Circumstances favour OrielBy Jim Railton
Last year Oriel set a record by becoming the first crew, since Brasenose won the first Oxford Summer Eights in 1815, to win five successive head titles. Oriel may not be the fastest eight in this year's Summer Eights, which begins today, but it remains to be seen whether any of their closest rivals can either climb through the field or find at least two lengths' speed over Oriel when they have a chance of a bite of the cherry. Even if the course is shortened to keep crews clear of the weir, it will be to Oriel's advantage.
The most talented opponents appear to be New College and Magdalen in fourth and fifth places respectively, but Magdalen will have to overhaul a crew on each of the four days to go ahead [sic] on Saturday.
Oriel have no Blues on board. They are stroked by the Isis oarsman, Chris Long, backed by the winning Torpid crew. Second-placed Keble will be challenged today by Christ Church, whose performance may depend on whether they can include Peter Buchanan, of Isis, who is a doubtful starter. New College will be stroked by Oxford's new president, the Australian world finalist, Graham Jones; solidly backed by the Blue, Robert Clay, and the Isis oarsman, Mark Bloomfield. But, sadly, Oxford's retired president, Richard Yonge, cannot represent New College, as he has international commitments.
Magdalen, too, have an impressive stern, stroked by the world silver medal winner, Mark Andrews, with the Blues, Bill Lang and Hugh Clay, completing the stern trio. University College will be seeking promotion from the head of division two thanks to the late inclusion of the Canadian internationals and Blues winning twins, Mark and Mike Evans. In the women's competition, St Hugh's, with many Blues on board, are favourites to retain their headship.
Oriel reign threatenedBy Jim Railton
The main contenders to end Oriel's five year reign as head crew in the Oxford Summer Eights emerged yesterday with Christ Church catching Keble and Magdalen overtaking New College in their campaign of catching a crew a day.
Christ Church reeled back Keble rapidly but took time to register their kill past the Gut. Oriel seemed to take things in their stride demonstating an attitude of 'catch us if you can'. Oriel's first real challenge of the competition will be today with Christ Church on their tail. Magdalen will be expected to catch Keble.
Oriel resist challengeBy Jim Railton
Oriel shrugged off the first real challenge to their headship yesterday when Christ Church failed to make ground on them on the second day of the Oxford Summer Eights. Predictably Magdalen climbed to third place at the expense of Keble.
Interest today centres on Magdalen's assault on Christ Church which must succeed to give them a chance to challenge for the headship on Saturday. St Hugh's in the top of Women's Division I looked in a class of their own.
Thriller on the river todayBy Jim Railton
Magdalen lost their chance to become head crew today for the first time in 29 years when they failed by about half a length to catch Christ Church.
The House were strengthened by the return of their stroke, Peter Buchanan, and the pace of the top three crews was fierce, forcing Oriel to rate 38.
At the finish Christ Church apparently overlapped Oriel but were too far abreast to attempt a bump with Magdalen half a length down on Christ Church. So a thrilling climax is in store for the final race.
Oriel held on to their headship for the sixth successive year in the final of the Oxford summer eights, Jim Railton writes. Christ Church came within a few feet of a bump but Oriel's stroke, Chris Long, rallied his crew in the nick of time and had six feet to spare at the finish. Magdalen, who closed on Christ Church on Friday, lost by distance [sic] to them on Saturday. St Hugh's retained the women's head title.
Oriel retain headship at OxfordNeither Magdalen nor Christ Church had quite the pace to overhaul Oriel, who remained head crew for the sixth successive year in the Oxford summer eights. St Hugh's retained the women's head title.
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