Oxford Trial Eights

The Championship Course, London

3 minute view
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 17.12.23

Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC) held their trials on Friday 15 December 2023, two days after their Cambridge counterparts saw one of their crews sink after battling the most atrocious Tideway conditions. By contrast the Dark Blues were treated to millpond-like serenity.

The Trial Eights sees evenly matched crews from the same club race against each other over The Championship Course, these races form a key part of the Boat Race season. They come at the end of the autumn academic term for the student-athletes and are usually the last key event before the Christmas break.

The first Oxford boats on the water were those of the openweight women, whose crew names were taken from Roman mythology: Romulus and Remus were abandoned twin-brothers who founded Rome. It was a tightly fought race in which the lead exchanged hands and the two crews remained overlapped well beyond Barnes Bridge. Ultimately the more aggressive rhythm of Romulus proved superior. They secured a 1.25 length win over an ever-threatening, silk-smooth Remus. Newly embedded Women’s Head Coach Allan French now has the task of reuniting his squad and building what could be a legendary blue boat.

The openweight men took a less classical approach to their crew names. Noise and Panic sat beneath Putney Bridge, quiet and patient before Umpire Matthew Pinsent dropped the flag and set them free. Both crews got away well but soon after clashed blades. By Hammersmith Bridge Noise were almost a length in front and, despite a solid effort from Panic, held on for the win. They crossed the finish line 2.25 lengths ahead.

The day ended with a Sir Matthew Pinsent doing his best Captain Jack Sparrow impression, confidently stepping off the bows of the Umpire’s launch for a quick exit.