Torpids revert to bumping races
Oxford University Torpids will be begun today and will be run on the former system of bumping races. The work on Donnington Bridge for the new road has made it impossible for boats to divide into lanes as they have done for the past two years. Whether this reversion to bumping races is popular with the colleges is doubtful. An entry of only 51 crews is certainly disappointing.
The standard of rowing among the first boats is about normal but that of the second and third crews is poor. Racing at the top of the first division is likely to be particularly keen, and St. John's hopes of staying head are not bright. Christ Church, starting third, should catch St. Edmund Hall and St. John's provided that they themselves can keep away from Balliol, who are the best crew on the river. But if Balliol are to make their bump on Christ Church they will probably need to do it in the first two minutes. If they can pull it off on the first day their way to the head of the river should be easy.
Among other first boats University are powerful, if a little ungainly, but they are likely to be pressed by Keble, who start immediately behind them. For so many years Wadham have been disappointing but on the form of this year's Torpid boat it looks as if the long awaited improvement has arrived.
St. John's pressed in Torpids
The cold weather and an uncomfortable crosswind off the Oxfordshire station probably affected the rowing on the first day of Torpids at Oxford yesterday, and only 13 bumps were made. There was the unusual situation of only one bump in each of the first three divisions.
St. John's were hard pressed to keep their place at the head of the river. St. Edmund Hall were always gaining on them and 100 yards from the finish only a canvas separated them from a bump. Balliol lost their chance of going ahead [sic] of the river because they made little impression on Christ Church who, for their part, were their full distance behind St. Edmund Hall. The only bump in the first division was by Oriel, who caught Magdalen before the Gut.
The starting rules involved several boats in trouble in the lower divisions. In the fifth division Worcester II were facing the wrong way when the starting gun went and Brasenose II automatically passed them. In the sixth division Pembroke II hit the bank after five strokes, so St. John's III easily made their bump. St. Catherine's II had, apparently, not heard the minute gun and were quite unprepared to go off when the starting gun was fired. They fell immediately to University III.
St. Edmund Hall go top in Torpids
The second day of Torpids at Oxford produced some more dull racing, with only 12 bumps in the six divisions. The only real excitement was for the Head of the River, where St. Edmund Hall caught St. John's after a fine race.
St. Edmund Hall were always gaining and at the University Boat House were less than half a length behind. They then raised their rate to 37 and, though it seemed at one time as if St. John's might escape, St. Edmund Hall made their bump about 200 yards from the finish.
New College had to struggle hard to keep away from Worcester at the top of Division II. Worcester were striking 34 along the Green Bank but New College seemed unable to raise their rate higher than 30. However, they held off the challenge and got home with half a length to spare.
There was an extraordinary mix-up in Division V. Brasenose II bumped Hertford II and Worcester II then forced Brasenose farther into the Hertford boat so that the stern was cut off, and the Hertford crew had to abandon ship. Through this accident St. Edmund Hall III bumped Worcester II but Worcester protested that they had been balked and the chief umpire decided that Worcester and St. Edmund Hall shoud re-row at 1.30 today.
Keble first boat rising steadily
With the north-east wind colder and stronger, conditions were thoroughly unpleasant on and off the river for the third day of Torpids at Oxford yesterday. St. Edmund Hall had the easiest possible journey at the head of the river, as St. John's, behind them, fell to Christ Church.
The start of Division I had to be delayed because St. John's had broken a rudder line. Even this minor mishap must have disturbed the equanimity St. John's in their attempt to avoid a further downward slide from their former exalted position. In fact, when the race started they did not hold out long against Christ Church, who made their bump coming out of the Gut.
Of all the first boats only Keble are making steady upward progress and, apart from the head of the river crew, are the only first crew who can win their oars. When racing finishes today Keble have a good chance to establish themselves in Division I. In Division II University College had a keen struggle with Exeter, who were still half a length in front at the University boat-house. But University were inexorable in their pursuit and Exeter had to concede the bump at the New Cut.
Blight on the Torpids — Isis spectacle spoiled
From our Rowing Correspondent
To give up a new toy is always frustrating, and the return to straightforward bumping races, after two years of the new-style bumps and passing enforced by the bridge works at Donnington seemed to cast a blight on the Torpids at Oxford this year.
Probably the standard was no lower, but it seemed lower; probably the wind was no colder, but it felt colder; certainly the entries were fewer, and the smaller divisions of eight crews, also made necessary by the obstruction in the river, spoiled the spectacle.
St. John's came a cropper, relying too much on brute force. St. Edmund Hall, a reasonably balanced and well-produced crew, deserved to gain the headship. Christ Church were rather ragged, but they had a turn of speed which enabled them to close on St. Edmund Hall at times, though only temporarily. Balliol were strong but sluggish.
Keble, certainly as fast and possibly faster than St. Edmund Hall, were unlucky, if one can call it unlucky to suffer for the shortcomings of their predecessors, who had left them so low on the river. They started thirteenth. Under the new system they might well have gained six or seven places. With the usual size of divisions, Keble would surely have made the extra bump as sandwich boat on the first night. As it was they reached the critical position on Saturday, made their first bump on New College, and missed their second bump because Queen's, who had escaped Lincoln for three days, rowed badly and allowed Lincoln to make their bump before being caught by Keble.
|St. Edmund Hall|
|B:||P. J. Sankey-Barker||11st|
|2:||T. R. R. Richards||11st 10lb|
|3:||R. Chard||11st 3lb|
|4:||R. Bratchley||11st 9lb|
|5:||J. C. Goddard||13st|
|6:||J. F. Adey||12st 6lb|
|7:||J. C. Sherman||11st 10lb|
|S:||J. H. J. Rogers||11st|
|C:||D. Henderson||9st 4lb|
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