Dark Blue Day Revisited

Fifty shades of blue: A view of the Oxford - Cambridge Boat Race start from Putney Bridge.
Fifty shades of blue: A view of the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race start from Putney Bridge.

This is a repost of Chris Dodd’s Boat Race report first put on HTBS on 12 April, but this time including pictures by Tim Koch and Hélène Rémond. Hélène’s photographs are marked HR.

Christopher Dodd reports from Putney:

A historic Boat Race day was turned into a clean sweep clothed in dark blue by Oxford. They won the first Putney-to-Mortlake women’s race by a runaway. They won the 161st men’s race by a ruthlessly proficient butt round the outside of the Surrey bend into wind and spray.

They won the men’s reserves race when Isis captured the lead over Goldie between Chiswick Steps and Barnes Bridge. On the previous day Oxford’s women’s reserves, Osiris, dismissed Blondie by 15 lengths.

The Isis - Goldie looked hopeful for the Cambridge Reserves at the start.
The Isis – Goldie race looked hopeful for the Cambridge Reserves at the start.
 A convincing win for the Oxford Women’s Reserves in the Osiris - Blondie race.
A convincing win for the Oxford Women’s Reserves in the Osiris – Blondie race.

A huge crowd toasted the arrival of sunshine and the women’s Boat Race on the Championship course and witnessed the Oxford crew in a boat called Catalyst, stroked by the American Olympic champion Caryn Davies, power away to a half-length advantage in little over a minute. They looked fine and began as they intended to proceed, confirming all pundits’ predictions (one said they’d have time to stop at Hammersmith to attend to make-up before receiving the silverware. Sorry about that – he, for of course it was a he, meant it as a joke). They opened clear water inside three minutes and disappeared into the west while watching Cambridge growing smaller behind them. Their name was already all but on the magnificent new trophy presented by sponsors Newton. The verdict was 7 lengths.

Pic 4
The Women’s Boat Race – the start.
The Women’s Boat Race - the finish. (HR)
The Women’s Boat Race – the finish. (HR)
A loss for Cambridge….  (HR)
A loss for Cambridge…. (HR)
…..but a victory for women’s sport. A banner on an apartment block next to Hammersmith Bridge. (HR)
…..but a victory for women’s sport. A banner on an apartment block next to Hammersmith Bridge. (HR)

An hour after the women’s race, I followed the men’s race aboard the press launch Majestic. Cambridge had won the toss and chosen the favoured Surrey station. They were not quite straight when umpire Boris Rankov (who holds the record of six consecutive wins for Oxford) started the race. They had a little wobble while Oxford were right on the button. Soon we were dip-and-bucketing spray into camera lenses as the race exploded. Cambridge’s Ian Middleton did his best to push Oxford far toward the Middlesex shore and off the best of the tide. It was a close and hard to Hammersmith, with Oxford clocking one second advantage at the Mile and Hammersmith Bridge. Cambridge were in the lead passing the end of the boathouses in Putney, though from our position hard to Surrey, it was hard to tell who was a seat or two up.

Oxford, a few strokes off the start, passing London Rowing Club.
Oxford, a few strokes off the start, passing London Rowing Club.
Both crews passing Thames Rowing Club. As is common with rowing pictures, the parallax error makes the difference between the crews appear greater than it was. Also, rowing pictures tend to be ‘long and narrow’, so click on them to view properly in full screen.
Both crews passing Thames Rowing Club. As is common with rowing pictures, the parallax error makes the difference between the crews appear greater than it was. Also, rowing pictures tend to be ‘long and narrow’, so click on them to view properly in full screen.
Passing Barn Elms.
Passing Barn Elms.
At the Mile Post.
At the Mile Post.
Approaching Harrods.
Approaching Harrods.
Hammersmith Bridge.
Hammersmith Bridge.

