Cambridge won the toss and chose the Surrey station.
Cambridge coach Steve Trapmore has reconfigured the Light Blue boat since its last race against Leander two weeks ago. Only two of that crew were sitting in the same seats today, Stroke Niles Garratt and 6 man Steve Dudek with Alexander Scharp moving up the boat from 5 to 7.
The full line today was Cox Ed Bosson, Str Niles Garratt, 7 Alexander Scharp, 6 Steve Dudek, 5 Mike Thorp, 4 Alex Ross, 3 Jack Lindeman, 2 Moritz Schramm, Bow David Nelson, with Thorp and Ross rowing a tandem rig on bow side. Racing a crew from Molesey who were 3rd in last week’s Head of the River Race but were defeated in two hard races by Oxford a fortnight ago, it was important for Cambridge to put down an emphatic marker during this fixture.
In both pieces the crews kept umpire Simon Harris (winning Cambridge stroke, 1983) busy. The first from the Boat Race start to St.Paul’s School boathouse saw both crews sprint away from the start, Cambridge at 46, Molesey at 44 strokes a minute. Molesey took an early but short lived lead as the crews kept their high rates going past the Putney boat houses and it wasn’t long before Molesey were being warned with former GB Cox Rowley Douglas trying to give his crew maximum advantage.
Harris continued to warn both eights to keep apart as they approached the Mile Post, with Cambridge now at 36 and enjoying a slight lead, reaching the marker in a time of 3 minutes 35 seconds. By Harrods the Light Blues had extended their lead to ¼ length while Harris repeatedly warned Molesey.
Taking advantage of the Surrey bend in their favour and some poor blade work by Molesey the Blue Boat moved out to ¾ length at Hammersmith Bridge which they reached in a time of 6 minutes 26 seconds. Still rating 36 and with some exultant shouts, they doubled this lead to win the piece by 1 ½ lengths at St. Paul’s in a time of 7 minutes 32 seconds.
In the second piece which started at the bottom of Chiswick Eyot, Cambridge again went off the start quickly, rating 44 to take a lead of ½ length by Chiswick Steps. But Molesey stroked by 2010 winning Cambridge Blue Fred Gill were not to be shaken off easily. With both crews again warned to keep apart and a clash narrowly avoided, the men in black and white kept to a rate of 37 and clawed the Light Blues lead back.
Cambridge still had a canvas lead approaching the Band Stand when a wayward cruiser cut in front of the race causing the Blue Boat to steer sharply towards Middlesex and robbing them of rhythm. Molesey took full advantage and accompanied by some aggressive steering had pulled level at Barnes Bridge.
Harris repeatedly warned Molesey to move to their own station passing Dukes Meadow where they led by two seats, with the bend now in their favour. Cambridge took their rate up to 41 in the last 20 strokes before the finish but it was Molesey who kept the advantage, finishing at 39 and beating the Light Blues by ¼ length.
In the earlier races between the Cambridge reserves, Goldie and a crew from Imperial College London it was Goldie who took the honours. In the first piece from the start to St. Paul’s, Goldie (on Middlesex) won by 2 lengths. The two crews swapped stations for the second piece from Chiswick Eyot to the finish, with Goldie victorious by 1.5 lengths.
Report by Peter McConnell