Cambridge's men proved too strong for Oxford Brookes, but a good opening test showed their early season form.
Yesterday saw the first fixture of The 2016 Cancer Research UK Boat Races season, with CUBC taking on Oxford Brookes University BC over the Championship Course across two pieces.
An earlier fixture between Goldie and another Oxford Brookes crew saw Brookes triumph in both pieces, although they were deemed at fault by umpire Sarah Winckless for a clashing incident off the start, prompting a re-start.
In the Blue Boat fixture and unaware of the Goldie result, Cambridge won the toss and chose the Surrey station. The conditions were blustery although far from the worst they would have seen previously on the Tideway – the fixture was largely raced into a headwind. In the first piece, both crews got away cleanly but it was Oxford Brookes that took an early advantage, showing speed that would have been expected of a crew that prioritises 2km racing. A half-length lead soon became a length and by the Town Buoy Cambridge looked to be fighting to stay in the race.
By Fulham FC Oxford Brookes continued to apply pressure and, with the use of the first Middlesex bend, had a lead of almost two lengths. At this point along the Mile Post stretch, Cambridge halted their losses and then soon began to eat back into the deficit. Given the lead that Oxford Brookes had managed to create, the change in momentum in favour of Cambridge was quick – Brookes clearly hoping to have applied enough pressure to have the race won early.
By Hammersmith Bridge the lead had all but gone and the Surrey bend was playing to Cambridge’s advantage. By St. Paul’s, Cambridge were leading by 2/3 length and increasingly in control. The wind picked up and put more pressure on Oxford Brookes who, by that stage, had nothing left to give. Cambridge cox Ian Middleton was warned by umpire John Garrett for holding Brookes out wide, but this move had already sealed Brookes’ fate – Cambridge won the first piece, to the end of the Eyot, by 2 lengths.
The crews turned back and raced from roughly the start of the Eyot to The Boat Race finish. Again the crews got away cleanly, with Cambridge knowing they had to overcome a section of the course that is largely to the advantage of the Middlesex crew. Oxford Brookes took a seat through the opening minute, but no more. Cambridge held the efforts of Oxford Brookes well, and within 90 seconds took the lead themselves. The firm headwind continued and Cambridge led by half a length at Chiswick Pier and by the Bandstand they had moved in front to take the best of the stream.
With the possible advantage of the final Middlesex bend lost for Oxford Brookes, the Cambridge lead began to increase – a full length of open water separated the crews at Barnes Bridge. The gap ever increasing and Cambridge fully in control, final pushes for the finish saw Cambridge the victors by almost 3 lengths.
With eight weeks to go, CUBC will return to training before their next fixture on 12th March. This was a strong start to their fixture campaign as Steve Trapmore looks to finalise his line-up, but his crew showed tenacity in overcoming their early deficit and were clinical in securing victory early on in the second piece – both virtues he will hope to see in his Race day Blue Boat.
The Cancer Research UK Boat Races will take place on March 27th 2016. The women will race at 3:10pm whilst the men will race an hour later at 4:10pm.