Oxford University Boat Club faced a strong Leander Club crew in their final preparation fixture before the Cancer Research UK Boat Race on Sunday 2nd April.
Leander won the toss and chose the Surrey station for the single piece running from the start of the championship course to Chiswick Steps.
From the start, Oxford took the initiative into the slight headwind and opened up a lead of one length before Fulham Football Club. Around the first bend Oxford pressed home their advantage and opened up their lead slightly rowing a strong rhythm. Leander maintained a lower rate, but continued to chase hard.
Approaching the mile post Oxford settled into a commanding position and started to move across in front of the Leander crew. Between the mile post and Hammersmith Bridge, Oxford moved fully across the Leander crew and continued to extend their lead. With freedom to decide their line, the Oxford crew took a tighter line under Hammersmith Bridge with a few lengths of clear water between themselves and the Leander crew.
Rounding the Surrey bend, both crews continued to push, rowing strongly seemingly unaffected by the conditions. In the final run to Chiswick Steps both crews increased their rates with continued pushes from Leander keeping the pressure on Oxford, who responded well, maintaining then extending their lead. As the crews passed the finish, Oxford had a lead of several lengths.
Oxford controlled the piece from beginning to end, capitalising on a strong start and the advantage of the first bend on the Middlesex station. The Oxford crew will be hoping for a similar outcome in two weeks when they take on Cambridge.