Oxford won the toss and chose the Middlesex station.
Today Oxford completed its final competitive fixture before the Boat Race in two weeks’ time, against a Leander crew who gave Cambridge a tough work out a fortnight ago. With a full Blue Boat line-up of Alex Woods (bow), Will Zeng, Kevin Baum, Hanno Wienhausen, Karl Hudspith, Alex Davidson, Dan Harvey, Roel Haen (Str) and Cox Zoe De Toledo the crew looked sharp from the first stroke.
Leander drawn from the club’s development squad showed two changes from the crew that raced Cambridge, with Nathan Hillyer and Chris Friend coming in at bow and 2. The majority of this crew were in the boat that came 16th in last weekend’s Head of the River Race.
With bright skies overhead and a light south westerly breeze conditions were ideal for the only piece of the day from the Start just below Putney Bridge to Chiswick Steps. In the event the fixture was a mismatch with Oxford dominant from the moment umpire Richard Phelps dropped his flag.
Out of the blocks at a rate of 42 strokes per minute Oxford had stolen a lead on Leander also rating 42, by 1 length as the crews passed London Rowing Club and by a further length at the Black Buoy. Settling to a rate of 35 Oxford extended their lead to 4 lengths by the Mile Post, reaching the landmark in a time of 3 minutes 32 seconds.
Leander soldiered on but struggled to raise their rate over 32 and as the crews reached Harrods, Oxford Cox Zoe de Toledo took advantage of their lead to take the Surrey station, further adding to the men in pink’s problems.
With a lead approaching 6 lengths at Hammersmith Bridge and now rating 33 Oxford looked relaxed and confident, reaching the Bridge in a time of 6 minutes 32 seconds and going away from Leander all the time.
With a finishing flourish Oxford stroke Roel Haen took his crew’s rate up to 38 as they approached Chiswick Steps, winning by 20 seconds in a time of 10 minutes 16 seconds.
Report by Peter McConnell