Boat Race - from the launch

842 views
Skip to first unread message

Alistair

unread,
Apr 8, 2012, 7:32:00 PM4/8/12
to
Anyone travelling for the first time on a launch following the Boat Race
will tell you two things surprised them. The first is the speed. To put
it in rowers' terms, you're doing 2k in 4 minutes. You have to have some
serious horsepower in your launch just to keep up.

The second is just how enjoyable the race is without Topolski.

So it was a good race. Cambridge had clearly not wasted time practising
a start, and so we saw Oxford take 3/4 length as the flotilla got up to
speed. A better Oxford crew could have finished the race by two minutes,
but they weren't, so it wasn't. Oxford had more gears, Cambridge only
one, but Cambridge's base pace was marginally more efficient than
Oxford's. From the start through to the point where it was stopped we'd
see them repeatedly attack and gain a small advantage but every single
time they were wound back in.

I had thought we'd see more clashing before Hammersmith and we didn't.
Zoe (the Oxford cox) had the better of the course round Hammersmith;
they passed under neck-and-neck but the Cambridge boat took the bend a
little early and ended up across the tide for a few strokes on a point
where they should have taken a couple of seats. We came down the Eyot
still dead level and by the end of the island, marginally, you'd have
wanted to be in the Oxford boat. Cambridge weren't going to suddenly
find a length, and that meant they'd have to take the long way round the
final bend to the line. But what you can't know from outside the boat is
just how fucked the crews are, and as the race drags on it just takes
one guy, one single poorly-timed stroke or the germ of the seed of doubt
in one mind for the race to turn on its head. Let no-one say they know
how the race would have played out.

So I'm in the launch and I spot a head in the water. We all do about the
same time, about 250m in front of the boats. It's clearly and obviously
a swimmer, his head is above the water, he's come from the boats moored
near the crossing. I think for a moment that maybe he just wants to
watch from there, but now the umpire is waving his red flag. It takes
twenty seconds for his message to get through to the crews, and by then
this guy's right under the Oxford oars. He's pulled from the water. The
comments from the flotilla are not friendly. Had any safety boat been on
hand, and quickly transferred him it's possible we wouldn't even have
spun. But the halfwits with their crash-helmets and flashing lights
seized their moment in the limelight, gunned up their motorboat from
no-where and caused the most almighty wash by the time they reached us.

There's debate about who was leading when John put up his flag. A couple
of feet to Cambridge is the consensus, but having now watched it on tv,
there was nothing to choose between the crews. And luckily the race was
stopped right at the end of the long straight past the Eyot, making a
restart fairly straightforward. Or would have been had not two or three
of these orange-suited safety muppets started doing donuts in their
motor-toys like overexcited lapdogs. Cambridge row past us close enough
to touch, and of course we're banging the launch and geeing them up, and
they look remarkably composed. It's actually familiar territory: start
to the end of the eyot is a standard piece, followed by beginning of the
Eyot to the finish.

We turn around and chug behind the eyot with the rest of the flotilla,
as directed. I'm with Ted who coxed a couple of years ago, and tell him
I've never even been here, but he says he has loads of times. I vaguely
remember the island's supposed to be home to giant Chinese crabs, but
despite looking hard there's no evidence of them. There's loads of
people on the bank though and they've all got good words, that was nice.

So we're back in position and John's calling the crews up to restart but
it's immediately apparent when they've turned that the water's
unrowable, that long, seasick making swell that just flops you from side
to side. So he tells them to turn again, but now the entire flotilla is
in position and now it's us who are going to screw up the water but we
have no choice but to turn again against the tide and follow the crews
up to St Pauls.

I wonder which crew I'd rather be in. For Cambridge, tactically, the
position is not good. They know they're going to get stiffed of the
start again, but unlike back at Putney Oxford will be able to turn the
screw on hard as the bend swings round to their favour after about 90
seconds. And unlike the Fulham bend, where they are on the river now is
a big, big advantage for Oxford. But, if Cambridge can cling on up to
Barnes Bridge, I'd give Cambridge the better odds. Oxford, far lighter,
have had to work harder than Cambridge and their bladework looks more
vulnerable. If you didn't know anything about the crews you'd definitely
choose to be in the Oxford boat though. From Cambridge to win from here
is going to require something very special just to stay in it for the
first couple of minutes.

And by now we've been pottering about for about half an hour and the
flotilla is starting to suffer. We've had to spend an age in full power
reverse gear (on top of about six minutes at the start), which puts a
lot of strain on the engines and makes them very hard to control
directionally. Ours is starting to make odd noises, so rather than being
right next to the umpire's launch where we've been up to now we pull
into closer to the bank next to the press launch, so that if we do conk
out we won't be in the way at all. I see Quarrell. She's wearing
enormous ear-muff headphones, I have no idea why, so I call her on the
mobile and ask her if she knows what's going on. No more than anyone
else. She sounds like she's on the moon, when actually I could probably
have just yelled at her.

And then, quite suddenly, the two boats are in position and drifting
rapidly down the eyot with both coxes hands in the air. I discover that
here, closer to the bank, you get quite a different view and realise why
the press launch is on the outside and no so much behind the umpire. And
we're screaming (unfairly) at John to start the race, because if he
doesn't get on with it they're going to be at the finish before he's
even started.

Go.

And within seconds John is warning Oxford. She's cutting the bend,
because that's what your eyes tell you to do. If the race hadn't been
stopped she wouldn't make such a basic error, but the restart is not
what you train for, and like a novice on her first Tideway visit she's
way off line.

Not that that's an excuse. There's only one correct course in the Boat
Race, and that's where the umpire tells you to go. You don't have to go
that way, the umpire's not there to steer for you, he's there to make it
very, very clear if you're not in your water, and if you're not in your
water then it's tough shit if you screw up. And wow, did she screw up.

Zoe, all you had to do was point your boat in the right direction. All
you needed to do was steer the course and you'd probably have won. But
you didn't. Your selfish aggression cost your crew the chance of
winning. Not the guy in the water, don't blame him. Shit happens. No,
you fucked this up because your pride told you you're some sort of
wonder-woman. Well you're not, your job is to gain the maximum advantage
for your crew, and if that brings you distinction good for you. But you
seek glory at your peril, and you went looking for glory, fishing for
the dubious pseudo-machismo of getting stuck in. Your payback was
blowing seven months of hard work in a few seconds. Your hubris was your
destruction, but a thousand times worse it brought destruction on your
crewmates. They put you in the position of ultimate trust, and your
repayment to them, your return for them dragging your arse from Putney
to Mortlake, was to humiliate them.

You're not the first to steer badly. You're not the first to imagine
you're bigger than the boat, that you can gain some vainglorious honour,
some permanent place among the roster of Boat Race greats by scrapping
around at the raw edges of your crew. And you have, in your own way
gained something of what your sought. Because from now on, those who
wish to steer for the universities will forever look to you as the
example of how to never, ever behave.

