27 March 2016
Chris Dodd reports from Putney about the 162nd men’s Boat Race:
Cambridge were, unusually, favourites for the 162nd Boat Race, and punters and Old Light Blues alike sensed the expectant mood. When the moment came, everything went right for them. President Henry Hoffstot won the toss and chose Surrey on a day when a blustery south-westerly threatened awful bumps from the halfway point of the 4¼ miles from Putney to Mortlake – where his crew would have the inside of long bend. They achieved an immaculate start off the stakeboat and Kevin immediately jumped ahead of Daniel.
The water was calm at Putney, although the day had already brought sunshine, threatening dark cloud, skittish white cloud, heavy showers and hail. Bells rang out from the church towers that mark each end of Putney Bridge, and God’s houses provided a first. A light blue flag flew from the mast on St Mary’s, Putney, and a dark blue one on All Saints, Fulham, signifying the stations of crews, not the Cross.
Kevin, named after Kevin Whyman, the Cambridge cox who was killed in a flying accident last August, had a half-length lead at the Black Buoy (painted yellow these days). Cox Ian Middleton showed the feistiness of Whyman in the latter’s two wins, pushing Oxford well to Middlesex as far as the Mile to minimise the bend advantage. Daniel, named after Dan Topolski, Oxford’s great coach and mentor who died in February last year, was one second down at the Mile and two seconds down at Hammersmith Bridge, which Cambridge shot at 34 and perfectly placed under the second lamppost to pivot into the long Surrey bend.
Oxford were warned a few times – in addition to earning a false start before the race had even begun for arriving late on their stakeboat – by umpire Simon Harris. Much to his amazement, he told me afterwards, the coxes responded to warnings, so Harris had a pleasant incident-free ride.
As the crews approached Chiswick Eyot, the Tideway boiled with anger. Cambridge had clear water, perhaps half a length of it, and were coping better in the maelstrom. Sadly for Oxford, their race was over. Middleton almost ignored the crossing, where the channel switches from Surrey to Middlesex as the Surrey bend morphs into a Middlesex bend.
Along Duke’s Meadows Cambridge almost disappeared in spray and had to seek some shelter, but were more than two lengths ahead and looking unruffled. Oxford closed the gap as the crews passed the Bandstand, but Cambridge opened it again passing Barnes Bridge about three lengths up. If they had known what happened in the women’s race at this point, an hour beforehand, they might have suffered a tremor. Their women’s crew became waterlogged and had to seek shelter on the Middlesex shore. It was shooting Barnes Bridge that Cambridge’s crew met a watery grave in 1978, the most recent sinking in the men’s race.
The 2016 Boat Race ended with a win for Cambridge by 2½ lengths in 18 minutes 38 seconds, a pretty good time considering the nature of the day. The Light Blues were pleased, judging by their whoops of joy and various victory signs. After a run of Oxford wins, the Boat Race needed Cambridge to break the streak, and Coach Steve Trapmore, until today without delivering, deserved the superb performance that he orchestrated. Incidentally, last years’ winning stroke, Oxford’s Constantine Louloudis, described the conditions as ‘savage’. That’s the Boat Race for you.
Bow – George McKirdy (St Edmund Hall)
James White (Christ Church)
Morgan Gerlak (Keble)
Joshua Bugajski (Keble)
Leo Carrington (Kellogg)
Jørgen Tveit (St John’s
Jamie Cook* (St Cross)
Stroke – Nik Hazell (Christ Church)
Cox – Sam Collier (New)
(Av incl cox 83.4kg)
Bow – Felix Newman (Selwyn)
Ali Abbasi (Trinity)
Charles Fisher (St John’s)
Clemens Auersperg (Peterhouse)
Luke Juckett* (St Edmund’s)
Henry Hoffstot* (Hughes Hall)
Ben Ruble (Hughes Hall)
Stroke – Lance Tredell (Hughes Hall)
Cox – Ian Middleton* (Queens’)
(Av incl cox 84.4kg)
* denotes Blues
THE BOAT RACES 2016
Putney to Mortlake (4 ¼ miles)
Men: Cambridge beat Oxford by 2 ½ lengths in 18 minutes 38 seconds
Record time: 16 minutes 19 seconds by Cambridge in 1998
Women: Oxford beat Cambridge by 24 lengths, 21 minutes 49 seconds (Cambridge waterlogged)
Record time: 19 minutes 45 seconds by Oxford in 2015
Men’s reserves: Isis (Oxford) beat Goldie (Cambridge) by 2 lengths in 18 minutes 55 seconds
Women’s Reserves: Blondie (Cambridge) beat Osiris (Oxford) by 3 lenghts, 21 minutes 42 seconds
HENLEY BOAT RACES 2016
Henley-on-Thames (2000 metres)
Lightweight men: Cambridge beat Oxford easily, 6 minutes 19 seconds
Lightweight women: Oxford beat Cambridge by a canvas, 6 minutes 54 seconds
OXFORD VERSUS CAMBRIDGE: THE SCORE
Men’s Boat Race: Oxford 79, Cambridge 82, 1 dead-heat
Men’s reserves: Isis 23, Goldie 29
Women’s Boat Race: Oxford 30, Cambridge 41
Women’s reserves: Osiris 20, Blondie 24
Lightweight men: Oxford 16, Cambridge 26
Lightweight women: Oxford 16, Cambridge 17