Oxford has been beaten by Cambridge in a Boat race of unprecedented controversy. The eventful race featured a broken oar, a swimming protester and culminated in a collapsed oarsman.
The 158th Boat race started unremarkably with Oxford taking a slight lead. However the race was forced to a halt after 10 minutes when Trenton Oldfield, a Marxist protester, swam into the Thames and obstructed the rowers. Oldfield has been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.
The Umpire John Garrett, a former Cambridge rower, took the decision to restart the race at the halfway point. The restart was delayed for over 30 minutes because of the swell on the river, which the abrupt halt of the flotilla of powerboats following the race had caused.
When the race resumed the two boats became too close to each other and the Oxford cox was warned to steer away from Cambridge by the Umpire. However just a few seconds later the Oxford boat sustained a broken oar after clashing with Cambridge. The Umpire refused a request from Oxfords Cox for a further restart and the teams continued to row. Both boats finished the race with Cambridge beating Oxford by a comfortable margin. Dr Alex Woods, the Bow man for Oxford, collapsed after crossing the finishing line and was taken from his boat to Charing Cross hospital for medical treatment. The traditional post race prize giving and celebration was abandoned.
Opinion amongst students was divided, a German student at Jesus said: “The boat race was amazing! The best entertainment ever! Although actually it was really sad about that a rower collapsed. And also a complete fix and the ref sucks and so do the tabs.”
However a 3rd year PPE student from St Edmund Hall was disappointed by the race: “This wasn’t Cambridge’ victory; it was Oxford’s loss. Although the circumstances were highly unusual, we lost in the end due to bad coxing. As for the man who interrupted the first race, I hope he knew how much danger he put himself and these athletes in.”
Emily Gunning, a 4th year at Jesus College was less sympathetic, she said: “I never usually watch it (the boat race) as I don’t have any interest in rowing, but this year it sounds like it was super interesting because some people possibly nearly died.”