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Are you Ready? - 169

Race 45 – Oxford win - 15 March 1883

Once again both crews had difficulty in finding a suitable stroke. At Oxford Higgins had gone down. Sharpe had again stroked one of the trials, and he and his vis-à-vis, W. D. B. Curry, were both given long trials. But neither found favour, and when the crew went into training West was prevailed upon to come up and stroke once more. Yet in spite of the fact that Paterson had four other old Blues and a splendid recruit in D. H. McLean, the progress of the crew was slow, partly because they had been hampered by lack of coaching in the early stages owing to floods. Mr. Grenfell entertained the crew at Taplow when they left home waters and coached them right up to the race. At Taplow they were put through a great deal of work, and gradually began to improve. It was not until late in practice, when they finally decided to discard the old 78 boat in favour of a new Clasper fitted with a fin, that they really showed what they could do. They were, perhaps, forced to make the change owing to the fact that Cambridge three times, on the same tides, did faster trials. On March 8 Oxford rowed the full course (somewhat idly, for their coach’s launch was out of earshot by Craven Steps and out of sight at Hammersmith) in 22 min. 7 sec., Cambridge in 21 min. 44 sec. On the 5th Oxford had taken 8 min. 40 sec. to row from Hammersmith to the Aqueduct ; Cambridge 8 min. 15 sec. On the 6th over the same piece Oxford took 7 min. 57 sec. ; Cambridge 7 min 53 sec. Three days before the race, Oxford, after changing their boat, rowed from Barnes to Putney in what was then record time.

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