Oxford University rowers were forced to abandon Boat Race trials on Thursday after one of their boats filled with water.

The failure of the electric bailing pump on board one boat, known as “Pinky”, meant the race between the two Oxford crews was called off at Hammersmith Bridge. The boats had earlier taken shelter inside the navigation buoys of the Surrey station.

Coach Sean Bowden had hoped to restart the race, but fears that some crew members were becoming hypothermic while the boat was slowly emptied of water led to the race being cancelled.

Despite the boat taking on water, Bowden stated that its modern design would have prevented it from sinking.

Both Oxford and Cambridge held their trials on Thursday, although the Oxford crew got the worst of the adverse weather conditions. Both Cambridge boats completed the course successfully.

The Trial Eights are the only chance for the crews to race the entire Boat Race course before the race itself, so this cancellation is especially disappointing for the Oxford rowers. This year’s Boat Race will take place on the 3rd of April 2010.

Selections for the Boat Race do not take place based on these trials alone. Two of Oxford’s star rowers, the American internationals Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, were unable to compete on Thursday due to examinations.

The last boat to have sunk in the Boat Race was the Cambridge team of 1978, who had to be rescued from the Thames.