Christ Church Regatta in Danger of Cancellation

One boat is snapped in two as racing on day one is cancelled due to sudden change in conditions

Christ Church Regatta Rowing

Racing was abandoned on the first day of the Christ Church regatta before the first race had been completed following a rapid rise in the river level.

Soon after the midday opening race got underway the conditions began to drastically deteriorate. The status of the river had changed to blue flag by just 12:07 meaning no novice coxes were allowed.

Racing was suspended before the conclusion of the race, with all crews advised to get out of the water.

The Environment Agency data showed that the river level had trebled since the early morning, and the sudden change is thought to have been due to locks being opened upstream to prevent flooding.

The river this afternoon

A red flag was issued an hour later meaning no crews were allowed on the river. By the time racing was stopped, however, some crews had already run into difficulty with the strong current.

Whilst several boats were struggling to land properly one of the Somerville novice boats ran into a barge and was broken almost in half.

Amy Fairchild, who was in the boat as it crashed, told The Tab “it was an interesting first race!

“It was raining hard and as we rolled towards the start we nearly got sucked under one of the bridges. Apart from a wobbly pre-start we then managed to row well considering the weather!

“As we came to turn after the race, the current caught the boat and we went into the side of a barge on the far side of the river. We got completely wedged and splintered the bow.

Somerville’s boat after colliding with a barge

“The team are very grateful to John from St. John’s who jumped into the river and onto the barge to help us aboard. He also offered us his clothes and was an absolute babe!

“When the boat was rescued I think the bow was only just attached to the rest of the boat.”

The Somerville boatman has since declared it “fixable”.

There were rumours that another boat had capsized but the organiser of the regatta, Alex Chajecki, confirmed that “no boat capsized” and said that there had been no injuries.

As for the remaining three days of the regatta, the Met Office is forecasting further rain tomorrow as well as winds of up to 45mph.

Oxford University Rowing Clubs, the governing body for college rowing, remained hopeful that the river could return to blue flag soon and will make a decision on tomorrow’s racing in the morning.

Flooding at the sports pitches on the river bank today

Wednesday and Thursday, in a change from the format of previous years, should see the time trial ‘head races’ with the fastest 32 crews qualifying for Friday’s side-by-side knock-out races. The winning 16 crews would then go through to the final day of racing on Saturday.

If no rowing is possible until Friday the likelihood is that it will take the form of a single head race for each crew with the fastest 16 qualifying for Saturday.

If the conditions remain unsuitable the entire regatta could be decided by a one-off head race on Saturday.

Despite the difficulties caused by the conditions today, it seems several people were still raring to go, and it was even suggested in some quarters that the race-desk had “gone soft”.

The Tab will keep you up to date with the situation and report on any racing as and when it happens.