The turn through Hammersmith Bridge gave Cambridge the lead again briefly, and it was here that they must do a big push if they are to shut their opponents down. It was Oxford, however, who torpedoed a course into a strengthening headwind and ripplier water. When Chiswick Steps came along they had moved in line ahead of the Light Blues to add their wash to Cambridge’s woes. Barring accidents, Oxford were home, and accidents there were none. A brilliant piece of sustained and stylish rowing, to a verdict of 6 ½ lengths.

At St Paul’s School.
At St Paul’s School.
Cambridge at Chiswick Crossing.
Cambridge at Chiswick Crossing.
Oxford at Chiswick.
Oxford at Chiswick.
Along Corney Reach.
Along Corney Reach.
Through Barnes Bridge.
Through Barnes Bridge.
The finish at Chiswick Bridge.
The finish at Chiswick Bridge.

Constantine Louloudis, president of the Dark Blues, said: ‘We were steely in the wind. From five strokes into the race I knew we were going to do this, although our warm-up was pretty shoddy. It’s such a relief. I had nightmares about winning three of the races and losing as president.’

Two National Treasures. Broadcaster Clare Balding surprised many when she chose to present the Boat Race rather than her beloved Grand National horse race. ‘There will never be another first women’s Boat Race on the Tideway. The Grand National doesn’t need my help, women’s sport does’ she said. ‘Stan’ Louloudis’s win means that he is now only one of fourteen Blues who have ever won four Boat Races.  (HR)
Two National Treasures. Broadcaster Clare Balding surprised many when she chose to present the Boat Race rather than her beloved Grand National horse race. ‘There will never be another first women’s Boat Race on the Tideway. The Grand National doesn’t need my help, women’s sport does’ she said. ‘Stan’ Louloudis’s win means that he is now only one of fourteen Blues who have ever won four Boat Races. (HR)

Sean Bowden, Oxford’s coach, said: ‘This was a particularly good crew. I’m really chuffed about it. You’ve got to win the races you should win and try to pinch the others you might not be expected to win. Each year you try to be better than the year before. There is a great psychology to racing. We made our move at the right time.’

Steve Trapmore, Cambridge’s coach (and Olympic champion in GB’s 2000 eight) said afterwards: ‘We were beaten by a faster crew.’ One has to agree with him. ‘Things aren’t going our way for a few years now and that is hard to live with. Every year we have made a significant step up and we were physically at the top of our game this year. We can’t recruit better rowers – academically we are the top university in the world. There is lots of good stuff, masked by the binary win or lose aspect of the boat race.’

The Cambridge bow three perhaps reflect on the ‘binary aspect’ of the Boat Race.
The Cambridge bow three perhaps reflect on the ‘binary aspect’ of the Boat Race.

If 11 April was a day without controversy – no clashes, equipment breakages, collapsing rowers, swimmers or emergencies – it could be relied on to produce stats.

First time the Light and Dark women have raced on the men’s course (though they have twice raced on the Tideway since their fixture began in 1927).

Oxford’s Louloudis, a GB world champion, joins a small elite who have won four BRs on the trot.

First time two brothers from New Zealand have rowed in the BR.

Four Harvard men in the Oxford boat.

Largest crowd ever (according to Sir Matt Pinsent).

Thirteenth Boat Race win for Bowden who coached Cambridge before settling at Oxford, a record that beats the late Daniel Topolski who won 12 for Oxford. Bowden paid tribute: ‘I keep looking round expecting Dan to be there,’ he said. ‘Toppo’ would have been thrilled the manner of this result. The Oxford crew honoured him by printing his name on the cuffs of their racing vests.

Oxford men and women become pop stars.
Oxford men and women become pop stars.
Oxford cox Hakim suffers the thanks of his crew. (HR)
Oxford cox Hakim suffers the thanks of his crew. (HR)

So, it was an exhilarating Boat Race, but more important than that, the day of the 161st men’s Boat Race produced another stunning First after such a long history. While waiting for the crews to complete their warm-up downstream of Putney Bridge, the press launch Majestic slid alongside the umpire’s catamaran Ecocat to deliver a pizza for Ecocat’s pilot. As I say, the Boat Race delivereth another first.

