Christ Church and Wadham primed for Summer Eights headships

Matt Roller previews the final day of the highlight of the college rowing year

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Photo: Christ Church Boat Club [Facebook]

Christ Church and Wadham go into the final day of racing as Head of the River in the Men’s and Women’s competitions respectively at this year’s Summer Eights.

After a dramatic first three days on the Isis, Christ Church M1 are set to seal a record 33rd headship, which would see them draw clear of Oriel into outright first. Wadham W1, meanwhile, are primed for a fourth consecutive headship, meaning that the headships are currently aligned with Cherwell Sport‘s predictions.

The College is the second-wealthiest at the University, and has been accused of making lucrative offers to graduate students who row to boost its Eights chances.

This year, Christ Church finished Torpids in a disappointing sixth position, but have been boosted this week by the presence of Boat Race winners William Warr and Ollie Cook in the boat.

On Wednesday, Oriel held Christ Church off until the crossover, but were bumped as second-favourites Keble rowed over in third position.

Then, in yesterday’s racing, Keble—labelled ‘Blues-buyers’ by Oriel College Boat Club’s Facebook page—also managed to bump the Torpids winners, despite Oriel getting to within a length of Christ Church.

On Friday, all of the top eight boats in Men’s Division 1 rowed over, meaning that Christ Church enter Saturday’s racing as Head of the River and hot favourites.

In the Women’s competition, Wadham and Pembroke have rowed over on all three days, meaning that they remain the top two in Division 1.

Christ Church W1 have also enjoyed a particularly successful week: boosted by the presence of Boat Race rower Harriet Austin of New Zealand, they bumped Magdalen and Univ. at the start of the week’s racing to go into Saturday’s racing in third.

St. Edmund Hall start Saturday’s racing eighth, so have no chance of achieving the headship, but will be looking to but the pressure on Magdalen.

Magdalen have endured a torrid week, getting bumped on all three days, and Teddy Hall are seeking Blades after success every day so far: given the confidence of the respective camps, a bump there may prove to be a canny bet.

However, whilst the top of each division is the most important part of Saturday’s rowing for some, there are over 1500 competitors in this year’s Eights, and the whole day of racing will be a great spectacle.

Indeed, several crews will be looking to secure Blades after a strong week and even for those involved in lower divisions, the prospect of a final-day bump is a tantalising one.

With tens of thousands of spectators expected on the riverbank and balmy weather forecast, it promises to be a fantastic day.

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