crews in last year's race — Christ Church, Keble and Oriel, but only Oriel have given any hint of their form. The defending head crew, Christ Church, contains four Blues including their cox Eastman and Isis oarsman Mayhew. Christ Church's vulnerability lies in a relatively weak bow four.
Keble will be out to avenge their lowering of status throughout last year at the hands of Christ Church. But Keble received a setback recently when the Oxford stroke, Baines, was forced to retire from training with a recurring muscle injury.
Keble have been able to attract back the Oxford president, Hall, who has been deeply immersed in studies. Hall anchors the boat at six but the only other Blue in the crew is the seven man, Hunt, who rowed in the 1971 Oxford crew and the 1972 Isis boat.
Keble, rowing at a lively rate in their new Italian boat, have a more even spread of talent with three Isis oarsmen and Mills at bow, who rowed in the Oxford trials. Certainly the surfeit of confidence which led to their downfall last year, has been replaced with a workmanlike approach.
Oriel, who finished head of the Torpids, have concentrated on building a strong crew. The crew is built around the South African heavyweight, Hebblethwaite, a former Trident oarsman from Johannesburg. Seven of the Oriel crew rowed in the boat last year and earlier this month Oriel finished a close second to Jesus, Cambridge, in the head of the Cam.
This is the fastest Oriel crew for some years and it will be interesting to see if they can really make the big league, in spite of the absence of Blues within their ranks.
Pattern of eights set from startBy Jim Railton
A strong cross-wind and rain set the theme for the start of yesterday's Oxford summer eights. On yesterday's performances the indications are that there will be no change in the division one leadership, with Christ Church more than holding their own at the top, and even drawing away from Keble.
The first four crews in division one rowed over, with Keble, in second place, converting their quarter of a length loss to Oriel in the Gut to a gain of over half a length at the finish, with Oriel's challenge failing, in spite of their early promise.
Perhaps a change in climate might produce an extra-special effort in today's race from one of the leading three crews, otherwise Christ Church will find no difficulty in retaining their place at the head of divison one.
Keble close gap with leaders in eightsBy Jim Railton
Keble made a special effort today to usurp Christ Church's place at the head of division I on the second day of the Oxford summer eights. The high rating Keble crew rapidly closed the gap coming through the Gut and there was only half a length between the two crews at the finish, indicating a three-quarter of a length gain by Keble on their principal opponents.
Oriel, who were strong outside favourites to gain the Head title this year, fell further behind today losing two and a half lengths on the starting distance between themselves and Keble.
Altogether there were 42 bumps in the nine divisions, including one overbump in division VI by St. Peter's IV, who earlier in the afternoon gained promotion from division VIII. The first six crews in division I rowed over, with only Keble left to challenge Christ Church now that Oriel's reputation is in decline.
Keble will hope for strong headwind todayKeble came within 10 feet of catching the head crew Christ Church in the penultimate day of the Oxford summer eights yesterday, writes Jim Railton. A distinctly attired Christ Church crew barely managed to hold off the series of onslaughts by Keble along the boathouses led by the Keble stroke and captain Adrian Burns.
Keble will hope for a strong headwind today, the final day of the competition. Christ Church clearly showed yesterday the effects of holding off their challengers for the third day in succession that their title is now in the balance. A head wind would keep the race alive for a longer period today which could prove fatal for Christ Church.
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