So anyway, we're a bit stunned for a few seconds. Zoe's gesticulating
wildly, and then Oxford sprint in desperation but to no avail. Later I
spoke to the Cambridge guys and not one was aware that Oxford had lost a
blade - why would they? We knew though, and it was a subdued procession
that made it's way to the finish line. We were right there alongside
Oxford underneath Chiswick Bridge while Zoe appealed andy John
essentially told them you have lost. The stroke man smacks his oar on
the water in frustration.

And we stand up and applaud them, because that seems the appropriate
thing to do. They never stopped trying even when they had no chance, and
there is no greater test than that.

The bowman was slumped back in his seat, lying on the wave break. It
wasn't out of the ordinary. Zoe called them up to row, and he didn't
move, and so the two man turns round, and suddenly it's apparent that
the bow man is more than just pooped. He's not conscious. The two man
starts shouting in his face, splashing water, but nothing, then the
guy's head rolls to one side and this stream of white stuff, not vomit
but frothy bile comes out of his mouth followed by his tongue, lolling
in the way no conscious person even does. It looks to me like I'm
watching someone die.

Another boat comes alongside and friendly arms reach down and lift him
from the boat, his flaccid body held beneath knees and neck as he's
hauled up, and here on Holy Day for an instant Alex Woods looks like
nothing more than the central figure in a modern day Pieta.

All of which put a bit of a downer on the atmosphere on the bank.

At the dinner I sat with the 1962 crew, back for their 50 year reunion.
There were seven of them there, including Boyce Budd who won gold at the
64 games. "You must think me very old" told me one of them cheerfully.
"I know that because I remember at Henley meeting the Harvard boys of
1914 for their 50 year reunion and thinking them pretty ancient too.
They were all there, all nine of them! The Leander crew of 1914, whom
they'd defeated, came too." He looked a little wistful for a second.
"There were just three of them of course." Before his race in 64 there'd
been a big CND demonstration, although no-one had jumped in the river.
The Oxford boat had pretty much swamped at Hammersmith, but Cambridge on
Surrey took on far less water and won comfortably. Later on in the
evening James Crowden told us that at his first Boat Race dinner he'd
sat with the elderly Wilfred Chapman, whose first race was one hundred
and ten years ago, in 1902. In Wilfred's second race in 1903 Cambridge
squared on "are you ready", but the starting pistol didn't go off, and
Chapman's crew were 3/4 up length up on Oxford by the time the
stake-boat men released them, and they won easily.

There is no monopoly on fairness, and I could tell you some equal
horror-stories to even things up. But such is the nature of the race, a
race invented in an era when sport meant cockpits and bare-knuckles and
the idea that you could contrive fairness anathema to those Georgian
gentlemen. It's not meant to be fair, it's meant simply to test, and the
test is simply this: did you give your all.

AJP

William Clark

unread,
Apr 8, 2012, 8:42:37 PM4/8/12
to
In article <S5SdncAwb61sgh_S...@bt.com>,
Yes, seemed to me that Oxford had reason to be doubly frustrated. When
the cretin appeared in the water, Oxford had just about finished off
Cambridge's long Surrey bend, and done so keeping on level terms. It
looked as though they were starting to take a little out of the light
Blues, and some of the Cambridge blade work was beginning to look
distinctly ragged. I would think it was definitely psychological
advantage Oxford at that point.
Then (finally) the re-start, and Cambridge get a reprieve, but Oxford
get away first again. What Zoe was thinking about is beyond me, but
again, I think the dark Blues would have been pretty comfortable with
their position, given that the final Middlesex bend in their favour was
coming up. Then, "snap", blade gone, race over. You wonder whether the
tandem rig might have had something to do with it, since it did not
allow space between the blades for them to alternate the way two
conventional rigs would, but that is no excuse for poor steering. In
fact, Oxford should be commended for only giving back four lengths with
just seven oars.
So, congratulations to Cambridge, but somehow the plight of Alex Wells
seemed to sum up the whole shambolic day. Let's hope that six months of
dedication by both crews does noy get screwed up again by some
misguided, self-important, moron.

Alexander

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 7:37:46 AM4/9/12
to

"Alistair" <alistair....@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:S5SdncAwb61sgh_S...@bt.com...
Thank you for your fine, but biassed, description of the race.

I think your personal remarks about the Oxford cox are disgusting. I hope I
never meet you.

Alexander Lindsay


Carl

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 7:46:43 AM4/9/12
to
Thank you for your brilliantly detailed & informative race report, Alistair.

Thanks too for the description of the potentially awful predicament of
Alex Woods who, I'm sure we all hope, is fully recovered or recovering
by now.

Thanks again for those anecdotal connections back through the
generations, both poignant & amusing. Good thing that Prendergast (from
Waugh's Decline and Fall) wasn't in charge of the starting pistol in
1903 or one crew might never have moved off the start.

Lastly, your final para should serve as a firm reminder of the spirit of
real competition for all those ninnies still whingeing on in other
places about the outcome. Yes, the race can end just like that. And
there'll be no re-row.

Cheers -
Carl

--
Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Find: http://tinyurl.com/2tqujf
Email: ca...@carldouglas.co.uk Tel: +44(0)1932-570946 Fax: -563682
URLs: www.carldouglas.co.uk (boats) & www.aerowing.co.uk (riggers)

Alistair

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 9:34:38 AM4/9/12
to
Alexander wrote:
>
> Thank you for your fine, but biassed, description of the race.
>
> I think your personal remarks about the Oxford cox are disgusting. I hope I
> never meet you.
>
> Alexander Lindsay
>

Fair enough about not wanting to meet me. I'm sure you're not the first.
But if you want to whinge about 'personal' remarks regarding the Oxford
cox, head over to talkrowing and you can vent your spleen on the
sophomoronic comments that have followed all and every woman who has
stepped forward into the Boat Race limelight. You can be Disgusted of
the Internet, the self-appointed knight protecting the fair damsels of
the rudder-strings.

However, here in rsr-world, nothing I have said about Zoe is anything
other than my opinion of her professional competence. Which is obviously
not very high. Feel free to disagree, or not to read at all, but if you
think she deserves a free-ride because she's already had a very, very
bad day, then you're way off mark.



Peter Ford

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 10:13:28 AM4/9/12
to
Firstly, thanks for your interesting account of the various goings on
of a rather dramatic Boat Race day.

The only cause for complaint I can see in your comments on the coxing
is that you don't hesitate to extrapolate from the position of the
boat, to the intentions and decisions of the cox. Presumably you had a
rather better view than us, so maybe you can answer some of the
questions that seem entirely unanswerable from the rather clueless
camera work of the BBC:

1) Were there actually Oxford blades out of the water on the Go, or
was that effect caused by the lag between the sound and pictures on
iPlayer?

2) Had the wash entirely gone by the eventual restart?

3) Which way were the two boats' rudders pointing in the, say, 5
strokes before the terminal blade clash?

