In bright sunshine amid a sea of blue, the women’s reserve boats took to the Tideway on Friday 10th April as the first female crews to race along the Championship Course.
Osiris, stroked by 2014 Blue Boat representative Amber De Vere, drew the Surrey station, which meant that Blondie would have the advantage of the first bend around Craven Cottage.
The crews boated to great support from the banks; the balconies of host clubs Thames and Imperial were alive with activity as friends, family and alumni turned out to cheer on the contest. It was also fitting that the first women’s race on the Tideway was umpired by Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Winckless. Off the start, both crews stayed apart as Blondie stole a march on their Dark Blue opponents. Osiris appeared nervy in their first few strokes, a lapse which Blondie took full advantage of by taking a half length lead at the end of the Putney Boathouses.
However, as both crews settled into their race rhythm, it was Osiris who looked the stronger of the two. In the shell that carried the Oxford Women’s Reserve Boat to victory in 2014, Osiris slowly regained terms with Cambridge. At Barn Elms, the Dark Blues had their bows in front and had stretched out to a length at the Mile Post. Such tenacity was the subject of much admiration on the umpires launch and left Winckless with very little to do. By Hammersmith Bridge, Osiris had a four length lead.
Blondie continued to battle hard and, spurred on by coxswain Katie Klavenes, moved on past St Paul’s boathouse. For the most part, the weather was calm and pleasant but conditions deteriorated slightly around the Surrey bend. Both crews dropped their rate of striking slightly but it was the Oxford crew who fared better; they increased their lead to that of a comfortable margin.
As Barnes Bridge loomed into view, Osiris reached the final timing marking some distance clear of their Light Blue opponents. By this stage it was clear that, barring a calamity, Oxford would take the win; the Dark Blues had recovered from their early blip superbly and had rowed a mature and confident race. Osiris crossed the line some forty five seconds clear of Blondie, an impressive margin of victory and one which cued great celebrations from the Oxford contingent. The official verdict was a win for Osiris in a time of 18 minutes and 57 seconds.