Oxford's summer plans are washed off courseBy a Correspondent
For the second time in three months, Oxford University rowing has been badly hit by the weather. An exceptionally wet February resulted in the four-day Torpids, in March, being abandoned because of the dangerous state of the river and the Summer Eights, starting today, are also affected, though not as severely.
The wettest April on record has raised the Isis to close to the March level and the organisers have restricted racing today to the men's top five and women's top three divisions. To avoid obstructions and collisions, each division will be split into two with seven crews competing in A and B races.
The men's Headship again appears unlikely to change. Oriel are looking strong and although they are being pursued by a Pembroke crew with several University squad members, they look a sound bet to remain at the top.
The top of the women's first division may be more interesting and Osler-Green will be pushed to retain the Headship. Their pursuers, Pembroke, will be keen to bump them, but there is a doubt over whether they will be able to hold off New College.
Oriel set to weather the storm
The Summer Eights at Oxford have fallen victim to un-summery weather, the recent heavy rain having produced dangerous conditions on the Isis.
While torpids in the Lent Term have often been disrupted by rain and floods — they were cancelled this year — this has not happened before in eights.
With the wettest May in Oxford since records began in 1767, the river is dangerously high, with the result that, although racing will start today, only five of the eight men's divisions will start, each division being rowed half at a time to avoid congestion.
What happens later in the week again depends on the weather, with more rain forecast.
Oriel will again start Head, a position they have held for much of the last 25 years. Although they are likely to remain top, a challenge may emerge from Exeter, starting third, who rose each day last year. They could also push Pembroke, who start second, into harrying Oriel and there could be a keen struggle for the top places.
In the women's divisions, Osler-Green have been dominant in recent years and are expected to remain at the top this time.
The first day of Oxford University Summer Eights on the Isis yesterday was completed without a hitch. Osler-Green were bumped at the top of the women's first division by Pemborke. Oriel rowed clear of Pembroke in the men's first division.
Pembroke won [sic] the women's first division on the second day of the Oxford University Summer Eights on the Isis yesterday. The men's first division ended unsatisfactorily when Brasenose obstructed the Gut after being bumped by Jesus and the race was stopped.
Oriel successfully defended the men's Headship on the Isis on Saturday. They finished two lengths clear of Pembroke in a very even first division. The demise of Osler-Green was spectacular, though not unexpected, as they lost the Headship of the women's first division to Pembroke on Wednesday and were bumped on all four days.
Osler-Green suffered a humiliating fourth bump on the final day of the Oxford Eights, with St Catherine's modest achievement emphatically ending the medical students' decade of dominance in the women's divisons. The decline followed the loss of Peter Sudbury's inspiration and coaching.
Oriel, by contrast, rowed over at the head of the men's divisions where, with one brief lapse, they have reigned since 1992. Pembroke's spirited challenge went unrewarded and so deprived the college of the ultimate prize — head place in both sections of the race.
After the debacle of the rained off Torpids, a number of crews were looking to prove what might have been. In the men's competition, Pembroke, Oriel, Exeter and Christ Church had all been denied the chance to battle it out. In the women's competition Osler-Green were relieved to see the week go by without a stroke taken.
The various regattas in the calendar before Summer Eights: Bedford and MarchFirst in particular, had already given a clear indication of the form of the various crews in the men's 1st division. Oriel had already beaten Christ Church and Exeter in side-by-side races and also, indirectly, Pembroke. There was a lot more uncertainty at the top of women's division 1, with a weak Osler-Green being chased by strong crews from Pembroke and New, both with various University oarswomen on board.
At the beginning of Eights week the river was once again on red flag, much to everyone's despair. However, conditions improved and the top divisions raced in half-divisions on the first day and the lower divisions raced on the Friday and Saturday.
In the women's competition Osler-Green were bumped off head by Pembroke on the Wednesday and were bumped again by New College on Thursday. They would in fact go down four places, ending their reign that had begun in 1994. Thus Pembroke and New were left to battle it out on the Friday and Saturday. New made a quick start on the Friday to close to within a canvas going into the gut, but Pembroke held their nerve and pulled away. The Saturday saw New close again, but again Pembroke controlled the situation to win their Headship. Other risers in women's division 1 were Merton (up 3 to 8th place) and Magdalen (4 bumps in 3 days to finish 9th [actually 10th]). Further down Keble stormed into division 2 with 5 bumps. University and Brasenose were the main 1st division casualties, falling 4 and 5 places respectively.
By contrast, men's division one saw few changes, and most of these at the expense of Brasenose plummeting. Lincoln, with 3 Blues and an Isis oarsman on board rose four places to finish 11th. They failed to win blades however as they failed to bump on the Saturday when Christ Church hit the falling Brasenose crew ahead of them. Balliol bumped New on Friday as they went up two places to 5th. They might have done this on the Thursday but the division was halted due to a pile up lower down the division. By the time Oriel, Pembroke and Exeter had stopped and turned round, there was no time for a re-row. After a lot of arguing and shouting everyone was sent home, with Exeter having put Pembroke under a lot of pressure before the stop.
Oriel rowed over around 5–6 lengths clear of Pembroke each day until on the Saturday they easy-oared outside their boathouse, then inexplicably crashed into the bank 100 metres later. This contretemps forced an unscheduled stop before rowing off again to finish on their distance. Other movers and shakers in division 2 (apart from Lincoln) were Hertford and Wadham (both up 3). University and St John's joined Brasenose in winning spoons.
A moment that those involved will not forget occurred in women's division 5. In a multiple boat pile up in the gut the stroke of Christ Church III got ejected from her boat and was left swimming around as more boats crashed into the back of the stationary crews. In a moment of tragic-comic genius the safety launch arrived swiftly, too swiftly in fact, as it sped straight into Christ Church IV causing severe damage to the bows. (Apologies if the unfortunate crews were not those named, a year on those people interviewed by the Aussie Chicken may not remember exactly).
|| B: ||
J. Hubback || Oundle
|| 2: ||
W. Breeze || Charterhouse
|| 3: ||
F. Lepetit || Dulwich College
|| 4: ||
G. Anderson || Eton
|| 5: ||
A. Coppell || St Catharine's Camb.
|| 6: ||
M. Bonham || Radley
|| 7: ||
N. O'Grady || Hampton
|| S: ||
R. Todd || KCS Wimbledon
|| C: ||
J. Jones-Perrit || Bishop Heber CHS
|| Coach: ||
A. Nelder || CCAT, Cambridge
|| B: || Daire Magill
|| 2: || Alice Dale
|| 3: || Catherine Stoodley
|| 4: || Anna Jowett
|| 5: || Louisa Rowbotham
|| 6: || Karen Jones
|| 7: || Catherine Heyes
|| S: || Caroline Hyde
|| C: || Kajsa McLaren
|| Coaches: || Marcus Munafo,
|| Nigel Stark
Return to Bumps Index