Thanks,
Peter

Chris A

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 11:05:18 AM4/9/12
to
On Apr 9, 12:32 am, Alistair <alistair.potts+...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Anyone travelling for the first time on a launch following the Boat Race
> will tell you two things surprised them. The first is the speed. To put
> it in rowers' terms, you're doing 2k in 4 minutes. You have to have some...

Alistair thanks for an interesting (as always) first hand account of
what happened.


Henry Law

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 1:22:36 PM4/9/12
to
On 09/04/12 00:32, Alistair wrote:
> gentlemen. It's not meant to be fair, it's meant simply to test, and the
> test is simply this: did you give your all.

I've no idea whether or not I agree with what you said; all I could see
was what the BBC, with its maddening habit of looking at irrelevant
stuff when something important's happening, showed me. But I have to
say how pleased I am to see another PottsPiece after all this time.
Such good reading.

--

Henry Law Manchester, England

saraha...@gmail.com

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 1:09:03 PM4/9/12
to
On Monday, April 9, 2012 12:32:00 AM UTC+1, Alistair wrote:
<snip>

As the others have said, thanks for this. I did wonder if we might be treated to more musings - there haven't been as many recently!

One thing I am intrigued about though is the 6 man in the Oxford boat, and what he should have done after the clash. He did look pretty silly just moving up and down the slide with no spoon on the end of his loom, especially given the other 7 men were working flat out. 90kg of deadweight to carry for 7 or so minutes? No thanks.


It isn't unprecedented for people to jump out of boats (the Harvard 2 man did it at HRR in 2004(?)), and the old Blues I was watching with at LRC didn't think there was anything in the rules that says you have to cross the finish line with with a full crew, although you do need to have the cox on board (obviously this is a different race, but the HBRs definitly just stipulate you need to have the cox).

Sarah

sully

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 1:26:54 PM4/9/12
to
On Apr 8, 4:32 pm, Alistair <alistair.potts+...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Anyone travelling for the first time on a launch following the Boat Race
> will tell you two things surprised them. The first is the speed. To put
> it in rowers' terms, you're doing 2k in 4 minutes. You have to have some
> serious horsepower in your launch just to keep up.


Brilliant, Alistair, thanks.

By pure luck, I happened to be in a hotel room with
BBC-america on the channels, and by pure luck
I'd turned it on and caught the beginning of the race,
and watched it for the first time ever. damn me for
not making a greater effort sooner.

I was captivated by the madness of these crews
racing all out in really a wild river. Even on TV
I could see how insane the currents must be.

In reading comments later about the event, I
wasn't as outraged about the swimmer as others.
Yes, the guy's a mindless d***, I'm sorry he
got interviews. But when a competitive event
becomes a scene, we accept the consequences,
both positive (from the exposure) and negative
(there's a lot of whack people out there, and most
people in a scene are just the gawking mob, no
clue what's happening).

I searched my head trying to find words to
put in perspective this, and other competitive rowing
events like it. For decades we've been going through
tremendous expense and effort trying to make
rowing events fair, make them fan-friendly, make
them make a little more sense to TV. We have
groomed lanes, when will we start asking for
indoor swimming pools? Right, trying to do that in
Oklahoma now.

The way you expressed this was perfect, thanks.

As to taking the Oxford cox to the woodshed. Ouch,
even I was shuddering, and I'm an old RSR hand.

Whether it was deserved or not is far beyond my
ability to judge from never having been on the course,
and watching once on TV!! I sure as hell enjoyed
it though, well done! It puts coxing in it's proper
unique place in the sporting world. So many rowers
will pop off about coxes "along for the ride" and this
event more than puts that to rest.

Paul Flory

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 1:43:18 PM4/9/12
to
On Apr 9, 1:22 pm, Henry Law <n...@lawshouse.org> wrote:
> On 09/04/12 00:32, Alistair wrote:
all I could see
> was what the BBC, with its maddening habit of looking at irrelevant
> stuff when something important's happening, showed me.

The fluttering flag blocking the camera lens didn't help either. A
helicopter shot would have been perfect. They had heli shots earlier
in the race, wonder why not at this critical juncture?

Saw this piece:
http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/sport/9638267.ROWING__Furious_Oxford_rue_bad_luck/
It doesn't seem as much "bad luck" as "bad judgement". Owning up to
that might a good start to doing better in the future. In any case
the frightening condition of Oxford's bowman made the request for a
rerow moot.

Alistair

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 1:50:11 PM4/9/12
to
Peter Ford wrote:
>
> 1) Were there actually Oxford blades out of the water on the Go, or
> was that effect caused by the lag between the sound and pictures on
> iPlayer?

The reason Oxford's blades look out of the water is because most of them
are holding them at 3/4 square skimming the water rather than buried.
Oxford chose to take quite long strokes from the bow pair, while
Cambridge were rapidly tapping up from the front-stop. Either way, in
that situation, you don't want the other blades buried, because then the
boat will move far less when you do take a stroke. Cambridge 3 - 8 had
blades flat, a bit like for the main start, while Oxford chose the
square-but-not-buried approach. Same difference really. They both got
going at the same time, but Oxford were faster away, just like the real
start.

> 2) Had the wash entirely gone by the eventual restart?

Yes. But, the tide was a lot higher. That leads to
* more swirliness underneath you. I don't know why, but it does. No-one
enjoys rowing near the top of the tide.
* rather wider stream. being in the 'right position' is less important.
* it's much harder to orientate yourself if you lose concentration for a
second. If you had to pick the worst 'which way should I be pointing'
point of the tideway, somewhere near the crossing at a high tide would
be up there. You know you want to be 'over there' in 500m, so the
temptation is to point your boat in that direction, but that's fatal.
Was this a factor? Don't know, but if it was it's literally a schoolboy
error.

>
> 3) Which way were the two boats' rudders pointing in the, say, 5
> strokes before the terminal blade clash?
>

I have no idea! Boats take a long time to steer, rudders are generally
rudimentary metal flippers. Their effective range is far, far less than
the range available. There was good distance between the boats at the
restart, and for the first 15 strokes the boats are running parallel.
The coming together was categorically not the result of starting of
pointing in different directions.

Then Zoe starts her turn, but too early for the umpire, and immediately
she's being warned. Both coxes would have known in an instant that
without immediate action there was going to be a clash, and not just a
clipping of oars but an almighty bust up.

There enough time for Oxford to steer away, for sure. Both coxes have
done this sort of stuff a million times before. It takes ten more
strokes, and five or six clear warnings that they are heading into
Cambridge's water, before they come together.

Bosson in the Cambridge boat will have known for all those ten strokes
that Oxford are out of their water, knows, crucially, that he is down
and losing ground; his best option is to ensure that he maximises their
disruption in disentangling themselves; he knows the onus is on Oxford
to do that. He knows they're going to have to steer away hard, and the
harder he can make that manoeuvre for them, the more they're going to
suffer. He wants to come out of this clash by negating Oxford's bend
advantage as much as possible, hopefully forcing Oxford to steer away so
hard they're going to have to steer back hard just to get onto line.

