On a beautifully sunny spring day on the Tideway, OUWBC took on a crew from Molesey BC for their official pre-Race fixture. The plan was four five minute or mile pieces depending on river conditions, which as it turned conspired to mean that most of the pieces took place on the Wandsworth side of Putney Bridge, rather than on the Championship Course. All four pieces were rate-capped, the first two at 30, the third and final at 32.
The first piece took place with the flood tide from Wandsworth towards Putney Railway Bridge, timed at five minutes. The Molesey crew had the better of the starts on the Middlesex station, and jumped out to a half a length lead. However, OUWBC remained unfazed and settled to a strong rhythm that quickly drew them back level. From then, the Dark Blue women powered on to a convincing win of 2 and a half lengths.
Upon completion of the first piece, it was apparent that the tide had turned, so the crews paddled up to the Mile Post to race back towards Putney Bridge on what was now an ebb tide. This time OUWBC were on Middlesex, and the combination of their solid rhythm and bend advantage saw them leading by a length as they approached the Town Buoy. Once again, the Dark Blue crew were relentless, and pushed on to win by three lengths.
Piece three was raced from downstream of Putney Railway Bridge through Wandsworth Bridge for five minutes. This was to prove the closest encounter of the day, with Molesey able to get quickly out to a marginal lead. OUWBC pulled themselves level once more, and from then on the lead changed hands multiple times as they raced around towards Wandsworth Bridge. Determined to maintain their clean sheet though, OUWBC managed to find the extra speed needed to win the piece by one foot.
The fourth and final piece was completed back in the opposite direction once more, from Wandsworth Bridge to Putney Railway Bridge. OUWBC ensured the clean sweep of victories with the most convincing win of the afternoon, awarded an ‘easily’ margin by the umpires.
With just 29 days to go until they line up against their Cambridge counterparts, the Dark Blues were satisfied with a job well done. President Maxie Scheske commented, “It was a good measure of our speed so far, obviously it’s not the end product yet and we’ve got a lot further to go, but it was good to see our determination and our technical work playing out. They definitely pushed us out there, but we held really strong.”
The Newton Women’s Boat Race will take place on 30th March 2014. The BNY Mellon Boat Race will take place a week later on 6th April.