Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cambridge power to victory over Oxford in women's Boat Race following bomb scare

Britain Rowing - 2017 Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Race - River Thames, London - 2/4/17 Cambridge celebrate winning the womens boat race with the trophy Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic
Britain Rowing - 2017 Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Race - River Thames, London - 2/4/17 Cambridge celebrate winning the womens boat race with the trophy Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic

Dominic Harris

Cambridge ladies powered to victory over Oxford after their rivals got off to a dreadful start in the 72nd women's Boat Race on the River Thames.

The Oxford crew could not have had a worse start, unbalancing and appearing to dip their oars far too deep into the rushing tide, tipping alarmingly to one side as they did so.

The error immediately put them on the back foot, allowing Cambridge to race three or four lengths ahead within a few hundred metres of the start at Putney.

By the first mile marker they had opened up an unassailable lead of 10 seconds and were left to race only against themselves and the clock, winning in a record time that was faster than their men's team last year.

The jubilant light blue team roared with delight as they crossed the finish line, the crowds joining in a chorus of three cheers.

The victory, breaking a four-year cycle of Oxford wins, was all the sweeter for the favourites Cambridge after their boat almost sank in rough conditions last year.

For the Oxford team the astonishing manner of their defeat was even harder to stomach after the crew came through injury and illness to reach the start line.

Members of the dark blue team were in tears after crossing the finish, consoling each other over their loss.

Britain Rowing - 2017 Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Race - River Thames, London - 2/4/17 General view during the womens boat race Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic
Britain Rowing - 2017 Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Race - River Thames, London - 2/4/17 General view during the womens boat race Action Images via Reuters / Matthew Childs Livepic

Thousands of people lined the banks of the four mile, 374-yard championship course between Putney and Mortlake for the Cancer Research UK Boat Race.

The race itself was in doubt after an unexploded Second World War bomb was found in the river near the start line, before being safely removed by police.

For Ashton Brown, president of the Cambridge women's team, it was the perfect antidote to last year when she caught pneumonia after the team's boat was swamped.

Speaking after the race, she said: "I'm just so proud of my squad, so proud of the team this year.

"We got to have the race we wanted to have. Last year we felt a bit robbed because we didn't get to race. This year I have just had an amazing team with me and we did it right to the end."

Oxford captain Harriet Austin said she was proud of the way her team recovered from their start.

She said: "The start didn't go as we'd planned but I think we got it together really well and I am really proud of the girls and the effort we put in.

"It was a good race but today was Cambridge's day."

An unexploded Second World War bomb was found in the River Thames, not far from the start of Sunday's annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

Police were called out after a member of the public spotted the device near Putney Bridge, just yards from where the annual rowing event will get under way.

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