Wolfson had a strong Summer Eights 2012 campaign. The men defended their position as fourth on the river, and the women are within inches of Division I.
Wolfson entered six crews in Summer Eights 2012.
Men’s First Boat
After years of climbing through the bumps charts, Wolfson’s men found themselves beginning Eights 2012 fourth on the river, alongside Oxford’s oldest college rowing powerhouses. The chaps proved themselves worthy of the occasion, rowing over each day, and putting progressively more pressure on Christ Church with every race. Though they never bumped up, they consistently gained on the crews ahead, demonstrating that even a fourth on the river finish can’t satisfy for long.
|bow||Gregers Bangert||Division I|
|7||Maximilien Von Berg|
|coach||Paul Kelly & Cliff Sofield|
Women’s First Boat
After fighting their way through Division II over the past five years, Wolfson’s W1 began Eights 2012 only two places from a coveted top division spot. Their campaign would prove grueling, as a row-over behind Keble on Wednesday was followed by a handy bump on New College on Thursday to reach the top of Division II — and sandwich boat status. But for the remainder of the campaign, the ladies would never quite catch Keble for a bump into Division I, and ended their campaign ready to get their revenge next year.
|bow||Aurélie Cuénod||Division II|
Men’s Second Boat
Wolfson’s M2 was a powerhouse this year, easily earning bumps on Merton II and Jesus II on Wednesday and Thursday, each in only a handful of strokes off the finish. Friday would prove more trying; though the men bumped Worcester II handily, a highly contentious race committee decision bumped them down a place instead — ostensibly as a penalty for a late wind-down. This left the M2 boat to bump Jesus II again on Saturday, missing blades only because of the disputed penalty.
|bow||Gorka Berzal||Division IV|
|3||Quirijn Den Rooijen|
|6||Morgan Di Rodi|
|7||Gido Van De Ven|
|str||R Oliver Zeldin|
|coach||John Dale & Craig Sawyer|
Women’s Second Boat
Wolfson’s W2 showed their grit throughout Eights 2012. After an unfortunate encounter with the bank led to a bump by Hertford II on Wednesday, the women got their revenge on Thursday, bumping them before Donnington Bridge. The remainder of their campaign was extremely frustrating, as twice klaxons stopped the race just before the ladies were able to overcome their ancient nemesis, Christ Church II.
|bow||Susan Graham||Division III|
Men’s Third Boat
After successfully rowing on, Wolfson M3 was looking to fight its way into the fixed divisions this year — and came tantalizingly close. After rowing over on Wednesday, the men gained quick bumps on Jesus IV and Lincoln III on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Saturday’s race was a real fight, but St. John’s III managed to hold off the bump to the end, and Wolfson M3 finished 3rd in Division VI, the top rowing on division.
|bow||Federico Torracchi||Division VI|
|6||Sebastiaan Van Schaik|
|coach||Iana Alexeeva, James Kirkbride, Laurie Nevay|
Women’s Third Boat
Wolfson’s W3 had a tough time of it this year. After rowing over Wednesday, they were bumped by Merton III and Osler House II on Thursday and Friday after changes in line-up upset their start sequences. The ladies recovered pride if not place on Saturday, putting in a huge performance to hold off the bump by Pembroke III and row over.
|bow||Lea Carrott||Division VI|
|5||Isabel De Berrie|
Cliff’s Race Reports
Clifford Sofield, one of Wolfson’s longest-serving members, has offered to regale us with his daily observations of Summer Eights 2012. This year, as our crews fought their ways upriver, Cliff was was there to chronicle the details. Read on below!
The race report for Wednesday is pending.
Truth be told, Wolfson’s day started inauspiciously, as some powerful substitute rowers on strokeside pulled W3 across the river off the start. They recovered, and despite having gone so far off course they were able to hold off a competent Merton III from the bottom bunglines almost until Donnington Bridge. Wolfson M3 recorded their first bump of the week in short order, overwhelming Jesus IV in about 30 strokes.
