So we’ve made it to day three of Summer VIIIs 2015. Normally this is when things start to settle down after the turbulence of the first two days. Luckily the Isis was far from serene today as crews from across the division careered down the course.
At the top end of men’s division one the real drama came at the close of the race. Oriel having delivered another punchy row-over, opening up a four length lead, managed to collide with Christ Church with Pembroke close behind in the spinning area. Acrimony broke out as Teddy Hall and Balliol M1s then raced across the finish, Balliol euphoric after avoiding what many had thought was a certain bump. With insults and abuse trading across the Isis it seemed any illusions we may have that rowing is the sport of gentlemen had been punctured.
Further down men’s division one Keble M1 predictably bumped Univ and New M1 rammed Worcester. It’s been an impressive bumps campaign for this New crew, rising from second in division two to twelfth in the top division. Just behind them Wadham and Catz changed places as the Wadham M1 cemented a mercurial eights campaign.
There was little more racing action over on the women’s side. Pembroke W1 proved Wadham are not invincible, closing to within a length by Boathouse island. Univ W1 also look like they’re on for blades, bumping Teddy Hall to rise to fifth place. Interestingly the New W1 has outclassed even its male counterparts, also starting at second in division two but rising one place higher to eleventh in division one courtesy of a bump on Hertford. Further down the divisions other women’s crews now looking at blades include Trinity, who bumped St Anne’s W1 today to move from seventh to sixth in the second division. A row-over from a previously very impressive Linacre crew, now nestled at twelfth in division two, sadly denied these ladies blades however. Even further down we have Worcester W2 and Green Templeton W1 rising to tenth and twelfth in division three respectively. Only a major upset tomorrow will deny these crews blades.
Over with the men a worrying number of crews look to be targeting spoons in division two. John’s, Anne’s and Peter’s have all bumped down everyday (spot a similarity?) and no crews left in the second division look capable of blades. Oriel M2 have remained particularly impressive, continuing to rise at ‘Head of the Second VIIIs,’ reaching ninth today with the demise of Anne’s.
Talking of faux-headships, Jesus M3 were dethroned today as ‘Head of M3s’ by a pugnacious Wolfson M3. Sadly the Vikings failed to live up to their menacing twitter presence and were overawed by the pounding rhythm of these post-grads. On the subject of Jesus, their M4 certainly recorded the most banterous start, wearing full Viking helmets and reading out suggestions for the true identity of St Antony whose titular college they were chasing. This, of course, all unfolded down in mighty division seven where more drama was close at hand. Apparently marshals had to caution one crew for intimidation at the start. Keble M3, having swept out of the bottom division yesterday, continued their spectacular rise, clambering to tenth in division six at the expense of Pembroke M4 who plummeted to bottom.
In the lower orders of the women’s crews its worth paying tribute to two participants in particular. First of all, hats off to Catz WIII who looked well out of place starting the week at the foot of the river, but have bumped every day. They are a racing certainty for blades. More impressively Regent’s W1 have moved out into the non-qualifying racing divisions, soaring to eleventh in division four. A bump tomorrow would make this the most successful ladies’ crew in this PPH’s history.
So there we have it: only one day to go. Much like this season’s Premier League we go into the final day with the action pretty much tied up at the top, the winners fairly apparent. Where the real nail-biting finales lie are mid-table and at the bottom. Will Oriel W1 drop out of the top division permanently? Can Exeter W1 hold off a surging Brasenose crew at the foot of division 2? Will there be redemption for Jesus M3 as they struggle to regain the lofty epithet ‘Head of the Third VIIIs?’ With one day to go there is still a lot to row for.