Despite Storm Dennis threatening to spoil the day, following a thorough review of forecasts and conditions, CUWBC’s first fixture of The 2020 Boat Race season took place in mild conditions on the Championship Course yesterday.
Ahead of the fixture, race umpire Richard Phelps briefed the crews and oversaw the coin toss in which CUWBC President Larkin Sayre lost, with Nereus electing to race on the Surrey station.
The tide was late turning causing the fixture to be delayed by approximately ten minutes, but shortly after 4pm, the crews were aligned on The Boat Race start line by CUWBC Chief Coach Rob Weber. Umpire Phelps dropped his red flag to start the race, and the crews went off from a standing start into race place. It was clear from the start that there were two well-matched crews and some good racing was in store.
Cambridge received several warnings during the early stages of the first piece but had taken a ¼ length lead by the town buoy. Shortly after the town buoy, both crews seemed to be impacted by a cross wind pushing them over to the Middlesex side of the river. Cambridge extended their lead to ¾ length by Fulham Football Club and then continued to row away, reaching clear water and a lead of 2 lengths by the end of the first piece
The crews paddled to Harrods Depositry where the second piece began with a rolling start. Cambridge received several warnings to hold their station and not to turn in too early, as they tried to minimise Nereus’s advantage on the long Hammersmith bend. Despite the long advantage, Nereus only very briefly had their bow in front, with Cambridge holding on to them all of the way. As the advantage began to run out, Cambridge made their move and eked out a ½ length lead by the top of Chiswick Eyot where the second piece finished.
Unfortunately, an injury flaring up in the Nereus crew meant that they withdrew from the third and final piece. Cambridge raced the piece against the clock from Chiswick Pier to The Boat Race finish under the watchful eye of Umpire Phelps who kept them on course with warnings where necessary.
The Cambridge Women will continue their fixtures next weekend when their two crews take on Oxford Brookes A and B.