Maelstroms and Hailstorms: CULRC and OULRC Trial VIIIs on the Henley Reach

While the day began in fine fashion, the weather was extremely unpredictable and the racing close on the Henley Reach, as the men's lightweight crews from Cambridge (CULRC) and Oxford (OULRC) came together for the intra-squad Trial VIIIs event on December 18th. There was a weigh-in prior to racing so that race-day conditions would be simulated to the fullest extent. Matthew Pinsent was on hand to serve as umpire, and he had much to do, as the start of the racing was delayed due to barge traffic on the course.

At long last, 'King' and 'Ace' of Cambridge were allowed to race, and it began in very dramatic fashion, with a clash of blades near the start, forcing Pinsent to restart the match with a greater distance between crews. Following the restart, the racing between King and Ace was very close, though Ace (racing a Hudson, in what appears to be a University-wide shift away from Empacher) was able to edge out to a small lead near the halfway point, though King (stroked by Liam Downes, the first person from London Youth Rowing's programs to attend Cambridge) never lost overlap with the leading crew through the finish. The closely fought contest was followed by a hailstorm, as the CULRC crews paddled back to the start, and the OULRC crews prepared for their trial race.

In the Oxford trial race, 'Sublime' took on 'Ridiculous,' as ice began to fall from the sky and gusting winds blasted down the course on what had been a clear and beautiful morning. These disadvantageous conditions continued for the duration of the race, leading to more difficulty steering and slower times. Out of the gates, Ridiculous showed a cleaner approach and slipped more easily through the weather, building a commanding lead of just over a length by Remenham Club (near the halfway point). Sublime, however, did not lose touch, and ended up finishing with overlap on the winning crew (the margin was roughly 3/4 of a length).

For more information on the Henley Boat Races (which feature racing between the Oxford and Cambridge open women, lightweight men, and lightweight women), please visit their official website.


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