Monday, April 15, 2013

BOAT RACE: 80th NYC BRD, 2013

Queen Elizabeth II, Coronation, Official Photo, 1953
80th NYC Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner, April 11, 2013

Toast to the Queen
 by Dr. John Tepper Marlin (Trinity, Oxford):

King George VI died in his sleep on February 6, 1952, after 16 years on the throne - including the Depression Years and World War II. 

His 25-year-old daughter Elizabeth was crowned the following year, 60 years ago. Her official photographs show her confident and brave. 

On June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II took her oath at Westminster Abbey before 8,000 guests, including many heads of state. She bound herself to serve her people and to maintain the laws of God. 

Millions more watched as the BBC set up a live broadcast of unprecedented size. Many purchased a television set for the first time. Others came to p
arties held throughout Britain.

I attended one of those parties as a ten-year-old boarder at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. We were excited about being part of the event as it happened. The small screen was laughably inadequate for the large number of monks and teachers and staff and boys who wanted to watch. But never will I forget it. 

The Queen said:

Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.
Queen Elizabeth II
My sister Elisabeth met the Queen last year when she was awarded the OBE. She was very impressed.

I think after 60 years we can all pronounce Her Majesty worthy indeed. So I have composed a six-line toast in her honor:

We raise our glasses to the Queen, none finer 
Who gave her name to an ocean liner. 

With Treasury markets at zero bound,
The Federal Reserve two programs found.


And they named their policies, brave and few, 
The QE1… and the QE2.

Ladies and Gentlemen - The Queen.

[Link here to story on what is likely to happen when the unthinkable occurs and Queen Elizabeth II dies.]

Response from the Universities - Sir Ivor Roberts Introduced by Dr. Marlin

Sir Ivor Roberts is President of Trinity College, Oxford. For 25 years I served as the College’s American Representative. When a predecessor of Sir Ivor’s took office, I went to see him and introduced myself as the college’s American Rep. The incoming President asked me in return: “What does a College Rep… do?” So I explained: “I write a letter every November asking other alumni of Trinity to give money.” And he look at me, puzzled and he asked: “Why do you that?”

Since the Prime Ministership of the late Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, I am assured that no Oxford or Cambridge college president would ask that question today.

Sir Ivor was born in Liverpool, and is with us close to the 50th anniversary of the first visit to America of another touring group, the Beatles. Sir Ivor was educated at St. Mary's College, Crosby and was a Scholar at Keble College. He graduated in Modern Languages in 1968, and entered the Diplomatic Service, where he earned the four letters of his knighthood. 

He started in the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Lebanon, then Paris, then Luxembourg and back to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Canberra. Sir Ivor was sent to Madrid to be Minister in the British Embassy, then to Belgrade, first as Chargé d'Affaires, and after recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia by the United Kingdom, as Ambassador. In Belgrade he conducted negotiations on behalf of the international mediators with both the Yugoslav authorities and the Bosnian Serbs and manged not to be shot dead by either side. You might say it was not a good sign if Sir Ivor was assigned to your country. It means Her Majesty is expecting trouble.

From 1998 to 1999 he was on a sabbatical as a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, Oxford. Next he served as British Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, then Ambassador to Italy and to San Marino. He retired from the Diplomatic Service in 2006 upon the happy day for Trinity College, Oxford when he was elected President.

Since 1974 he has been married to Elizabeth Smith, now Lady Roberts, a scholar of French poetry and former diplomat in the Australian Foreign Service. She has been a University lecturer in Balkan history and has written a history of Montenegro published in 2006, the same year as the remake of the Montenegro-based James Bond movie, “Casino Royale”.

Sir Ivor speaks fluent Italian, French and Spanish and, he says -- and I have no basis for questioning his assertion– “passable Serbo-Croat". His hobbies include Italian opera, theatre, photography, skiing, golf and tennis.

Recognizing his distinguished career, in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours List he was named Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG). In the 2000 List his honor was raised to Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG).  Please join me in welcoming Sir Ivor.

Sir Ivor Roberts, KCMG, FCIL

Sir Ivor Roberts, KCMG FCIL President, Trinity College, Oxford

Oxonians, Cantabridgians, spouses, partners, friends and associates.

Thank you John, your welcome was more generous than that of the last person who introduced me with the simple words: “Pray for the silence of the President of Trinity.”

Indeed it was the sort of introduction that my father would have loved and my mother would have believed.

The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.

I was born in Liverpool the seaport on the west of the UK which has had most interconnection with the US from its colonial days. Despite having been a home to William Gladstone, it has not recently been thought of as the natural home of aesthetes and academics, statesmen and poets, rather a vigorous robust seaport with the usual concomitance of drink and violence.

Its contemporary fame rests on its music makers extraordinaire and its football team, and concomitant violence.

So in an attempt to provide a fresh softer focus for Liverpool, the city Elders recently decided on a plan to put into one of the tougher areas of Liverpool, a safari park to make the city more family friendly.

At a planning meeting with the city council and the town planners one of the town planners pointed out that the location of the park was in the middle of the most heavily residential area of the city.

