Thursday, April 10, 2014

Video Of The Week: Recapping the Boat Race, 2014



This week's video comes to us from the Tideway, where yet another Boat Race was marked by a singular incident that proved to be, as Henri Cartier-Bresson might have described it, "the decisive moment." Once again, the race was more closely contested than most thought it would be through the early stages—much like the first half of the now infamous 2012 Boat Race, which was later marred by outside interference, and then by a disastrous clash that sheared off a blade in the Oxford boat—only to finish in a veritable parade.

The disappointing thing is that we didn't get to see a true reflection of Cambridge's speed over the full course. It's no-one's fault—take a look at the slow-motion replay in the video to fully comprehend just what a freak accident it was—as a host of circumstances conspired to make for the worst possible outcome: just as Luke Juckett is squaring his blade to the water, Oxford seven-man Sam O'Connor's blade emerges from the water, barely clipping the bottom edge of the light blue hatchet, but with enough force to cause Juckett's blade to do a 180 degree turn, resulting in an immediate crab. Could the Cambridge coxswain, Ian Middleton, have played it safe and not tried to prevent Oxford from breaking away? Yes, but both coxswains were being aggressive throughout the early stages.

"I'm actually surprised with how much work the umpire is having to do," said Matthew Pinsent during the first quarter of the race. "Both crews are coming together quite a lot, and he's having to warn both crews apart to keep the race as clean as he can."

If you're already the underdog, you can't back down, and you need to take as much advantage of the stream as possible. The unfortunate thing was that unlike most clashes, this was so minor—a clip more than a clash—and yet it had catastrophic results for Cambridge. Yes, we expected that the winner would be Oxford, and by a significant margin, but could this have been a classic in the making?

(Well, judging by caliber of the Dark Blues, as well as the outcome of the reserves race, probably not. Taking nothing away from the outstanding job that Sean Bowden does to train and develop athletes, this battle was won during the recruiting process.)

Here's what everyone else is saying about it:
The BNY Mellon Boat Race Report 6th April 2014 —The Boat Race
The Boat Race 2014: Oxford University claim biggest win over Cambridge since 1973 —The Telegraph
Big Boat Race win for Oxford —World Rowing
Boat Race 2014: Oxford emphatically beat Cambridge —BBC Sport
[Photos] A selection of images from the 2014 Boat Race —Rowing Photography
Images of the 160th Boat Race, Part 1: The Prelude —Hear The Boat Sing

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-RR

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