So I'd be very surprised if he was doing anything other than pressing
onto them hard, and I'd be disappointed in any Boat Race cox who
wouldn't have done the same. Zoe needlessly, pointlessly presented
Bosson with a free get-out-of-jail card, one which Cambridge turned
rapidly into landing on Go, collecting £200 and hoovering up all the
hotels in Mayfair.

The Boat Race is always, always won the same way: because you break the
other crew. Sometimes it happens very obviously to an oarsman who
literally can't go on; usually less obviously in the minds of the
competitors; and a little more often than you might think it's not a
rower that breaks first, it's the cox. That's how it's done and we try
to accept victory and defeat in the same way that 158 crews have had to
do before us.





Paul Flory

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 1:59:03 PM4/9/12
to
On Apr 9, 1:26 pm, sully <sulsn...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>It puts coxing in it's proper
> unique place in the sporting world.  So many rowers
> will pop off about coxes "along for the ride" and this
> event more than puts that to rest.

Skilled coxes are deeply appreciated here on the Charles River.
Especially in gusty winds like we had today. It's such a relief to
work with a boat that has a skilled cox!!! One can concentrate on
coaching without worrying as much about whether the boat is going to
hit something (the shore, a bridge, etc).

As for de Toledo's reported claim that the waves were keeping her from
keeping her station, the Cambridge cox was managing essentially the
same conditions without veering to port.

Chris A

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 3:15:37 PM4/9/12
to
Well if you look at the YouTube video shot from Chiswick Pier (from an
accomplice perhaps) would you jump out with that lot bearing down on
you? If he'd jumped then the race would have been stopped and Oxford
probably DSQ.

And with regards to the deadweight why do the boats have to carry
those ridiculous cameras on the stern? The Beeb didn't use them once
in the entire race.

Carl

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 3:34:43 PM4/9/12
to
What an _awful_ attempt at self-justification that is! Everyone out of
step except cox. She even claims her boat went out of control. It's
embarrassing & unsporting.

A former Master of Balliol was once said to have offered the
questionable advice, "Never apologise, never explain", but for Zoe not
to apologise & to blame everything else really does take the biscuit.
When in hole, cease digging.

If Oxford's boat really did go out of control, as she now wants us to
believe, shouldn't they have known about this tendency (they've rowed in
rougher stuff) & done something about it long before the race. Are we
supposed to believe that the river Gods suddenly started playing
partisan hanky-panky with her boat? Please, pull the other one!

For what it's worth - and believe it was worth quite a bit - Cambridge
had an AeRowFin steering foil fitted on their boat.

Never once did Cambridge seem to be in anything but complete control of
their course. We'd have been happy to supply Oxford with an AeRowFin.
They only had to ask. But we weren't going to press them to use one.
And they never did ask. They stuck with their conventional "2 bits of
flattened tin". And now the lady has the nerve to complain about loss
of control.

I hope it's a lesson well learned.

Alistair

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 3:38:17 PM4/9/12
to
sully wrote:
> some nice stuff.

Thanks Sully.

This non-BBC angle will give you a better idea of just how close the
swimmer came to impaling himself on an Oxford oar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYy4z2uky5M


Alexander

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 4:54:26 PM4/9/12
to

"Alistair" <alistair....@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:9OidnZsstfn2eB_S...@bt.com...
You of all people are not in a position to preach about manners.
And, yes, it was your lack of manners that I objected to. You wrote:

" Your selfish aggression cost your crew the chance of
winning. Not the guy in the water, don't blame him. Shit happens. No,
you fucked this up because your pride told you you're some sort of
wonder-woman. Well you're not, your job is to gain the maximum advantage
for your crew, and if that brings you distinction good for you. But you
seek glory at your peril, and you went looking for glory, fishing for
the dubious pseudo-machismo of getting stuck in. Your payback was
blowing seven months of hard work in a few seconds. Your hubris was your
destruction, but a thousand times worse it brought destruction on your
crewmates. They put you in the position of ultimate trust, and your
repayment to them, your return for them dragging your arse from Putney
to Mortlake, was to humiliate them."

I don't know if you know the woman. I don't..
If you do, then I hope she never speaks to you again.
If not, how dare you address her by her first name and then humiliate her
with childish obscenities in public?
The reason I hope I never meet you is that I would find it very hard to
resist throwing you into the river, to join the other filth..




>


Alistair

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 6:48:06 PM4/9/12
to
Alexander wrote:

> I don't know if you know the woman. I don't..
> If you do, then I hope she never speaks to you again.
> If not, how dare you address her by her first name and then humiliate her
> with childish obscenities in public?
> The reason I hope I never meet you is that I would find it very hard to
> resist throwing you into the river, to join the other filth..

I'm just putting two and two together but that use of the word filth,
it's a bit of a give-away really. I'm going to go out on a limb here
and guess you're the Mr Lindsay who raced for Oxford in 1959 and 1960?
Double Boat Race winner? Olympics 1960?

With an Olympic gold-medal winning nephew Andrew? Whom I remember, I
think, in, let's see, it was the 1998 boat race, he got his blade
repeatedly knocked out of his hand because of some wayward steering by
the Oxford cox P Greaney? That same coxswain Greaney, keen to avenge his
humiliation of the previous year getting pushed right off the river by K
Whyman of Cambridge, and desperate to avoid a fourth loss, who despite
repeated warnings from the umpire cost his crew and Andrew the chance of
fighting for a win. I'm guessing you remember that. Maybe you were in
the launch, maybe we could compare notes? Are you that Mr Lindsay? Was
this year deja-vu all over again?

Because if you are, you should know more than almost anyone how Andrew,
one of the very best rowers of his generation and a true sportsman, was
robbed of his chance that year, the year he was president, by the
futile, foolish actions of the little guy facing the wrong way, how that
Oxford crew stuffed with talent was never able to show how good they
were. You should know how hot-headedness on the rudder-strings can ruin
seven months of training, so please don't call me out for telling the
world how I see it. As an OUBC man I would expect nothing less than
public loyalty to your side, but if you really think that an obscure
article by me is 'humiliating' to Zoe, or Miss de Toledo, you should
perhaps direct your attention to what she did in front of both millions
of viewers and the eight guys who had put their trust in her.

The OUBC is a great club - amongst other things, the boat club that
first put women in the Boat Race, a club that clearly doesn't think
women need mollycoddling. Does Zoe really need you to wield the sword of
priggishness and the shield of surnames-only on her behalf? The answer
is no, by the way. She's made of tough stuff, of that I have no doubt.

And no, you can't throw me in the river. That's a privilege you really
ought to know about.













