Oriel’s Men’s First VIII fought off a strong challenge from Christ Church on the final day of Summer Eights to retain the Headship they have held since 2019. It was a very successful week overall for Oriel’s boats, with the M3 and M5 crews gaining blades, the Women’s First VIII achieving their highest ever finishing position in Summer Eights, and many other fantastic performances to celebrate.
Oriel’s Men’s First VIII have been defending the Headship since they took it from Keble in 2019 and this year faced a stiff challenge from Christ Church, who had a number of Olympians in their crew. Starting the week in fourth position on the river, Christ Church bumped Pembroke and Keble to move up to second, leading to a tense finish on the final day of rowing as the Oriel crew battled to keep them at bay. It was a nerve-wracking finish but the Oriel crew held firm for a hard-earned victory.
This result means that Oriel’s men now move into an outright lead in terms of overall Headships won in Summer Eights at 34 (until this year they had been tied 33-33 with Christ Church).
The Women’s First VIII had a great week too, narrowly missing out on Blades after they bumped on three out of four days. This took them to their highest ever position of seventh on the river, a great foundation on which to build for next year.
The Men’s Third VIII gained Blades, bumping Christ Church III, University III, Keble III and New College III to move up to second place in Division VI. The Men’s Fifth VIII, which counted four women among its crew, also won Blades to move up to second place in Division VII with bumps on St Hilda’s II, Christ Church V, Christ Church IV and Linacre II.
The Women’s Second VIII just missed out on Blades, rowing over on the final day, but move up into Division IV for next year’s competition. The Men’s Second VIII finished the week up two places and the Women’s Third VIII were bumped on each day of the competition, finishing the week in sixth position in Division VI.
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, it was great to see Summer Eights return to the river, and for Oriel’s crews to perform so well.