After a reduction last year when the Proctors insisted on a late start, the Oxford Torpids have suffered even more drastic cutting, with all the rowing-on divisions falling victim to flood conditions.
The yellow flag, restricting river use to first eights, has flown from Oriel boathouse for two terms, except for two considerable periods either side of Christmas when a red alert closed the Isis altogether. With the better crews having had to trail all over England in search of rowable reaches, form is unpredictable.
Oriel look outstanding and should retain their headship with ease, while at the top of the women's first division, Somerville, New College, Wadham and
Osler House are evenly matched, suggesting Somerville's dominance is also unlikely to be challenged.
No change on the Isis
There were no changes at the top of the men's and women's first divisions on the second day of Oxford University torpids on the Isis yesterday. The three leading boats in both divisions rowed over and Oriel and Somerville again looked invincible.
Lloyd survives bump
Nick Lloyd was thrown into the water after Oriel IV had been bumped by Jesus II in the men's fifth division of the Oxford University torpids on the Isis yesterday. Three members of Mansfield's first eight, who were on the towpath, dived in to help him to the bank. He was taken to hospital suffering from mild hypothermia but quickly recovered. Oriel and Somerville again comfortably rowed over in the leading two divisions.
If the floods of Michaelmas Term had instilled a depressing sense of deja vu in those with memories of interrupted Torpids past it was quite understandable. Fortunately, although much training time and all rowing on divisions were lost, the Isis subsided in time for the main even to proceed essentially unhindered. It is to be hoped that this lost time will not affect Eights Week too much.
Speculation as to the immediate destiny of both Headships petered out earlier than usual this year in the knowledge that both Oriel and Somerville were looking outstanding. The unchallenged Oriel used their commanding lead, eight lengths on Friday, to treat their boathouse to a nonchalant easy oar on Saturday — the first seen since 1989 — and still finished 27 seconds clear. Somerville may have exhibited less arrogance in rowing over but their margin of victory was barely less impressive.
The lack of challenge to the head crew could not remove excitement from an otherwise rather fluid Men's First Division. Blades were won by an impressive Worcester who built on similar fine progress last year. S.E.H. made five bumps in re-entering the First Division and so revived memories of heady days in the 'sixties. If Pembroke failed to live up to expectation, making little impression on second placed Brasenose before succumbing to a snappy University on Saturday, New College were still more decisive in dispelling rumours of a serious challenge — they dropped three places from fifth.
In the Men's Second Division Queen's and Exeter made steady progress but Keble, after suffering a disastrous fall for the second time in four years, must be wondering when their luck will change. In the women's races Oriel were blades winners as they entered the First Division for the first time in their history. Christ Church were also impressive in taking six First Division bumps.
|B:||R. H. Gifford||King Edward VI, Norwich|
|2:||S. Khan||Girton Coll, Cambridge|
|3:||R. Morrison||Reading Univ|
|4:||P .P .Swaddling||Farnham Coll.|
|5:||R. J. Hirst||Hulme G.S.|
|6:||M .P Brown||Queen's Park H.S.|
|7:||F. G. J Brown||Bath Univ.|
|S:||J. P. Hodges||Abingdon Sch.|
|C:||C. V. Toogood||The Abbey School, Reading|
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