Not to be outdone, Wolfson M2 needed even fewer strokes to knock out Jesus II. Wolfson W2 kept things bumping along nicely half an hour later, as they punished Hertford II just before Donnington Bridge. It was sweet revenge on the crew that had bumped them off a bad start the day before.
Wolfson W1 had the most spectacular bump of the day. Stroke by powerful stroke, they reeled in New College on the Green Bank. That gave them the opportunity to race again an hour later at the bottom of Division I (as ‘sandwich boat’), but unfortunately they weren’t quick enough to catch Keble. They race today at the head of Division II for a second chance.
Finally, Wolfson M1 increased the pressure on Christ Church yesterday, but rowed over again, staying 4th on the river. Christ Church got to nearly a canvas off of Pembroke in the Gut, and Wolfson kept up with them. On the Green Bank our boys were about two lengths down, but started to move on them as they crossed the stream. By the boathouse Wolfson were only a length off of Christ Church, and that’s how they rowed over the finish line. That means that over the distance they were half a length faster than Christ Church — a gain of three-quarters of a length on Wednesday.
Characteristic third day craziness on the Isis. Here’s the recap:
Wolfson W3 endured the same misfortune as the day before. Despite a change in lineup, they swerved across the river off the start, and — despite recovering and rowing well — were inevitably bumped by Osler House II before Donny Bridge. They’ll be looking for revenge Saturday, on a crew they are sure they can beat in a straight race. Wolfson M3 tallied their second bump, but they had to row a bit harder and longer for it today. Lincoln III dipped and swerved up the Green Bank trying to escape, but at the top of the Green Bank Wolfson M3 finally reeled them in.
Absolute carnage in Wolfson M2’s race yesterday. (So much that it needs a separate paragraph.) Three boats ahead of Wolfson, Keble II bumped out just below the entrance to the Gut, but in ‘clearing the racing line’ they chose to row directly in front of Worcester II, the crew Wolfson M2 were chasing. Worcester had no choice but to hold it hard, and Wolfson M2, who were only three-quarters of a length behind, inevitably crashed into them at full speed three strokes later. Having watched events unfold from the bridge, I can honestly say there is nothing the Wolfson cox could have done differently to avoid the collision. Only after that did the klaxon sound to stop the race. Fortunately no one was injured, but the stern of the Keble boat pierced Worcester’s hull when the driver of the safety launch unadvisedly tried to pull the two boats apart before getting as many Worcester rowers out of the boat as possible. Worcester’s boat began to swamp and all crew members were off-loaded, and under the competent direction of the Senior Umpire the two boats were separated. Keble rowed back to their boathouse effectively unscathed, and the Worcester boat was towed home. The upshot of all this was that Wolfson was ruled to have bumped Worcester (probably an unfair decision, since Worcester were obviously impeded by Keble suddenly getting in front of them), but then Wolfson’s bump was taken away AND a penalty bump imposed for ‘dangerous coxing’. A very poor ruling in my opinion, and in the opinion of other senior coxes. The Wolfson cox, who could not see the Keble crew around the bend, had no reason to suspect that Worcester would be stopping; by the time she noticed they had stopped rowing, there was nothing she could do. Neverthless, racing decisions are often unfair, and our appeals were denied. So Saturday Wolfson M3 will again be chasing Jesus II, the crew they bumped on Thursday in some 25 strokes.
Wolfson W2 were absolutely robbed of a bump on Christ Church II yesterday by a marshall with a twitchy finger on the trigger of his klaxon. As with the boys, the crew three in front of Wolfson W2 bumped out. There was a tangle, but the two crews had begun to separate by the time the next crew, St Peter’s W1, was near. But the marshall, who was positioned 100m downstream where he couldn’t clearly judge the distances, fired his klaxon anyway, believing St Peter’s were about to crash. It was an error of judgement borne of inexperience, but at least it was made in good conscience with safety in mind. Wolfson W2 were only a canvas off of Christ Church II when the klaxon went; they will seek to close that gap today. Wolfson W1 rowed over easily at the head of Women’s Division II, with New College never threatening. An hour later, at the bottom of Division I, they rowed over again, despite getting within three-quarters of a length on Keble in the first half of the race.
