|Page (1) of 1 - 04/07/12||email article||print page|
Cambridge beats Oxford in dramatic boat race interrupted by swimmer in River Thames
MORTLAKE, England (AP) ' A man in a wetsuit jumped into the River Thames and swam between the crews, causing a 31-mintue postponement of the race, before Cambridge beat Oxford on Saturday.
When the race was restarted halfway along the course, Oxford's German rower Dr. Hanno Wienhausen lost half of his oar after the crews clashed ' allowing Cambridge to cruise to victory against seven oarsmen. A margin of victory wasn't given by officials.
Oxford bow man Dr. Alexander Woods required medical attention after appearing to collapse after the race, reportedly because of exhaustion.
The trophy presentation was delayed while doctors attended to Woods.
"It's a huge relief, but it's shocking to see Alex in such a state," Cambridge president Dave Nelson.
The intruder plunged into the Thames at the Surrey bend stage of the race, with around 1 miles left in the 4 -mile course. As the two boats approached him, he ducked his head under the water ' narrowly avoiding the oars of the Oxford crew.
The man resurfaced, with a big smile across his face, and was picked up by a police boat. Once on dry land, he was led away, wrapped in a red blanket.
Oxford was slightly ahead at the time of the postponement.
"I saw a head," Cambridge's American oarsman Steve Dudek said. "I looked over and thought they had lost a guy (out of the Oxford boat). Our cox immediately said 'stop.'"
The race was restarted from the Hammersmith Bridge, around the 2-mile point.
"It's not ideal but given those circumstances what could we do?" said Pinsent, a four-time Olympic gold medalist. "Fortunately we spotted him and stopped the race."
The last time the race had to be restarted was in 2001 when there was a clash of blades and an oar was lost by one of the crews.
At the end of the race, Oxford cox Zoe De Toledo appealed for the race to be rerun because there was too much wash on the course after the postponement. But her appeal was turned down by race umpire John Garrett.
"I did not agree with their appeal, so the result stands," Garrett said.
The fact that Cambridge extended its lead in the overall series to 81-76 will be lost in all the drama of the 158th running of one of England's oldest and most prestigious sporting fixtures.
"With all the hoohah and the restart and the clash, it was a pretty dramatic race," Nelson said.
"It was too-ing and fro-ing until the island then suddenly there was yelling about an obstruction and I saw a head between the crews. It's not the way anyone wants to take away the win.
"We're more worried about the Oxford guys right now and we'll reflect later on what's gone on."