“What,” asked the town planner, “would happen if one of the lions were to escape?” Quick as a flash one of the town councillors replied: “It’ll just have to take its chance like the rest of us."

There is always, as the Boat Race demonstrates, keen competition between the universities, but this is also reflected at college level. Trinity College Cambridge is, of course, the larger of the two Trinities And as a result we have to use our wits to hold our heads up in the presence of our richer and larger counterparts.

This was best illustrated to me by a story our Estates Bursar told about a lunch that he had with his opposite number at Cambridge. He was describing to him the fact that our College retained a modest estate in North Oxfordshire – the Wroxton Estate – as part of its original endowment, and it took him a couple of hours to stroll around it.

His opposite number gave a derisive laugh. “If I get into my car in the morning,” he said, “I can drive it as fast as it can do all the hours of daylight for two consecutive days, and I still would not have completed a tour of half our estates.”

Our Estates Bursar looked at him sympathetically and said: “Yes, I had a car like that once too”.

You are, I am sure, mainly interested in the reforms since you went down. Though your attitude to change might be like that of the 19th century statesman Lord Salisbury, who said “Change, change, why do we want more change? Aren't things bad enough as they are?”

Let us start with the...


In the old days they had a certain aversion to excessive labour, on your part or on theirs. My tutor gave me my first lecture list with the comment: "Nothing there that need detain you”!

One used to decline to give tutorials on Wednesdays because it spoilt both his weekends.

Another, when asked what precisely he was that he did, by a Government Inspector, replied “I give an annual lecture – but not you understand every year”.

They had a certain waspish style of speech. It was a former President of my College whose obituary said that “his biting wit was much admired by his ever-decreasing circle of friends.”

We are, of course, very much an academic institution. At the end of the road still lie the dreaded Finals. We have, alas, abolished the Fourth Class, traditionally awarded to candidates who gave long and brilliant answers to questions examiners had not asked.

One candidate who should surely have qualified for a Fourth wrote these words only on his paper: Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5.

The curious examiner looked it up in his Collected Shakespeare. It said: “I cannot do this bloody thing.”

While we are here to celebrate the Boat Race, I read recently about another boat race on the Seine River in Paris between Toyota and the Peugeot motor companies. Both teams practised long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile. The French, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.

A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was Toyota had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the Peugeot team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

So, Peugeot hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

So to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder, with meetings with celebrities, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was agreement on getting new oars, a new boat and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices, and a big bonus.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, Peugeot management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new boat, sold the oars, and cancelled all capital investment in new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year’s racing team was outsourced to India.

So much for rowing!

Oxford and Cambridge have, I'm sure you all know, played their part in the creation of the US. Oxonians made it both possible and inevitable for the American colonies to become independent. All of the eight colonies between New York and Florida were founded or once owned by an Oxonian.

Sir Walter Raleigh from Oriel founded the first colony, Virginia.

George Calvert, earl of Baltimore from Trinity Oxford, founded Maryland as a Catholic haven. Earl Granville from Christ Church founded the Carolinas and two of my college’s three Prime Ministers, who were bitterly opposed to each other, contributed in their respective ways to the creation of the US:
  • William Pitt the Elder chased the French out of Canada and ultimately out of the whole of North America, while 
  • Lord North so alienated the colonists by overtaxing them to pay for Pitt's wars, that he made their rebellion inevitable. (Pitt, incidentally, was vehemently opposed to making the colonies pay.)
William Penn of Christ Church founded Pennsylvania, of course.

And John Harvard of Emmanuel Cambridge gave his name to the incomparable Harvard, donating to it his library.

If the pioneering spirit of the Raleighs and the Pitts was evident in the 16th and 18th centuries, it has fully been taken over by the modern descendants of the original colonists.

What we most need in Oxford and Cambridge is an infusion of the best
qualities of this country -
  • a can-do spirit
  • an optimism which says that the goals of fairness and equality are achieved by leveling up and not by leveling down
  • a generosity of spirit and of substance to the institutions which nurtured us in our youth. 
It's this generosity, and not just of spirit, that has helped Oxford and Cambridge so much in recent years as our US alumni have so often stepped in as we become progressively more orphaned by the British state. We are collectively enormously indebted to our US alumni.

My college was Head of the River at Oxford for 17 years between 1938 and 1951. The College was then divided into three distinct groups of undergraduates.
  • The first group consisted of those who thought that the College was a boat club,
  •  the second group consisted of those who thought that the College ought to be a boat club, and 
  • the third group was a statistically insignificant number.
Matters have become more difficult, now that ability on the river counts for less than ability in the library or lab. in the admissions process.

Our Chaplain was questioning one aspirant theologian and oarsman, whose muscles were more obvious than his Christianity, and who appeared to have only a tenuous grasp of the New Testament, and a still lesser one of the Old.

So finally he asked him “what was it” in the book of Genesis of which it was said “it moveth slowly upon the face of the waters and is filled with all manner of strange beasts?”

And the schoolboy replied hopefully “The Balliol Schools VIII”?

Rowers don't always get the best press. You may remember reading about the rower who was down at the sea one day and saw a girl swimming a good distance out but circling her was an unmistakeable shark fin.

