OTHER TIMES, OTHER CUSTOMS
The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, an event founded in 1829 by a nephew of William Wordsworth, used to generate in England the same excitement as a manned space missile does today. On Boat Race Night there were riotous revels in Piccadilly Circus, followed by a court parade on Monday morning before a magistrate who, if his favorite had won, was not without a twinkle in his eye. Along the Thames the race moved like a majestic pageant between crammed banks. But in recent years the glamour and excitement have declined. This year, only the presence of four Americans in Oxford's victorious crew brought a flagging occasion back to temporary life.
It will survive for a time, say British sporting pundits, but will remain archaic. The common scapegoat is television, but others hold that the Oxford-Cambridge race has had a detrimental effect on British rowing, with its emphasis on a single "private" event over a distance (4 miles 374 yards) that bears no relation to an international course. England invented the sport but won only a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics and merely a fifth place at Rome.
Even in chic circles it is more important today to know the relative positions of Leeds and Chelsea in soccer than to know anything about the boat race. In the old days girls would swoon over pictures of the crew members. Today they have the Beatles. It pays these days, wrote Judy Innes in the London Daily Mail, "to be a puny weakling."
THE FURIOUS FOX
Omologato is Italian for homologated, which is (God help us) officialese for "approved for international auto races." Last week Italy's Enzo Ferrari was informed that his Grand Touring cars could not be omologato, because there is a discrepancy between the cars and the rules specifications. Enzo was irato. He announced that he was withdrawing all his Grand Touring racers but not prototypes from the year's remaining endurance events.
Incomparably the most important among all the world's road races is the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Ferrari's withdrawal means that the American upstarts who beat his GT cars at Daytona and Sebring will be deprived of the chance to do the same at Le Mans. It would seem that Enzo is being angry like a volpe.
FROM PERTH TO POOL
A lot of people have swimming pools in the backyard. That's so-so status. Real status is a heated indoor pool. What might be the utter pinnacle of status is a pool downstairs in the den, with a horse in it. The management of Yonkers Raceway hopes someone will think so. Yonkers is stabling a big, black Australian horse from Perth for the International Pace on April 15. Pacing Lawn, it seems, is accustomed to taking daily dips in the surf at Perth, and Yonkers has obligingly advertised for the use of a heated indoor pool in Westchester County. One fellow said he would be glad to help out but, he added, the camels might get in the way.
REVOLT ON THE TEIFI
In most of Britain cheap salmon fishing is as unattainable for the ordinary mortal as a night out with Claudia Cardinale. Until now the last redoubt has been in southern Wales. In Cardiganshire, on the River Teifi, the 190 members of the Llandyssul Angling Association have been able to take fish of 12 pounds or more for the price of a mere 9-guinea annual fee.