Americans return to actionBy Jim Railton
All the top American Olympic and world medal oarsmen, who opted out of this year's Oxford University Boat Race crew, compete for their colleges in the Oxford Summer Eights which start today.
Dan Lyons, the world champion in coxless fours, strokes a very talented Oriel crew. The new Oxford president, Chris Penny, who is an Olympic silver medal winner, competes for St John's, with Chris Huntingdon aboard the Mansfield eight and the Pan-American medal winner, Chris Clarke, in the University College first eight.
Oriel look poised for the headship. Apart from Lyons, the Oriel eight have on board the Oxford Blues Tony Ward, Richard Hull and Peter Gish together with two Isis oarsmen. That is a good line-up for a college crew. The talent available at Oriel is such that their captain of boats, Jeff Austin, cannot find a place in the boat.
New College, who start head today, will attempt to hold Oriel off with the Blues Rob Clay and Tom Cadoux-Hudson on board and will not sell their lives cheaply. But New College have a formidable task to hold onto their headship. The starting order of the top six crews today is New College, Oriel, Christ Church, University, Worcester and St Edmund Hall.
The first race today is at 11.25 a.m. with the top women's division at 6 p.m. followed by the men's first division half an hour later. Somerville lead off the top women's division immediately pursued by Osler House and St Hilda's.
Collision shock for NewBy Jim Railton
The first day of the Oxford summer eights started yesterday with a rich harvest of bumps, but it opened in near-chaos when the men's head crew, New College, collided with Worcester during the warm-up
The New College boat was damaged, and they indicated that they wished to postpone the top division until this morning. Their crew looked pretty shaken up, and their bow man, Mal Smyth, was lucky to escape serious injury.
At first the senior umpire, Anu Dudhia, ordered New College to row in a borrowed boat and racing was delayed by an hour. However, the decision was then changed, and the top division eventually went off without the top two crews, New College and Oriel, by agreement, apparently, with the rest of the division. New College and Oriel will hold their two top positions at the start of racing today.
Christ Church, who were scheduled to start third, led off the men's parade, but were bumped by University. Other gains in the first division were made by Pembroke and Lincoln.
Somerville cruised over at 32 to retain their headship of the top women's division a length-and-a-half over Osler House. St Hugh's, Wadham and Brasenose made gains at the top of the women's division.
Oriel take grudge raceThe real battle for the Headship began yesterday evening on the second day of the Oxford summer eights, when New College and Oriel joined the fray (Jim Railton writes). These two top crews had been excused from the competition on Wednesday after New College collided with Worcester during a warm-up.
Oriel sportingly offered not to row either, but in effect, they were also saving their energies for last night's grudge match with New College.
The race was one to savour. New College, stroked by the Blue, Rob Clay, had conceded half a length by the Gut. Dan Lyons, the American world champion, aggressively stroked Oriel in pursuit, Oriel progressively wore down the head crew and New College surrendered gamely, having given everything in defence of their headship.
The only other bump in the men's top division was Pembroke overhauling Magdalen.
Oriel to face Italians in unique challengeOriel, who went head on Thursday at the expense of New College, rowed superbly yesterday, stroked by American world champion Dan Lyons and with three blues on board (Jim Railton writes). They opened up more distance on New College, who concentrated on University. Oriel now look well set for the headship today.
Somerville, at the top of the women's first division for the third day running yesterday, were stroked by the new Oxford lightweight president, Erica Othen. Osler House, who started second, were bumped by St Hugh's and then appealed. Osler claimed that the Somerville bung line was left trailing in the water and impeded their progress. The appeal was not upheld, but had it gone against Somerville they would have received a technical bump, losing their headship to Osler, which would have been an injustice. Somerville, for their transgression, were fined £10.
Whoever finishes head crew today in the Oxford Summer Eights — and that looks like Oriel — will face an unprecedented task. As soon as the men's top division finishes, the head crew will spin round and go back down to the course to race against a top Italian university crew.
Pavia University flew in yesterday afternoon with four world lightweight world champions specially for this race, but someone had forgotten to lay on accommodation and the Latins are, not unexpectedly, far from pleased. At the request of the new Oxford president, American international Chris Penny, the organizers yesterday asked several times over the public address system for students to offer accommodation and matters were being sorted out velocemente.
The splendid Oriel crew, who went head on Thursday, predictably finished as the top Oxford college crew in the Oxford Summer Eights on Saturday. Oriel, who with New College were excused racing on Wednesday (after the latter had collided with Worcester during a warm-up), finished in style on Saturday actually racing twice.
Oriel flashed down the course with their American international world champion Day Lyons stroking on bowside up to 36 to defend the head title they took on Thursday. Half an hour later, in front of a large crowd, Oriel raced Pavia University of Italy over approximately 500 metres and came home three quarters of a length ahead. Lyons had behind him three Oxford Blues, two Isis oarsmen supplemented by two outstanding college oarsmen.
Somerville and Oriel finish firstOriel, who never seemed likely to be caught after going head on Thursday, duly finished as the top Oxford men's crew in the summer eights over the weekend. Somerville successfully defended their title as the top women's crew.
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