CUWBC took on the highly respected Nereus crew from the Netherlands in the first official fixture in the run up to The Women’s Boat Race. With perfectly calm, sunny conditions it made for some fantastic racing, and valuble Tideway experience for the Cambridge crew.
The first of the two pieces saw Cambridge take the Surrey side of the Tideway, whilst Nereus were on Middlesex. The start was strong and tidy from both crews but Nereus managed to gain the upper hand, with a slightly higher rate and stronger catches, allowing them to push off a quarter length from their start. Upon reaching the end of the Fulham Wall the Netherlands crew had gained a length on the Light Blues. The Cambridge cox lost fast water, taking a wide stance on the Thames, making the race more difficult for the Light Blues. This steering allowed Nereus a three length lead by Mile Post. Although Cambridge seemed out of the picture they managed to pull themselves back to reduce the open water between the two boats on approach to Harrods depositary. However this was not enough to pull them back in line with the Netherlands crew. Nereus consolidated their lead as they approached Chiswick Eyot and continued onto the finishing point of the first piece at Chiswick steps, where Nereus secured a two length win. The Netherlands crew came away with happy faces.
After a brief review with coaches the crews rowed to the start of Chiswick Eyot to start the second piece, finishing at the end of the Championship course. With both crews remaining on their original sides, the race began with a rolling start where both crews looked clean and technically strong. Compared to the previous race, the cox was now steering a much better course, taking a more central line. By Chiswick Steps the Light Blues led by a canvas, which developed into a third of a length by cross over. Although steering was better from Cambridge cox, regular calls from the umpire were made for them to stick on Surrey side as the proximity of the racing made for increased competition for the central river position. Both crews maintained a neck and neck position throughout the entire piece, which made for some first class racing. At the corner before Barnes Bridge, Cambridge began to lose their canvas lead as they were on the outside of the bend, therefore needing to work harder. However, it was noticed that their boat speed was still faster than that of Nereus. Upon passing under the bridge the crews were level as they entered onto the final stint of the course. Just a few hundred meters ahead Nereus managed to gain their final lead of just a canvas as the crews approached the Brewery. Cambridge responded with a final burst of power but as the finish came closer Nereus were able to keep their lead and finished with a quarter length win.
Both fixtures proved valuable experience for both crews, particularly the second as it gave all a chance to feel the pressure of racing on the Tideway. However, Cambridge will need to bear in mind that the conditions were near enough perfect for racing but there is no guarantee of that come Sunday 7th April.
Liliane Lindsay (Pembroke)
Ida Gortz Jacobsen (Newnham)
Pippa Whittaker (Christ’s)
Katherine Horvat (Jesus)
Larkin Sayre (Emmanuel)
Laura Foster (Queens’)
Sophie Deans (Murray Edwards)
Tricia Smith (Christ’s)
Cox: Hugh Spaughton (Jesus)
Anne eva Petersen
Martine van der Boomgard
Cox: Dylan Whitaker (King’s)
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