Cambridge won the toss and chose the Surrey station.
With the Blue Boats only announced at the beginning of the week, the fixtures this weekend represent the first chance to assess the relative strengths of the final line-ups. Today Cambridge, who have swapped David Nelson and Jack Lindeman between the 2 and 4 seats since the announcement, took on a development squad crew from Leander Club.
Racing over just one piece between Putney and St. Paul’s School, (about 1 minute past Hammersmith Bridge), it was the Light Blues who came out victorious after a tightly fought contest in good conditions.
Both crews were evenly matched off the start and were to remain in close contention for much of the race. Cambridge went off at 41 and quickly settled to 36, Leander were slightly lower but held a very small lead as the crews passed the Black Buoy. Sitting a good distance apart there was no hint that umpire John Garrett would have to worry about clashes and it wasn’t until the Mile Post that he was forced to warn Cambridge. This was to be the only warning of the race, at a point where the Light Blues had pulled out a small lead, reaching the Mile Post in a time of 3 minutes 27 seconds.
Leander stayed in contention rating 34 to Cambridge’s 35 but with the advantage of the Surrey bend unfolding in the Blue Boat’s favour the youngsters from Henley couldn’t hang on as Cambridge pushed the rate up to 37 at Harrod’s quickly stretching their lead to ½ length.
Now for the first time the Light Blue’s really settled into their rhythm at 35 strokes a minute. Pushed on by a relaxed looking Niles Garrett in the stroke seat the multi-national crew stretched away over the next minute to win the contest by just over a length in a time of 7minutes 30 seconds.
Cambridge Chief Coach Steve Trapmore was pleased with his crew’s efforts, “We had a good race today, it’s a good learning experience for us against a competitive crew from Leander.” he said “We did some of the things we set out to do, though not all of them.” As for swapping the two stroke siders at 2 & 4 he commented, “Though we’ve announced the crew we have some refining to do. I’m confident that we have the right people we just have to refine the combination.”
Earlier in the afternoon Goldie were beaten by a crew from London Rowing Club in two pieces from Putney to Hammersmith and from Chiswick Eyot to the Boat Race finish at Mortlake.
Report by Peter McConnell