The 2020 Boat Race Trial Eights: Oxford’s Civil War
19 December 2019
By Tim Koch
Tim Koch goes P to M – twice.
Even before 2019 draws to an end, some of us have our thoughts shifted well into 2020. This mind trick is performed by the Oxford and the Cambridge Trial Eights, four races held in December to assist the coaches in choosing crews for Boat Race Day, 29 March. To plagiarise myself:
The Trials are not contests of Light Blue v Dark Blue, they are men’s and women’s intra-university races, Oxford v Oxford and Cambridge v Cambridge, where the last sixteen rowers and last two coxswains from each squad in battle it out, usually in theoretically matched boats, all hoping to impress the coach who has to pick their final crew. The Trials are an important learning experience for rowers and coxes as well as an intense selection test, held, as they usually are, over the full 4 ¼-mile course.
This year, the Oxford men’s and women’s trials were on Wednesday, 11 December when conditions were benign and the water calm. As usual, taking notes and photographs at the same time is problematic, so my report is heavy on pictures and light on text. Note that parallax error makes the boat nearest to the camera seem to be further up than it actually is.
The Oxford Women’s Race
For the 75th Women’s Boat Race, the boats were named after the stroke (Brown) and bow (Morely) of the first Oxford Women’s Boat in 1927. Morely, dressed in white tops, was on Middlesex, and Brown, dressed in dark blue tops, was on Surrey.
The Oxford Men’s Race
OUBC chose the names Hurley and Burly for their Trial crews. The boats are named after the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Tower Station boat, the Hurley Burly. The RNLI is the charity partner of The Boat Race. Hurley, in blue tops, was on Middlesex, Burley, in white tops, was on Surrey.