The Women’s Reserve Race was a hotly contested affair this year, with both Osiris and Blondie fighting hard through some of the worst conditions that the Tideway had to offer.
After winning the toss, Blondie chose the Surrey station, which quickly proved to be a wise decision. Osiris was caught by surprise on the start line, and slipped back by a seat in the first few strokes, but quickly overturned the deficit and pushed through Blondie to a third of a length’s lead by Thames RC. Osiris continued to stride out around their bend, and at the mile post they already had a length; their rhythm looked loose and relaxed, and every indication pointed to the Dark Blues continuing to draw away from Blondie.
As the wind picked up, so too did Blondie’s determination to win back the lead, and they put on a spirited push past Harrods. Shouts of excitement escaped the Light Blue boat as they managed to reduce Osiris’ lead to half a length, and it appeared clear that Blondie had the momentum. By Hammersmith Bridge, Blondie had drawn level with Osiris and looked to be going through.
The conditions rapidly deteriorated around St Paul’s, and Osiris initially looked to have lost their rhythm, giving Blondie a decided advantage of around a length. The scene verged on apocalyptic as water crashed into Osiris’ hull, and Blondie saw the opportunity to put in another push. The Light Blues looked smoother and better composed in the waves, and had a handy advantage of two lengths at the end of the Chiswick Eyot.
Around the bend and approaching the Barnes Bandstand, Blondie looked punchy and aggressive – but Osiris resolutely refused to go down without a fight. A crab in the Blondie boat momentarily stalled them, allowing Osiris to win back a few seats, but ultimately Blondie’s consistent rhythm allowed them to cruise through the harsh wind through Barnes Bridge, and they drew out further from Osiris.
As both crews approached the finish line and the water flattened out, Osiris put in a strong move and looked to be closing the gap, but Blondie’s lead had become insurmountable, and with a great deal of poise and strength, Blondie crossed the finish line as champions some three and a half lengths ahead of Osiris, who continued to fight until they crossed the line themselves. It had been a race characterised by intensity and determination, where both crews faced up to the challenge of the course and the conditions with courage and aggression, but ultimately it was Blondie that found the strength to cross the line first.