Torpids reported!

Torpids reported!

The latest from the River from our own correspondent, Anu Dudhia (1977, Physics).

Saturday 4 March

OK, so who's been using the 'B'-word? Not me - you can check my previous reports - but no blades for either of our men's crews, although they came mighty close.
Men's 2nd Torpid - started 6th Div IV - rowed over (+3 this week) New College were faster than I thought - it seems they only came down 2 on Friday because one of their rowers came off his seat. Anyway, while Catz, as always, went off with the 'manic' dial set to 10, New went off at 11 and kept it there until they finally caught Wadham III on the Green Bank. Catz were some 3 lengths off Wadham at this point, but closed the gap rapidly to a length, at which point Wadham woke up and realised they had a bit more work to do. Even so, Catz continued to close, chasing them across the river, getting an overlap by the time the crews reached Christ Church Meadow and... Catz caught a crab and Wadham pulled away.
Women's 1st Torpid - started 2nd Div III - down 1 (down 10 this week) Wadham II (yes, there was a lot of Wadham today) closed quickly off the start and Catz conceded early so they could get on with their main task, which was avoiding getting overbumped by St Hugh's. They reached the boathouses, still about 3 lengths up on St Hugh's (who'd been bumped by Exeter at this point) when, two boats further back, the bow-girl of St Hilda's was ejected from her boat and the klaxon was sounded to bring racing to a halt. A bit of an anti-climactic end to their week, but at least they avoided any of the additional mishaps that have beset them the past 3 days.


Men's 1st Torpid - started 4th in Div I - rowed over (+3 this week) Wadham, having themelves bumped up this week, were just a bit too fast to be caught. Catz were about 3/4 length down coming out of the Gut (see photos) and closed all the way, but they were still a couple of feet short when Wadham crossed the line. So they finish 4th on the river, equalling their highest ever position which they first reached in 2009 and last relinquished in 2012.

Despite the major reshuffle below Catz caused by yesterday's multiple bumps on Wolfson and a penalty bump imposed on Christ Church, the only bump in M.Div I on Saturday occurred below all this as Jesus bumped Pembroke II.  At the top of Women's Div I Wadham got very close but Oriel remained Head, while Wolfson women opted to share the pain of their male counterparts by ramming the Gut instead of Christ Church and dropped from 4th to 9th (broken rudder, it seems).
Of the individual crews, Jesus' M1 and Oriel W2 both rose 7 places this week, while Worceter M2 lost 15 places. As a sidenote, Catz and Jesus men's 1st boats have been competing against each other regularly in the IWL races for the past 2 terms, with Catz winning 3 out of 4, including the last one a couple of weeks ago (despite being the day after Catz Ball).
By College, Keble had the best week, with their 6 crews gaining a total of 25 places, some way ahead of Jesus whose 6 crews gained 17.  Catz, with a net loss of 4 places, were 26th while Worcester's 4 crews lost a total of 36 places. Magdalen's 2 women's crews lost 19 places (their women's 1st Torpid, which started the week as Head of the River, finished 12th) so arguably came out worse than their men's crews who chose not to compete and thus lost only 6 places each. Well, 'arguably' perhaps, but I don't think many would make that argument.

Friday 3 March

No hint of any sunshine today, but at least the morning rain had stopped by the time racing started. In the increasing gloom, all our crews continued to progress in their respective directions. 

Men's 2nd Torpid - started 7th Div IV - up 1 (+3 so far) Christ Church II, starting 2 ahead of Catz, were surprisingly fast today, bumping Wadham III who then bumped New II (so basically ChCh recovered the two places they lost to these boats yesterday). Had they known this, Catz could have rowed down Trinity II at their leisure. Instead they opted for the quick and dirty approach, abandoning any concept of 'settling' and catching Trinity II just before the Gut. The Trinity coach seemed to take it in good spirits, which is probably just as well since he's actually the current Catz Boat Club President (Hi, Georgios!).  Tomorrow chasing New II, and, at the risk of tempting fate, it really doesn't get much easier than that. 

Women's 1st Torpid - started 1st Div III - down 1 (down 9 so far) Crew turn up an hour earlier for Div III - check. Get to the start on time - check. No wind to blow them off course - check. What else could go wrong? Oh yeah, blade popping out of the gate. So, bumped by Wolfson II (although I reckon that just brought it forward rather than caused it) but they managed to hold off St Hugh's for the rest of the course. Tomorrow chased by a fast Wadham II (who bumped St Hugh's) but, for once, chasing another descending crew, Brasenose, who came down 2 today. 

Men's 1st Torpid - started 5th in Div I - up 1 (up 3 so far) Wolfson put up a bit more of a fight than Catz other two victims, but may have paid a heavy price for it. Opinions differ, but it seems Wolfson were a bit late in conceding outside the Univ boathouse, Catz' bump swung them towards Boathouse island where they collided with a raft and, having just got going  again, were then rammed by Christ Church and took a couple more bumps before  they got clear. Needless to say, this one's still with the Race Committee. Assuming Catz bump stands (and the initial indications were good) they'll be chasing Wadham tomorrow, who've also bumped Christ Church and Wolfson this week so will be an altogether tougher proposition. Although, having said that, they were only 3/4 of a length clear of Christ Church coming through the Gut today. 

