Man held after halting Oxford-Cambridge boat race

 

The swimmer who brought today's Boat Race to a temporary halt has been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence, Scotland Yard said.

The annual Oxford-Cambridge competition was restarted after the wetsuit-clad man appeared close to the boats in the River Thames in London, narrowly avoiding the blade of an Oxford oar.

Cambridge powered to victory but celebrations were muted while Oxford rower Alexander Woods was taken to Charing Cross Hospital after collapsing in the boat.

Sources named the swimmer who stopped the race for the first time since 2001 as Trenton Oldfield.

Police said a man was being detained on suspicion of a section 5 public order offence, namely behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

A spokesman said: "He is currently in custody at a west London police station while inquiries into the circumstances are carried out."

Oldfield, who studied contemporary urbanism at the London School of Economics, has a website called Elitism Leads to Tyranny, which discusses civil disobedience tactics.

He is also joint co-ordinator of a not-for-profit organisation called This Is Not A Gateway, which "creates platforms for critical projects and ideas related to cities".

According to the website, he has worked for more than a decade in non-governmental organisations specialising in urban renewal, cultural and environmental programmes.

Karl Hudspith, president of the Oxford University Boat Club, blamed him for ruining his crew's big day.

He wrote on Twitter: "To Trenton Oldfiled (sic); my team went through seven months of hell, this was the culmination of our careers and you took it from us."

He also said Mr Woods was conscious and "will hopefully be ok", offering thanks for the many messages of support the rower had received.

He added: "I'm proud of everyone in the team and how they rowed. They were a credit to themselves and their university."

It was almost half an hour after the unprecedented disruption that the race was restarted. But the drama continued when a clash of oars led to Oxford crew member Hanno Wienhausen breaking his blade, allowing Cambridge to pull clear.

The contest ended in no presentation ceremony and the Boat Race Company labelled it "possibly the most dramatic in Boat Race history".

It also confirmed that Mr Woods was in a stable condition.

A statement on the Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL) website said: "BRCL can confirm that Alex Woods is in a stable condition. He will continue to be monitored by hospital staff.

"At this time, BRCL's concern is for Alex's well-being. Alex's family are with him and he is receiving the best possible medical care."

Sean Bowden, the Oxford University Boat Club coach, said the bowman's collapse was the product of "the most extraordinary and unfortunate chain of events that have conspired against us to take away a win which I think we looked like we were about to take in the race proper".

Dr Woods must have felt desperate, he suggested.

"Obviously our biggest concern is Alex's welfare and it was good to see that he was conscious and taken off to hospital with good care," he said.

"We rowed ourselves into a very good position and the crew looked in good shape. And we were ready to go and again at the restart we put ourselves in a very good position.

"The clash was obviously just one of those extremely unfortunate things. And the outcome of the crash was a broken blade.

"And I guess you can only imagine the desperation that Alex must have been in with only six crew mates left and that's probably how he ended up pushing himself beyond his limits."

Umpire John Garrett said it was former rower and assistant umpire Sir Matthew Pinsent who spotted the swimmer in the water.

"I'm grateful to Matthew for having spotted the swimmer," he said. "He basically said, 'There's something in the water, there's something in the water'. He thought it was some debris and then we realised that it was actually a swimmer.

"We weren't sure what was going to happen, whether he was going to get out of the way in time and then it was quite clear he was just waiting for the boats to come across him so I had to stop the race and restart."

Mr Garrett also said the rules stated that crews had to "abide by their accidents".

"If something happens in a latter stage of the race and there's a breakage, they have to abide by their accident, unless one of the crews is actually off-station and has caused that accident," he said.

"In my judgment Cambridge were not off their station. In fact, in the immediate run-up to the clash I was warning Oxford so in my view Oxford were off their station.

"The collision took place, Oxford came off worse but Cambridge were in the right position and so I was content to allow the race to continue and for the result to stand."

Mr Garrett dismissed an appeal from Oxford cox Zoe de Toledo for the race to be re-run.

And he revealed the issue of protest swimmers in the River Thames was discussed before last year's Boat Race - but said there had been no prior warning today's event would be disrupted.

Sergeant Chris Tranter, of the Metropolitan Police, said the rowers had nearly decapitated the swimmer.

"They almost took his head off," he said.

Today was the first time in the Boat Race's history that the event had been disrupted by a swimmer, organisers said.

But it was not the first time it had been temporarily halted. In 2001 the race was stopped by the umpire just over a minute after the start following repeated warnings to both crews to move apart and then a clash of blades for which Oxford was blamed.

The race was subsequently restarted and Cambridge rowed to victory.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent