Oxford take first blood as the Boat Race crews meet for the first time.
The Oxford coxed four boat edged out Cambridge by only three seconds in a tightly contested race on the Thames on Sunday.
The crews were racing against each other for the first time this year in the annual Fuller’s Head of the River Fours event on The Tideway between Mortlake and Putney- that is the Boat Race Course backwards.
The race is seen as an early indicator of the strength of the boat race squads.
The main clash was the Elite 4+ (coxed four) event, where the respective club Presidents and returning Blues – American Derek Rasmussen (CUBC) and Welsh international rower Ben Myers (OUBC) competed against each other.
Accompanying Rasmussen in his boat were returning Blues George Nash and Tab columnist Hardy Cubasch with fellow Australian David Nelson. Coxing was Liz Box, who coxed Goldie to glory in las year’s reserve race.
Oxford’s win gives them the psychological advantage going forward. Their crew competed the course in a time of 19.02.63. The Cambridge boat could only manage 19.05.65
Cambridge raced a total of four boats in the Elite 4+ category that also features leading club crews from Leander, Molesey and Tideway Scullers, with the Dark Blues only entering one, limiting the usefulness of the event as a comparison of the squads.
Cambridge entered a fifth boat in the coxed fours IM2 Academic event, which includes other University crews from London, Reading, Bristol and Oxford Brookes.
This boat too had a torrid time, coming in 19th, even behind schoolboys from Abingdon, Shrewsbury and Eton.
Oxford on the other hand were considerably more successful.
As well as a beating Cambridge in the Elite 4+ event, Oxford comfortably won the Elite 4- (coxless four) category, the next boat from University College Dublin came in 17 seconds behind the Isis crew, who recorded a time of 18.59.46
The Other Place also put three other boats in the Intermediate races, where their successful day continued. They recorded a victory by nearly a minute in the intermediate coxed event whilst in the coxless four they came a credible fourth, although they were beaten by Oxford Brookes.
The afternoon had not gone as well for Cambridge as in previous years. In 2008 Cambridge stormed to victory in the coxed fours event, beating Oxford in the process. However, Cambridge should console themselves with the fact that in this year’s race they were ten seconds faster despite losing.
Cambridge will now push their training on even further to keep the Boat Race crown in April.
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More photos and details of the Fours Head to follow.