In a thrilling series of rowing clashes in glorious spring sunshine, the Oxford Women’s team showcased their prowess by turning the tide against hometown rivals Oxford Brookes. The race, featuring three closely fought contests, unfolded with the home team claiming a final win, leaving spectators at the edge of their seats. Meanwhile, the Cambridge Men displayed an impressive performance, securing victories in all three races against the formidable Dutch National Team.
The rivalry between Oxford University and Oxford Brookes is renowned for its intensity, and the recent race lived up to expectations. With just over eight weeks until the Gemini Boat Race, the Oxford Women’s team, under the guidance of Chief Coach Allan French, exhibited the results of their dedicated winter training. The three racing pieces over The Championship Course saw exceptional performances from both undergraduates and graduates, creating a compelling narrative on the water.
Among the standout athletes was Annie Sharp, a graduate from the University of London, who caught the attention of commentator Martin Cross. Sharp, with two successive Henley Royal Regatta wins in the Wargrave Trophy and a record-breaking 2023 campaign, brought valuable experience to the Oxford squad. Accompanied by new additions Lucy Edmunds (Yale) and Tessa Haining (Harvard), the crew blended fresh international perspectives.
President Ella Stadler, who learned to row as an undergraduate at Exeter College, was a key figure in the final winning piece, contributing to the Oxford Women’s triumph. The clash between the two powerhouse teams started just above Putney Bridge and was live-streamed, providing fans with an immersive experience.
After the racing, new coach Allan French had this to say:
“After a great block of training from the squad, it was fantastic to get out and racing this weekend in the first of our Fixture series, against our local rivals Oxford Brookes.
There are no short-cuts to success and the training put in over the last few months has given the squad confidence to take on the best. Margins were tight across the board but the resilience on display was clear to see and no more so than in the Provisional Blue Boat vs Brookes I race where after two 3/4 length losses, the crew was able to turn it round in the third and final piece and win by 1 1/2 lengths.
As ever there is much work to do but the group can certainly take lessons learnt on Sunday into training over the next 2-months in the run up to the Boat Races.”
On the Oxford Brookes side, changes in coaching staff marked the season, with Chris Tebb now leading the women’s team following the departure of Hugo Gulliver. Oxford Brookes, known for its top-tier women’s programs and success at Henley Royal Regatta, faced a formidable challenge from their rivals.
Race Overview: Oxford Women vs. Oxford Brookes
Piece 1 – Start (5 min): Brookes 3/4 Length Lead Piece 2 – Middle (5 min): Brookes 3/4 Length Lead Piece 3 – 5 min to Finish: Oxford Women’s Final Win
We hope you enjoyed the engaging live stream, capturing the crews battling along the course with superb drone footage above Hammersmith Bridge.
Meanwhile, Cambridge Men faced a formidable Dutch National Team in a close and tight three-race series. Despite the visitors’ strength, the Light Blues demonstrated exceptional skill and composure, securing victories in all three races.
The Cambridge team needed to bring their A line up to race the Dutch, and with President Seb Benzecry’s absence due to illness the day, this will have been a personal disappointment but the depth of the team is clear. Replacement Canadian Dane Halkiw was able to bring his experience from four years at Cal Berkeley to the crew and may have given him an opportunity to show Coach Rob Baker what he can offer. Ed Bracey drew on previous Tideway experience as part of Tideway Scullers, Ed is back from 4 years as an undergraduate at Harvard, he was in control throughout the races, remaining calm under constant pressure with the clashing impacting much of the races. Matt Edge, back in the Stroke seat, backed up strongly by Luca Ferraro, with and, another new member of the Cambridge squad Kenneth Coplan all contributing to the team’s success.
“While it was frustrating for me to miss out on the racing due to illness, it was fantastic to see the guys perform so well yesterday. I think the way that each of our eights were able to stretch out their lead as the race continued is testament to the work we’ve put into establishing a crushing base speed and a rock-solid rhythm. I’m very proud of the work that the guys have put in so far, and while this is a strong start, there’s a huge amount more to come over the next two months.”
Rob Baker, Cambridge Men’s Chief Coach, expressed satisfaction with the tough racing provided by the Netherlands team for the third consecutive year. Baker highlighted the importance of clashes and navigating the challenging Barnes bend.
“It was great to have the Netherlands team over for the third year in a row, they provide tough racing and we had excellent races again this year. Having clashes and being able to row around the outside of the Barnes bend is just what we needed. We have a month to our next fixture to build on this and get faster!”
Race Overview: CUBC Men vs. Dutch National Team
Piece 1 – Start to Chiswick Eyot: Cambridge by 3 Lengths after Restart Piece 2 – Chiswick Eyot to Finish: Cambridge by 2 1/2 Lengths
As the rowing season progresses, both Oxford and Cambridge teams will continue their preparations for the highly anticipated Gemini Boat Race. The recent clashes have set the stage for an exciting and competitive season ahead.
Don’t miss the next Fixture
12:20 – Broadcast Starts
12:40 – Cambridge University BC Women v Thames Rowing Club
13:45 – Oxford University BC Men v Leander Club
Don’t miss The Gemini Boat Race, 30th March 2024, live in person or on BBC 1 – or go one better and treat yourself to a hospitality experience!