The two Oxford University Women’s Boat Club Trial Eights, dubbed Scylla and Charybdis, were names derived from a Greek idiom meaning ‘having to choose between two evils’.
It was the Charybdis who drew the Surrey station. With three returning Blues spread across the two crews, including 2015’s winning President Anastasia Chitty, the stage was set for a phenomenal race.
Under the scrutiny of Coach Christine Wilson, who has masterminded three successive Oxford victories during her tenure, the two boats left Putney Bridge together. It stayed that way initially, but by the end of the Putney Embankment it was Scylla who had snuck ahead. There looked to be some timing discrepancy on stroke-side within the latter, but it didn’t cost them any time – if anything, Scylla continued to move away and had established a lengths lead by Fulham football ground.
With Lauren Kedar and Chitty in the stern four of Scylla, it was clear to see why they were leading; their rhythm was long and powerful and they were making good use of their Middlesex advantage. The behaviour of both crews was exemplary throughout; umpire Rob Clegg had very little to do in the first half of the race.
Steaming under Hammersmith Bridge, it was Scylla who continued to lead Charybdis by around two lengths. Races on the Tideway are often decided by which crew can cope best with the elements, and so it proved here. Despite Scylla’s substantial lead coupled with a higher rate of striking, it was Charybdis, stroked by President Maddy Badcott, who looked the more composed as the conditions worsened past St Paul’s boathouse. Scylla drifted right out towards Chiswick Eyot, prompting a disapproving shake of the head from the on-looking Christine Wilson.
Suddenly, it was Charybdis who had the momentum. Driven on by the unshakeable voice of Morgan Baynham-Williams, they slowly began to reduce the deficit. Moving past the Eyot, Scylla looked ragged in the choppy water and their opponents took full advantage; Charybdis took a length in twenty five strokes.
From that point on, there was only going to be one winner – Badcott’s crew simply walked away around the second half of the Surrey bend, drawing out to a length fairly quickly before pushing on through the final stages of the race. The final verdict was victory for Charybdis over Scylla by three lengths.