Need to overhaul qualification
From our Rowing Correspondent
Following the pattern recently introduced in the Summer Eights, the Oxford Torpid Races, which will be begun to-day, have been reduced to four days' racing. This in itself is a welcome reform, but the main point in its favour — that it allows more time for practice — has been lost. For instead of starting a week later than was normal with six days' racing, Torpids this year will be begun a day earlier than usual.
This is a decision which may appear incomprehensible to the outside observer. The only argument in its favour so far heard is that it will allow longer after the Torpids for crews to get together for the Head of the River Race. Since in the past very few Oxford colleges have ever managed to produce crews for the Head — a failure arising out of inconvenient dates rather than unwillingness — this seems a poor reason for curtailing the practice of several hundred oarsmen in the Torpid races. But, more than this, the very awareness of the need to produce better crews for the Head lays bare the unsatisfactory state of affairs in the Torpids.
Level of Impotency
What is really required is a complete overhaul of the present qualification rule for the Torpids, which is apparently designed to reduce all crews to the level of impotency of the weakest colleges, instead of improving, as should be the case, the standard of all. Comparing Oxford and Cambridge practice, as one can hardly help doing in this context, it is significant that, whereas Oxford bars from the Torpids all those who have rowed for two years in the college first Summer Eights, Cambridge bans only those third year men who have rowed in their college first Division of the May Races in the preceding summer term. And whereas Oxford bans all Trial Eights colours, Cambridge bans only those of them who have completed their second year, and who rowed in the preceding May Races.
The actual wording of the qualification is, of course, rather more complicated than this. But the effective difference is clear enough. Cambridge bars the minimum number of experienced and competent oarsmen, whose services are more valuable as coaches. Oxford bans all those who might be expected to give any advantage to the more fortunately placed colleges. The result is that no college is fortunately placed at all.
For all these handicaps there will, no doubt, be plenty of exciting racing in the next four days. Balliol will be hard put to it to retain the headship, but they will be challenged by Queen's, who are rough and strong, and perhaps by Worcester, who have more polish but less drive. It is even possible that Merton may come up from fourth place to take the headship. Other crews which are favoured are Christ Church and Wadham, but the latter may not be altogether safe from a better than usual Hertford crew.
Torpids Race Cancelled — Fourth Division to re-row
A strange occurrence marked the opening of the Torpids at Oxford yesterday. Because the starting gun misfired some of the crews in the fourth division set off and others did not. The boats at the head of the division did not see the signal of recall and completed the course. In view of this the umpire had no option but to cancel the race and the division will re-row again to-day at 11 o'clock.
Even allowing for no bumps in the fourth divison there was little alteration in the order yesterday and only nine bumps were made. In the first division Balliol rowed over at the head of the river though Queen's, who were longer in the water, had closed up on them a little. The surprise was that Merton had lost a lot of distance behind Worcester and at the finish were something like three lengths down. The only sandwich boat to have any success was St. Catherine's who put themselves into Division II by bumping Christ Church II.
Four leading crews row over
With the wind having dropped, conditions were pleasanter, except for some flurries of snow, for the second day of the Torpids at Oxford yesterday.
The first divisions seems to be finding its level and Balliol, rowing a faster stroke than on the first day, had no difficulty in keeing their place at the head of the river. Queen's were hard pressed by Worcester, and only got home with half a length to spare. Merton were disappointing and never showed the least sign that they might catch Worcester.
There was great confusion in the second division when Wadham bumped University. At the moment of the bump University had run into the bank and the bows of the Wadham boat were driven so hard through stroke's rigger in the University College boat that the two boats became completely interlocked and had to be towed back to the boat-house together.
The re-row of the fourth division in the morning brought a considerable change of places, including an overbump by Hertford II on Jesus II, and in the afternoon St. Catherine's II made an overbump on St. Peter's Hall III.
Slaughter in lower divisions — 19 bumps in Torpids
Out of the 19 bumps made in the third day of the Torpids at Oxford yesterday, only two were in the first division, but there was considerable slaughter in the other three.
In the first division there was again no change among the leading boats, though Magdalen failed by only a quarter of a length to catch Merton. Exeter, rowing as well as ever, made yet another bump when they caught New College near the Gut. Wadham made their fourth bump when they caught Trinity, and so put themselves safely into the top division. They had previously bumped Brasenose opposite the latter's barge to take the leadership of the second division.
In division three the only boats not concerned with bumps were Keble, at the head, and Brasenose II at the foot of the division. Brasenose II had gained a place in division three by bumping Trinity II at the top of the fourth division.
Balliol stay at the head — fewer bumps in Torpid
In spite of intermittent snow, conditions were not altogether unfavourable for the Torpid Races at Oxford last week. At least the stream was slacker than during the last Summer Eights, and the wind, though icy, was not hard enough to interfere with the rowing. In the top two divisions bumps were less numerous than usual, which, on the whole, was a good sign, for it indicated that there were less than the usual quota of lame ducks. Indeed the standard was much more level, and rather higher than seemed likely a fortnight ago.
Balliol were never in danger, and thoroughly deserved to retain the headship. They seem to have the healthiest boat club at Oxford at present, and to have the secret of turning out respectable, if unpolished, crews from very meagre material. The secret, of course, is not difficult to find: they work really hard, and try to hold out their finishes, as well as attacking their beginnings.
Queen's did not come up to expectations, and were terribly ragged when rowing. Worcester had a fair length, but very spongy beginnings. Merton seemed to go to pieces during the final stages of practice, when the apparently decided that the rate must go up, and fell into the fatal error of trying to bring this about by rowing faster instead of harder. Magdalen were neat, and probably as fast as anybody, but they just lacked the drive to catch Merton. Wadham, with great gusto, if little skill, ploughed through five well deserved bumps, and may have been the fastest crew on the river, though it is unlikely that they could have made so many bumps in the top half of the First Division. Exeter, Hertford, Jesus, and St. Catherine's were all above average.
|2:||G. T. Pearson|
|3:||D. R. S. Laidlaw|
|4:||J. S. Dennis|
|5:||H. L. Smith|
|6:||N. H. Cunnington|
|7:||C. M. Hayward-Jones|
|S:||J. C. Bolton|
|C:||A. P. Silverman|