Oxford were on the Middlesex station in their match with Molesey
In their last fixture two weeks ago Oxford performed well in two tough pieces against a tenacious German U23 crew, since then there has been one change in the Blue Boat with William Zeng replacing Geordie MacLeod in the 2 seat.
Following Cambridge’s showing against Leander on Saturday, the Dark Blues faced a crew from Molesey Boat Club on Sunday. Molesey is acknowledged as one of the breeding grounds for international oarsman in the UK and always has a fast club crew that will be expected to perform well in the Head of the River race next weekend. Oxford took them on in benign conditions over 2 pieces, the first from the start to Hammersmith Bridge, the second from Chiswick Eyot to the Boat Race finish at Mortlake.
Fielding a strong club line-up without their squad members away at GB trials this weekend, Molesey were taken by surprise off the start in the first piece as Oxford strode away from them, rating 44 to take an early ½ length lead.
Oxford on Middlesex quickly hit their stride, maintaining 34 as the crews passed the Black Buoy where Oxford led by 1 length. Molesey though over rating the Dark Blues, couldn’t get back on terms and Oxford had a lead of two lengths at the Mile Post, which they reached in a time of 3 minutes 28 seconds.
By Harrods the lead was 3 lengths and with Oxford looking comfortable, Molesey were never able to get back into contention; Oxford going on to win by this margin at St. Paul’s School boathouse in a time of 7 minutes 20 seconds.
In the second race between the two crews starting mid-way along Chiswick Eyot the crew from Molesey were much more tenacious. Both crews went off the start at 42 strokes a minute with Molesey gaining a slight edge in the first few strokes. By Chiswick Steps with Oxford hitting their stride at 34 the Blue Boat had gone into a ¼ length lead, however Molesey fought hard and the crews were level again as they approached the crossing.
By this stage umpire John Garrett was warning both eights to move apart and a clash looked likely as blades intertwined. Garrett continued to warn the crews as Oxford’s cox Zoe De Toledo steered an aggressive course. Shortly before the Band Stand Oxford put in their push taking the rate up to 37 and gaining a ¼ length advantage, but now there was a clash and it was Molesey who blinked first steering out of trouble but ceding the advantage to Oxford on the Middlesex bend.
Moving towards Barnes Bridge the Dark Blues were warned again as they pushed Molesey wide but by now they had a lead of ¾ length which they increased over the next minute. Molesey were by no means beaten though and were just beginning to put in their final sprint, approximately 25 strokes from the finish, when the umpire stopped the race with Oxford 1 length up, as a pleasure cruiser crossed the river dangerously in front of the crews.
In the earlier contest between Isis and a crew from University of London it was UL who took the honours in both pieces.
In two weeks we’ll see the reverse of this weekend’s fixtures: Cambridge will race Molesey while Oxford race Leander.