Published on 8 Apr 2012 Sections ,

Pinsent rues disruption to Boat Race

Sir Matthew Pinsent admits he is “busy drowning sorrows”, as police charge a man with a public order offence after “possibly the most dramatic Boat Race in history” was halted by a swimmer.

Sir Matthew Pinsent (Image: Getty)

The 158th race was stopped for almost half an hour while a wetsuit-clad swimmer was pulled from the river and taken away on a police launch before being arrested.

Cambridge powered on to victory following the restart of the historic competition, but not without further drama: an Oxford crew member was taken to hospital after collapsing in his boat and another team mate’s oar snapped during a day of high drama on the River Thames.

Olympic rowing gold medalist Sir Matthew Pinsent, who was assistant umpire at yesterday’s race, said on Twitter today that he was “disappointed that race v.1 (version one) didn’t go the the distance and busy drowning sorrows”.

He added that he had “never seen an (sic) snap like that from a clash. bizarre”.

I have no interest in what the swimmers mission statement is – I had my chance to speak directly to him as we picked him up and said nothing. Sir Matthew Pinsent

Responding to queries over Alex Woods, the Oxford team member taken to hospital last night, Sir Matthew said: “Alex Woods – the crew visited him last night and he is expected to be released from hosp today – exhaustion caused collapse.”

Last night he tweeted that 27-year-old Dr Woods was “fine but doesn’t remember anything past the restart”.

Celebrations last night were muted after the Oxford bowman was taken to hospital.

The contest ended with no presentation ceremony and the Boat Race Company described it as “possibly the most dramatic in Boat Race history”.

“The clash was obviously just one of those extremely unfortunate things. And the outcome of the crash was a broken blade.

“And I guess you can only imagine the desperation that Alex must have been in with only six crew mates left and that’s probably how he ended up pushing himself beyond his limits.”

Boat Race swimmer

Swimmer charged

The man who drew the race dramatically to a halt has been named as Trenton Oldfield, 35. Mr Oldfield narrowly avoided the blade of an Oxford oar as he swam into the path of the vessels between the two and three-mile marker while the university crews were neck and neck yesterday afternoon.

Mr Oldfield, from east London, was held in custody at Chiswick police station before being released on bail last night.

He will appear at Feltham Magistrates’ Court on Monday April 23 charged with a Section Five offence under the Public Order Act, Scotland Yard said.

Mr Oldfield studied contemporary urbanism at the London School of Economics and has a website called Elitism Leads to Tyranny, which discusses civil disobedience tactics.

Brushing off criticism for disrupting the race, Mr Oldfield also took to Twitter: “Oh course I expected the vindictive class to be vindictive and nasty about having disrupted their fun and ‘months of training’.

Umpire John Garrett said it was former rower and assistant umpire Sir Matthew who spotted the swimmer in the water.

“I’m grateful to Matthew for having spotted the swimmer,” he said. “He basically said, ‘There’s something in the water, there’s something in the water’.

He thought it was some debris and then we realised that it was actually a swimmer.

“We weren’t sure what was going to happen, whether he was going to get out of the way in time and then it was quite clear he was just waiting for the boats to come across him so I had to stop the race and restart.”

Mr Garrett also said the rules stated that crews had to “abide by their accidents”.

He said: “If something happens in a latter stage of the race and there’s a breakage, they have to abide by their accident, unless one of the crews is actually off-station and has caused that accident.”

He dismissed an appeal from Oxford cox Zoe de Toledo for the race to be re-run.