Boat Race: Protest, broken oar and collapse ruin contest

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Event had to be restarted after demo – and then the drama really began

A swimmer in the water, a snapped oar and a collapsed rower combined to make yesterday's Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race the most incident-packed in the contest's history. Cambridge eventually won the 158th race after it had to be restarted halfway through because a protester swam between the boats. A few seconds after the boats set off again, Oxford snapped an oar after steering too close to the opposition.

The race concluded with a decisive win for Cambridge, but just as it seemed all the drama was over, one Oxford rower had to be pulled from the boat unconscious. Alex Woods, 27, was taken to hospital and was in a stable condition last night. Cambridge celebrations were muted and there was no podium presentation.

The swimmer who interrupted the race was an anti-elitism campaigner called Trenton Oldfield from east London. In a blog post yesterday, titled "Elitism leads to tyranny", he said he was swimming into the boats as an "act of civil disobedience".

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said the swimmer was arrested for a public order offence and was being held in custody in a west London police station.

In his blog, which in places was nonsensical, Mr Oldfield said: "I am swimming into the boats in the hope I can stop them from completing the race and proposing the return of surprise tactics." He called the boat race a "pseudo competition" that was "an inconsequential backdrop for these elite educational institutions to demonstrate themselves, reboot their shared culture together in the public realm."

The race umpire, John Garrett, said that it was former Olympian Matthew Pinsent who first spotted Mr Oldfield: "[Pinsent] said 'There's something in the water'. We thought it was debris, then we realised it was a swimmer. It was clear he was waiting for the boats so I had to stop the race."

Karl Hudspith, president of the Oxford University Boat Club, tweeted: "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 later posted: "Just saw Alex in the hospital... Still clutching his torn blue boat shirt. Real hero, just pushed too hard."

The last time the annual race had to be restarted was in 2001, when the boats collided at Putney. Cambridge now lead by 81 wins to 76.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine