Oxford Win The Boat Race

Oxford won the Boat Race this afternoon.

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Oxford won the Boat Race this afternoon.

After winning the toss and electing to row on the Surrey station, Oxford produced a text book performance, moving away just before Hammersmith Bridge to win the 2011 Boat Race, and complete their 76th victory, by over 4 lengths.

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In a shock to pre-race predictions, which placed Cambridge as favourites, Oxford showed quiet determination to outclass a heavier and more experienced Cambridge crew.

In a devastating reversal of last year’s result, when Cambridge toppled the favourites to win, Oxford looked stronger throughout the race, despite Cambridge holding them to Harrods depository. In a dominating move through Hammersmith Bridge, and past St Paul’s School, Oxford gained a lead that they increased upon over the next 10 minutes.

Oxford won the toss, and chose the Surrey station, giving them the advantage of the big bend around Hammersmith, despite losing on this side last year.

Out of the starting blocks, Cambridge, rating lower, actually looked much smoother, but although predicted to move away from Oxford off the start, they never managed to gain an advantage.

Rating at about 45 stokes per minute, Oxford started to gain a lead of about a canvas. Cambridge managed to pull it back as their advantage around the Fulham bend started to come into play, and they settled into a convincing rhythm, despite a slight clash of blades.

As they came up to Harrods depository, Oxford had, however, established a quicker base speed, and started to move up on Cambridge, moving to about a third of a length’s lead. This did not need to concern Cambridge, as last year they came back from a similar deficit to win the race.

But coming under Hammersmith bridge, Oxford had a three second lead, and there was no advantage for Cambridge for at least another five or six minutes.

Oxford had clearly learned their mistake from last year, producing a push that took half a length out of Cambridge over one minute, allowing them to move over in front of Cambridge, forcing the Light Blues to row in their ‘dirty’ water.

Cambridge had to produce a huge push at this point, making the most of their superior experience, if they were to stand any chance of remaining in the race.

They were, however, being comfortably outrowed, as Oxford gained a seven second lead by Chiswick steps. Despite encouragement from cox Liz Box, and tremendous effort from the Light Blue crew, they were unable to claw back the lead that Oxford had built, and the Dark Blues began to press home their advantage.

Only two crews have ever come from behind at Barnes bridge to win the boat race, and with the extensive lead that Oxford had created, it looked unlikely that Cambridge were going to make it three.

Oxford had complete control as they headed under the central arch in their surge to the finish line. As they rowed down the home stretch, Oxford just consolidated the lead that they had from Hammersmith Bridge to give them a victory that, barring accident, looked completely secure.

Indeed, Oxford crossed the finishing line to win by over four lengths, in a time of 17.32.

Following the race, the Oxford crew were understandably elated. Stroke man Simon Hislop commented: “(it was) lots of hard work, but actually pretty fun.”

Cambridge, however, were justifiably dejected. Derek Rasmussen, CUBC President, and 7 man in the Blue Boat, stated that he was “proud of the way they fought,” but that it was, of course, a “stinging loss.”

Steve Trapmore, in his first year as Cambridge coach, noted that it was the point between Harrods depository and St Paul’s where the race was won and lost, but that he would not have approached the season any differently.

Goldie, Cambridge’s reserve boat, were beaten in a similarly comprehensive manner, losing by six lengths. In an disappointing day for all Cambridge supporters, and a gutting result for all Cambridge crews involved, sorrows will surely be drowned in the after party this evening.

Even with six returnees, a strong Oxford crew outclassed Cambridge in a bitter defeat. Oxford have now won eight of the twelve races since the turn of the century, and all thoughts for Cambridge will turn to the 2012 boat race, as they seek to avenge defeat.