CUBC the Greatest…Again

Light Blues survive crash to outmuscle Waikato University in ‘The Great Race’.

Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC) survived a dramatic early crash to defeat Waikato University in ‘The Great Race’, winning the prestigious Harry Mahon trophy an unprecedented third time.

The Blues had flown out to Hamilton, New Zealand to compete in the 4.8km event, which sees Waikato University pitted against a prominent university crew from outside the country. Since 2002, Cambridge has been the only university to defeat the hosts, who have seen off crews from Oxford and Harvard with ease.

The Light Blues fielded a relatively inexperienced crew for the encounter, with only three returning Blues in a line-up which also included Code Sternal. The Kiwis were also under-strength, after a number of call-ups for the nearby World Championships left their first VIII depleted.

Nonetheless, the race got off to a vicious start, with the Waikato crew crashing into their rivals only a few lengths in. Waikato cox Ainsley Ashton mistimed her bid to find the racing line and lacked the space to move her crew in front of a Cambridge VIII that was now beginning to accelerate. Despite a warning from the umpire, the New Zealanders held their line, colliding with the Light Blue boat only moments later.

It was Cambridge, however, who had all the momentum; the Waikato stroke lost his blade as it became tangled up with the Blues bow man’s. As the crews flailed about, the race momentarily disintegrated into an aquatic jousting match, before a big push from CUBC saw them surge ahead into clear water.

The Light Blues didn’t look back after that, despite being pushed hard throughout by a Waikato crew whose knowledge of the river, which in some places rises to a speed of 13 m/s, gave them a significant home advantage. CUBC finished almost two lengths clear.

Light Blue Alexander (Sasha) Kasas had this to say after the race: “I’d been led to believe that blade clashing was just par for the course…but the moment we got clear we just took it away”. CUBC coach Donald Legget, meanwhile, was full of praise for his crew and its “superior horse power”.

Light Blue Crew:

David Nelson

Joel Jennings

Daniel Rix-Standing

Alexander Kasas

Michael Thorpe

Code Sternal

Hardy Cubasch*

Fred Gill*

Geoffrey Roth*

Thomas Fieldman (cox)

*Denotes Blue