'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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
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

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York