Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Boat Race Halted by Protester

MORTLAKE, England (AP) – The Boat Race, one of England's most historic sporting fixtures, was brought to a standstill on Saturday when a protester jumped into the River Thames and narrowly avoided being struck by the oars of the Oxford and Cambridge crews.
Race umpire John Garrett halted the race around 2½ miles into the 4¼-mile course in front of thousands of shocked spectators along the river banks in southwest London, before the swimmer — who was wearing a wetsuit — was collected by a police boat and arrested on suspicion of a public order offense. "They almost took his head off," said Sergeant Chris Tranter of the Metropolitan Police.

After the race was restarted 31 minutes later halfway along the course, Oxford's German rower Dr. Hanno Wienhausen lost half of his oar after the crews clashed — allowing Cambridge to cruise to victory over effectively seven oarsmen. A margin of victory wasn't given by officials.

The fact that Cambridge extended its lead in the overall series to 81-76 was lost in all the drama of an eventful 158th edition of the race, which dates back to 1829 and is broadcast live or in highlights in an estimated 200 countries. The last time the race had to be restarted was in 2001 when there was a clash of blades and an oar was lost by one of the crews.

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