Boat Race: Cambridge triumph amidst commotions
Controversial events cause the158th Boat Race to be memorable
by Olivia FitzGerald
Saturday 7th April 2012, 23:02 BST
Today’s Boat Race started off as an excitingly close contest but finished with a subdued Cambridge victory.
Cambridge were the underdogs having lost last year and with the bookies producing odds of 7/4 for Cambridge and 2/5 for Oxford. The Oxford crew contained three lightweights which contrasted with Cambridge’s crew who were on average a considerable 7.9 kg heavier.
Lightness and agility gave Oxford the upper hand as they started, soon gaining a slight lead. The boats’ positions remained constant for the next few minutes, however Cambridge’s weight and muscle power soon began to show as the light blue boat nudged into the lead.
Despite the umpire’s incessant shouting warning Oxford’s cox Zoe De Toledo not to position so closely to the opposition, the two boats were still very close as the dark blues crept ahead again.
But it was halfway through the tenth minute when the first of several incidents occurred. A swimmer in the middle of the Thames caused the race to be halted. The protester is believed to be Trenton Oldfield, an Australian campaigner against elitism, who was soon removed and later arrested.
After a considerable time the race was restarted at the halfway point. The umpire had decided to start the two boats at an equal footing despite Oxford being at approximately a quarter of length lead upon the interruption.
Oxford again got off to an impressive start, but after just seconds a collision took place. The two crews had come too close together despite further warnings having been shouted by umpire John Garrett. The oars clashed which resulted in Oxford's Hanno Wienhausen losing his blade. Regardless of this enormous setback, the race continued.
Oxford no longer stood a chance as Cambridge powered on undeterred. Cambridge finished victorious by several lengths, with the light blue team exhausted but jubilant.
The Oxford boat crossed the line shortly afterwards, however it took nearly five minutes for it to be noticed that the bow man, Dr Alexander Woods, was not reclining in the boat but had collapsed. Medical attention was onboard immediately and it has now been said that he is in a safe condition.
The trophy presentation was not held out of respect for the Oxford crewman’s condition. As a result of all the incidents there was a bizarre atmosphere back on land. On being asked how he felt about the Cambridge victory, Moritz Schramm (stroke 2) was far from ecstatic. Instead an exhausted and bewildered rower was understandably unable to express his feelings.
An extraordinary day with an array of dramas cast mixed emotions upon the eventual outcome, but Cambridge displayed mental as well as physical distinction that justify a victory.