Friday, May 25, 2012

The Oxford 'Summer Eights' Race Course

Have you made plans for tomorrow? The final day of Summer Eights should be a blast!
Unfortunately, with such a long and winding course it's impossible to catch all of the action, but the following three areas should provide you with the best vantage spots and their fair share of thrills and spills.

The starting area 
The starting area extends all the way from Donnington Bridge, past the Isis Farmhouse to Iffley Lock and is perhaps the only place you'll get to see all thirteen crews row. From here the boats take off in frantic, high-speed pursuits, attempting to make a quick bump and avoid the whole grueling battle while the pack is still tight. It does seem an awfully cruel race when for many, the race is over barely after it's begun, but it's a lot of fun to watch.

Don't get a fright if you're passing the fields beside the Isis Farmhouse -  A cannon is fired twice to give warning of the start (at 5 and 1 minute to go) and to signal the start of the race. 

Linacre M1 crew warming up before the race.

The 'gut'  
Located between Donnington Bridge and the Longbridges Boathouses, this bendy bit of the river causes its fair share of trouble. If you're after some carnage, this is the place for you. Here the river narrows and the current is at its strongest, making a domino-like effect of successive bumps (or concessions) highly likely. One of the crews even had to be rescued here today because it began sinking after a fatal bump!

It's called 'bumps' racing for a reason!


A perfect summer's day

The Longbridges Boat House is located on the southern bank of the Isis and shared by Green Templeton, Hertford, Mansfield, St. Hilda's, St. Catherine's and St. Benet's colleges.

The University College Boat House can also be found on the southern bank of the Thames a little further towards Folly Bridge. It distinguishes itself from the other boat houses with its sleek, architectural design and was opened in 2007 (after arson destroyed the previous 19th century boat house in 1999). Outside students dressed in sub-fusc celebrate their final day of exams.
The finish line 
The finish line sits just below Folly Bridge, within easy cheering distance of most college's boathouses and Christ Church Meadow. This is where most of the spectators gather and whilst the crews will be racing on the opposite side of the river, (what little of them remain), this area provides the best panoramic views of the course, within easy reach of the burgers and Pimms.

Christ Church Meadow and beyond.

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