Oriel take headships in truncated Torpids

The women's boat successfully rowed over, while the men bumped Pembroke in front of their opponents' boathouse

Oriel's first quad – where boat burning will take place this evening – in the snow [Photo: Robbie Shade/Flickr]

Oriel claimed the headship in both the men’s and the women’s division of Torpids this afternoon.

After Thursday and Friday’s racing was called off due to extreme weather conditions, last year’s heads – Pembroke M1 and Oriel W1 – went into the second and final day of the competition in the lead.

And after the women’s boat successfully sealed their headship by rowing over, Oriel’s men’s boat bumped Pembroke in front of the Pembroke boathouse to seal a double victory.

Oxford University Rowing Clubs (OURCs) and its senior umpires made a unanimous decision to call off Thursday’s racing due to freezing temperatures and unsafe conditions.

Senior umpire David Locke told college captains: “We are concerned that… any incidents that occur may be made too severe too quickly for our mitigation measures to be effective enough. The towpath is likely to be very difficult to keep safe tomorrow.

“We cannot remember conditions as bad as this for Torpids.”

After a similarly cold and snowy day on Thursday, the decision was then made to call off Friday’s racing as well.

Conditions were brutal for Wednesday’s racing. Photo: © Greg Blatchford/yewneek.com

However, after hundreds of rowers lent OURCs a hand yesterday afternoon by clearing snow and ice from the towpath, Locke announced that Saturday’s racing would go ahead.

“Saturday of Torpids will run, but with half divisions (so top half of Div 3 upwards) and with some other important restrictions. Most notably this includes a ban on umpire/coach cycling as per Saturday of Eights and X/S [status] coxes only,” he said.

It meant that for rowers in divisions four and below, there would be no chance to build on or make amends for results on Wednesday.

Before the all-important final races of the day, several crews managed to bump for the second time in the competition.

These included Merton W1, St Hilda’s W1, Catz W1, Hugh’s M1 and Queen’s M1 in division three, while Brasenose W1, Wolfson W2, LMH W1, St. Anne’s W1, Corpus Christi M1, and Exeter M1 did the same in division two.

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In the top divisions, Green Templeton W1, New College W1, Magdalen W1, Wolfson W1, Keble W1, Pembroke W1, Teddy Hall M1, Jesus M1, Wolfson M1, and Christ Church M1 also completed the same feat.

Exeter’s men were the most successful crew across the two days of racing, as they climbed five places.

But it was Oriel’s winning bump that stole the show.

The result extended the college’s huge lead in the rankings for most headships. Oriel now have 36 Torpids headships between the two boats, while Brasenose, in second place, have just 22.

As is tradition, a boat will be burned in the college’s first quad after the Boat Club’s dinner this evening.

In May last year, Keble College’s JCR voted against burning boats in the event of a victory in Summer Eights. However, the vote ended up being irrelevant, as Christ Church men and Wadham women took the headships.