For their final fixture before The 2016 Women’s Boat Race, OUWBC today took on Newcastle’s Women’s 1st VIII in three pieces over the Championship Course; from Putney Bridge to Hammersmith, Hammersmith to Barnes, and then Barnes down to Chiswick Bridge.
The first piece got off to a clean start, and a very aggressive first 20 strokes from Oxford saw them take an early lead. Newcastle hung on to the Dark Blues, but it quickly became evident that Oxford were expending less energy than their opponents and continuing to steadily draw away. With a strong, dominant rhythm, Oxford pushed to a clear water lead by Barn Elms and continued to draw away from Newcastle. Oxford continued to stretch out their lead, and by the finish line they had a comfortable 6 lengths on their opponents.
As the wind picked up, so did the ferocity of the racing in the second piece. The two crews swapped stations, and took the start with a great deal of aggression. Oxford took the early lead once again, but Newcastle were clearly determined to hang on to the dark blues for as long as possible, and even with the bend in Oxford’s favour, Newcastle continued to apply pressure. However, Oxford’s dominant rhythm saw them open out as the crews arched around the bend, and by the bandstand Oxford had created a sizeable clear water lead. Despite some lively support from the bank and a sustained charge, Newcastle weren’t able to keep pace with Oxford, and the dark blues powered through the line with a similar margin to that of the first piece.
In the final piece, Newcastle were given a lead off the start of around a length and a half, and seemed confident and collected off the start. Newcastle took the race head-on, and clung onto their lead through Barnes Bridge and around their bend, fighting hard to keep the dark blues away from their stern. However, once Oxford began to sense the Newcastle crew drawing closer, the momentum was theirs and the Dark Blues burst into life at the brewery, drawing level and then taking a length out of the Newcastle crew in the last hundred metres before the finish.
This was a very strong result for the Oxford women, who demonstrated the strength of their rhythm in less than favourable conditions. They now turn their attention to the final two weeks of preparations before they face Cambridge in the Cancer Research UK Boat Races on the 27th March 2016.