At the Trial Eights over the Championship Course between Putney and Mortlake both the CUBC and OUBC squads put out competitive crews.
CUBC Cloak v Dagger
Cambridge were the first out of the blocks with crews called Cloak and Dagger.
With Cloak on the Surrey station and Dagger on Middlesex it was Cloak who took an early lead in the first few strokes off the start, however Dagger had pulled them back by the time they passed the Black Buoy and taking advantage of the Middlesex bend they had teased out a lead of 2/3 length at The Mile Post.
Approaching Hammersmith Bridge as a strong South West wind whipped into the crews, Cloak stroked by Alexander Scharp had pulled back and the crews were level as they shot the bridge. By now both crews were being warned by Boat Race umpire John Garrett but the inevitable clash happened and it was Dagger’s cox, Ed Bosson who moved into neutral water causing a wobble allowing Cloak to resume the lead.
With an advantage of over a length it looked very much as though Cloak had the race won passing Chiswick Eyot, but Dagger’s push around the outside of the Surrey bend kept their light blue compatriots in sight.
As the water settled again on Corney Reach, Cloak were again warned for their steering and Steve Dudek in Dagger’s stroke seat put in a decisive push taking a lead of ½ length at Barnes Bridge. A lead that was slowly stretched to clear water, despite Dagger receiving repeated warnings from the umpire.
By the finish Dagger had a comfortable lead after one of the most exciting Trials races for many years, winning in a time of 20 minutes by 3 lengths.
OUBC Hell v High Water
Oxford’s Trial Eights though racing later in the day close to the top of the tide had, with the exception of the Putney stretch, much better conditions than their light blue rivals.
Hell on Surrey and High Water on Middlesex were evenly matched off the start and though Hell pulled out a slight lead at Barn Elms it was always likely to be reeled in. This gave the umpire a lot of work to do as the crews matched each other stroke for stroke with repeated warnings to both dark blue boats and a clash of blades just before the Mile Post.
Hell’s lead was still only ½ length at Harrods Depository but they started to pull away with a fluent style and had 1 ½ lengths passing under Hammersmith Bridge. As the water started to smooth out Hell continued to lead but Tom Watson in the High Water stroke seat kept his crew striking a couple of pips higher in the hope of getting back on terms.
Roel Haen, the Hell stroke looked in control of his crew however, including this year’s President Karl Hudspith, as they stretched their lead past Chiswick Eyot and by Chiswick Pier the lead was up to 2 ½ lengths and was never threatened again.
While High Water pushed repeatedly, Hell had enough of a gap to take the other crew’s water, washing them down. High Water couldn’t get back on terms and at the finish Hell were 1 ¾ lengths ahead in a time of 17.08.