Teaplant

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 7:18:51 PM4/9/12
to
> the launch, maybe we could compare notes? Are you that Mr Lindsay? Was
> this year deja-vu all over again?
>

I am enjoying the concept of "deja-vu all over again"

For what it's worth, I think that amateur sportsmen and women do not
deserve singling out for internet criticism. It was an emotional day
for all concerned and it's not as if any of the 18 athletes or umpires
etc gained any financial or career advancement for having their
contest televised to the masses... A £100k-a-week premiership
footballer who gets caught cheating, or slags off the ref or the oppo
on twitter is fair game of course...

Without being personal, I think Oxford will probably feel that they
would have won the race had the protester not intervened. Cambridge
will be equally justified in feeling that by reaching the finish line
first, having committed no fouls, they should now be allowed to enjoy
the pride of that achievement like any other winning crew before
them. Oxford unlucky not to have won in orthodox fashion. Cambridge
unlucky to have won in unorthodox fashion.

Lets not snipe, gentlemen (and ladies).

teaplant/

Paul Flory

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 7:50:54 PM4/9/12
to
On Apr 9, 7:18 pm, Teaplant <teapl...@hotmail.co.uk> wrote:
> > the launch, maybe we could compare notes? Are you that Mr Lindsay? Was
> > this year deja-vu all over again?
>
> I am enjoying the concept of "deja-vu all over again"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yogiisms#Quotations

hp

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 8:01:28 PM4/9/12
to
On Apr 9, 9:54 pm, "Alexander" <atlind...@btinternet.com> wrote:
> "Alistair" <alistair.potts+...@gmail.com> wrote in message
Alexander,

To describe Alistair's phenomenological account of the race as
'biassed' is to misunderstand what you were reading. We see all
things through the prism of our own experience. Alistair's particular
prism of experience is that of the cox of the record-breaking
Cambridge Crew of 1998. I'm sorry that he coxed the crew that beat
your nephew. I imagine he remembers some of the awesome pressure that
a Boat Race must cox feel. He must feel a very real awareness of the
fine line that a cox has to navigate between doing their utmost to
steer their crew on the fastest line while avoiding a clash that ends
the race. I must reiterate that I can only imagine, but Alistair has
navigated it.

The strength of his remarks are based upon this experience. His
experience has told him that the crew put total trust in each other to
do their utmost to get each other across the finish-line first. His
experience as cox allows him to judge the risk/reward ratios of Zoe's
strategy in a way that most of us can't. His emotional reaction
indicates that he feels her strategy was a terrible one. The
discomfort you (and I imagine others) feel at reading his commentary
may lead you to describe those specific remarks as 'disgusting' but he
feels the enormity of her misadventure from a vivid perspective you or
I cannot imagine. For Alistair to make his remarks more palatable
would have left us with a less honest account of how he sees the
consequences of her actions.

I have rowed in the Boat Race but I have never coxed. I cannot
evaluate the risks that Zoe took in the way that Alistair can. I will
leave that to him. I can, from experience, tell you a few things about
the race.I can tell you that it is a very miserable race to lose, it
is a more miserable race to lose as a club president and that it can
be absolutely shattering to read, on this and other forums, comments
by individuals that I have never met, which have attributed in some
way my own performance to those losses. Intellectually I know these
comments are based on snippets of information but they have an
emotional impact an nonetheless. As president I made a few mistakes
that I regret, especially a couple of those where I did not show the
moral courage I expected of myself. What I will say is that these
failures made me reflect in a way that winning never did. Winning
feels great but failure is a big improver, probably the best. To
discount a loss and to attribute blame in a way that leads no room for
personal reflection is perhaps the most counter-productive outcome
possible. If the Oxford crew believe that Saturday's result was a
complete injustice and attribute the outcome of their result entirely
to the swimmer then they will not gain much from their experience.

From my own experience, I have come to believe that the result is over-
emphasised, it is the deep sense of unity gained in the striving to
win with other people that is the most life-enhancing aspect of this
race. The Oxford crew has much to reflect on that is good and
worthy. If, in the emotional turmoil of disappointment, the crew can
recognise how they gave their all for each other even though the odds
were all but impossible, then the crew may experience a sense of unity
that they will never find with another set of individuals again. It
may seem that Alistair's account is dishing out emotional pain in the
direction of Zoe but, as rowers know, pain can be life-enhancing too.
It may be more helpful for her to read the uncensored opinion of an
informed peer than to live in a sugar-coated world, where no-one says
what they are actually thinking.

Although it is unrelated to your comments I think it must be noted
Cambridge crew deserved their win for many reasons. Cambridge stuck
to their plan and delivered. They weathered Oxford's fast start and
delivered the good base pace they knew they had. The unbridled
celebrations at the finish were an understandable response to being
written off by commentators and being able to throw their predictions
back in their face. Proving doubters wrong is deeply satisfying. The
guys in this crew have believed in each other when most others
didn't. The respect that they were not given before the race is due
now. They won the race, both actively and actually.

In order to give you enough information to evaluate my 'biassed'
perspective you should know that I went to Cambridge. I also know Zoe
well enough to know that she is a decent person and is a good cox.
Her reaction on the day was an emotional response to a terrible
mistake. An over-aggressive race strategy on the day, however
disastrous, doesn't change my opinion of her, although I accept that
my defence of Alistair may change her opinion of me.



sully

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 8:14:35 PM4/9/12
to
wow, also an incredible read, thank you HP.

hp

unread,
Apr 9, 2012, 8:23:07 PM4/9/12
to
On Apr 9, 9:54 pm, "Alexander" <atlind...@btinternet.com> wrote:
> "Alistair" <alistair.potts+...@gmail.com> wrote in message
Alexander,

To describe Alistair's phenomenological account of the race as
'biassed' is to misunderstand what you were reading. We see all
things through the prism of our own experience. Alistair's particular
prism of experience is that of the cox of the record-breaking
Cambridge Crew of 1998. I imagine he remembers some of the awesome
pressure that a Boat Race must cox feel. He must feel a very real
awareness of the fine line that a cox has to navigate between doing
their utmost to steer their crew on the fastest line while avoiding a
clash that ends the race. I must reiterate that I can only imagine,
but Alistair has navigated it.

The strength of his remarks are based upon this experience. His
experience has told him that the crew put total trust in each other to
do their utmost to get each other across the finish-line first. His
experience as cox allows him to judge the risk/reward ratios of Zoe's
strategy in a way that most of us can't. His emotional reaction
indicates that he feels her strategy was a terrible one. The
discomfort you (and I imagine others) feel at reading his commentary
may lead you to describe those specific remarks as 'disgusting' but he
feels the enormity of her misadventure from a vivid perspective you or
I cannot imagine. For Alistair to make his remarks more palatable
with euphemisms it would have left us with a less authentic reaction.

