Oxford University Women’s Boat Club took on Molesey Boat Club across three pieces along a breezy championship course this afternoon.
Watched by coach Christine Wilson and former OUBC cox Zoe De Toledo, the dark blues took the Middlesex station for the first piece. Both crews left the start together and were still level at the end of the Putney Embankment. Rob Clegg, who was chosen to umpire the fixture, continually warned Oxford cox Morgan Baynham-Williams in the opening exchanges, but it was the dark blues who had stretched out into a half-length lead by Fulham Football ground. As the conditions worsened and the sun vanished behind banks of grey cloud, the Oxford crew, with returning Blues Lauren Kedar, Maddy Badcott and Anastasia Chitty occupying the three stern seats, continued to move away from Molesey and had opened up a length’s lead by the Mile Post. Both crews maintained their speed past Fulham reach, before Oxford pulled further away to win the piece by two lengths under Hammersmith Bridge.
The second piece began by the Mile Post as umpire Clegg coordinated a running start in choppy water. Molesey, who took the Middlesex station, were warned repeatedly off the start as the two crews clashed; it was Oxford who fared slightly better than their opponents, opening up a lead of two seats after 30 strokes which they then extended to half a length at Thames Wharf. The dark blues looked to be the more dynamic crew through some challenging conditions and led Molesey by a length and a half under Hammersmith Bridge. As the two crews arched their way around the Surrey bend, it was Oxford who continued to impose their dominance on proceedings by extending the margin to three lengths past St Paul’s boathouse. The dark blues finished up by Chiswick Eyot, some four lengths clear of Molesey.
The third and final piece began around 100m past the bandstand, with Oxford occupying the Middlesex station. From a rolling start, it was Molesey who took a slight advantage over their dark blue counterparts, stealing a couple of seats in the first 30 strokes. Both crews were racing right over onto the Middlesex side of the river, which forced Oxford a little wide. Nonetheless, the dark blues had regained parity twenty strokes before Barnes Bridge and took the lead moving past Thames Tradesman Rowing Club. Taking full advantage of the final elbow around Mortlake, Oxford moved further out and finished the fixture two lengths clear of Molesey.
Oxford performed well in testing conditions, and will be looking to finalise preparations before they take on Cambridge in the 2016 Cancer Research UK Boat Races on March 27th.