One day a year, first opportunity for either of us so it had to be the Varsity boat race today. Not the most exciting prospect on a dull morning – but it got better. Picnic packed we headed off to the Surrey bend. There was a lovely party atmosphere th ere but we decided we were unlikely to get a good view and so we crossed Hammersmith bridge and found ourselves a vantage point inside the bend, a rowing club slipway. A crowd joined us, including an 8 year old greyhound celebrating it’s birthday, and a party atmosphere came too. The pre-race race got us all excited, we enjoyed the RNLI, the Police launches and helicopters, even a Goodyear dirigible and then they were off! We could hear the boats app roaching by the ‘Mexican wave’ effect of the crowd noise on the opposite bank and then those on the bridge. They swept past with Cambridge ever so slightly ahead. And after them came a flotilla of support vessels, the press and dignitaries, and then they were gone. All over in less than a minute. So we headed back to party central on the opposite bank for a beer - but what’s this? All the Police and St Johns Ambulance bicycle mounted staff , who had cycled back toward the start were returning. Their little legs doing 18 to the dozen towards the finish. A rumour that all was not well murmured. We found a TV cameraman , he’d know, so we asked. He told us that he’d just heard that the race had been stopped and that there were problems – but NOT to tell anyone else yet in case it was wrong. We continued our meander back across the bridge and found that the 2012 boat race had got exciting. Someone was in the water, that we had seen Police checked and safety checked, and they seemed intent on going in front of the crews. The race was stopped and re-started half an hour later. Then the two boats clashed oars, Oxford had a blade snapped off and were now the Oxford seven against the Cambridge eight. Unsurprisingly Cambridge won. We had the unusual experience of watching the boat race from both sides of the Thames – the finish being shown on a large TV screen in the Furnival gardens on the north bank. An Oxford crew member collapsed and was taken to hospital. Cambridge did the sporting thing and decided they didn’t want to be presented with the trophy there and then. No prize giving – one in hospital – one in custody - boat race boring? Not today! So, one and a half pints of Doombar (official sponsors of the boat race) please.
Brenda & Graham