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True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny

by Patrick Robinson Daniel Topolski

From the book: In the harsh winter of 1986/7, an event took place in the Oxford University Boat Club which shook the University, and the rowing establishment, to their foundations. It became known, simply, as the Oxford Mutiny. A group of American students, all former internationals, had arrived at Oxford hoping to put some steel into a Boat Race crew still reeling from their recent humiliating defeat at the hands of Cambridge - a hammering which had ended an astounding ten-year winning streak by Oxford. But disagreements over training methods soon brought into focus a bitter clash of personalities between a quiet Scottish mature student, Donald Macdonald, the elected president of the Dark Blues, and a fierytempered rower from California, Christopher Clark. Embodying the amateur sporting traditions of the Boat Race on the one hand, and New World big-star sportsmanship on the other, these two men found two warring factions lining up behind them. The ensuing battle for the control of the Oxford University Boat Club raged for months, making headline news all over the world. Daniel Topolski who, as Chief Coach, had been the architect of Oxford's success, and who now found himself in the middle of this unprecedented row, has finally told his side of the story. Having lost their bid to oust Macdonald, the rebels pulled out of the Boat Race squad just six weeks before the race. Could he, against all odds, mould the inexperienced and demoralised reserve crew of no-hopers into a winning team? Reminiscent of Chariots of Fire, this book is not just about rowing, or even about sport. It concerns the clash of traditional and modern values; petty hatreds and great friendships; and, above all, the triumph of the human spirit.

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