I didn’t get to watch it this morning, since today is our only morning of the week to sleep in. But there has been plenty to watch and read after the fact given the amount of drama that flooded this morning’s race.
I’m not a diehard Boat Race fan, but I do take interest in it as one of the few events in rowing that gets great media sponsorship and spectator presence. I also have numerous friends who have rowed in past Boat Races for both the light and dark blues, so it’s difficult to miss their commentary every year and the friendly banter that ensues on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
I think there is a lot of debate about what’s fair and what’s just tragic given the circumstances of this morning–moreover I think opinions on the outcome are largely dependent on one’s university affiliation. But my short take on the race with no personal Ox/Cam bias is that this was a situation with multiple instances of bizarre or unexpected circumstances, and one crew handled those circumstances better than another. For anyone who argues that Cambridge should feel less pride about their victory today, or in any way feel disappointed about the outcome, I disagree. The boat race is touted as an epic and storied contest of power and toughness between two crews, but steering and strategy are huge components of a crew’s success and in this case, Oxford came up short. Crashing is never ideal in a rowing race, but if it does happen, it takes a lot of focus and resolve not just to come out of it but to also turn it in to an advantage (an early lesson I learned as a novice rower when coxing was often at its most unreliable was that if you were going to hit someone, at least take them out).
As far as I’m concerned, Cambridge capitalized on a bad situation that was not their fault and produced the best possible outcome. The rules of rowing can be cruel and unforgiving if a crew or cox make steering errors and it doesn’t get much more real than a broken oar as a product of said errors. Ouch.
Overall, a very tough contest today for both crews. Sorry that it wasn’t perfect, but part of preparing for competition is being prepared for the unexpected. Well done Cambridge (esp. Niles Garratt, Cambridge stroke and UW Class of ’11!!!!).
This is today’s Twitter feed from William Zeng, Oxford 2-seat–very emotional and worth a read (note: have to read bottom to top):
Well, enough of this. I have my own racing to prepare for (hopefully no swimmers/protesters and/or clashes involved) as Non Qualified Olympic Trials begin here in Chula Vista next Tuesday. More to come on that, but first: laundry and taxes. Oh, the glamorous life of an Olympic hopeful.
Long Live the Dream,
PS: as of this afternoon, all reports indicate that the Oxford bowman who was escorted to the hospital after the race is doing well and is on the road to recovery. Can’t say that I’ve ever blacked out from rowing before, so tip of the hat to you, sir.