Eighteen Into Nine Won’t Go: The Oxford Men’s Trial Eights

For numerous reasons, the umpire/press launch following the Trial Eights was the 2021 built Bravo Lima, the first purpose-built commercial landing craft on the Thames. It is probably a splendid vessel for getting an invasion force onto Omaha Beach but if you wish to use it to watch a boat race from, it does not serve so well. Fortunately, Umpire Ciarán Hayes had a good view. Picture: Zoe Davies.

21 December 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch witnesses a trial by Thames.

As reported on Saturday, Sunday, 19 December, was to be the Oxford Men’s Trail Eights race over the Putney to Mortlake course with their Cambridge counterparts doing the same the next day. Because of COVID in both camps, the women’s trials are postponed until January.

The (theoretically) matched line up of the crews, a screenshot taken from the recording of the race available on demand on the Boat Race YouTube Channel. Olympian Angus Groom is injured.
A shot taken two minutes into the race. I could not see much up to that point, but it seems that Rohan (right) had a fast start and was soon 1/2 to 3/4 length up on Gondor (left).
Four minutes in, along Fulham Reach. For a short time, Gondor seemed to be moving up with the potential for a clash.
Gondor into the fourth minute. Like their opponents Rohan, the boat was stroked on bow (starboard) side. This led to the interesting situation of having Liam Corrigan, who stroked the U.S. Eight to fourth place in the Tokyo Olympics, sitting at “7”. President Barakso was at “4” and Swiss double Olympian Delarze was at “5”.
Rohan with Tokyo Bronze medalist in the eight Charlie Elwes at stroke. Another Swiss double Olympian, Röösli, was a “3”. Wambersie at “5” is up for his fourth Boat Race.
The view from Hammersmith Bridge. Picture: Zoe Davies.
Approaching Hammersmith Bridge, Gondor came up to 1/2 length behind Rohan, possibly assisted by the latter going wide before the bridge.
After Hammersmith Bridge, the Rohan crew maintained a 1/2 length lead, a very good position for a boat on Middlesex to be at that point, and approaching Chiswick Eyot, they did a push which gave it a one-length lead.
Head Coach Sean Bowden (left) and Coxing Coach Seb Pearce (right).
The following three shots were taken over twelve-seconds alongside Chiswick Pier.
In a decisive move, Rohan, with clear water cut in front of Gondor.
Gondor was left in line behind Rohan and having to row in their puddles.
At Mortlake.
Approaching Barnes Bridge.
Gondor, possibly trying to remember that the coach is probably looking more at the losing crew than the winning one to see how they react under pressure.
Coming up to the former brewery and also to The Ship, a pub older than the Boat Race.
At the finish. Unofficially, Rohan, certainly the sharper crew, won by 1 1/3 lengths.
Bowesman-Jones, “7” on stroke side in the winning boat, feels the pain. The Old Blue had a good race – could he challenge one of the four stroke side Olympians for a seat?

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