Following on from a triumphant Torpids campaign that saw the men's 1st Boat retain the Headship and many other promising performances, it came as no real surprise that the ChChBC was in good form entering Summer Eights - and this indeed proved to be the case, with excellent results once again.
With six men returning from OUBC (three Blues - including twin olympians - and three Isis) the House 1st VIII was always going to be swift - especially as the remaining two seats were taken by strong contenders from the 1st Torpid. It soon became clear that no-one in Oxford could hope to match the power and skill of this crew - among the fastest ever seen on the Isis. Racing serenely untroubled well ahead of first Pembroke and then Oriel, they made the retention of the 2009 Headship look very easy - coming in many lengths ahead each day at a far lower strike rate than their scrabbling opponents lying well astern.
The men's 2nd VIII, made up largely of the 1st Torpid, were baulked of a blade only by the incompetence of BNC's supposed 1st VIII who went down many places and allowed our prey to escape - temporarily. All the same, the 2nds added to their lead as highest 2nd VIII, bumped three 1st Eights and embedded themselves firmly in Division Two - after an absence of over thirty years - a remarkable achievement - even without the blade.
No such worries met the all-conquering 3rd VIII; they gained blades over four days in some eighty strokes total, bumping two first and two second boats and extending the gap between themselves and the next highest 3rd VIIi - some way behind. Thus House crews hold the Headships of the men's 1st, 2nd and 3rd Eights - as last year - but by even greater margins.
On the ladies' side, the 1st VIII was always likely to struggle rowing off fourth place with a courageous - but underpowered and underexperienced - crew. Their holding off of a much larger Wadham boat on the first day was a triumph in itself and, while they lost two places overall, they performed with real spirit - especially on the final day - to emerge with real credit. There is much potential within this crew and it is likely that this is a temporary dip that will soon be reversed.
The ladies' 2nd VIII retained their Headship of the second boats, matching the position attained by any 2nd VIII in the days before universal co-education - in itself no mean feat, given the changes in the structure of the Oxford collegiate rowing world over the last several decades.
The 3rd VIII had the misfortune to be pitted against an experienced crew of graduates from Osler House and were bumped from the top-slot won last year.
With much to celebrate the Hall was vibrant that evening with the vast Eights Trophy on display and the Dean giving his speech - as is now traditional - stood atop High Table. After champagne drunk from the trophy the crews and hundreds of supporters gathered in Meadows for the burning of the boat - the House's fourth in succession. The evening was a suitable climax to a great Eights Week that not even a damp day could repress.
Friday June 18th sees the Boat Club Dinner in Hall at which these victories will be properly feted; old members and friends are very welcome - please contact the Development Office for details. In addition, please come and support the House crew in the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta (June 30th - July 4th) and attend the ChChBC Society party on July 3rd.
Overall, then, another splendid year for House rowing - with many accomplished performances and a strengthening of the Boat Club's position - especially on the men's side - as the leading Oxford college. Many thanks to the large cast of characters that rowed, coxed, coached, umpired - and supported and funded these endeavours; all of your efforts are much appreciated; they keep the House where it wishes to be - on top.
Jon Carley (1980)