The Oxford University Women’s Boat Club were rescued by Chiswick RNLI on Wednesday 1st April after strong winds and waves swamped the team’s boat near Fulham Railway Bridge.
None of the nine team members involved were injured, and shortly after the incident, the team tweeted reassurances to their followers from their official twitter page: “Thanks to the @ChiswickRNLI for their help this morning! Glad to say all athletes well+ready to go #shouldhavebeenanaprilfools #darkblue”.
Members were taken to Putney by the RNLI crew after having been seen in difficulty on the river while in training for the Annual Boat Race. Their sunken boat was later recovered by the lifeboat team.
Christine Wilson, chief coach of Oxford University Women’s Boat Club, issued the following statement to the Mirror: “The Tideway can be tempestuous, fickle and a challenge for the most experienced navigators, which is why we regard the river as the other competitor in The Boat Race.
“I am pleased to confirm that all of the OUWBC athletes are safe and well, and that the whole situation was managed calmly, safely and competently. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the Chiswick RNLI for their assistance and to say that we are 100% focused on our remaining preparations ahead of 11 April.”
While Chiswick RNLI has been involved in several rescues of rowing crews, RNLI helmsmen Ian Owen told the Guardian that Wednesday’s event was unusual in that it involved such high profile rowers, saying: “While we have rescued quite a number of rowers over the years, this is the first time I’ve been involved in helping such a prestigious team. The weather can be unpredictable on the Thames, and the Oxford University team dealt with the situation as safely and calmly as possible. We wish them all the best for their upcoming race.”
Wednesday’s events add to the heightened publicity surrounding this year’s annual four mile Race, as both the Newton’s Women Boat Race and the BNY Mellon Boat Race are held on 11th April, the first time in the races’ history that they fall on the same day.
A member of the Oxford University Women’s Boat Club Team was unavailable for comment.
PHOTO/Facebook:Oxford University Women’s Boat Club