Torpids go-ahead for womenThe total of 12 women's crews included Wolfson, originally down to start 4th, although they never raced.
by Tom Goodway
There will be a women's division for the first time at Oxford University Boat Club Torpids, which begin on the Isis tomorrow and continue until Saturday.
It was planned to introduce the women's division last year but Torpids were cancelled because the Thames was in flood and considered too dangerous for boating.
Torpids committee had little to go on in making the draw for the women's division, which will be rowed at 2.15, so they decided the starting order by pulling the names out of a hat.
Consequently there could be some dramatic ups and downs before the headship is decided on Saturday afternoon.
Oxford University women's crew face a challenge from the men when they start at the head of Division VII.
If OUWBC should row over at the top, they must return immediately to the start as sandwich boat in division VI.
Sandwich boats are not normally a feature of Torpids, but that rule was also introduced but not implemented because of the cancellation.
Oriel, who like Queen's have five crews, sit proudly at the head of the river and the crew they fear most are Keble in sixth place.
Keble have John Wiggins, who twice rowed for successful Dark Blues crews against Cambridge and the two crews could be compared at Sunday's Southern Universities Regatta, where Imperial College scored a ¾-length victory over Oriel and Keble, without Wiggins, went down to Imperial College by two lengths.
Wiggins broke a foot last term and he has only had four outings so far in Hilary Term, but his experience should prove helpful to Keble when they launch their assault on the leaders.
Oriel's rowing strength in depth is reflected by their second crew who are in Division II in ninth place overall, and as one crew is added each day to the first division, they might end the week with two crews in the top echelon.
The next college second crew us University II down in 26th place, but Balliol, who start second overall tomorrow, surprisingly have only one crew in the event.
There are 66 men's crews left after the getting on trials and there are 12 women's eights, including OUWBC.
Torpids off to an uncertain start on Isis
The first day of the Oxford University Torpids seldom is completed without a hitch and yesterday on the Isis was certainly no exception. Racing started late after Division VII waited for some hefty driftwood to pass.
Even the more experienced men in Division I got it wrong. At least three crews crossed into the wrong lanes and New College came past the Boathouses minus their stroke who had been thrown off his seat.
Consequently Division I, which Oriel led comfortably, will be rerowed at noon today. Wolfson withdrew from the women's division.
by Tom Goodway
It would be asking a lot for the first day of Oxford University Torpids to run without the occasional hitch, but yesterday things became chaotic at times and even Division I had to be re-rowed.
Second-placed Balliol, the crew immediately behind them Christ Church, and New College crossed into the wrong lanes and to add to the farce New College came past Oxford University Boathouse without their stroke, who had fallen out of the boat on catching a crab.
The immediate reaction of the committee, plagued with protesters of varying degrees of credibility for most of the damp, uninspiring afternoon, was to re-row the race there and then.
But this brought heated and understandable protests from Worcester who had progressed from second in Division II to sandwich boat in the top division.
It would, indeed, have been asking rather a lot of them to row a third time in an hour and so it was decided that the re-row should be held at noon today.
Whatever happens lower down, it seem unlikel that Oriel will be dislodged from the top. They rowed over quite smoothly yesterday, clear of all the trouble in their wake.
The start of Division VII was delayed while some hefty driftwood passed, but then the first all-women's crews in Torpids, Oxford University women's crew elect, was overtaken near Long Bridges by Queen's IV, but they resisted the efforts of Osler House II to bump them.
Wolfson men's great strides since they started at the bottom in 1972 continue. Yesterday they moved up from 31st to 28th place overall and now they have overtaken all the second crews except Oriel II [incorrect: Pemb II and Univ II also still ahead].
Division II was also held up, while arguments raged about who should be sandwich boat after Merton had illegally bumped Pembroke in Division III, and St John's had been caught up in the turmoil.
Oriel look good at top
By Tom Goodway
The second day of the Oxford University Torpids say the first race in Division I completed without any real thread to Oriel, who rowed over powerfully at the head of the Isis.
The Torpids committee decided after Wednesday's traumatic start that Division I should be re-rowed at noon yesterday, but after more objections OUBC president Andy Michelmore was called in to arbitrate.
He decided that yesterday's planned race should be held at noon today and that the third race should take place at 4.30 today.
With a bit of luck everything will be in applie pie order for tomorrow's finale, when the biggest challenge to Oriel's superiority looks like coming from Keble.
Keble chased University on the Oxford station yesterday and they timed their bump appropriately in front of their own boathouse.
The sandwich boat Worcester, provide the only other change in the order in Division I when they passed St Edmund Hall. Lincoln rowed over in Division II.
Pembroke, who begain at the top of Division III on Wednesday, lost more ground yesterday when they were caught by Merton, St Catherine's and St Peter's.
Keble all set for a fighting finish
by Tom Goodway
Oriel looked composed as they two rowed over at the head of Oxford University Torpids on the Isis yesterday.
But Keble, whose progress was temporarily impeded in the second race, are likely to make a fight of it in the finale this afternoon (4.30).
In the delayed second race Keble's bump on Balliol was disallowed and in the ensuing melee they clashed with Christ Church before careering into Timms Raft.
Sandwich boat in that race, Lincoln, passed St Edmund Hall and Worcester overtook New College.
In the third race, which thankfully went ahead as planned at 4.30pm Keble soon passed Christ Church and bumped Balliol at the end of the Green Bank.
St Edmund Hall's unhappy lot ws not improved as they were well beaten by the next sandwich boat, Trinity.
Trinity rowed strongly at the top of Division II, but Oriel II slipped after they had been bumped by Exeter, while Merton spurted down the Green Bank to bump Jesus.
Lady Margaret Hall's reign at the head of the Women's Division ended when they were passed by Jesus and then bumped by Hertford.
Mansfield registered a 'bump' in Division IV — but it was not to their advantage, since they came off the start and crashed into a moored barge! Consequently they were passed by everyone else in the division, including the sandwich boat St John's II, who started on Wednesday in 48th position overall and are now a creditable 38th.
Oriel retaing top place
by Tom Goodway
Like any christening party, the naming of Oriel's new boat on Saturday night was a joyous occasion.
In fact, it was especially so since Oriel had held off Keble's challenge to finish head of Oxford University Torpids, a position they have held since 1972.
The new addition to the fleet was traditionally named Hardy Norseman by Mrs Nora Andrews, the wife of Oriel waterman, Len Andrews, who also helped Oxford Blue Paul Wright coach the crew.
Predictably Keble moved to second place after starting on Wednesday in sixth place, but their high-rating burst made next to no impression on the leaders.
There was only one change in the Division I order on the last day, but there was no drama.
However, they managed to withstand New College's challenge.
In passing St Edmund Hall Exeter complete a successful Torpids for the college. All three crews won their oars with a total of 15 bumps between them.
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