THE 158th Varsity Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge ended in a shootout which killed nine participants and 18 spectators.
After a tedious start involving a protester in a wetsuit, the Cambridge cox drew a 9mm handgun and opened fire.
The gunshots provoked immediate retaliatory fire from the Oxford boat, killing three rival rowers before the Cambridge crew brought their vessel’s 50mm cannon into play, holing Oxford amidships and wiping out sections of the elite crowd.
The Oxford cox, holding a concussion grenade in each hand, leapt from the bow of his boat toward Cambridge but was cut down by rifle fire in mid-air. However it became clear this was only a diversionary tactic when the Cambridge boat was reduced to matchwood by mortar fire from the bank.
The mortar then misfired, killing its crew and spectators, including a galaxy of famous Cambridge alumni, and leaving the crews to fight hand-to-hand in the muddy water of the Thames.
Four died of knife wounds and drowning before an Oxford rower, clutching the splintered remains of an oar, crossed the finishing line and his university were declared the winners.
Sir Steve Redgrave, commentating on the race for the BBC, said: “What a wonderful showcase for British sport in this Olympic year.
“The pageantry, the tradition, and the savagery of those young men is an example to us all. I rescued a severed arm from the riverbank and will be mounting it in my home.”
Hugh Laurie, a Cambridge rowing ‘Blue’ and the elite star of Stuart Little 2, said he was honoured to be asked to formally execute the surviving members of the losing team on the famous ‘quad’ of Trinity College.