The 162nd staging of The Boat Race took place in tempestuous conditions, after a dramatic women’s event.
Prior to Sunday, the talk had largely revolved around the impressive form of Cambridge and the ever-growing possibility of this year’s light blue crew bucking the dark blue trend.
The crews lined up against the familiar Putney Bridge backdrop, with Cambridge president Henry Hoffstot seeking his first win in three attempts. Oxford’s President Morgan Gerlak was victorious in the Isis crew last year, and sat in the three seat of the 2016 Blue Boat.
The crews left the start together under the eyes of Simon Harris, who was umpiring his fifth Boat Race. It was immediately clear that Cambridge were a different animal to previous years, claiming a seat in the first twenty strokes. As the end of the Putney Embankment loomed and the crowds thinned on the Surrey bank, Cambridge had stretched out to a three seat advantage. Stroked by the impressive Lance Tredell, the light blues looked relaxed and powerful as the boats moved around the first elbow of the course. Despite racing on the Surrey bend, Cambridge continued to move around the outside. Oxford were slightly underrating their opposition but were losing ground, falling nearly a length behind as the crews moved past the Harrods Depository.
Underneath Hammersmith Bridge, the crews strayed together a little as Oxford attempted to claw back the deficit. Passing Chiswick Eyot, the waves predictably grew in power and frequency as Cambridge shortened up to deal with the rough conditions. Cambridge cox Ian Middleton could be heard calling his crew on, and they broke clear of Oxford around the apex of the Surrey bend. Again, the channel-like water played its part as Cambridge drew further away from the dark blues.
Despite the superior power that Cambridge were laying down on the inside of the bend, Oxford displayed their tenacity by holding the margin at two lengths. Passing the bandstand, both boats were badly buffeted by the wind but it was the determination of the light blues that saw them maintain their lead. Under Barnes Bridge, the Race was close to complete with Cambridge in a position of dominance.
The Race was run and this became clear in the latter stages as Cambridge maturely responded to every Oxford move to cross the line some three lengths clear to claim their first victory in five years.
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