Oxford Women versus Cambridge Women
The 74th Women’s Boat Race saw a clinical race executed by Cambridge, storming to a five length victory with a very impressive performance against Oxford. Cambridge were tipped as favourites, and the race showed little surprises as Cambridge outclassed Oxford in many departments. This reinforces the brilliance of Rob Weber’s crew as Oxford were by no means a poor crew.
Oxford were quick off the blocks, but Cambridge quickly rowed through Oxford passing Thames RC. Cambridge continued to increase their lead and the crew’s confidence was palpable and was increasing stroke by stroke. With gentle conditions on the Tideway, Cambridge had a comfortable mission in bringing home the victory. Passing Barnes Bridge, Cambridge had a secure lead and Oxford were unable to challenge Cambridge. Oxford came home last for a third year in a row, with lots to take back to the drawing board. It was a real masterclass by Cambridge, making my job as journalist rather difficult, with little to write other than how excellent their performance was!
Oxford Men versus Cambridge Men
The 165th Men’s Blue boat race provided a more exciting race than anticipated, with Oxford giving Cambridge a lot more competition than last year.
Oxford was unable to pip Cambridge off the line, with both crews striking at over 40 strokes per minute (unlike in the other races in which Oxford would take a canvas lead before being rowed through by Cambridge) and Oxford were on the back foot off the start, making the Cox’s job harder in which both crews jockeyed for the quickest bit of water. Cambridge went from side by side to a length up in the space of around 20 seconds, taking a seat from Oxford each stroke. Passing Fulham FC’s stadium, Oxford started to move away from the Middlesex Station and into the Surrey Station. Oxford’s cox did an impressive job in lining up the oars perfectly in between Cambridge’s puddles, enabling Oxford to mostly avoid the dirty water created by Cambridge’s puddles. Heart rates must have spiked when Oxford started to clash blades 3 minutes in; Ben Landis had a hair-raising moment in which his shaft got caught in the water, with a possible crab potentially ending Oxford’s race.
With Cambridge being the victim of the clash, Oxford yielded and Cambridge extended their lead to a couple of lengths. Cambridge then set their sights on controlling the race, sitting on Oxford and capitalising on their morale high ground. Cambridge settled at a lower rate than Oxford, adopting a power based rhythm, rowing confidently with length. Going past Hammersmith Bridge, many would have expect Cambridge to pull away and secure the win. However, Oxford showed great mental fortitude and kept in touch with Cambridge. With a two length lead over Oxford, Cambridge had a clear view of Oxford and were able to respond to Oxford’s moves. Despite this, Sean Bowden’s men showed incredible resilience and didn’t let Cambridge slip away. Oxford had a very strong second half, and had the advantage of the inside of the final Middlesex Bend. With Cambridge storming through Barnes Bridge, the crew were spurred on by how close they were to victory. Only 6 crews have won being down at Barnes Bridge, but Oxford didn’t get phased by Cambridge’s steering and started to reel them in. Oxford ate into Cambridge’s lead little by little, but it was too little too late, despite it being a very impressive second half and challenge mounted by Oxford. Cambridge won the race by just under a length, clocking a time of 16:57, securing a clean sweep for Cambridge.
This year’s Men’s Boat Race was a very exciting contest, and was far less one sided than last year’s instalment of the Boat Race, marking another disappointing year for Oxford and promising another wild night for Cambridge. Oxford appealed but the Umpire deemed the clash to have little effect on the result. With a youthful crew destined for stardom, Oxford will be desperate to defeat Cambridge next year.