I have rowed in the Boat Race but I have never coxed. I cannot
evaluate the risks that Zoe took in the way that Alistair can. I will
leave that to him. I can, from experience, tell you a few things about
the race.I can tell you that it is a very miserable race to lose, it
is a more miserable race to lose as a club president and that it can
be absolutely shattering to read, on this and other forums, comments
by individuals that I have never met, which have attributed in some
way my own performance to those losses. Intellectually I know these
comments are based on snippets of information but they have an
emotional impact an nonetheless. As president I made a few mistakes
that I regret, especially a couple of those where I did not show the
moral courage I expected of myself. What I will say is that these
failures made me reflect in a way that winning never did. Winning
feels great but failure is a big improver, probably the best. To
discount a loss and to attribute blame in a way that leaves no room
for personal reflection is perhaps the most counter-productive outcome
possible. If the Oxford crew believe that Saturday's result was a
total injustice and attribute the outcome of their result entirely to
the swimmer then they will not gain much from this experience.

From my own experience, I have come to believe that the result is over-
emphasised, it is the deep sense of unity gained in the striving for
the result with other people that is the most life-enhancing aspect of
this race. The Oxford crew has much to reflect on that is good and
worthy. If, in the emotional turmoil of disappointment, the crew can
recognise how they gave their all for each other even though all was
lost, the crew may still experience a sense of unity that they will
never find with another set of individuals again. It may seem that
Alistair's account may dish out emotional pain in the direction of Zoe
but, as rowers know, pain can be life-enhancing too. It may be more
helpful for her to read the uncensored opinion of an informed peer
than to live in a sugar-coated world, where no-one says what they are
actually thinking.

Although it is unrelated to your comments I think it must be noted
Cambridge crew deserve a great deal of respect. Cambridge stuck to
their plan and delivered. They weathered Oxford's fast start and
delivered the good base pace they knew they had. The unbridled
celebrations at the finish were an understandable response to being
written off by most commentators and throwing their predictions of
Cambridge failure back in their face. I know, from my own experience
of winning my final boat race, that it is deeply satisfying to prove
doubters wrong. The guys in this crew have believed in each other
when most others didn't. The respect that they were not given before
the race is due now. They won the race, both actively and actually.
They will be unified as a team for life.

So that you understand my particular perspective you should know that
I am a Tab, or 'filth' or whatever out-group term was in-vogue in your
time. I also know Zoe well enough to know that she is a decent person
and is a good cox. She employed an over-aggressive race strategy on
the day. This may have been disastrous for her crew, but it doesn't
change my opinion of her, although I accept that my defence of
Alistair may change her opinion of me.

Henry

Alexander

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 4:33:48 AM4/10/12
to

"hp" <henry...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:63eedc58-f80b-4fd4...@f6g2000vbc.googlegroups.com...
Henry

Thank you for such a balanced and thoughtful comment on my probably OTT
remarks. I certainly withdraw my description of the account of the race as
"biassed". I wrote that after one reading, when angry, always a mistake.

But I was angry and I make no apology for expressing my disgust at the
personal abuse heaped on the cox. Potts says, later,

"nothing I have said about Zoe is anything other than my opinion of her
professional competence"

Really? "selfish aggression" .."you fucked this up because your pride told
you you're some sort of
wonder-woman"..."dubious pseudo-machismo of getting stuck in" .. "Your
hubris was your
destruction"

Perhaps he does think all that, perhaps it's even true, (I don't know), but
to publish it, in an otherwise descriptive piece about the events of the
race, as a very personal attack, and as criticism of a member of crew who
your own side has soundly beaten, is still, in my opinion, disgusting bad
manners. Perhaps I am old fashioned, (his research about who I am, and
therefore how old I am, is correct), but I really don't think such
behaviour was imaginable in my day.

I shall write no more on a disagreeable topic.

Regards

Alexander



A. Dumas

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 4:41:04 AM4/10/12
to
Alistair wrote:
> As an OUBC man I

Welcome to the dark side.

Carl

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 8:11:27 AM4/10/12
to
On 10/04/2012 09:33, Alexander wrote:
Perhaps I am old fashioned, (his research about who I am, and
> therefore how old I am, is correct), but I really don't think such
> behaviour was imaginable in my day.
>
> I shall write no more on a disagreeable topic.
>
> Regards
>
> Alexander
>
>
>
Alexander -

I'm closer in age to you than to Alistair, & have the perspective of not
having done time at either of your institutions. But having had some
involvement over the years with both boat clubs I do have enormous
regard for the systems & participants who provide this unique fixture.

I am far from sure that remarks like those to which you understandably
object would not have been made long ago, & with far greater potential
to wound (maybe more subtly worded but certainly with more permanent
effect). And there'd be no way to argue back for someone deemed to have
got it expensively wrong in the heat of the race. Today we may seem to
be rougher but we are, I think, more fair: we don't blackball people
behind closed doors for their presumed deficiencies, & we all have the
chance (given the wit) to peel ourselves back off the floor after an
undeserved slap-down. In the past the arrow might have gone
irretrievably through the heart leaving no means of reply. Now that is
not the case - & everyone can respond to everything.

I'm not keen on the undeleted expletive as a figure of speech, but I
respect the right of an extremely able former cox to express in his own
words his very expert judgement on the performance of another cox, as on
the whole event. It was deeply informative, unlike so much of the
garbage the news media contrives to serve up. Like many of us, Alistair
was upset by what he saw as a race thrown away by plain folly. And,
like may in these days, he gave free expression to his feelings. Women
long ago won gender equality &, when asserting that equality as they
must in a coxing contest, they no longer ask to shelter behind their
femininity. And I don't think Zoe seeks or expects such protection, if
her forthright remarks during & at the end of the race, & other remarks
since attributed to her, are anything to go by.

In your early rowing days, Alexander, women got very short shrift in &
from rowing. That was disgraceful. My wife & her mates ran hard up
against the bigoted old-boy mob & it was a shameful thing. I'm still
ashamed that we younger men didn't do more at that time to combat it - O
tempora, O mores! But the change since then has been wonderful, &
liberating, & they're even going to let women race over the Boat Race
course (who thinks they own & control it?) in a couple of years' time.
Splendid!

Only two things worry now me. One is Zoe's Jowettian reluctance to
accept the possibility of fault, but there's time. The other is that
you might yourself withdraw from this fray. With its hard edges, strong
views & honesty, RSR is a haven of free & unfettered speech from which
the snide & sniping tendency have wisely retreated to infest other
forums. If we start minding our Ps & Qs for fear of treading on toes,
or of having our own toes trodden upon, that day the ghastly, slimy
invention of 'political correctness' will drown us all.

Alistair

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 8:13:42 AM4/10/12
to
Teaplant wrote:
>> the launch, maybe we could compare notes? Are you that Mr Lindsay? Was
>> this year deja-vu all over again?
>>
>
> I am enjoying the concept of "deja-vu all over again"
....
>
> Lets not snipe, gentlemen (and ladies).
>
> teaplant/

It does occur to me that my stream of consciousness was probably
hurtful. I wrote the piece hoping to convey how it felt to be there and
bound up in the moment, and if in doing so cut rather deeper into Zoe
and her crew than I should have, then it is necessary for me to
unequivocally apologise to them and her, which I do.

