The Torpids experiment, with crews gaining promotion by overtaking as well as by bumping, will be begun at Oxford to-day. Each division will have six crews and from Haystacks corner to the gut they will race in two lanes, even numbers on the towpath side and odd number on the other. From the gut to the finish the two lanes will divide into three, the second and sixth boats being on the towpath side, the first and fourth in the middle and the third and fifth on the Oxfordshire station. The finishing order of one day will decide the starting order of the next.Also crews were not permitted to bump until after the Gut (i.e. crew 4 on 1, crew 6 on 2 or crew 5 on 3), at which point the bumping crew drops out but the crew being bumped continues. A more extensive discussion of the new rules appeared in The Times on 8 Feb.
After each day's racing the crew that heads the second divsion will automatically join the first on the following day, bring the total in that divsion to nine on the final day. The same system of promotion will be applied in the lower divisions except that they will remain constant at six crews. The final divsion, however, having now two crews, will be absorbed into division VII on the third day.
To see the three leading crews in the first division of Torpuds racing side by side up the barges must have been most gratifyin to those who had planned th new style races, which were started at Oxford yesterday. Under the old system it would certainly have tkane two nights' racing to place these crews in order of merit. Yesterday it seemed to have been achieved in one step, though it may be, of course, that Christ Church will pass St. Edmund Hall to-night.The article also includes a photo, taken from Long Bridges, captioned
Christ Church II colliding with St. Edmund Hall II in Division V of the Torpids at Oxford yesterday. At this point bumps were not allowed and Christ Churchm whose bow had got caught up in St. Edmund Hall's rudder and forced them into Long Bridges, were relegated to the bottom of the division. Thie was the one untoward incident in an experiment otherwise highly successful.
The Berkshire [towpath] startion had some protection from the wind and rough water, and crews on that station too full advantage of it to improve their places.
The most important of these were Christ Church, who had a great race with St. Edmund Hall [centre], and leacing by a quarter of a length at the finish, went head of the river...
There was a considerable muddle in division five. St John's II passed St. Edmund Hall II at the top of the Green Bank, and at the same moment Oriel II bumped St. Edmund Hall II. The two boats slewed across the river, and immediately Christ Church II bumped Queen's II. After the race Queen's claimed that they had been balked by Oriel, and, after much excuse and much argument, the chief umpire decided that the whole division, with the exception of St. John's II, whose rise was undisputed, would re-row to-day at 1.30.
On the third day of the Torpids at Oxford, Christ Church yesterday held their place at the head of the river, but it did not seem that St. Edmund Hall were trying seriously to displace them. This may have been sound tactics, because to-day, for their final effort, St. Edmund Hall will again be on the Berkshire station. If St. Edmund Hall had gone head yesterday, Christ Church would have had that important station to-day.
[...] After the last race the chief umpire, Mr. P. Barton of Magdalen, said it had been decided to alter the position of the buoy at the top of the Gut. This should have the effect of reducing the advantage which undoubtedly has existed on the Berkshire station. If it does have that effect St. Edmund Hall may regret that they did not give Christ Church a harder race yesterday.
The successful conclusion of the Torpid races at oxford should not pass without tribute to those primarily responsible for evolving the new method of racing [...] The question now, of cours, is what will happen next, and, in particular, whether the new system will be applied to Eights [...] High on the list of arguments against the new bumping and overtaking system will be the unfairness of the stations, and, specifically, the advantage of the Berkshire over the centre station, which was clearly demonstrated last week. Probably this would be less serious in June, and it might be further reduced when experience has shown where best to place the buoys. But there will certainly be some unfairness. [...]
St. Edmund Hall's tactics in delaying their challenge to Christ Church at the head of the river till the last day were fully justified. Rowing on the Berkshire station St. Edmund Hall were their distance behind Christ Church coming out of the Gut, but along the Green Bank they began to close the gap. At the University Boat House theu were just overlapping and rowing betterm they were nearly level at the New Cut, to draw away and win by a length. If St. Edmund Hall had gone Head on Friday and given Christ Church the chance to challenge for the Berkshire station on Saturday things might have been different.
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