The Oxford and Cambridge Lightweight Boat Races, 2020

The Lightweight Boat Races, 2020 (Illustration: RR)

This year has been, well, a tough one so far. But, if this was to be the only time Oxford and Cambridge matched up against one another on the Tideway in 2020, at least it was a great show.

The above race was a historic event for women's lightweight rowing, as it marked the first time the women's lightweight match between Cambridge and Oxford was contested on the 4-mile, 374-yard Championship Course. And the race proved worthy of such a milestone. In the words of the silver-tongued Robert Treharne Jones, "It's a popular myth that the crew leading at Hammersmith is the one that will take the victory." It was certainly looking like Oxford's day coming underneath Hammersmith Bridge, having had the better of a clash in the first third of the race, and with the advantage of the bend as the crews rowed past the Chiswick Eyot. Cambridge, however, held on—and then moved just when the conditions were at their absolute worst (just take a look at the sailboats in the background to get a sense of what these rowers were dealing with heading toward Chiswick Pier).

In the words of the silver-tongued Robert Treharne Jones, "It's a popular myth that the crew leading at Hammersmith is the one that will take the victory."

Once the crews started their approach to Barnes Bridge, Cambridge found another gear. Standing at the finish line, you might not have been able to guess the kind of back-and-forth battle that characterized this race. When all was said and done, it was Cambridge's day by about six lengths.

Next up was the men's race—and it proved another great matchup, though without some of the dramatic weather that came into play just minutes beforehand on the ever-unpredictable Thames.

The story of this race was Oxford's slight advantage in efficiency—something that turned from a few inches, into a few seats, into what was ultimately a convincing win for the Dark Blue crew. Cambridge did an excellent job of keeping the pressure on Oxford for as long as they could, but in this case, the crew that led through Hammersmith did prove to be the winner.

As I mentioned earlier, just being able to cheer for a crew on the water was a nice feeling over the weekend, with all that's going on right now. So, again, if this was to be the last race on the Tideway this spring, hats off to all crews—you did it proud.

(Also, it was great to see my old friend Tom Killick on the broadcast—if you read this mate, tell me how it is you've managed not to age a day since we were training in Seville together!)


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