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Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 05:16 GMT
Boat Race umpire seeks clean race
Cambridge and Oxford lock oars during the 2001 Boat Race
Last year's race was restarted after oars clashed
University Boat Race umpire Simon Harris has called for a "clean race" when the rival students of Oxford and Cambridge take to the Thames on Saturday.

Harris, twice a losing Cambridge blue in 1982 and 1983, is a man under pressure following last year's controversial tideway battle.

In that race umpire Rupert Obholzer was the first man in the race's 147-year history to stop the crews and re-start the race, after the opposing eights had clashed blades as they battled for the advantage.


When you become a Boat Race umpire you know it's a high-profile and challenging task
Boat Race umpire Simon Harris

Harris is determined there will be no repeat and has spent several hours with the rivals coxes, Cambridge's Eleanor Griggs and Oxford's Peter Hackworth, to make sure order is maintained.

"No-one wants to see a disqualification but I'm not afraid to make that call and both the coxes know that," said Harris.

"The three of us have been working together as a team and the key to a clean race is good communication.

"They know what they can and cannot do."

The fact that Griggs and Hackworth are old childhood friends will have little bearing when the four and a quarter-mile race gets underway.

Unfortunate

No crew has been disqualified in the Boat Race's long history, but 12 years ago Oxford's Isis crew were red-flagged in the reserve race that preludes the main event.

"Umpiring is best if it passes without comment," added Harris.

"I will just be pleased if the attention is on the crews this year and I can slip ashore and go for a drink without anyone noticing.

"What happened last year was very unfortunate. It took a lot of bottle for Rupert to stop the race and re-start it.

"However, when you become a Boat Race umpire you know it's a high-profile and challenging task."

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