At the start of this week the two crews for The BNY Mellon Boat Race were announced, with Cambridge weighing in heavier and taller than their opponents. Today, the Light Blues lined up for their penultimate official pre-Race fixture against tough opposition in the form of a strong Molesey crew.
The Molesey crew contained a wealth of Blue Boat, international and Olympic experience with three Olympic medallists onboard, two of whom, George Nash and Mo Sbihi, are current World Champions. They were coxed by last year’s Light Blue cox, Henry Fieldman.
In bright sunshine and with a stiff headwind blowing on the Putney stretch Cambridge on the Middlesex station had a look of confidence about them. However it was Molesey on Surrey who put the early pressure on. Going off the start at 44 they took an immediate lead. Cambridge went off at 46 and stayed high at 37 strokes a minute in the early part of the race, but it was Molesey who had ¾ length lead by the time the crews reached the Town Buoy.
Cambridge fighting to stay in touch were warned repeatedly as they tried to take back the advantage. Cox Ian Middleton, the youngest member of either Blue Boat, kept his crew tight to Molesey’s line around the Fulham Bend, earning repeated warnings from umpire Sir Matthew Pinsent. As the two crews raced down Crabtree Reach, Cambridge looked to be holding Molesey, but a surge from the crew in black just before Harrod’s Depository saw them break clear of the Light Blues.
At Hammersmith Bridge, Cambridge were 4 seconds behind as James Foad in the Molesey stroke seat maintained his rate at 36 and Molesey continued to stretch their lead. The crew in black was warned as they went wide on the inside of the Surrey bend but their line only added to Cambridge’s difficulty as they were by now rowing in the bouncy water caused by the crew in front.
The lead continued to creep up for Molesey, despite the efforts in the Light Blue crew who fought all the way to the line. As the crews wound down at Chiswick Steps, Molesey had a 3 ½ length advantage.
The second piece was to follow a similar pattern with Molesey consistently over rating the Light Blues, allowing them to power to victory as they raced between Chiswick Eyot and The Boat Race Finish at Mortlake.
Staying on the same stations but with a change of umpire to Richard Phelps, who will take charge of this year’s Race, Molesey again were quicker to hit their rhythm edging out to an early lead. Cambridge rating at 36 stayed in touch and as the two crews passed Chiswick Pier both were warned as the blades of the Cambridge 2 man, Luke Juckett tangled with Molesey’s 7 man, George Nash. When they had moved apart Molesey increased their advantage. At the Bandstand it was 1 length.
Cambridge held their form in the stiffening wind but with Molesey at 38 for much of the piece couldn’t get back on terms. Molesey were given a warning going under Barnes Railway Bridge, but their lead was 2 lengths at this point and despite pushing hard along Dukes Meadow Cambridge couldn’t do anything to change the result, which was 3 ½ lengths at the finish.
Cambridge Chief Coach, Steve Trapmore, was satisfied that his boat had performed well in tough conditions, “All in all I thought the crew displayed some positive attributes but there’s some things we need to work on. It’s great to have a tough fixture to give you a tangible idea of what needs working on leading up to the Race, this is just one of the parts of the building block.”
Bow: Michael Thorp
2: Luke Juckett
3: Ivo Dawkins
4: Steve Dudek
5: Helge Gruetjen
6: Matthew Jackson
7: Joshua Hooper
Stroke: Henry Hoffstot
Cox: Ian Middleton
Bow: Sam Scrimegour
2: Pete Robinson
3: Matt Tarrant
4: Fred Gill (Cambridge Blue 2010, Goldie 2009)
5: Mo Sbihi
6: Phil Congdon
7: George Nash (Cambridge Blue 2010, 11 and 13, Goldie 2009)
Stroke: James Foad
Cox: Henry Fieldman (Cambridge Blue 2013)
The 2014 BNY Mellon Boat Race will take place on Sunday 6th April at 6pm.
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