This past weekend marked the renewal of the Henley Boat Races rivalry between Oxford and Cambridge, and while the bookmakers have 'tabbed' Oxford as the favorites in the men's and women's Boat Races on the Tideway, Cambridge scored not one but two victories over the Dark Blues just a few miles up the Thames.
The men's lightweight race (see video above) saw the challengers Oxford jump out to an early edge, but defending champions Cambridge remained poised in the second 500m and used their rhythm to come through and hold a slight edge over the Dark Blues, who came up just short despite a series of attacks through the second half of the race, not least of which is a great sprint in the final 250m.
Off the line, both crews remain at 40 s/m for a significant distance, and the rate stays at 37 and above for much of the contest, as is typically the case in lightweight international racing. And, through the second 1,000m, there are several near clashes as Cambridge try to establish a strong position ahead of their rivals, with Oxford also coming to the middle of the river at times—in fact, the crews cross the finish with interlocking blades, having come together at the line.
The women's race was similarly closely contested, and also featured an early lead for Oxford off the line. Again, the Cambridge rhythm is strong, and the coxswain's line is aggressive. And again, Oxford gamely hold on after a strong Light Blue second 500m to make it very interesting in the final strokes of the race—after a near clash, the crews separate and sprint very well, with the final separation just 3 feet advantage to Cambridge (just listen for the signal at the finish). Had the Dark Blues been able to sprint through their rivals, it would have marked their fourth-straight victory.
Great race from @CULRC completing the #LightBlue double pic.twitter.com/kIDd9uwUlw
— Caroline Reid (@CUWBCPresident) April 5, 2015
Also of note: The race announcer is Robert Treharne-Jones (@voiceofrowing on Twitter), who is an official race announcer for FISA. Undeniably, the Henley Boat Races have continued to grow in stature since their inception in 1975, when they were established by then-student Robert Bates of Cambridge. This year's race was further evidence of that, and hats off to all crews who put on a great show going the wrong way up the Henley Royal Regatta course.
Thanks to Aaron Sims for putting these videos together! You can watch the rest of the 2015 Henley Boat Races via his YouTube Channel. For historical results from the Henley Boat Races, here's a link to their Wikipedia page.
We're now just a little over two days from the Boat Races in London! The predictions are in from Fantasy Rowing, with Oxford the clear favorites to defend their titles this year. Do you agree?