So at the top of Men's Div I, erm, hang on - I mean *right* at the top of Men's Div I - Oriel once again pushed Pembroke but, once again, came up short. Not sure if they've got a Plan D to try tomorrow. Oriel's current women's Headship, which they took on Wednesday, looks much more precarious as they'll have to hold off an impressive-looking Wadham who've bumped every day so far. 



Thursday 2 March

Sunny, although with a tricky wind. Bumps racing is all about triumph and disaster. Oh yes, and carnage. Always some carnage. And Catz crews sampled at bit of everything today.
Men's 2nd Torpid - started 8th Div IV - up 1 (+2 so far) Chasing Trinity II, who were chasing Hertford II. There was some mayhem just above Donnington bridge in which all crews got entangled to some extent, and during which Catz took the opportunity to establish contact with both Trinity and Hertford, just in case. Eventually there was a klaxon, followed equally inevitably by appeals (not from us) but the outcome was that both Catz and Trinity were given bumps on Hertford. Chasing Trinity II again tomorrow, but with Christ Church II ahead of Trinity and coming down, so it could be a repeat of today.
Womens 1st Torpid - started 8th Div II - down 5 (down 8 so far) Catz got themselves to the start on time today, but after the start they were caught by a sudden gust and ended up in the trees. They eventually got themselves going again but, ... well. Starting top of division 3 tomorrow, chased by Wolfson II, the highest of the women's 2nd boats.
Men's 1st Torpid - started 6th in Div I - up 1 (up 2 so far) Yesterday Christ Church had looked no faster than Hertford and, sure enough, Catz came through the Gut half a length down and caught them on the Green Bank, perhaps a little earlier than yesterday's bump.

I was taking photos in the Gut and I'll particularly draw your attention to this one (above) which shows the top of Men's Div I almost within touching distance. But, for tomorrow, they'll be chasing Wolfson who were (eventually) bumped by Wadham today.

Pembroke continue to hold off Oriel at the top of Men's Div I while Oriel women also kept clear of Christ Church at the top of Women's Div I, with Wadham women matching their men in moving up to 3rd on the river.
The story of today, though, was the number of appeals (again, none from us) lodged against decisions the Race Committee eventually threw up their hands and gave up any hope of resolving this during the day and took them to the pub afterwards (as I write, nearly 10pm, we're still missing some results from the foot of M.Div IV). There's once again talk of having some rationing system like they do in tennis and cricket.


Wendesday 1 March

A cold, wet start to Torpids. What happened to spring?

Men's 2nd Torpid - started 9th Div IV - up 1 I was bank-riding for this one so had a good look at it. Catz weren't exactly smooth but, hey, this is Men's Div IV. Fortunately there were enough experienced heads in the boat to keep it together as they steadily closed down on St John's II and bumped them just after Donnington Bridge. Hopefully with that under their belt they'll be a bit smoother tomorrow when they'll be chasing Trinity II, who rowed over today.

Womens 1st Torpid - started 5th Div II - down 3 I'd hoped the women had turned things around after last year, but no, it seems they continue to struggle to hang on to their experienced rowers. They didn't help themselves by getting to the start late and were rapidly caught by Somerville and then again, by Univ boathouse, by Linacre who had themselves already been bumped by Green Templeton. Tomorrow they'll be chased by St Anne's who bumped Worcester today.

Men's 1st Torpid - started 7th in Div I - up 1 Hertford exerted a bit of a hoodoo over Catz last year, with Catz unsuccessfully chasing them for the last two days of  Torpids and all 4 days of Eights. But the spell was  broken by a  convincing win  over them at  City of Oxford  Regatta in August, and Hertford have been training down at Radley the past two terms so not contesting the IWL races.  Anyway, a hard row today but Catz  were half a length down coming out of the Gut and got a very satisfying bump bump on the Green Bank (actually  the highest  bump recorded  in the  men's divisions  today). Tomorrow chasing Christ Church (who didn't seem any faster than Hertford).

At the top of Men's Div I, Pembroke managed to hold off Oriel to retain the Headship, while Wolfson kept 3rd place although threatened by Wadham, but no bumps. However, the big story this year is the absence of any Magdalen men's crews.  Despite, or perhaps because of, being 3rd on the river they didn't feel that they could get together a competent crew and opted to scratch all their men's crews and take the automatic 6 place penalty (which means as long as Catz finish 8th or higher, they'll gain an extra place). Their women seem equally beset but, as the Head crew, felt compelled to show up to try to defend their title and subsequently fell 4 places, just today, with Oriel women taking over at the top of Women's Div I.

The big winners so far are Keble and Jesus, both with 6 crews (twice as many as Catz) gaining 7 places, while St Hugh's 4 crews lost a total of 8 places.