Today was the turn of the Men’s Clubs to take to the Championship Course for what promised to be an exciting day of racing.
Oxford were first to take to the water in today’s Trial VIIIs races on a sunny afternoon on the Tideway. The two crews named ‘Per Mare’ and ‘Per Terram’ contained only 3 returning Blues, new President Constantine Louloudis and Sam O’Connor in Per Terram while Michael DiSanto sat in Per Mare. Nonetheless both boats put in fine performances in a highly competitive race.
Off the start it was Per Terram on the Middlesex station, stroked by Louloudis that edged out to a very slight lead in the first few strokes. Coming down into their stride by the Town Buoy the lead had crept out to 1/3 of a length.
Iain Mandale in the stroke seat of Per Mare held his nerve as the opposition slowly went another man up, however there was still a 4 man overlap as umpire Boris Rankov issued the first of his warnings to the leading crew passing Fulham Football Club. Per Terram were warned again to move into their own water passing the Mile Post where the lead was ½ length.
Per Mare started to reel in the lead, using the benefit of the Surrey bend to help get back on terms. By Harrods the lead was down to a ¼ length and by Hammersmith Bridge it was too close to call. Mandale with DiSanto behind him at 7 hit a strong rhythm under the bridge despite coming close to clashing with their opposite numbers.
Per Mare’s push looked as though it would be decisive as they sprung out to almost a 1 length advantage at the apex of the bend. This time it was Louloudis who held his nerve, heading into the rough water after St. Paul’s he’d cut the lead to 1/3 length. By Chiswick Eyot the crews were again level. Both now facing gusts and with heavy chop disrupting the crews bladework, it was Per Terram who crept ahead again.
At Chiswick Steps the lead was ½ length, yet Per Mare showed their mettle once more forcing new warnings from Rankov in the umpires launch as they stopped Per Terram gaining any more advantage. This time though the bend was in favour of the crew on Middlesex and putting in a push approaching Barnes Bridge Per Terram slipped out to ¾ length, turning this into a length in the smoother water passing Dukes Meadow.
At the finish Per Terram had pulled away a little more to win a fascinating contest by 2 lengths.
Cambridge boated an hour after their Dark Blue counterparts to race on a tide equivalent to Boat Race day itself. This meant conditions were choppier for their two boats named ‘63’ and ‘Not Out’ in memory of the Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes.
Not Out won the toss and chose the Surrey station. Stroked by Blue Henry Hoffstot with fellow returning Blue Josh Hooper in 7 seat and President Alex Leichter in the 4 seat. 63 was stroked by Blue Luke Juckett the crew also had returning Blues Matt Jackson at 6 and Ian Middleton in the coxes seat.
Both crews went off the start at a strong pace and along the Putney boathouses there was nothing between them. 63 settled to a slightly higher rate enabling them to edge to a few feet advantage passing the Town Buoy. They couldn’t hold this however and by Barn Elms the two stroke men were eyeball to eyeball once more.
Approaching Harrods Not Out put in a push, taking the rate up to 36 trying to gain the advantage from the impending Surrey bend. At Hammersmith Bridge despite a warning from the umpire they were ¼ length up and continuing to over-rate 63. Their advantage had stretched to 1/3 length at St. Paul’s.
By now the water had become very rough upsetting both crews rhythms but it was Not Out who handled it better to slip away decisivley from 63. At Chiswick Eyot the lead was 1 length and while 63 persevered they couldn’t get back on terms. At Chiswick Steps the lead was closer to 2 lengths.
Both crews were at similar pace but 63 were unable to get back into the contest despite a late push pulling back a quarter of a length towards the finish. As the crews crossed the line it was Not Out who punched the air with a victory of 2 lengths.
Both Trial VIIIs races showed squads with a great deal of strength, prepared to duke it out in challenging conditions. This can only bode well for a great BNY Mellon Boat Race on 11th April 2015.