University College Boat Club’s president-elect has blamed his Oriel rivals for a dramatic crash during the men’s first division summer eights on Thursday.
The collision occured as Oriel drifted on the Isis, recovering after being bumped by Pembroke’s rowers moments earlier. Videos show Oriel cox Philip Clausen-Thue standing up in the boat as he sees Univ’s boat approaching, shouting and waving his arms at the oncoming rowers.
Clausen-Thue was forced to jump into the Isis to escape as the rival boat smashed into his seat. He was later fined for losing his team’s Bod cards.
Oliver Cox, currently UCBC’s vice-president, said “I think that from the Univ point of view I know there’s been a lot of criticism of our cox. In my opinion, that’s unfounded. I think that the real blame has to lie on Oriel for not clearing the path of the race.”
Colin Keogh, a Blues rower who was in Oriel’s boat at the time of the crash, defended his teammates. “I don’t know all the rules and regulations, but our cox did all he could to make it clear to Univ that we couldn’t move.”
He said he felt it would be wrong to blame any one team for the incident. “I don’t want to point fingers – obviously Univ was not trying to hurt us. Bumps racing is always going to be a dangerous sport.”
Cox said he understood criticism of the race marshals, but didn’t feel they had been to blame in this instance. “Some people will say they should have klaxoned earlier and so on. The problem with the later divisions is that it tends to be the less experienced marshals, because most of the best people are rowing. I don’t think on balance though, that it was their fault.”
Matthew Price, another of Oriel’s rowers, refused to respond to Cox’s allegations, saying “I don’t want to comment because it may compromise our position”. He confirmed that his team’s boat had been “severely damaged” by the crash.
Repairs on competition-standard rowing shells can be enormously expensive, with new boats costing as much as £20,000.
Cox, meanwhile, said his team’s boat had survived the crash with only minor damage. “The bow was slightly damaged, but nothing serious. Oriel came off the worst.”
Oriel went on to finish in third position. Univ faired worse, coming sixth after rowing on every day during the competition.