THE BOAT RACE REPORTS
All the miles, all the training and all the sacrifices come down to minutes of racing.
In perfect conditions Oxford and Cambridge lined up ready for the hugely anticipated race now in its third year on the Tideway. Cambridge; led by Ashton Brown drew the Surrey station leaving Oxford to take the Middlesex station.
The start proved to be very dramatic and shaped the whole race with Oxford catching a crab on the first stroke leading to a very slow, unbalanced start. This unfortunate start meant that Oxford cox, Eleanor Shearer had to call for the boat to start again allowing Cambridge to quickly get away. Cambridge continued to gather up momentum and increase their lead and it became clear that Oxford would struggle to get back to the light blue boat.
Upon reaching the mile post Cambridge had a 10 second lead over Oxford and that advance never ceased to grow. Oxford stuck in there with Eleanor Shearer making calls to move the boat but Cambridge proved to be too strong and every call their cox; Matthew Holland made allowed them to go a little bit faster giving them a larger advantage.
Cambridge were the favourites going into this race, and it was clear they were a very strong crew from the start with an ever increasing gap and constantly managing to push away from the dark blues. Oxford didn’t give up and continued to put in pushes but to no avail, as the light blues stormed ahead.
As Cambridge reached Hammersmith Bridge they had a 15 second lead over Oxford and it became obvious that Cambridge would win the race. The light blues continued to look strong and were able to separate the gap between the two crews further. Cambridge at this point looked as though they were on track for a Women’s course record.
Cambridge went on to win the race with a lead of 11 lengths having left Oxford trailing behind. They managed to get a strong course record of 18.33. Oxford’s winning streak was ended by this strong Cambridge crew as they went on to win the 2017 Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race.
All the miles, all the egos and all the sacrifices come down to 17 minutes of racing. Both crews had a point to prove going into the race, Oxford looking to avenge last year’s race and Cambridge looking to create their own dynasty.
Both crews powered out the start and to their relief there was no drama unlike the women’s race. As the lighter crew, it was vital Oxford settled into a strong rhythm and prevented Cambridge from gaining an early advantage. Moving out to half a half a length lead by the Putney Embankment Oxford clearly wanted to minimise the early advantage Cambridge would receive on the Middlesex station. Cambridge capitalised on their advantage and closed the gap to around a quarter of a length.
Four minutes in saw the steering of both coxes become extremely aggressive and subsequently many warnings were given for both crews to move apart. In the shadow of Hammersmith Bridge Oxford moved to around a length ahead of Cambridge as a sharp application the rudder caused the Light Blues to slip back. A clash of blades from the seven and two men of Oxford and Cambridge respectively threw Oxford’s rhythm momentarily. However, coming under Hammersmith Oxford had moved to around a length’s lead.
With the large Hammersmith bend now in the Dark Blue’s favour Oxford looked to move clear and kill the race. Cambridge refused to give up and as a result, Oxford never moved to more than a length of clear water. Oxford were warned on several occasions to return to their station as it was deemed by Matthew Pinsent that there was not a sufficient gap between the boats for Oxford to take their desired line.
Oxford maintained a slightly lower rate of striking and as the crews neared Barnes Rail Bridge Oxford continued to send down puddles as Cambridge closed to three quarters of a length. As the crews entered the final part of the race Oxford looked imperious but Cambridge never gave up and moved back to around two thirds of a length of clear water.
This year the waters of the Men’s Boat Race were painted dark blue and Oxford rowed to victory in a time of 16:59 holding Cambridge’s final charge to a win of one a quarter length. For Oxford’s men the celebrations begin. For Cambridge, the narrow defeat of four seconds leaves them empty and seeking redemption in 2018.