The Cambridge Blue Boat raced a competitive crew from Molesey Boat Club on Saturday afternoon.
On a squally afternoon on the Tideway the Cambridge Blue Boat raced over three pieces against a crew from Molesey Boat Club. The Cambridge crew on the Middlesex station for the first two pieces was as announced at sponsor BNY Mellon’s headquarters 12 days ago. Molesey showed a couple of changes from the crew that Oxford bested on 3rd March, bringing in Ed Ford at stroke and were considered to be a faster combination.
Molesey looked as though they were caught napping off the start for the first contest as the Light Blues quickly gained an advantage rating 46 strokes per minute to Molesey’s 41. As the crews moved down the line of boats on the Putney reach Cambridge settled to 36, and though their blade work was untidy in a tricky wind, were 1/2 length up by the Town Buoy and 1 length ahead by Barn Elms.
Cambridge cox Henry Fieldman stayed on station until Harrods where his charges led by 3 lengths. Molesey were therefore given every opportunity with the bend in their favour, to get back on terms, however, looking relaxed, Steve Trapmore’s men continued to move away, eventually winning by 5 lengths when the race ended at Chiswick Eyot.
Staying on the same stations for the second race, Molesey had learned their lesson. Starting half way along Chiswick Eyot in rough conditions, it was Molesey who took the early advantage. Battling against a strong head wind both crews struggled for cohesion and it was Molesey who pulled out an early lead.
By Chiswick Steps the men in black had a ¾ length advantage. First Cambridge and then Molesey were warned approaching the Crossing, but the Light Blues came out best from a near clash as they fought to get back on terms. Rating 34 Cambridge crept back man by man as the conditions improved. After 4 minutes of racing when Cambridge coach Trapmore called a halt, Cambridge had edged into a canvas lead.
The final race of the afternoon would be over a similar distance from just above the Bandstand to the finish at Mortlake. In the improved conditions Cambridge started on the Surrey station where they were pushed hard by Molesey; settling at 34 compared to Cambridge’s 36. For the first minute neither crew could gain an advantage yet as they approached Barnes Bridge and with warnings from umpire Simon Harris ringing in both coxes’ ears it was Niles Garratt in the Cambridge stroke seat who began to look more at ease.
The advantage to the Light Blues was ¾ length passing Dukes Meadow. As their rate increased to 38 coming into the finish stretch it looked as though Cambridge had settled the matter, but Molesey had other ideas with a change of gear 20 strokes from the line. Unable to answer Molesey’s sprint Cambridge just held on to win this final piece by a canvas.