#coxesshouldsticktogether

AJP












Alexander

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 8:30:00 AM4/10/12
to

"Carl" <s...@sss.jjj> wrote in message news:RrVgr.18860$Tg1....@fx30.am4...
Carl

Thanks.for your wise words.

I too rejoice in the way women's participation in the sport has grown, and
in the impending arrival of the women's crews on the Tideway for their Boat
Race.

To my shame, I remember, as a young man, despising women oars (female
oursmen? oarswomen? oarspersons? athletes? yuk! What a mess our language
leads us into.!) Indeed I initially voted against their eligibility to join
Leander. In recent years some of my most enjoyable and successful ventures
have been in mixed crews at World Masters regattas. But its getting harder
and harder to find companions of my age (of either sex).

The world does sometimes get better. Let's rejoice in that.

Alexander


sully

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 12:14:34 PM4/10/12
to
On Apr 10, 5:30 am, "Alexander" <atlind...@btinternet.com> wrote:
> "Carl" <s...@sss.jjj> wrote in messagenews:RrVgr.18860$Tg1....@fx30.am4...
> > Email: c...@carldouglas.co.uk  Tel: +44(0)1932-570946  Fax: -563682
> > URLs:  www.carldouglas.co.uk(boats) &www.aerowing.co.uk(riggers)
>
> Carl
>
> Thanks.for your wise words.
>
> I too rejoice in the way women's participation in the sport has grown, and
> in the impending arrival of the women's crews on the Tideway for their Boat
> Race.
>
> To my shame, I remember, as a young man, despising women oars (female
> oursmen? oarswomen? oarspersons? athletes? yuk! What a mess our language

There were a great many of us walking in those shoes. Some of the
worst of us were not the ones who openly and aggressively opposed the
women (who at least showed conviction), but those who sensed something
wrong with that opposition and shut our cowardly fat mouths.

welcome to RSR!!!

Alistair Potts

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 2:18:38 PM4/10/12
to
(I posted this a couple of hours ago, but can't see it so I'll try again.)

My intention in writing about the race was entirely to try to convey how it felt on Saturday standing there in the launch, my emotions and thoughts. I think I did that, but on reflection I probably could have done that without making it sound like I intended to deliberately hurt the Oxford cox Zoe. In the unlikely event she ever reads my original piece (and this), if that was the result for that I am absolutely prepared to say sorry.

All boat race coxes step forward knowing that whatever the outcome they will be vilified and slated and (particularly the women) objectified along the route. They know that they precariously hold the precious ambitions of their crew in their fingertips, with little in the way of reward for keeping those ambitions safe, but with a thunder-cloud of opprobrium hovering above them ready to break at one slip.

A far, far smarter cox than me once said, simply, that coxes should stick together. What binds all of us who've had our arses dragged from Putney to Mortlake is far stronger than what sets us apart.

So. Thanks for everyone who joined in the chat, even Mr Lindsay senior, although you still can't throw me in the river.

Charles Carroll

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 2:31:18 PM4/10/12
to
My apologies if someone already has posted the below link. I thought it
raised some interesting questions.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/world/europe/protester-disrupts-oxford-cambridge-boat-race.html

sully

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 2:59:04 PM4/10/12
to
On Apr 10, 11:31 am, "Charles Carroll" <charles_carr...@comcast.net>
wrote:
> My apologies if someone already has posted the below link. I thought it
> raised some interesting questions.
>
> http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/world/europe/protester-disrupts-oxf...

What interesting question did it raise?

I think what was far more compelling than the idiot who swam out was
the later clash of oars and the umpire's instant decision to allow the
race to proceed.

I think that is far more interesting to the human condition than an
overprivileged punk who was given as many or more advantages in
wealth, education, and the benefits of modern Brit society to employ
it in such a boorish manner.

Of course, masses of ppl who don't understand pursuit of excellence
and are only interested in the car crashes will find amusement in the
disruption.

I believe that the crews simply stopped for a large bird in the
water..

It was quite humane of them.

Charles Carroll

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 6:11:04 PM4/10/12
to
"sully" wrote in message
news:b0107165-be63-46dd...@2g2000yqp.googlegroups.com...

On Apr 10, 11:31 am, "Charles Carroll" <charles_carr...@comcast.net>
wrote:
>> My apologies if someone already has posted the below link. I thought it
>> raised some interesting questions.
>>
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/world/europe/protester-disrupts-oxf...

> What interesting question did it raise?

> I think what was far more compelling than the idiot who swam out was
> the later clash of oars and the umpire's instant decision to allow the
> race to proceed.

Mike,

That is what I thought until I read Burn's article.

But aren't you and I and most of the contributors to RSR looking at what
happened from the inside? We are scullers and rowers. We are involved with
the sport. We know what it is about. We can appreciate the seven months of
grueling work that lays the groundwork for the Boat Race.

But what about the outside world? What about people who know nothing of
rowing? What do they see?

John Burn's piece in yesterday's New York Times shows us what people on the
outside think. Frankly I was surprised at the amount of sympathy in the
piece for the idiot swimmer. But it could be that I am just reading too
much between the lines ...

Cordially,

Charles

Charles Carroll

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 7:29:00 PM4/10/12
to
> Of course, masses of ppl who don't understand pursuit of excellence
> ... will find amusement in the disruption.

It seems to me that you have put your finger on exactly what is under
attack — i.e. the pursuit of excellence.

When did “elite” become a bad word?

You and I — we live in a culture that praises diversity yet insists that
democracy means equality of condition. How is it that people can find no
conflict between two such incompatible ideas? And what makes someone feel
entitled to tear down someone else who strives for excellence?

Carl

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 7:36:11 PM4/10/12
to
Welcome back, Charles!

It's always embarrassing when a guy tries to kid us that he has just
made a potentially ultimate sacrifice. Emily Davison _knew_ she'd
probably die at the hooves of the King's horse, yet she made her gesture
for a clearly defined cause in which she & her fellow suffragists had
already suffered much cruel & extreme treatment. Trenton Oldfield not
only knew that there was every chance of his being saved from his
daftness, but he deliberately ducked under the oncoming blades. So
Trenton Oldfield is no Emily Davison. Nor is the cause he seeks to
promote even remotely as well defined as was hers.

As luck would have it, Oldfield nearly contrived the unintended result
of inflicting permanent injury or worse on one of the Oxford crew, if we
may assume that the tin ear & steering pecadillo which led to the broken
blade might not have happened without the added tension of the re-start.
That Alex Woods was so focussed on keeping his disadvantaged crew in
contact through the remainder of the race that he passed out for real at
the finish (rather than the synthetic collapses we too often see in
lesser rowing events) is surely an act of athletic valour which should
be long remembered & applauded. He deserves much further applause for
his reported message to his opponents:
"I have contacted their crew and [coach] Steve Trapmore personally, to
say that I'm very sorry that my collapse prevented their celebrations,
and to thank them for thinking of me at the time. Such sportsmanlike
behaviour is a real credit to all of their crew."

