- First and Third Trinity Boat Club
The First and Third Trinity Boat Club is the rowing club of Trinity College in
Cambridge, England. The club formally came into existence in 1946 when the First Trinity Boat Cluband the Third Trinity Boat Clubmerged, although the 2 clubs had been rowing together for several years before that date. The first boat club associated with Trinity was formed in 1825 and came to be known as First Trinity in 1833 when the Third Trinity Boat Club was formed (a Second Trinity Boat Club was formed in 1831 but did not have a continuous existence until 1840). Membership of Third Trinity was originally confined to Old Etonians and Old Westminsters. Members of Third Trinity were allowed to also be members of First or Second Trinity and often were.
In the nineteenth century the various Trinity boat clubs were very strong and regularly won events in Cambridge, at various regattas around the country, notably the
Henley Royal Regatta, and regularly contributed rowers to the Cambridge boat for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Indeed in the 1849 Boat Race, all members of the crew were from Trinity, seven from Third Trinity and two, the cox included, from First Trinity. Boats from the three clubs could often be found at, or near, the top of the Bumps and they sometimes combined their resources in races against the rest of the University.
In 1876 Second Trinity was disbanded due to insufficient members. However, a legend claims that during the Bumps in that year, the rowers of Trinity's arch-rivals, St John's College, attached a sword to the front of one of their boats such that if they successfully bumped the boat in front (which turned out to be one of Second Trinity's), it would be holed and sink. The plan supposedly worked in the sense that the Trinity boat did sink, but in the process the sword also hit and killed Second Trinity's cox, which of course wasn't intended. So the legend claims that this is the reason why Second Trinity Boat Club was dissolved, and why St. John's College is no longer allowed a boat club under its own name. Though a wonderful legend, it is not entirely true. The unfortunate incident did in fact occur - but between boats from Trinity Hall and Clare colleges, in 1888, 12 years after the dissolution of Second Trinity. The more prosaic explanation for 2nd Trinity's demise is that membership was restricted to Theology scholars, which over time proved to be an unreliable source of oarsmen.
In the twentieth century the clubs remained competitive and continued to achieve success in various events. The 2nd World War forced the 2 clubs to combine resources and after the war they formally merged in order to remain competitive with the now larger boat clubs of other colleges. In the same year First and Third won the
Visitors' Challenge Cupat the Henley Royal Regatta and the following year won the Ladies' Challenge Plate. They repeated this feat by winning the Ladies Plate again in 1954 and 1967 which was the last year that a college crew from either Cambridge or Oxford has won the event. The difference in the standard of rowing between Oxbridge colleges and non-University clubs has changed greatly over the twentieth century, possibly due to standards within college clubs falling or to the quality of rowing in other clubs improving, but probably a combination of the two. For example First and Third, like all other Oxbridge college crews, now have difficulty achieving a standard of rowing to even qualify for events at the Henley Royal Regatta, let alone to win these events. In spite of this, rowing within Cambridge remains popular and the Bumps, the main inter-college event, see well over a thousand students competing, typically around a hundred from Trinity.
Below are tables showing the performance of the men's and women's 1st VIIIs over the last decade in the Lent and
University rowing (UK)
* Durack, John; Gilbert, George; Marks, Dr. John (2000). "The Bumps: An Account of the Cambridge University Bumping Races 1827-1999" ISBN 0-9538475-1-9
* CUCBC (various years) - Lent and May Bumps programmes.
* [http://www.firstandthird.org/tables/frontpage/default.phtml First and Third's Official Website]
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