Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, 2013: All Dark Blue, 'Field Day' on the River [Photos]


2013-03 Boat Race Selection - Images by Iain Weir

The 2013 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race was everything that the Boat Race should be—hard fought, closely contested, and fairly won. Oxford, led by two-time Olympic medalist Malcolm Howard at stroke, showed that they had the grit and determination to gut out a close race despite being heavy favorites, which is a testament to their mental toughness. While the focus is always on the winning crew, Cambridge showed equal tenacity, if not boat speed, on the Tideway today, and a real star emerged from the Light Blue crew. His name? Henry Fieldman.

The Oxford start was, as widely predicted, very good, and saw the Dark Blues have an almost immediate advantage. However, the same crafty coxing that saw his GB crew to victory at the E.ON Hanse Cup in 2010 were in evidence early and often, as Fieldman steered a brilliant line through Hammersmith, tucking into the Oxford blades just slightly and disrupting them just enough to keep his CUBC crew within roughly half a length entering the Oxford bend. While doing this, he also kept his crew calm and confident, in a solid rhythm despite overlapping blades at times, and the Light Blues held on to overlap through the Chiswick Eyot.

The Chiswick Steps marked Oxford's separation from Cambridge, and it wasn't until that point that we really saw the strong, powerful and confident rhythm from the Dark Blue crew that saw them through to  a Boat Race victory. Still, that separation could have worsened, and the final third of the race again saw Fieldman out-maneuver his Dark Blue counterpart Oskar Zorrilla (perhaps most famous for his choice language at key moments in the race—is it really a rowing race without a few f-bombs though?) to make the race close all the way home from Barnes Bridge, closing the gap slightly in the final strokes.

The better crew appeared to have won, the water was flat, there were no swimmers, and the racing was of outstanding quality—what more could you ask for?

Just the facts:
We predicted a victory for Oxford by three lengths. The official verdict of the 159th Boat Race was Oxford by 1 and 1/3 lengths in a time of 17:28 to Cambridge's 17:32. Cambridge still leads the all-time tally 81-77. Isis won the reserves race, giving Oxford a clean sweep of the Henley Boat Races as well as the BNY Mellon Boat Race this year.

Write-ups elsewhere:
BBC Sport (video clips here)
The Boat Race (official website)—there's also a blow-by-blow (live-text) account of the race here.
CBC Sports
Evening Standard
The Times of London
The Guardian (UK)
The Telegraph (UK)
ITV News

Further updates as they become available. Thanks very much to Iain Weir of Rowing Photography UK for the fantastic images!

[Update]:

-RR

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