We invited past members of UCBC to share their memories of Summer Eights and the Boat Club. Here are just a few.
"Rowing creates real camaraderie – the 1952 Univ crew has kept together over 60 years, meeting yearly at Henley and on other occasions."
Jeff Howles (1950, PPE)
"Only yesterday evening one of my contemporaries at church asked me whether I had been a sportsman. My immediate answer was 'no', but I had to correct that since, as you see, my commitment to rowing at Univ was quite considerable in my time. I enjoyed it greatly."
Alan Luff (1947, Classics and Theology)
I learnt my rowing at Univ, having never touched an oar before and I stayed with it throughout though I have never counted myself as a great sporting man. The college music was my other contribution. I think I rowed in the Second VIII in 1949. I did not row in Torpids in 1950 as I was taking Classical Mods at the Easter. So that summer I was out of training and was made stroke of the third VIII. We were unstylish but highly successful, I think we went up seven places. It was said that at the start we would disappear in a cloud of spray and emerge half a length up. We never needed to get farther than the gut. That was just as well since we were not that fit.
The next year I was in the first VIII, which I think moved up a little - enough to encourage us to go to Henley with an VIII and a IV. The VIII did not get beyond its first race but the IV in which I was rowing did well enough to be in the semi-final of the Stewards on the last day. We were beaten by a boat from the Royal Engineers which was crewed by university blues as I remember.
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John Davenport (1951, History)
In VIIIs Week 1952 we started as “sandwich boat” and on the first day we rowed over at the head of the second division and then 45 minutes later were due to start at the bottom of the first division. We came back to the barge for a short rest and our coach, Jeff Hoyland, produced two bottles of champagne and we all had a cupful in thick white china teacups. Perhaps surprisingly we made a very rapid bump that evening as well as three more bumps that week!
Revd David Moseley (1951, Maths)
I think it was at torpids in the year of the Queen’s coronation that I first participated in competition on the Isis, when I was at number 3 in the Univ 3rd crew. Full of enthusiasm I determined to put all I had into my share of getting the boat moving – so much so that at the third stroke of the oars my blade broke off at the knuckle and floated away. For the rest of the race I had to go through the motions, holding the remnant with no support and keeping clear of the other 7 members, while they did all the productive work. Fortunately the boat directly behind us was bumped, and we managed to row over; but we failed to do anything spectacular for the rest of the week. I took home the bladeless remnant and kept it for a long time as the symbol of a failed aspiration …
Dr Alastair Monro (1953, Chemistry)
I was in the 2nd VIII in 1955 and an outstanding memory was of rowing, day after day, "behind" Philip Cookson (he rowed at 4 and I at 2) - who was completely blind. Other members of the crew included the Lord Oxburgh (at 5) and John Gardner (cox).
Michael Wigan (1955, Maths)
This story is probably well known. I was very involved with the Boat Club when the Dinosaurs started so I remember the discussion about a name. John Wolstenholme was the leading light in its formation. The question was to find a name. There are two reasons for Dinosaurs: “Diners’ Oars” and “Diner’s sore arse!”
David Shelley (1957, Modern History)
In 1957 we thought it a good wheeze to form a drinking/dining club for former National Servicemen who had served in the Royal Navy or Royal Marines. The question was what emblem to put on the tie. The solution was a fishhead below the capital letter R. The club was instantly dubbed the R-soles Club. We entered a four in the Univ Regatta. Despite our enormous aggregate experience in aquatic affairs, we were unplaced.
Do you have a memory or story about the University College Boat Club or Summer Eights that you would like to share?
We are collecting reminiscences of UCBC and Summer Eights. Your memories will be of value to students, alumni, historians and academics, and to posterity! Please e-mail your reminiscences to: Chris Major, Communications Officer (Acting), or send them to the Development Office, University College, Oxford OX1 4BH.
We will collate all responses and add them to the University College website. If you have any UCBC documents or photographs that you wish to share, please do send them in and they will be carefully copied, scanned and returned to you safely.