Having begun life as traditional bumping races in the mists of the last century, the Torpids have in recent years been run on the lanes system with three crews racing abreast after reaching the Green Bank.
It was an ingenious system and gave Torpids the added attraction of considerable excitement for the spectators and a longer race for the oarsmen sicne the sudden death of a bump was made far less likely. Now instead of three lanes we are to have only two.
Boats will start from bung lines below Haystacks Corner at three-quarter-length intervals, and will immediately peel off alternately into two lanes. Thus the clear disadvantage to the crew facing the worst of the stream on the centre station is avoided. The spectators will see a spectacular procession of boats racing both alongside each other and in line ahead and, provided no cox gets his number wrong, the oarsmen should benefit from a longer row.
There was much palaver in the third division. Corpus, having found the allotted time for reaching the start insufficient, failed to get off at all when the gun went. They were fined £1 and penalized two places in the re-row which was necessary. They offered to pay an increased fine if they were not penalized, but virtue triumphed.
Thanks to the presence of mind of their number four, Andrew Ingram, New College made a spectacular recovery. At the Stone [in the Gut], he came off his seat altogether, but after half a minute's industrious effort in the middle of the race he had put things right. "He's had plenty of practice at it. He does it about once a week", remarked their coach, Ashton Calvert, laconically.
The pity was that New College bumped Oriel too hard for their own interests. Their boat made contact with Oriel's boat, the Oriel cox acknowledged the bump, but still New College ploughed on. At the time, Oriel were almost level with Christ Church, lying number two but in the other lane, and they looked to have every chance of finishing ahead of them.
If Oriel had done this, New College would have started second today. However, they put Oriel off so much at the moment of contact that they lost three-quarters of a length in a flash, leaving Christ Church to scramble home in second place.
With two members of last summer's Cherwell crew which won the Henley Ladies' Plate, Nigel Campbell-Crawford and Chris Wood, Balliol certainly looked mature by comparison with the majority of the crews. Perhaps the fact that six out of their eight oarsmen were post-graduate students from universities in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom had some part in this.The article lists the names and previous education establishments of the Balliol head crew.
Several crews made spectacular progress during the four days of racing. Christ Church IV having started right at the bottom gained eight places and so, too, did Osler House (the Radcliffe Infirmiary in disguise). Jesus I and Wadham II also gained seven places apiece.
However, I find it difficult to raise much enthusiam for Torpids. With a very few exceptions the standard is dismally low. After Wednesday's chaos in Division III when Corpus Christi failed to start at all, a fairly senior Oxford oarsman quelled the potential dispute with his opinion "It's only a game."
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