Boat Race trio hold the keyBy Jim Railton
Oriel, coached by, amongst others, their acting Provost, are strong favourites to retain their headship in the Oxford Summer Eights which begin on the Isis today. Altogether there are 109 men's and mixed eights and 49 women's eights, giving a total of 1,422 competitors.
Oriel's stern three were in this year's Oxford Boat Race crew, with the president, Conington, stroking backed by Holland and Kirkpatrick and two Isis oarsmen.
Last year's runners-up, Keble, could find themselves threatened by Christ Church today and if they succumb, by Magdalen on Thursday. Magdalen have this year's Blue, Hugh Clay, on board, as well as Mark Andrews, a world silver medal winner in eights.
New College are also expected to rise from the ranks. Their crew includes Clay's twin brother Robert, who stroked this year's Blue boat, and the new Oxford president, Richard Yonge.
In the women's top division, Osler House, starting in 11th place, should move up spectacularly, while the lead crew Somerville's main threat is likely to come from St Hugh's who begin in third place.
Oriel out in frontThe head crew, Oriel, with three Blues on board, predictably cruised over the course yesterday unchallenged in the opening day on the Oxford Summer Eights. There were only two bumps in the top division and both were predictable. New College overhauled St Edmund Hall and Lincoln surrendered to Magdalen.
The most disappointed eight must have been Christ Church, who closed the gap on Keble but failed to make a vital bump. Exeter rowed over despite their six man's seat coming off the slide approaching the boat house. Merton rowed over at the top of division two while Brasenose, despite overlapping some 300 yards from the finish, made their hit after several attempts on Christ Church II just in time.
Oriel cruise on as head crewBy Jim Railton
While Oriel cruised undisturbed as head crew for the second day running yesterday, their immediate pursuers in the Oxford Summer Eights, Keble, Christ Church and Magdalen, closed up on each other but to no avail. Magdalen's chance of catching the House ended abruptly when their two-man came off his seat towards the finish. There were only two bumps in the top division, New College on Lincoln, with Worcester overhauling Balliol.
St Hugh's made a valiant effort yesterday at the top of the women's divisions in an effort to usurp the head crew, Somerville. St Hugh's closed to within half a length but just lacked the pace. It promises to be tough at the top today.
St Hugh's take eights lead from SomervilleThe main gain of the day yesterday in the Oxford summer eights came at the top of the women's divisions with St Hugh's going head at the expense of Somerville, writes Jim Railton.
St Hugh's, with three Blues on board, were within half a length of the head crew coming out of the gut. Somerville tried almost every evasive action in the book but St Hugh's conquered before the boat houses leaving the Jesus eight trailing in their wake to row over in third place.
While Oriel, Keble and Christ Church rowed over at the top of the men's division, Magdalen's ambitions surprisingly waned when they surrendered to New College. St Edmund Hall and Worcester were the only other gainers in division one.
The men's second division provided some thrills. Merton rowed over despite their seven-man jumping overboard, while the Christ Church second eight smashed their boat after being bumped by St Catherine's.
The Oxford summer eights were a triumph for retired Oxford boatman, Len Andrews, who had a hand in coaching the top two head crews, Oriel and St Hugh's. Oriel, who dominated the men's first division all week, sprinted home on Saturday with almost three lengths to spare over Keble. St Hugh's held their lead over the deposed Somerville.
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