Two-seat dreams not
of oars or crabs or eleven boat-
lengths, but of Bow’s sympathetic arms.
The annual Oxford-Cambridge race on the Thames took place today. Only five minutes in, the Cambridge 2-seat knocked oars with Oxford’s 7-seat, then “caught a crab,” i.e., got his oar blade stuck under water. The sudden force nearly flung him out of the shell, and he lost at least five strokes, causing Cambridge to fall well behind. Cambridge might have been able to maintain that margin and lose with a still-decent time, but later we learned the incident also damaged 2’s rigger (the part that supports the oar), which meant his stroke did not have its usual power. Cambridge lost by 11 boat-lengths, the biggest gap since 1973. (Read more on the race here on the Telegraph or here on BBC.)
While it was a disappointingly uncompetitive race for spectators, both crews were incredibly sporting about it, acknowledging that it is tough both to lose and to win in such lopsided events, but that they are all part of the game.
I found myself struck by the image of Mike Thorp (Cambridge’s 1-seat, or Bow) consoling Luke Juckett (2-seat) after the race.