Oxford won four out of four varsity races on a windy day of racing set at the London 2012 venue Dorney Lake. The Oxford crews dealt better with the rough conditions, taking home wins that included the Newton Women’s Boat Race 2013 and the Lightweight Men’s and Women’s Boat Races.
The results of the 2013 Henley Boat Races are as follows:
Lightweight Men’s Boat Race: Oxford bt Cambridge by 1 2/3 lengths in 6:49.
Newton Women’s Boat Race: Oxford bt Cambridge by 1 ¾ lengths in 7:21.
Lightweight Women’s Boat Race: Oxford bt Cambridge by 4 ¾ lengths in 7:33
Newton Women’s Reserves Boat Race: Osiris (Oxford) bt Blondie (Cambridge) by 6 lengths in 7:41.
In the final race of the day, the Lightweight Men’s Boat Race, Oxford’s lower cadence proved successful in the difficult water. Both crews got out of the blocks cleanly, with Oxford taking a slight lead by the 250m point. Rating 34 compared to Cambridge’s 39, they extended this to ¾ length by 500m. Cambridge made a push, holding Oxford’s speed and checking their advance for the middle of the race. But a confident Oxford crew maintained control, and with the crowds cheering them on they crossed the line 1 2/3 lengths ahead.
Christian Proctor, cox for the Oxford crew, said: “Conditions were better than they had been earlier in the week actually. It was OK off the start but we got hit by a nasty gust at 250. The race went according to plan; we were actually happier with the start than normally. The guys did really well. The coach too – he prepared us really well for the conditions.”
Cambridge had the better start in the Newton Women’s Boat Race, taking a lead of a few seats after ten strokes. They extended the lead to half a length at the 250m mark, rating 35 strokes per minute to Oxford’s 31. However, Oxford’s longer rhythm proved more effective, as they started to hold their opponents speed. By 750m in, they began eat away at the Cambridge lead, and at the 1250m mark they drew level. Cambridge seemed less comfortable in the choppy water, and Oxford looked commanding as they raced past the crowds of supporters. Cambridge were unable to respond, and Oxford won by a margin of 1 ¾ lengths.
Mary Foord-Weston, who rowed at 3 in the Oxford crew this year and in last year’s losing Oxford crew, said: “It was pretty grim. We trained here throughout the week so we were used to the horrible winds. We weren’t surprised they got ahead off the start, we’re quite a small crew. Our real strength was our race rhythm once we got in into the middle section of the race. Once we crossed the line it took a minute to sink in, but then I was incredibly excited.”
Emily Day, who rowed at 7 in the Cambridge crew, said :“It was pretty windy – it was hard work off the start, but I think all the crews dealt with it pretty well. We had the race of our lives, we’re really proud of how we rowed. There’s nothing we could have done that we didn’t do, we left everything on the water. Thank you for a fantastic race."
Cambridge took an early advantage in the Lightweight Women’s Boat Race. However, after the first 100m Oxford began reeling in the slight Cambridge lead, and by 500m had just got their bows in front. While both crews maintained a rate of striking of 34, Oxford looked more stable and solid in the gusty cross-headwind. Oxford had a one length lead at the halfway mark, and the famous Dorney roar helped them extend to a final verdict of 4 ¾ lengths.
Conditions proved difficult for the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club reserves, Blondie, who were still adjusting their boat when umpire Sir Matthew Pinsent started the crews. Their opponents from Oxford, Osiris, relaxed into the race and showed excellent rhythm, while Blondie rated slightly higher. By the 500m point, Osiris had built a lead of a ¼ length. Their more relaxed approach to dealing with the conditions then paid off, and they extended this to two and a half lengths at the halfway point. Blondie had too much work to do, and Osiris crossed the line well ahead.
A very cold umpire, Sir Matthew Pinsent, said “The women's lightweight race was close for the first 500 or so but the Women's Boat Race had that change of lead, which was great.
“I've definitely noticed the professionalism of the boat clubs going up. I've interacted with them during Trial Eights, had briefings this week and was at the weigh-in and their expectations are rising."
Downing College, Cambridge, triumphed over St John’s College, Oxford in the Intercollegiate Women’s Race. After a tight race that saw both crews still level at the halfway mark, it was Downing that maintained their form over the distance, winning by 1 length. Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge showed excellent class, beating Balliol College, Oxford by 7 lengths to give them their third consecutive win in the race.
Tom James, MBE, presented the winning Oxford presidents with the Francombe Cup for Victor Ludorum.
The Henley Boat Races will return to Henley-on-Thames next year, including for the final time the Newton Women’s Boat Race before it moves to the Tideway in 2015.