Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The 'Other' Boat Races -- Oxford and Cambridge Square off at Henley



After Oxford upset favo(u)rites Cambridge in the Boat Race on Saturday afternoon, the stage was set for the Henley Boat Races, which featured match-ups between the Cambridge and Oxford women, lightweight women, and lightweight men, and took place on Sunday, March 27th. These races are rowed at Henley-on-Thames, and go with the stream ('from the Royal Regatta finish to the mid-point on the Temple Island' -- the opposite direction to Henley Royal Regatta). The course is just over 2,000m in length, rather than the 4 miles 374 yards of the Tideway course (from Putney to Chiswick in London) on which the Cambridge and Oxford heavyweight men's squads currently race.

The Henley Boat Races began in 1975, as a contest between men's lightweight crews from Oxford and Cambridge. The women's race was added in 1977, followed shortly thereafter by the women's reserve race. In parallel fashion to Goldie v. Isis on the men's side, the women's reserve crews are called 'Blondie' (Cambridge) and 'Osiris' (Oxford). The women's lightweight event was added in 1984, creating the four-race standard event that is the heart of the regatta to this day.

This year, not only was the racing quite close, but also the Oxford Women's First VIII (or OUWBC Blue Boat) featured a Redgrave in the 4 seat. Natalie Redgrave picked up right where her father left off, as Oxford defeated Cambridge by one length in a time of 6:24. While the reserve contest went to Cambridge on a disqualification this year, the Cambridge women's lightweights left no doubt, defeating rival Oxford by 1.5 lengths in a time of 6:43. The closest race of the day was between the men's lightweight crews from Cambridge and Oxford, with Oxford taking the contest by a canvas in 5:54. This might have seemed like quite a margin to the two crews, however, as last year the race went to Cambridge by 2 feet.

Thanks very much to Chris Bellamy, CULRC President, for sending us the video featured above, showcasing the Cambridge University Lightweights training in preparation for this year's race.

For more information, check out the Henley Boat Races official website. Congratulations to all crews!

Note for FeedBurner subscribers: click the title of the article to view the video.

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