Cambridge University Men’s Boat Club took to the Tideway today to race their Trial Eights along the 4.25 mile championship course.
As always, the crews were designed to be matched so as to give coaches and selectors an idea of which athletes perform best in a race scenario. The crews were named Fuerte and Listo, meaning ‘strong’ and ‘clever’ respectively in Spanish. With several returners from last year spread across the crews, it was Listo who contained two-time Blue and President Henry Hoffstot in the seven seat. Ian Middleton, who has steered the Cambridge Blue Boat in 2014 and 2015, was in the driving seat for Fuerte, with former Henley winner Lance Tredell for company in the stroke seat.
It was Fuerte who got away to the better start, as Listo seemed to dig their blades too deep on the first few strokes. Fuerte took an immediate lead of around two seats, with both crews striking in the low forties. By Barn Elms boathouse, Listo had drawn level and looked to be pushing on – aggressive steering from both coxes brought umpire Simon Harris into play for the first time as Fuerte tried to minimise the outside of the Fulham bend.
Listo purported a more rugged style, which meant their rhythm was not as fluid as that of Fuerte; Fuerte began to move back into the lead. As the crews raced past Harrods, Luke Juckett caught a crab and stopped the flow of his crew, a mistake which allowed Listo to momentarily take the lead. Juckett, another former Blue, regained his oar relatively quickly and, as the two crews shot Hammersmith Bridge, it was Fuerte who led by a few seats.
The power and technical coherence of Fuerte was plain to see, and it allowed them to move further away from Listo. Fuerte had a length by the end of Chiswick Eyot, before breaking out to clear water as the crews hugged the apex of the Surrey Bend. Middleton used his Tideway experience to check his crews line and wash down Listo; their lead was large enough that umpire Harris clearly did not feel it disrupted the race.
Fuerte continued to extend their lead throughout the remainder of the race, finishing some four lengths clear of their opponents.