- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Tomlin, Katherine Xu
Balliol Rowing Club’s Women 1st VIII remain Head of the River after successfully overturning a decision that they had been bumped by Pembroke.
At an early stage in their final race of Eights Week, one of the Pembroke rowers caught a crab, causing their boat to come almost to a complete stop, after which Balliol were able to finish the race without any further threat.
But Pembroke made an appeal amid uncertainty as to whether they had made contact with the boat before this happened.
The racing committee consequently looked at eyewitness accounts, umpire reports, the accounts of both parties, marks on each boat and the video and photographic evidence provided, eventually deciding that the Pembroke bow was likely to have made contact with the Balliol stern.
However, Balliol appealed this decision to the Senior Umpires and said that the bump should be sure beyond reasonable doubt. Pembroke’s appeal was overturned on the grounds that the committee were not sufficiently certain of the bump.
One member of Balliol’s boat club committee commented on the appeals process: “It’s kind of ridiculous, robbing the passion and emotion involved, to have the biggest prize decided in a courtroom.”
Natalie Redgrave, Pembroke women’s captain and daughter of rower Sir Steve Redgrave, said: “Following the race Pembroke placed an appeal in the genuine belief that some contact had been made with Balliol and out of a desire to find out whether anyone outside the boat had seen this to be the case. It was never our intention for the appeal process to become so drawn out and create such a negative atmosphere for all involved – no one wants to take a Headship on appeal and especially after an excruciating wait for both parties of more than 36 hours.
“We see little point in lamenting further what may or may not have been and instead will focus on next years’ Eights Week where we look forward to a more conclusive battle.”
The captain of Balliol Women’s 1st VIII, Sophie Avery, said: “We were all VERY shocked when Pembroke’s appeal went through, and there was much anger at the injustice… I think, upon our appeal going through, the feeling was overwhelming relief rather than joy. We all knew we had Headship and to be denied it on such shaky, unjustified grounds, would have been a travesty.”
Elsewhere during VIIIs week, the cox of the Wadham Women’s 4th boat VIII team had to be taken to hospital after her boat was hit during a 6th division bumps race last Wednesday. According to one eyewitness, the injury was the result of the other boat chasing the Wadham boat for “longer than they should have”. The injured party did not sustain critical injuries. One competitor said that the incident was “quite sobering” and highlighted the “dangerous nature of bumps races”, further noting that “safety should be the first priority.”
In the men’s divisions Oriel College took the headship convincingly. Responding to allegations that the College had effectively paid rowers to transfer to them, boat club captain Simon Peet said that: “None of the three Oriel rowers in the Blue Boat have been offered incentives, financial or otherwise, to join Oriel, other than the opportunity to live in a great College and have the chance of winning historic events such as the Boat Race and Summer Eights.” First boat rower Moritz Hafner said that he made the move for academic reasons as his previous college lacked an Economics tutor, and that “this year at Oriel has cost me more than the first year of my degree at Kellogg College”.