Oriel may trouble St. Edmund Hall
The Oxford University Torpids races will begin today with an entry of 46 crews. As in recent years, upward progress will be by overtaking rather than by bumping.
The crews will, as usual, start in one line on the Berkshire [towpath] bank and break into two lines as far as the Gut. From the top of the Gut to the finish they will be on three stations. If a bump is to be made, it can only involve crews in the same station, and even then they will have to row through to the finish of the course.
The standard is not high. St. Edmund Hall, starting at the head of the river, should hold their place, though Oriel who are largely unchanged since last year may in due course chase them hard. In Division II Keble have been going well in practice and should easily overtake Lincoln today.
Easy passage for St. Edmund Hall
St. Edmund Hall had an easy passage at the head of the river on the first day of the Oxford University Torpids races yesterday, and were several lengths ahead of St. John's, who passed Christ Church at the top of the Barges. Oriel also overtook Balliol at the same place, but it was surprising they took so long to do so.
Keble were disappointing in division II and gained little on Lincoln. Today Keble may have difficulty in keeping away from Merton, who, yesterday, passed New. Bumps are rare in this type of racing, but Worcester, having already overtaken Exeter, made a bump on Queen's at the finishing posts so climbed two places.
St. John's spurt fruitless
After two days of rowing in the Torpids at Oxford St. Edmund Hall are still comfortably at the head and unlikely to be dislodged. They were pressed at the start by St. John's, who came up to half a length at the Gut, but along the Green Bank St. Edmund Hall went away, and at the finish about three lengths of clear water separated them from St. John's.
Oriel gained steadily on Christ Church, but Christ Church held on well under pressure and got home with a third of a length to spare. In their first race in the first division Lincoln celebrated by passing Magdalen.
In the second division Keble seemed to have little heart for racing over the full distance, and were overtaken by Merton, who were going along with plenty of stride. St. Peter's are on a slippery slope in the third division. On Wednesday they started at the head of the division and after two days' racing have dropped to fifth place. Yesterday they were overtaken by Jesus, Trinity, and Corpus Christi.
Mansfield, who were newcomers to rowing last year, further distinguished themselves in the fifth division when they passed Exeter II. They have now gained three places.
Oriel crews have good day
St. Edmund Hall, apparently unassailable at the head of the river in the Oxford Torpids, rowed their best yesterday. St. John's had gained on them at the start on Thursday, but yesterday St. Edmund Hall held their distance to the Gut, and streaked away along the Green Bank.
Oriel, who had just failed to catch Christ Church on Thursday, were an improved crew and they moved up to third place in the first division when they caught Christ Church at the top of the Green Bank and finished a length ahead. It was generally a good day for Oriel. The second boat, having started at the top of division VI on Wednesday, have now rowed through Division V, and will start at the bottom of the fourth division today.
Merton are one of the better-looking crews, and firmly established themselves in Division I, moving up again for the third time when they caught Magdalen. It seems that the crews rowing on the inside, Berkshire, station have some advantage towards the end of the course in getting out of the stream. In Division II New College had that station which helped them to hold off Worcester, who were almost level at the University boat house.
Pembroke might have found themselves in trouble in Division II. They hit the bank near the Long Bridges, but managed to keep away from Hertford, who finished several lengths behind.
No change at Head of River
St. Edmund Hall, as expected, stayed at the Head of the River for a third year when the Oxford University Torpids were concluded on Saturday.
On the last day St. Edmund Hall had to race in the centre station, against the worst of the stream, while St. John's had the Berkshire [towpath] station, which gives a big advantage over the final three furlongs. On the first three days, St. Edmund Hall had lost ground at the start, but not on the Saturday, when at the top of the Green Bank they were just about their distance ahead of St. John's and not over-exerting themselves.
St. John's began to move up and St. Edmund Hall, in an answering spurt, lost some of their rhythm. At the finish there was only a quarter of a length of clear water between the boats, which meant that St. John's had gained about half a length over the course, but this could be misleading, for St. Edmund Hall were never pushed to hold any challenge from St. John's.
Merton failed by a foot or two to overtake Lincoln, so Worcester, by catching New College and going to the top of Division II, were the only first boat to gain four places. Brasenose went down four, and St. Peter's, passed on Saturday by St. Catherine's, lost, in all, seven places. Generally, however, first crews had found their level by Saturday when only one change of order occurred in each of the two top divisions.
From our Rowing Correspondent
[following a summary of the Cambridge Lents]
It must be remembered that bumping races were invented for one good reason, that neither Oxford nor Cambridge had a fair course for side-by-side racing. But there the similarity ends. The Cam course is more than twice as long as the Isis course. There is much less temptation to stake all on a wild rush for the first two minutes, and a higher probability that merit and sound training will reap their reward.
The Hilary dodgems, as they are popularly known, were introduced at Oxford in 1960 to give crews at least some experience of side-by-side racing and to make them row the full distance. Since then, everyone seems to have concentrated on pointing out the unfairness, apparently unmindful of the fact that nothing will make an unfair course fair, and that bumping races, too, contain a large element of luck.
Order of Merit
Whether in the conventional bumping races or in the new "bump and pass" method of Torpids, fairness should not be judged on the result of one day's racing but on how nearly the finishing order, after four day's racing, coincides with the order of merit of the crews.
On this basis it is doubtful whether the dodgems are notably less fair than bumping races at Oxford. What is certain is that they are more beneficial to rowing. What is wanted is the courage to introduce this system to Eights Week, when, incidentally, the alleged unfairness of the stations, which is mainly due to the stream, would generally be much less than it is in February.
|St. Edmund Hall|
|B:||G. N. M. Richardson (Emanuel)|
|2:||G. P. W. Roberts (King's, Canterbury)|
|3:||J. P. Mew (St. Paul's)|
|4:||N. McN. Jackson (King's, Chester)|
|5:||D. M. P. Barnes (King's, Canterbury)|
|6:||P. E. Driscoll (St. Paul's)|
|7:||R. E. Southwood (Radley)|
|S:||J. K. Wolfenden (Radley)|
|C:||P. S. Brennan (Dulwich)|
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