This year was the first that ladies were allowed to compete, and there was full coverage of the full course race for them and the men’s race.  Before those, there were races in cutters and gigs.  The race preceding the main events took place in the replica gigs used in the first Oxbridge race in 1829.  The race was from Hammersmith Bridge to the finish at Chiswick

Crew ages 34 – 80, average age 56 for each crew.

The youngest was Chris West -34 – who has rowed from Japan to Los Angeles with his crew partner setting a world record of 189 days – that was preceded by medals in Junior, under 23 and Senior Worlds Championships in rowing, and rowing the Atlantic.

The oldest is David Gramolt, who  at 80 coxed the Oxford crew (there were two in their 70s racing in the Cambridge crew), an international GB rower, winner of races at Henley including skiff championships and still competing successfully in Masters events.

The person with least experience is Jennifer Taylor in the Oxford crew who has only recently joined the sport, and is a very determined competitor

The Ladies

5 from Tideway Scullers School joined in and with Jennifer (Sunbury Skiff and Punting Club) were the first ladies to row in an eight on the day.

The Men

The largest contingent was from The Skiff Club at Teddington, who had 5 of the 16 crew as past and present members (Michael Ashcroft, Ricardo Davies, David Gramolt, Paul Gregory, Andrew Probert) , but the others had rowing connections and were mostly very experienced.  There were some with very little experience, showing that rowing is for all, at any age.

The Race

The race was the closest of the day, as the gigs were side by side for the most of the race with only the bends showing advantage.  The Cambridge no 7 Claire-Louise French was having trouble with a thole pin (the fulcrum for the oar) which broke and had great difficulty in controlling the blade – it was this which prevented the very closest finish in the last stages of the race.  The Umpire’s comments sum it up:-

“Can I say just one more time – it was an honour to Umpire your race.

You gave it your all and compared with the other events later yours was by far the most competitive.

A fantastic row, thank you for making it a memorable day for me.

For those of you who are on Facebook have a look at the TTRA Traditional Rowing Assoc page and see the album of pictures.

There are a few great ones of you and just how close you were – superb coxing chaps!

See you all on the river very soon”  – these show how close  the race was – the later photos with Oxford ahead are after the thole problem. – there should be some good pics from these.

Watch also the video of the race from this link –

The Charity

The crews raced to benefit Prostate Cancer UK in memory of Andrew Ripley  as Robert Rakison ‘Raki’ (Oxford gig) was a rowing partner.

Andrew Ripley, England & British Lion rugby player, Superstars winner, World Masters Champion rower and President of Tideway Scullers School.  Andy Ripley was also part of the Record Breaking London2Paris Row in 1999 with the crew drawn from the Skiff Racing Association.

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