Bold = winner; * = leading crew

THE BOAT RACES 2015

Putney to Mortlake (4 ¼ miles)

Men: Oxford beat Cambridge by 6 ½ lengths in 17 minutes 34 seconds

Record time: 16 minutes 19 seconds by Cambridge in 1998

Men’s reserves: Isis (Oxford) beat Goldie (Cambridge) by 3 lengths in 18 minutes 11 seconds

Women: Oxford beat Cambridge by 7 lengths, 19 minutes 45 seconds

Record time (P to M): 19 minutes 45 seconds by Oxford in 2015

Record time (Henley): 5 minutes 44 seconds by Oxford in 2006

Reserves: Osiris (Oxford) beat Blondie (Cambridge) by 15 lengths, 18 minutes 58 seconds

HENLEY BOAT RACES 2015

Henley on Thames (2000 metres)

Lightweight women: Cambridge beat Oxford by 3 feet, 6 minutes 26 seconds

Lightweight men: Cambridge beat Oxford by 4 feet, 5 minutes 55 seconds

Osiris, winners of the Women’s Reserves race.
Osiris, winners of the Women’s Reserves race.
Some consolation for Cambridge. The Light Blue men’s and women’s lightweights both won their events at the Henley Boat Races by a few feet. They also won the men’s Spare Pairs race on the Tideway. Picture: Sarah Harbour.
Some consolation for Cambridge. The Light Blue men’s and women’s lightweights both won their events at the Henley Boat Races by a few feet. They also won the men’s Spare Pairs race on the Tideway. Picture: Sarah Harbour.

Oxford V Cambridge: The Score

Men’s Boat Race: Oxford 79, Cambridge 81, 1 dead-heat

Men’s reserves: Isis 22, Goldie 29

Women’s Boat Race: Oxford 29, Cambridge 41

Women’s reserves: Osiris 20, Blondie 23

Lightweight women: Oxford 15, Cambridge 17

Lightweight men: Oxford 16, Cambridge 25

Oxford women
Bow – Maxie Scheske (Magdalen), Anastasia Chitty (Pembroke, President), Shelley Pearson (St Cross), Lauren Kedar (Exeter), Maddy Badcott (Wadham), Emily Reynolds (Trinity), Nadine Graedel Iberg (Lincoln), Str Caryn Davies (Balliol), Cox Jennifer Ehr (Pembroke).

Cambridge women
Bow – Fanny Belais (King’s), Ashton Brown (Fitzwilliam), Caroline Reid (Jesus, President), Claire Watkins (Clare), Melissa Wilson (Caius), Holly Hill (Downing), Daphne Martschenko (Homerton), Str Hannah Evans (Selwyn), Cox Rosemary Ostfeld (Hughes Hall).

Oxford men
Bow – Will Geffen (Keble), Tom Swartz (Keble), Henry Goodier (Oriel), James O’Connor (Lady Margaret Hall), Jamie Cook (St Cross), Michael Disanto (Trinity), Sam O’Connor (Christ Church), Str Constantine Louloudis (Trinity, President), Cox Will Hakim (Univ).

Cambridge men
Bow – Jasper Holst (Hughes Hall), Luke Juckett (St Edmund’s), Joshua Hooper (St Edmund’s), Alex Leichter (St Edmund’s, President), William Warr (Queens’), Matthew Jackson (St Edmund’s), Ben Ruble (Hughes Hall), Str Henry Hoffstot (Hughes Hall), Cox Ian Middleton (Queens’).

Source – River & Rowing Museum

Hold the back page! The Hear The Boat Sing reporting team - Tim Koch, Hélène Rémond and Chris Dodd.
Hold the back page! The Hear The Boat Sing reporting team – Tim Koch, Hélène Rémond and Chris Dodd.

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