Without a moment's hesitation our intrepid oarsman threw himself in the sea, swam out to the girl, karate chopped the shark to death and swam back to land with the girl.

A man on the beach came up to our hero and said "that's the bravest thing I've ever seen. I'm a reporter for the local paper, I'd like to write that up. Tell me, what's your job?" "I'm a rower" said our hero.

The next day, the local paper carried the headline: "Rower kills girl's pet."

Wait, it's not over. Our hero is so disconsolate at this bad publicity that he decides to give up rowing and enter a Trappist monastery. The rules were very strict. A monk was only allowed to speak once every ten years and then only to utter two words. At the end of ten years, our hero said to the Abbot. "Bed hard". Another ten years went by and he then told the Abbot "food bad". Finally after another ten long years, he said to the Abbot "I quit".

The Abbot was very angry. "I knew this was coming" he said. "You've done nothing but complain for the last 30 years."

Well we've had nothing to complain about tonight. We've had a wonderful evening and are hugely grateful to our hosts.

I give you the toast. To our sponsors.

More Boat Race Dinner Information
Past BRDs  This Year's BRDs

Boat Race News - "The Oarsmen Weigh In" 

Danielle Rossingh of Bloomberg Sports reports on March 5 that American Steve Dudek will be rowing again in 2013 after winning over Oxford in the "interrupted" Boat Race on the Thames. The race is being called the BNY Mellon Boat Race, after its new sponsor, which for the first time ever will be a U.S.-based company.

Here are some highlights from her story:

Cambridge has an 81-76 lead in the series. 

Dudek is one of five returning Cambridge crew members. Acknowledging that the 2012 victory was "hollow" given the disruption, Dudek is looking forward to the Easter Sunday race on March 31. 

The race started in 1829 with a Cambridge student's challenge. This is the first time the Boat Race will have four U.S. crew members. Cambridge will have just one Brit on board. 

The women’s boat race is moving toward equal status with the men's race. It will this year be held a week earlier at Henley. Starting in 2015 they will be one the same day over the same course. 

Last year's demonstrator from Australia was protesting budget cuts in the UK. He has been adding to the UK's prison expenditure since September 2012, with a six-month sentence for creating a public nuisance. 

The event will be watched by 250,000 on the banks of the Thames and millions on television. [In 2012 A group of New Yorkers watched at a bar in Chelsea.] 

The Oxford crew outweighed Cambridge by 21 kilos, first time since 2009 that Oxford has been heavier. But the Cambridge women outweighed Oxford by 28.4 kilos. 
Oxford's crew is looking for vindication after last year's bizarre defeat. Oxford coach Sean Bowden has had eight victories since he started coaching in 1998. Two rowers return from last year. 

Contact: Danielle Rossingh on the London sports desk at Tip of the hat to Russell Dallen for alerting us to the London weigh-in.


Scheduled dates for 2013 dinners are provided below along with Oxford Alumni Networks listings for 2012/13. To add to or correct this list, contact

Phoenix - -

San Francisco - -

Joel Pace

Dinner chair George Keys (Balliol, Oxford)
Emcee James Fallows (Queen's, Oxford), Atlantic.
Toast to the Universities  by Katty Kay (Oxford), Lead anchor at BBC World News America
Response from the Universities by Gillian Tett (Clare, Cambridge), Financial Times

ILLINOIS - CHICAGO DINNER (74th) - April 12, 2013
Secretary-Treasurer John H. Morrison, OBE (Univ., Oxford)
John Morrison@BoatRace
Emcee Paul Svoboda (Queens' College, Cambridge)
Mr. Michael J. Dickenson (Christ's College, Cambridge) will report on the 159th Boat Race
Speakers Dr. Robin H. Walker (Queens' College, Cambridge)
Mr. Robert Chatterton Dickson (Magdalene, Cambridge), H.M. Consult General
Musical selections by the Chicago Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company

Philip Kirk Jones, Jr.

- Kansas City
Brandon Baeur
- St. Louis
David Pollack

Neil Malcolm

NEW YORK - NYC DINNER (80th Anniversary Gala) - April 11, 2013
Grace, Archbishop Peter Carnley (Emmanuel and St. John's, Cambridge)
Mr. Claude Prince (Kellogg, Oxford) will report on the 159th BNY Mellon Boat Race
Toast to the President, Dr. Julia Gog (Queens', Cambridge)
Toast to the Queen, Dr. John Tepper Marlin (Trinity, Oxford)
Toast to the Universities, H.M. Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Peter Westmacott (New, Oxford)(tbc)
Response from the Universities, Sir Ivor Roberts (Keble, Oxford), President, Trinity, Oxford
The dinner is sponsored by BNY Mellon.


Russell Fisher

Donald McKenzie


Michael Brunet


Obituary, Denis B. Woodfield, second Chairman of the NYC Dinner (after Bruce Harvey), active in the running of the British Schools and Universities Foundation.

Photos of 80th Dinner by Peter Sealy

Program for 80th NYC Dinner April 11, 2013 and other North American Boat Race events

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