Having won the toss, Oxford chose Middlesex and following on from the Women’s race, the Veteran’s 28th men’s boat race was relatively straight-forward, with Oxford taking an early lead and holding it to the line. Valiantly fought by both crews, they battled against launch wash – not having the luxury of a river closure.

The conditions favoured Oxford: the heavier, more powerful crew, and interestingly a reincarnation of the 2009 winning Blue Boat (in the stern, in bow pair and in the 5 seat). But Cambridge were led by experienced veteran Fred Gill at stroke – who had led Cambridge vets to victory twice before, and 7 seat Olympian Tom Middleton who was on his 8th vets race.

Off the start both crews looked strong, rating an impressive 43 off the start and settling into a consistent rhythm passing the London Rowing Club flagpole rating 37. But Oxford soon pushed ahead taking a canvas lead, passing the black buoy at rate 35 and extending the lead to half a length by Barn Elms. Oxford could afford to take the rate down by half a pip, while Cambridge valiantly fought the conditions and were warned by umpire Dr Kath Finucane to keep to their station.

Wherever Cambridge increased their overlap with Oxford, the waves from the infamous Tideway wash set them back, enabling Oxford to maintain their three-quarter length lead.

Ultimately, Oxford’s strength and power triumphed in the tough conditions – strengthen by the 2009 crew spirit. But Cambridge’s determination took them over the line, following a respectable 2.5 seconds behind.

WORDS: Anna Robotham
PHOTOS: BigBlade