Man 'brought chaos' to Boat Race
A swimmer "protesting about elitism" brought chaos to this year's Boat Race when he jumped into the Thames and brought it to a dramatic halt, a court has heard.
Trenton Oldfield, 36, stopped the annual contest for around half an hour on April 7, the first time in the history of the 158-year event that it had been disrupted by a bather.
Opening the case, prosecutor Louis Mably told jurors the race between Oxford and Cambridge was spoiled for hundreds of thousands of spectators watching from the banks of the river or live on BBC TV, not to mention the two university rowing teams.
He told jurors at west London's Isleworth Crown Court that despite it continuing, "so far as the Boat Race was concerned, Mr Oldfield had obviously caused chaos. The feeling of disappointment was obvious - because not only had everything been delayed but the crews and the public had been denied a natural conclusion to the race that they had come to the river to see."
He said that after being rescued from the river, Oldfield was detained by police who asked him why he had jumped in the river.
Mr Mably added: "He replied that he was protesting about elitism. Exactly what he meant by that - who knows?"
Oldfield, an Australian of Myrdle Street, east London, denies a charge of causing a public nuisance.
Mr Mably said the two eight-man teams were just "settling into the rhythm and the race was developing into what was a close and exciting contest" when the disruption occurred.
Oldfield, who was clad in a wetsuit, had swum into the paths of the two boats as they neared Chiswick Eyot between the two and three-mile markers of the race, which had set off from Putney.
Mr Mably said that although "to some extent" there was a risk of danger to the rowers, the real threat was to Oldfield himself as he narrowly avoided being hit by the blade of an Oxford oar before race umpire John Garrett spotted him and called a halt to the race.