Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trial VIIIs on the Tideway: Cloak v. Dagger, and Hell v. High Water

Clouds over the Tideway (Photo: B. Kitch)
The Trial VIIIs for the 2012 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race took to the waters on the Thames earlier today, despite very difficult conditions. The races, which are intra-squad and typically feature pithy names (this year was no exception), help to determine lineups, and give the athletes their only chance at the full 4.5 mile Boat Race course on the Tideway, from Putney to Chiswick, before the main event. This year, the CUBC eights ('Cloak' and 'Dagger') took off first, at 1:15pm. The race featured a clash and several lead changes, with Cloak leading by more than a length at one point, but Dagger, stroked former Wisconsin Badger Stephen Dudek, making a decisive move near Barnes Bridge to secure the victory. CUBC president David Nelson (a veteran of the Australian junior and U23 national teams, as well as last year's Boat Race), who sat at seven in the Dagger crew, will undoubtedly be pleased with the efforts of his boat in rough water, as they responded well to a strong challenge from Cloak to win by three lengths in 20 minutes.

Oxford's crews set off from Putney at 2:30pm, at the top of the tide. 'Hell' and 'High Water' (aptly named given the weather/timing) were very evenly matched out of the start, with a clash occurring near the Mile Post. Hell, which featured OUBC president Karl Hudspith in the seven seat, former Yale lightweight and 2011 Rhodes Scholar William Zeng in the six seat, and former Dutch international Roel Haen in stroke, pulled away as they crossed underneath Hammersmith, and established a lead from which they were able to react to the repeated pushes of High Water, which featured German international Hanno Wienhausen, and Harvard alum Justin Webb of Australia (who rowed on the 2004 undefeated Crimson varsity eight, and who has won a world championship as a member of the Aussie surf boat team). In the end, Hell took the race by 1 and 3/4 lengths in 17:08.

For more on the 2011 Trial VIIIs, visit the official website of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, and see Martin Gough's informative piece on his blog. For a gallery from today's racing from Crewroom, please follow this link to their Facebook page.

-RR

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