Oldfield deserves only to be quickly forgotten. Unfortunately, his
foolish disruption of one of the great free-to-watch sporting events
will further crank up the obsessions of the security wonks throughout
the coming summer's events (& doubtless beyond). That won't affect the
elite, whom he despises, nearly as badly as it is bound to hit with
further restrictions the ordinary folk for whom he pretends to have been
acting. What a plonker!

Carl

--
Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Find: http://tinyurl.com/2tqujf

sully

unread,
Apr 10, 2012, 9:54:56 PM4/10/12
to
On Apr 10, 4:29 pm, "Charles Carroll" <charles_carr...@comcast.net>
wrote:
elite need not mean excellence though.
The moron was born of the elite class.
His parents wealthy, he sent to the best
schools and his standards of morality are
put on like a cool outfit to impress
the girls.

I recognize it because I saw it in my
generation.

Burns didn't offer any insight, that's the
problem. If he'd simply said:

"Wow did you see on TV where this guy
swam out and interrupted this boat race
with a bunch of brits racing each other in
skinny boats on this river, it was really funny!"

That would have captured the essence of
his message, and captured the depth of
understanding of a great many of the ppl
watching the spectacle.

right?


Donna McLuskie

unread,
Apr 19, 2012, 5:45:58 AM4/19/12
to
Hi Alistair,

Your well-written account set off an excellent discussion I enjoyed
about this year's boat race. I don't think you need to be apologetic
about what you have said.

As I watched the blade clash, I thought of Martin Cross' article in R
and R magazine (The Winning Formula, April 2012), where he focused on
the coxes.
'The coxes must decide whether to stay out of trouble and keep the
rhythm of their "engines" purring smoothly, or to get aggressive.' He
also described Bosson and de Toledo's conduct in recent races as:
'In the warm-up races, de Toledo sought to prove she had the necessary
nerve, by pushing first the German U23 VIII out of the stream and then
doing the same to Molesey's top rowers- despite repeated warnings by
the umpire.
Against Leander, Cambridge's Bosson was never pressurised. He held his
line, kept his distance and focused on helping his crew deliver their
rhythm.'

With this in mind, I wasn't surprised that de Toledo decided to push
the boundaries so far yet again. She was warned about breaching
Cambridge water repeatedly even before the swimmer appeared and then
also in the lead up to the damaging clash but was still willing to
risk all. I am more surprised, given the foreshadowing in recent
races, that she was still there coxing this boat on the big day, with
so much at stake for eight guys who committed their year preparing for
this event. Clearly the crew did not need to rely on unprofessional
tactics to be competitive. I don't think that the clash was an
accident. I think it was a decision, an inappropriate and too risky
one against cool-headed and focused young Bosson, who wasn't shaken by
de Toledo's bullying.

Donna

Carl

unread,
Apr 19, 2012, 9:59:49 AM4/19/12
to
On 19/04/2012 10:45, Donna McLuskie wrote:
> On Apr 10, 7:18 pm, Alistair Potts<alistair.po...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> (I posted this a couple of hours ago, but can't see it so I'll try again.)
>>
>> My intention in writing about the race was entirely to try to convey how it felt on Saturday standing there in the launch, my emotions and thoughts. I think I did that, but on reflection I probably could have done that without making it sound like I intended to deliberately hurt the Oxford cox Zoe. In the unlikely event she ever reads my original piece (and this), if that was the result for that I am absolutely prepared to say sorry.
>>
>> All boat race coxes step forward knowing that whatever the outcome they will be vilified and slated and (particularly the women) objectified along the route. They know that they precariously hold the precious ambitions of their crew in their fingertips, with little in the way of reward for keeping those ambitions safe, but with a thunder-cloud of opprobrium hovering above them ready to break at one slip.
>>
>> A far, far smarter cox than me once said, simply, that coxes should stick together. What binds all of us who've had our arses dragged from Putney to Mortlake is far stronger than what sets us apart.
>>
>> So. Thanks for everyone who joined in the chat, even Mr Lindsay senior, although you still can't throw me in the river.
>
> Hi Alistair,
>
> Your well-written account set off an excellent discussion I enjoyed
> about this year's boat race. I don't think you need to be apologetic
> about what you have said.
>
> As I watched the blade clash, I thought of Martin Cross' article in R
> and R magazine (The Winning Formula, April 2012), where he focused on
> the coxes.
> 'The coxes must decide whether to stay out of trouble and keep the
> rhythm of their "engines" purring smoothly, or to get aggressive.' He
> also described Bosson and de Toledo's conduct in recent races as:
> 'In the warm-up races, de Toledo sought to prove she had the necessary
> nerve, by pushing first the German U23 VIII out of the stream and then
> doing the same to Molesey's top rowers- despite repeated warnings by
> the umpire.
> Against Leander, Cambridge's Bosson was never pressurised. He held his
> line, kept his distance and focused on helping his crew deliver their
> rhythm.'

This is, of course, easier to do when you have complete confidence in
your steering system.

Obviously I must declare a vested interest here. We had a very similar
situation in 2004 when Oxford's excellent cox attempted to crowd
Cambridge's relatively young & inexperienced cox, only to find his
opponent unfazed. Seeing no need to depart from his set course, the
Cambridge cox held his line & Oxford came unstuck. Both in 2004 & in
2012 we supplied the AeRowFin steering foil system used on those 2 quite
different Cambridge boats. And on both occasions Oxford chose the
traditional flat-plate non-technology steering, to their very clear
disadvantage.

When steering the boat race you certainly can win if, by harassing the
opposition, they find it hard to maintain their set course. But, if
your boat has the unresponsive & inefficient steering of an old banger
while your opponent has an advanced steering system which (to quote many
users) makes the boat feel as if it is running on rails, then your
steering control is so mis-matched that such tactics are plain
dangerous. They can even cause you crew to lose a blade, dislodge a
seat or, in the worst of all worlds, be disqualified.

Sure, it takes real skill to keep a car with wonky steering on the road,
let alone in a race, but it still can't compete against a similar car
which has no steering issues. In a rowing race where nothing should
have been left to chance, why on earth endanger your chances in that way?


>
> With this in mind, I wasn't surprised that de Toledo decided to push
> the boundaries so far yet again. She was warned about breaching
> Cambridge water repeatedly even before the swimmer appeared and then
> also in the lead up to the damaging clash but was still willing to
> risk all. I am more surprised, given the foreshadowing in recent
> races, that she was still there coxing this boat on the big day, with
> so much at stake for eight guys who committed their year preparing for
> this event. Clearly the crew did not need to rely on unprofessional
> tactics to be competitive. I don't think that the clash was an
> accident. I think it was a decision, an inappropriate and too risky
> one against cool-headed and focused young Bosson, who wasn't shaken by
> de Toledo's bullying.
>
> Donna

Certainly Bosson handled it excellently.

Cheers -
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages