Oxford Blue Boat completes a hat-trick of victories as The Newton Women’s Boat Race bids a fond farewell to Henley home.
On a bright but slightly blustery day at Henley, the two Blue Boats for The 2014 Newton Women’s Boat Race took to the water for the culmination of seven months of hard work with plenty of confidence, having both shown good speed in pre-Race fixtures against top Women’s Club opposition.
As well as the age-old Oxford and Cambridge rivalry, there was an even more acute desire to win the 2014 Race, as this was the final Newton Women’s Boat Race that will take place in Henley with the planned move to the Tideway next year. With the current standing between the crews, 40 wins to Cambridge versus 27 to Oxford, it was the Dark Blues that went into the Race with the momentum, having won five of the last six Races, and looking to complete a hat-trick of victories.
On the stakeboats, it was a heavier and entirely British outfit from Cambridge that lined up on the Berkshire station (having won the toss) against a more internationally experienced outfit from the Dark Blues on Bucks. Umpire Judith Packer’s flagged dropped and both crews powered off the start at over 40 strokes per minute.
Having settled to their race rhythm, there was not much in it for the first 500m, Oxford sitting about half a length up as Cambridge President and cox Esther Momcilovic looked to put her crew in the best water. However, as they neared the Dark Blue crowds gathered at Upper Thames RC, the Oxford crew took the initiative, their strong rhythm paying dividends, and powered out to over a length.
From there, despite warnings for both crews from Umpire Judith Packer, the composure and fluency in the Dark Blue crew saw them take what was to prove an unassailable lead as they approached the halfway marker. The Cambridge crew refused to back down, and tenaciously put in push after push in an attempt to get back on terms. Unfortunately for them though, the extra speed in the Oxford crew saw them continue to stretch their advantage, eventually winning by a margin of four lengths in a time of 5 minutes and 50 seconds – just six seconds outside The Women’s Boat Race record.
Earlier in the day, The Reserve Women’s Boat Race between Osiris from Oxford and Blondie from Cambridge was a much closer and more heated affair. Osiris took an early lead off the start, which they had extended to two thirds of a length just before the halfway mark, but their Blondie rivals would not be shaken. As the two crews entered the final 500m there was just half a length in it, with Osiris being warned to move back on to the Berkshire station. With a series of clashes as the two crews raced for the line, it was Osiris who managed to hold on, to win by half a length in a time of 6 minutes and 1.5 seconds.
In the Lightweight Women’s Race, the 30th anniversary of the contest, it was the Cambridge crew who had the better of the starts, moving out to two thirds of a length lead. The Oxford Lightweight Women maintained their form though, and started to move back on the Light Blues as they approached Remenham Club. Having powered back to level, the Dark Blues seized the momentum and continued to power through, eventually winning by a margin of three and a half lengths in a time of 6 minutes and 8 seconds – completing their own hat-trick of victories in the Lightweight Women’s Boat Race.
The final Race of the day, taking place after The Newton Women’s Boat Race, saw the Lightweight Men take to the water. This time, Cambridge seized the Race from the very first stroke – a lightning quick start saw them take a length’s lead within the first 250m of the Race. From there, they never looked back, and continued to dominate for the length of the course, winning by a margin of three and a half lengths in a time of 5 minutes 30 seconds.
A fantastic day of racing was topped off by the trophy presentation, which saw the brand new Women’s Boat Race trophy awarded for the first time ever to Oxford, and the Dark Blues lift the Victor Ludorum of the Henley Boat Races.
The 2015 Newton Women’s Boat Race will take place on the Championship Course from Putney to Mortlake on 11th April, the same day as The 2015 BNY Mellon Boat Race.