Sporting six returning Blues, including this year’s President Esther Momcilovic in the cox’s seat, Cambridge had an experienced look to their line up as they took on one of the UK’s premier women’s clubs over two separate pieces between Putney and Hammersmith Bridge.
Cambridge were on the Middlesex station for the first race and immediately took the lead off the start, despite only rating 37 strokes a minute compared to Thames 40. Though rowing in a strong southerly wind with grey skies overhead the Light Blues didn’t let the conditions affect them and already had a 1 length lead going past the home club’s boathouse.
With both crews settling at 34 the race was effectively over by the time the crews reached Barn Elms where Cambridge were 2 lengths ahead.
The final verdict at Hammersmith Bridge was 3 ½ lengths. But Thames certainly weren’t dead and buried and with one crew change put up a much more competitive fight in the second race, again between Putney and Hammersmith Bridge.
2012 and 2013 Cambridge Blue, Fay Sandford, added power in the four seat for the Thames crew, she joined another Cambridge Blue Jess Denman plus TRC Captain Sarah Jones a winner at the Four’s Head of The River in November and Bea Sheldrick a Henley Women’s Regatta victor.
Having changed stations so Cambridge started on the Surrey side, Thames took the advantage at the start. Overrating the Light Blues by two pips Thames had more steel to their rowing and looked determined to maintain their position as the premier women’s club on the Tideway. Thames held a lead all the way down the line of boats, and had a narrow 2 feet advantage passing the Town Buoy, which increased to ¼ length at the Mile Post, where both crews were warned and a clash narrowly avoided.
Cambridge though had settled well and didn’t appear rattled by being down. Rowing at 34 strokes a minute and with smart blade-work in the rough conditions, Thames were reeled in. The momentum was now with the Light Blues as they took the sting out of Thames. With the Surrey bend now in their favour and a strong coxing performance, from Harrods to Hammersmith Bridge there was only ever going to be one winner. Thames put in a late burst but Cambridge pulled away convincingly to a 2 length victory.