University boat race practice abandoned

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The Independent Online

In a rare innovation of cooperation between Oxford and Cambridge's boat clubs, both held their trials at Putney on the same day, although in Oxford's case, Old Father Thames was the winner by kicking up such a furore beneath a Turneresque sky that the main purpose became staying afloat, and the race was abandoned at Hammersmith.

ne minute white clouds scurried across the horizon, then the sun headed west in a bright autumnal blue sky, then black clouds hovered with menace while shafts of brilliant gold speared down from heaven. White gulls scudded low over bouncing wave tops in biting cold, jumbos hovered towards Heathrow, black crows crowded treetops.

Cambridge went off first in difficult but not unmanageable water at Putney that became flat and congenial after the Hammersmith bend. "Spaghetti" took the lead on the Middlesex station and steadily extended their advantage to about six lengths after the four and a quarter miles to Mortlake. This was a bit of a surprise for coach Chris Nilsson who expected a side-by-side race after the same crews finished the Fairbairn Head time trial on the Cam in almost identical times. The other curiosity was that the winning crew rowed an Italian-made Filippi. The German manufacturer Empacher has been de rigeur for Boat race crews for many years. Maddy Eldridge's steering of the winning boat was a lot better than Ted Randolph's in "Sauerkraut".

Sean Bowden, the Oxford coach, put a brave face on the fate of his race. Breakers bounced "Pinky" and "Perky" to the mile, and both sought shelter inside the navigation buoys on the Surrey station to Hammersmith Bridge, where a halt was called and a restart was ordered. This was abandoned when it was found that one boat had a faulty pump. Emptying it at St. Paul's School slipway took so long that hypothermia threatened to set in. "Trial eights is a process whereby you put people under pressure and see how they handle it. These crews did a good job in rough water," Bowden said.

Selection is not by trial only. Oxford left two star oarsmen in the examination room yesterday. They are the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, American internationals and fathers of ConnectU, the precursor of Facebook, who are both studying for MBAs. When Bowden announces his crew for April 3's Xchanging Boat Race, they are likely to be there.



Spaghetti – Bow G Nash (St Catharine's), G Lamb (St John's), M Schramm (Fitzwilliam), G Roth (St Edmond's), D McEachern (Hughes Hall), H Pelly (St Edmund's), D Rasmussen (Hughes Hall), Stroke F Gill (Hughes Hall), Cox M Eldridge (St Catharine's).

Sauerkraut – Bow M Thorp (Homerton), M Whaley (Caius), W Kromdijk (Clare), J Jennings (Clare), S O'Mara (Hughes Hall), P McClelland (Pembroke), R Weitmeyer (St Edmund's), Stroke H Cubasch (St Edmund's), Cox E Randolph (Peterhouse).


Pinky – Bow B Gruter (Green Templeton), A Dent (Keble), B Ellison (St Anne's), B Snodin (Exeter), B Myers (Exeter), B Le Feber (Jesus), S Hamburger (Oriel), Stroke C Burkitt (Wolfson), Cox J Carlson (Brasenose).

Perky – Bow W Rueter (Christ Church), D Bruce (Kellogg), A de Weck (New), M Hafner (Kellogg), E Newman (Brasenose), M Evans (Univ), S Gawlik (Kellogg), Stroke M Walsh (Green Templeton), Cox A Barhamand (Wolfson).