Wednesday’s Rowing by Elaina Evans After controversy over entries and a very tough rowing-on
contest last Friday, it was a relief to see Summer Eights 2004
finally kick-off this Wednesday. The weather may have been dull,
but events were not. The big news of the day was Oriel M1’s bump on Pembroke
at the top of the first division, reclaiming (for now) the
headship lost this time last year. Oriel caught their arch-rivals
in the last ten strokes of the race, the Pembroke cox forced to
conceed when the two crews were well past the boathouses. The
question for the rest of the week is whether Oriel can keep their
heads for the next three days as Pembroke did in 2003. The rest of the division was a great spectacle for supporters
braving the brief, but intense, downpour, with most of the action
taking place in full-view of the boathouses. And, if today’s
racing was an indicator, then there is set to be much movement
throughout the top men’s crews. Down the Green Bank stretch
came a fleet of crews in close proximity, fighting through dirty
water. It was here cool-headed Magdalen, a serious threat to the
top two crews, bumped Exeter. Teddy Hall saw off Christ Church
with style, while Wadham ended their three-year stint as the
sandwich crew by catching Jesus, whose guts more than anything
got them so far along the course. In comparison, there was much less activity in the
Women’s First Division, with only three bumps occuring.
New’s performance leaves their bid for headship in doubt
– Pembroke seemed comfortable in rowing over a good few
lengths ahead of them. More determination was shown in Teddy
Hall’s effort, overbumping a knackered St Hilda’s right
in front of the boathouses, after Somerville’s bump on
Merton left them with six lengths to regain. In lower divisions, Mansfield retain a clean sheet with both
their M1 and W1 getting a bump, setting them up for blades which
have seemed to come naturally for the college in the last few
years. Women’s Division Two was klaxoned, but not before a
premature concession by Brasenose to Queens that could have been
avoided if they had simply held out a few strokes. Trinity W1
sent John’s down to the Third Division, where they face a
race ahead of a great scramble between St Anne’s, Corpus and
Jesus, who all rowed the entire course a canvas off each other. Most bumps in the Rowing-On divisions took place below the
gut, leaving spectators not much more to observe than the bizarre
attire of various crews. And so, the contests for headship and battles for blades are
set to unfold with the characteristic mix of determination and
pure luck. Hopefully the rest of the contest will equal the
excitement and surprsies of the first day. Eights Preview by Victoria Dare Eights appears to bring the fun into rowing – many a
Rugby Eight or Schools boat will use strength or revision breaks
to secure bumps. Women may have rowed in bikinis and no doubt the
occasional Viking has been spotted. Of course, in the senior divisions, things are deadly serious.
Captains have cajoled university oarsmen into their boats, though
the entry list suggests that Corpus have been unable to persuade
Sam McLennan (OUBC president) and Nick Walter (Isis) into their
boat. On the men’s side, Magdalen appear to be the crew to
watch. They beat Oriel at Bedford Regatta, and with three blues
in the stern look strong. Other potential successes are
Queen’s, who gained five bumps in four days at Torpids and
LMH. The women’s headship is again between Pembroke, Merton
and New. Pembroke had a poor Torpids, but have bounced back. The
real movement is expected below them. Somerville and Catz may
have a difficult week with fast crews, like Christ Church, within
striking distance. In division two, Oriel and Worcester, who have
pursuaded Blues Claire Bulmer and Emma Payne into their boat,
would be unlucky not to make gains. In 189 years, a few select colleges have had the honour of
finishing Head of the River. For the many though, they will want
to gain their own slice of personal glory – and a well
deserved Pimms on Saturday.ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2004 

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