And last, Wolfson M1 took it up a level today, but so did Christ Church. Both crews were faster in the first half of the race, with Christ Church quickly moving to a canvas off of Pembroke. At the Green Bank, Christ Church were about half a length off, and Wolfson at least two lengths behind them, but again Christ Church could not sustain the speed, and Wolfson again gained significantly, rowing over three-quarters of a length back. Now that Christ Church have no hope of gaining the headship, we’ll see if they can match that effort today as Wolfson aim to hunt them down.
It was brilliant to see so many Wolfson supporters down at the river yesterday — including alumni, friends, parents, spouses, and even babies. The littlest fan was 20-day old Alba Recker, who got to see her dad Mario in the Wolfson Men’s 1st VIII, rowing in Division I. I didn’t have as much time to catch up with friends as I would have liked, though, because things were pretty chaotic. The crowds for the Saturday of Eights were characteristically massive — the figure of 10,000 to 15,000 people is frequently quoted, and doesn’t seem unrealistic. Plus, I was busy. I spent two hours umpiring, and at other times I was stationed at points along the river to blow a whistle at our crews. (The whistling is to signal how close to a bump the crew is; it’s usually done by the coach cycling alongside, but bicycles aren’t permitted on Saturday because of the crowds.) In the end, I didn’t have the best view for some of our races so much of my information is second hand—but I trust my sources, and so should you! (One of my main sources is a YouTube user called ‘Fear the Deer’, who must be from Hertford, and who has posted videos of almost every single race this Summer Eights, conveniently in reverse chronological order.)
Wolfson experienced both success and disappointment on the final day of racing. Wolfson W3 rowed over in a good race after Osler House II bumped out ahead of them. Pembroke III got close in the Gut — it looked like half a length from where I was standing — but our girls first held them there and then pulled away, rowing over a length clear. Wolfson M3 gained to half a length off of St John’s III in the Gut, and got it down to a quarter of a length on the Green Bank, but St John’s held them off as both crews rowed over. Pretty good effort, considering that Wolfson’s cox box malfunctioned on the bungline, so they rowed the whole race without any instructions or feedback from the cox!
Wolfson M2 succeeded in bumping Jesus II for the second time in three days, but it was harder than the first time. Jesus gained on Worcester II pretty significantly in the first half of the race, but Wolfson rowed strong and caught them in the Gut. A hugely gutting final race for Wolfson W2. Coming out of the Gut, our girls were once again a canvas off of their old nemesis — Christ Church II — when their super archnemesis — the klaxon — sounded, stopping their race again! This is the third time in two consecutive Eights campaigns that a klaxon robbed Wolfson W2 of a bump on Christ Church II.
Wolfson W1 rowed over again at the head of Women’s Division II; I don’t know any details of that race, but judging by the video, they were never threatened. An hour later, though, I was standing on our landing stage, whistling in series of three short bursts as our ladies rowed past less than a quarter of a length off of Keble at the bottom of Women’s Division I. They had closed hard by the Gut and were right on Keble’s tail all the way up the Green Bank and past the Boathouses, but somehow Keble escaped them for the third time this Eights by bumping out on Oriel, who were still a length ahead when they went past me (I’ve heard rumours of a crab in the Oriel boat…). So Wolfson W1 rowed over in a great race, despite their valiant effort, and remain Head of Division II.
Finally, Wolfson M1 rowed over as well. All four top crews in Men’s Division I raised their games on the final day, and our boys got closer than ever to Christ Church, rowing over half a length behind. It was their best row of the week, and I’m extremely proud that they not only held their own all week against crews boasting rowers of international calibre, but were actually a length faster over the course than a crew with two OUBC Blues rowers and two Isis rowers. To maintain our position at fourth on the river is a tremendous achievement. (If you’d like to see Wolfson W1 and M1’s last races from an unusual perspective, look here.)