A Good Steer on the Tideway

Oxford in the lead against Molesey. Photo: theboatrace.org

2 March 2016

Chris Dodd writes from Putney:

Oxford University’s women ventured onto the Tideway on Sunday, 28 February, to pitch themselves against Molesey Boat Club, a month before their second encounter here against Cambridge. It was the sort of afternoon that reminded one why the Thames is such a great river and why the stretches upstream from Putney Bridge amount to a rowing paradise. Scraps of pale blue topped charcoal clouds, soft sun honeyed the giant trees of Bishops Park on the Middlesex shore, the wind was head, the incoming tide low and, of course, the buses on Putney Bridge were red.

As much as anything, Oxford coach Christine Wilson’s aim was to test her cox, Morgan Baynham-Williams, against Molesey and GB national squad cox Henry Fieldman and the wily ways of the rudder on the great S-bend to Mortlake. Thus she decreed an outing of three parts.

The first began with a running start at Putney Bridge with Molesey on Surrey. Oxford, stroked by Lauren Kedar on bow side, went up at the start but were soon clawed back to level passing London Rowing Club.

Past the Black Buoy and approaching Barn Elms, Oxford took a slight lead again into the wind and through lively water. Baynham-Williams tested Fieldman to incur three warnings from umpire Rob Clegg. At the Mile Post, they had extended this to a length and from there they opened the race up, under-rating Molesey and leading by a length and a half passing Harrods and two and a half as they shot under the second lamppost of Hammersmith Bridge, where this piece terminated.

The crews paddled back to the Mile and raced from there to the downstream end of Chiswick Eyot, this time with Oxford on Surrey. Molesey commanded Clegg’s attention from the off, being warned, more and more emphatically, nine times before reaching Harrods, where Oxford led by over a length. The Dark Blues emerged from Hammersmith Bridge two and a half lengths ahead, extended that to three passing St Paul’s School Boathouse in much calmer water, and finished about five lengths up at the Eyot.

For the third piece, the crews took a running start half way round the Duke’s Meadows bend. Molesey were back on Surrey and led by a third of a length at Barnes Railway Bridge, the crews incurring four warnings each in this stretch. Oxford, as ever rating lower than Molesey, drew level before Mortlake Brewery and were more than a length ahead when the crews stopped between the Boat Race finish and Chiswick Bridge.

Oxford’s cox accounted for herself well, and the crew looked long, together and confident for their meeting with Cambridge in the Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race on 27 March, Easter Sunday.

Bow – Emma Lukasiewik, Emma Spruse, Joanneke Jansen, Ruth Siddorn, Elo Luik, Anastasia Chitty, Maddy Badcott, stroke – Lauren Kedar, cox – Morgan Baynham-Williams.

Bow – Lucy Primmer, Georgie Grant, Beccy Girling, Aimee Jonckers, Rebecca Edwards, Vickie Watts, Gabby Rodriguez, stroke – Helen Roberts, cox – Henry Fieldman.


  1. What a sad reflection on modern day sportsmanship that , even in a friendly encounter , the umpire was called upon so many times to warn against bad steering.

  2. Is it ‘bad steering’ or merely testing the limits of the opposition and their knowledge of the course?

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