'I relate to the Suffragettes': Boat Race saboteur reveals his inspiration

Trenton Oldfield tells Jerome Taylor why he halted Varsity clash

The man who brought chaos to this weekend's Boat Race has revealed how he assumed he would be stopped before making his protest in an interview with The Independent which casts doubts on whether security was tight enough during the race.

Anti-elitism campaigner Trenton Oldfield said he was surprised he was not spotted by race officials because he had entered the water early and had to wait for the Cambridge and Oxford boats.

The 35-year-old Australian-born protester managed to halt the Boat Race for the first time in its 158-year history after he swam into the path of the boats near Hammersmith Bridge. He has been charged with a public order offence and claims he was inspired by the actions of the suffragette Emily Davison.

Speaking after his release from police custody, Mr Oldfield detailed how he was able to move into the path of the oncoming boats with relative ease, despite the strong tidal currents.

"The most difficult thing I had to do was put my wetsuit on and take my clothes off without people noticing," he said. "I just scrambled down the wall, into the water and was away."

But he was surprised he wasn't spotted by race officials sooner. "I actually went early," he said. "I thought someone was going to come along, grab me and put me in a boat. I was in there much earlier than I expected to be. I got confused by the helicopters, it's a big bend and you can't see around. I didn't do it exactly as I had hoped but in the end it worked out."

He also said he had revealed his plans online before the event, via Twitter. "I would have thought that people would have been looking for me if the security system is as good as it is meant to be."

His comments will generate concern about whether enough was being done by race officials to scan ahead of the Oxford and Cambridge boats as they made their way along the Thames.

Mr Oldfield said he felt compelled to disrupt the race because of the economic difficulties brought about by "government cuts, inequality and elitism". He also encouraged others to use direct action. "Standard protesting can get somewhere if the political system isn't corrupt," he said. "It's not that the marchers aren't being successful – they're getting millions of people out on the streets. But the political system isn't responding because of its corruption."

He said he took inspiration from Emily Davison, the suffragette who was killed when she threw herself under the King's horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913. "Those women were amazing," he said. "They put themselves on the line and it wasn't that long ago. She was put down by lots of people and seen as too militant."

Critics accused him of hijacking an apolitical event. Karl Hudspith, president of the Oxford University Boat Club, told him via Twitter: "My team went through seven months of hell, this was the culmination of our careers and you took it from us."

However, Mr Oldfield, who described the past 24 hours as "intense", said he had also received messages of support. He was taken to Chiswick police station where he was charged under section five of the Public Order Act before being released to appear in court later this month.

Many of those attacking his stance against elitism pointed out that he had himself been educated privately in Sydney before studying at the London School of Economics. However, Mr Oldfield hit back, saying that a private education should not preclude someone from being critical of elitism.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower