Friday, April 13, 2012

BOAT RACE: NYC 2012 (#79)

Winklevii (Tyler and Cameron) with Friends at Dinner
The barbs were out yesterday at the 79th annual Boat Race Dinner at the Harvard Club of New York. The Biddle and North Rooms at the Harvard Club were sold out two months before the date of the dinner, so the event was moved to the majestic Harvard Hall. The hall's giant elephant head is apocryphally identified as one of the 11 elephants shot by Theodore Roosevelt on his 1909 African safari.

The program opened with a special Latin Rowers' Grace said by the Very Reverend Dr. Christopher Lewis, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Then Ian Hawkins of Cambridge reported on the Learn to Row day in New Jersey, and Sally Weaver of the Oxford Sports Development Office gave an eye-witness report of Saturday's Boat Race, which is the subject of a prior post in this series.
Amber Creighton of Cambridge.

Iain Mackenzie of Cambridge gave the toast to the President, and Amber Creighton of Cambridge gave the toast to the Queen, noting that it is the 60th year since the Queen's coronation and that the Queen has lived through all the major tests of the "Special Relationship". She got in a barb at Oxford for taking a year longer than Cambridge to admit women.

In a departure from tradition, the Toast to the Universities was delivered by two people, who took turns speaking - Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss of Christ Church, Oxford. [In the movie "The Social Network" they were in fact played by one person.] They stressed the linguistic puzzles generated both by British English and by Oxford traditions, in the classroom, the college and in the boats, where "stroke" side means the opposite of the port side, except when it doesn't. The Winklevoss twins' parents were on hand to witness their first speech to the NYC Boat Race Dinner.                  

The Response from the Universities was delivered by Oxford's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton. He said that the bizarre Australian who swam in front of the Oxford boat reminded him of Disraeli's definition of the difference between a misfortune and a calamity.
If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune. If anybody pulled him out, that I suppose would be a calamity.
Sally Fan and Vice-Chancellor Hamilton
In another Boat Race Dinner tradition, the Vice-Chancellor speculated that possibly the reason Oxford lost its blade is that Cambridge had been sharpening its own blades. Like the chariots in "Ben Hur" with blades on their axels.

The Vice-Chancellor quoted Matthew Arnold's reference to Oxford's architecture as the "city of dreaming spires" and then compared it to Cambridge, the "city of aspiring dreamers".

He gave credit to the Oxford crew for valiantly rowing on and finishing the course with just seven oars. The stress entailed in this effort is shown by the collapse of the Oxford bow man, Dr. Alex Woods.

The Vice-Chancellor announced that the Boat Race has a new sponsor starting in 2013. It will no longer be Xchanging, which has had the sponsorship for eight
The Women's Boats Will Compete Like Blue Boats in 2015
years. The right to sponsor the Boat Race starring in 2013 has been negotiated by BNY Mellon, which is planning to do more with the sponsorship than Xchanging did. BNY Mellon's subsidiary Newton Investment Management has already been active in supporting the women's boat race. The Vice Chancellor introduced the Vice Chairman of BNY Mellon, who was attending the NYC Boat Race Dinner. In 2015 the women's boat race will take place on a more equal footing with that of the men's blue boat.

The Vice-Chancellor observed that lost in the publicity about the blue boats was the fact that Oxford's reserve boat, Isis, won in record time against the Cambridge reserve boat, Goldie. Isis finished the course in a time of 16:41, a course record for the reserves race and equal to the third-fastest time the course has been completed in the history of the race. [Goldie came in 16 seconds later, five lengths behind. Isis was coxed by an American, Katie Apfelbaum from Menands, NY, just north of Albany.]

The Boat Race Dinner was organized by a Committee that included Claude Prince (Kellogg, Oxford) as Wine and Food Steward and Sally Fan (Green Templeton, Oxford) as Secretary. Hervé Gouraige (Merton, Oxford) was Master of the Rolls and Amy Offen-Reeves of Cambridge in America was Treasurer and administered the publicity. The official photographers for the event were Clara Campbell of the Oxford North America Office and Dr. Peter Sealy (Pembroke, Cambridge).

Finally, the sponsors were crucial in making the event successful. Christ Church was a college sponsor, putting together two tables. The corporate sponsors were Windsor Capital and Signature Bank. The 2013 dinner will be the gala 80th Anniversary of the Boat Race Dinner.


The Cambridge Society of D.C. has arranged space to watch The Boat Race in Washington, DC on Saturday morning, April 7 at 8:45 am. It will be at the Dubliner, which is at the foot of Capitol Hill near Union Station. For questions about the DC event, contact David Law at For New York City events, watch this space or go to 


The man who stopped the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race (#boatracetwit) in April 2012 has been sentenced to six months in jail and court costs of 750 (about $1,250).

Judge Anne Molyneux showed little sympathy for his defense that he was registering his opposition to inequality. Instead, she said to him, he just gave to himself "the right to spoil the enjoyment of others."

The newsletter of one of the Oxford alumni branches suggested that at the end of the jail term the offender be shipped back to Australia chained to a rowing machine.


Australian protester's head at left disrupts Oxford crew. He faces
 sentencing Oct. 19 in London after having been convicted of
creating a public nuisance.  Twitter hashtag #boatracetwit.
Ian Senior publishes a branch newsletter for the Hertfordshire branch. He leads off his issue #29 with a note that the "selfish Aussie odd-ball Boat Race protester" who stopped the boat race on April 7 and necessitated a re-start and doubtless contributed to the collapse of one of the rowers as well as a ruined contest, has been convicted of creating a public nuisance.

He will be sentenced by Judge Anne Molyneux of London's Isleworth Crown Court, who has kept her options open, including jail time.

The swimmer "could have been killed" by the oars or the metal shells or the oncoming vessels behind the boats, and the race was stopped. The jury verdict that he had created a public nuisance, endangering not just himself but those around him, was unanimous.

FYI, Senior says this "class warrior" was privately educated in Australia and moved to England in 2001 to study at the LSE. He wrote a 2,000-word blog seeking to justify disrupting the Boat Race, referring to "the pumped-up though obedient administrators, managers, promoters, politicians and enforcers; functional, strategic and aspirational elites."

He is doubtless "reveling in the prospect of martyrdom for his cause." Senior suggests the following sentence:
- He should be jailed in the UK for six months.
- He should be woken up at 05.00 every day for three hours intensive training like the Boat Race crews.
- At the end of his sentence he should be flown back to Australia in chains, shackled to an ergonometer.

The Boat Race on Saturday Was a Stunner
A large crowd of Oxbridge alums living in the New York area filled Jake's Saloon in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. The event was organized by Oxford Business Alumni. 

Rising disbelief took over the crowd as they watched as the race on BBC America was interrupted by an Australian protester.
At the point of disruption, Oxford was holding its own and had the advantage at the next turn. After the race was restarted, an Oxford oarsman lost the blade on the end of his oar, reducing the maximum effort by one-fourth.
With effectively 33.3 percent more power at its disposal than Oxford, Cambridge rowed on to an easy victory, but not the kind of victory either crew has devoted years of training to achieve.

The Clueless Protester

The protester compares himself to Emily Davison, the suffragette who threw herself under the King's horses in 1913 and died for the worthy cause of Votes for Women.

His comparison is presumptuous and inappropriate. An American in the Oxford boat, William Zeng, is quoted in the New York Times on Monday as responding publicly to the protester:
You were protesting the right of 17 young men and one woman to compete fairly and honorably to demonstrate their hard work and desire in a proud tradition.
The race is bitterly summarized in the Telegraph:

“It seems to me,” Pinsent said, “there’s something peculiarly British about the fact that when a bloke deliberately ruins a classic sporting occasion, we’re the ones responsible for rescuing him and getting him to shore in one piece.” Pinsent was the first to catch sight of T*** O***, the self-indulgent class warrior in a wetsuit, as the two crews headed past Chiswick Pier. Pinsent saw something bobbing in the water just ahead of the rowers, saw an arm go up and realised there was a swimmer in the Thames. This was an event undermined by O***’s calculated intrusion, wrecked in its purpose and outcome, ruined for winner and loser alike. History will recall that Cambridge won for the 81st time. But for those involved, the memories will be of disturbance, interruption, damage and physical collapse. It ended with both teams standing on the riverside in Mortlake in mute shock as Alex Woods, the Oxford stroke who had collapsed at the finish line, was carried by stretcher into a waiting ambulance.
Other rowing-related posts:  Rowing Blazers .

No comments:

Post a Comment