It’s that time of year again. Yep, it’s when the Isis swarms with 19 metre pieces of carbon fibre, inside which nestle people clad in obscenely tight lycra. That means only one thing: Summer VIIIs is upon us. Just a shame rowing’s incredibly shit.

Often advertised on Facebook via the seductive promise of sun and Pimm’s; Summer VIIIs rarely lives up to this attractive idyll. Instead, we have to put on jumpers and don macs for the miserable trudge through Christ Church Meadow. Who doesn’t love watching sporting events where there’s a high possibility of picking up hypothermia?

The bottom line is that rowing simply isn’t fun to watch. The only bit of the race you can see whilst stood on the balcony of your college’s boathouse is over in about 3 minutes. And the fact drinking is such a big part of Summer VIIIs suggests rowing really isn’t a sport that lends itself to sober spectating. Only by being ragingly drunk, can you endure talk of bowside stroking or the size of one’s coxbox.

What really grates though, is the degree of hype that surrounds rowing, when there are far more exciting and/or skillful sports being played at this university. Cuppers tennis is racquet-based artistry, especially when blues players get involved. And yeah, a lot of college footballers aren’t too blessed in the technique department. But that makes for some pretty enthralling encounters, where 5-3 and 8-5 scorelines occur with the same frequency as Ntokozo Qwabe gaffes. Compare this to rowing, which is literally just boats chasing each other until they gently brush the end of the one in front. There’s not really that much skill to it either, since all you have to do is keep the same rhythm as your team mates.  Dozing off yet? Me too.

Maybe a sinking or five would liven up VIIIs?

Maybe a sinking or five would liven up VIIIs?

Oblivious to the dullness of their sport, the attitude of many Summer VIIIs participants would have you think they were taking part in the Olympics. Mate, you’re rowing M3 – alongside old boys and the chronically unfit. As for those horrifically (yet inevitable) cringe-inducing videos of crews all jumping into the Isis as a result of avoiding spoons/winning blades/discovering a personality not centred around 6am starts and carb-loading, they’re proof positive of the lack of self-awareness that so mars Oxford’s rowing scene. 

And now, to add insult to injury, this year’s VIIIs even has an official “after party” at Emporium – as though there’s anything to celebrate about rowing. As a sport, its repetition and the humourlessness should make us steer well clear. Yet we keep on coming back. Perhaps it’s because we think that this year – yes, definitely this year – a Trenton Oldfield-type character will liven up proceedings by jumping into the water, or unfurl a banner slagging off David Cameron on the Brasenose boathouse.

Speaking of which, does anyone know what Trenton’s up to on Saturday?


This article has 2 comments

  1. u’ve never watched a bumps race in ur life have u. Or were you spurned by a blue? or worse a college chopper? either way ur tears arouse me so Imma go wank over eddie rolls xxx

  2. Another futuo cunnus with more excrementum chat

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