The rowing scene this term has been in overdrive with strong performances from all the university squads and fierce competition at home on the Isis. Torpids this year was by many accounts the most action packed in a while with only three klaxons from forty-four divisions leading to lots of racing. On the first day of racing alone over two thirds of crews bumped! A record 31 crews achieved blades.
Moving outside the Oxford bubble Isis have been moving from strength to strength with a strong performance at Reading University Head where they put in a time close to that of Oxford Brookes’ top boat which, rumour has it, were a similar speed to the top Cambridge boat in match races the previous week. An impressive result for a boat containing no less than three freshers. Combined with a similar result in November the results so far suggest that the river should be running dark blue on the 11th of April.
The Dark Blue women have also been out in force winning the Elite and Senior categories at the Quintin Head where Cambridge did not race. A sprinkling of rowing maths suggests that the OUWBC reserve crew Osiris would be in touching distance of the Cambridge blue boat with the Oxford blue boat winning by some margin. The stage is set for the women to bring in a strong win on their first race over the Tideway course.
8th week sprung up some surprises in the college-rowing scene with the qualifying battles for the Henley Boat Races taking place on the 5th of April in Henley-on-Thames. Both headship crews were defeated by challengers from lower down the table. Oriel, ranked 2nd on the river, marched to a strong victory over the men’s headship crew Pembroke at Dorney Lake and Green Templeton women sneaked a one second win over headship crew Wadham racing on the Isis. All the data from the season so far points at 2015 potentially being Oxford’s first clean sweep in the collegiate races.
Sticking with the theme of the Henley Boat Races the lightweight squads have also had a strong showing so far. Tethys, the lightweight women’s reserve crew, acquitted themselves strongly with a top 75 finish at the women’s Head of the River race with the blue boat no doubt even faster. The lightweight men’s team has recorded success at the Wallingford and Henley head races as well as a commanding display at Trial 8s over the winter vac. Whilst on training camp in Holland, returning lightweight Blue, Rowan Arthur, said that the squad “are confident about our preparations and crew” in the run up to the big day. This sentiment was echoed by teammate Alec Trigger who said he was “hoping to contribute to a dark blue whitewash”.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record 2015 really is shaping up to be the year the river runs dark blue through and through. Cherwell will be running live coverage of all the boat races this vac and if you want to check out the action first hand head over to Henley on the 5th of April for the Lightweight and Collegiate boat races and the Thames on the 11th for the grand spectacle. Alternatively keep in touch with the action on Twitter @CherwellSport.