As most Londoners were beginning their dreaded Monday morning commute, the Cambridge rowing squads faced the dark winter’s morning for their land training on the banks of the Thames.
By dawn, CUWBC & CUBC were fully warmed up and ready to face the day’s challenge of Trial VIIIs. First to take to the Tideway were CUWBC who faced suspicious looking, murky skies though fortunately the rain stayed at bay. An unseasonably mild December morning with not a breath of wind resulted in good racing conditions.
In boats named after two men that held a special place in the heart of the club ‘Hallam’ (Ed Hallam was a lead S & C Coach who died this summer) and ‘Needs’ (Ron Needs was a legendary CUWBC & GB coach who also died earlier this year), it was the latter that won the coin toss, opting for the Surrey station. Under the expert eye of Sarah Winckless who will also umpire The 2017 Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race, both crews spun onto stations and paddled together to the start positions before getting away cleanly at 09.50.
Coming past the boathouses Hallam sat at 2 seats up with their lead stretching to ¾ of a length as they took the advantage past Fulham. Needs took a push and checked Hallam’s progress at a length with the margin still 1 length as the crews approached the start of the Surrey bend. Hallam remained in a strong position on the outside of the bend but both crews were warned as they fought for the best water approaching the island, before Hallam pushed out the advantage to ½ length clear and were warned again for trying to cut in front of Needs too early.
With 1 length clear, Hallam looked to be rowing in longer rhythm than Needs and pressed on, increasing their advantage to almost 2 lengths clear as they passed Hammersmith. Both crews took the fastest water in the middle of the river past the bandstand with Needs holding Hallam at 2 lengths clear under Barnes Bridge. Both crews then increased the rate with 500 to go leading to Hallam gaining an extra ½ length. Passing the university post, Hallam finished 3 lengths clear, with both crews collapsing as the umpire confirmed the final result.
The men’s race swiftly followed CUWBC on the same Championship Course, umpired by Sir Matthew Pinsent. The crews “Two G’s” and “One T”, were named as a fitting tribute to long serving coach Donald Legget who is known for saying “two G’s and one T” in reference to the spelling of his surname. Winning the coin toss was One T who chose the Middlesex station and at 11:00 the race got underway.
Taking the early advantage, One T, stroked by Henry Meek were ¾ length up by the end of the boathouses. With a clash of blades approaching Fulham, both crews were warned but One T used their bend to push their advantage out to a length. At the mile post One T took cuts in front of Two Gs and was once again warned. Into the start of the Surrey bend, One T was a ¼ length clear but again warned as Two Gs took a push. Under Hammersmith the margin remained ¼ length clear from One T, with Two Gs holding One T down the island. Gradually increasing their advantage across the Surrey bend, the margin was ¾ of a length clear as the bend ran out. Both crews had to contend with bumpy waters from launch wash, with One T, coping with the disturbance slightly more comfortably, pushing out to a length clear, holding it past the bandstand and under Barnes Bridge. With the finish post in sight, both crews began their sprint at 500m but the margin remained unchanged. With adrenaline pumping, Two G’s managed to close the gap to ½ a length but it wasn’t enough to claim victory as One T passed the university post 1 and a 1/4 length clear of Two G’s before the long paddle back to Putney.
The 163rd Boat Race and The 72nd Women’s Boat Race will take place on Sunday 2nd April 2017. The Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race will start at 16:35, with The Cancer Research UK Boat Race an hour later at 17:35.