The 2017 Boat Race* Fixtures: The Story So Far

An image from 1890, a very different time when the only ‘selection procedures’ that women were concerned with involved choosing a
An image from 1890, a very different time when the only ‘selection procedures’ that women were concerned with involved choosing an appropriate outfit for the day.

23 February 2017

Tim Koch has been hanging around Putney:

Club Fixtures, when top British and foreign crews race potential Oxford and Cambridge Blue and reserve crews over the Putney to Mortlake course, are key dates in the Boat Race Season. They are both a selection test and a provider of key race practice. Not only is the experience of competing against top-class opposition vital, but the fixtures also provide opportunities for the oarsmen and oarswomen to simulate race day as much as possible and get to know the Championship Course better: practising routines, racing the Surrey and Middlesex stations, and being officially umpired. The major difference between the Fixtures and Boat Race Day proper is that the former usually race the course in two parts, typically breaking somewhere between Hammersmith Bridge and Chiswick Eyot.

The Port of London Authority’s handy list of Boat Race Fixtures for 2017.
The Port of London Authority’s handy list of Boat Race Fixtures for 2017.

29 January, Cambridge University BC v Oxford Brookes University BC

brookesrowing.org tells the story succinctly:

With a stronger Cambridge Blue Boat than last season, and the 2016 (Henley) winning Brookes lineup as the weekend’s sparring partner, one would expect some fiercely competitive racing. In the first piece, Brookes took an early lead out the blocks from the Middlesex station, by Harrods saw Cambridge taking the lead by three seats. In their rhythm, Brookes took the lead back round the outside of bend by St. Paul’s – in the closing few hundred metres, both crews stepped on again, with CUBC and OBUBC’s coaches deciding the result as a draw at the Eyot. The second piece took off with Brookes gaining a two-seat advantage approaching the bandstand, and capitalised on their bend to put clear water between them and Cambridge once again, extending this to two lengths by the Finish Post.

Oxford (Brookes) successfully battle Cambridge. Brookes will take on Oxford on 26 February and, naturally, the result of that race could be very telling. Picture: brookerowing.org
Oxford (Brookes) successfully battle Cambridge. Brookes will take on Oxford on 26 February and, naturally, the result of that race could be very telling. Picture: brookerowing.org

19 February, Oxford University Women’s BC v Oxford Brookes University BC

theboatraces.org:

(In the first piece) it was Brookes who stole an early march on their opposition, moving out to around two seats by the end of the embankment. With a chunkier rhythm, Brookes certainly looked to be the livelier of the two boats in the opening exchanges. As the piece progressed however, Oxford’s fitness and advanced capability on the Tideway began to shine through; the Dark Blues were level with Brookes outside Fulham Football Ground before edging into the lead twenty strokes later. Along the straight between the first corner and Harrods Depository, Oxford continued to build on their momentum and had established a length by the Mile Post. The dynamic of the contest changed little after that, as Oxford moved away to a reasonably comfortable victory.

The first Oxford Women v Brookes piece, photographed on a long lens from the Mile Post.
The following three pictures, taken from the Mile Post, show Osiris, the Oxford women’s reserves, racing the Oxford Brookes women’s second eight.
Passing Fulham Football Ground.
Passing Fulham Football Ground.
At the Mile Post. With no parallax error in the picture, the Oxford Women clearly lead by nearly a length.
At the Mile Post. With no parallax error in the picture, Osiris clearly lead Brookes by nearly a length.

After Oxford had swapped coxes, with Eleanor Shearer replacing Clarissa Coveney in the driving seat…., it was Brookes who took the initiative in the opening exchanges by moving out to a ½ length lead after 30 strokes. Determined to hold on to their advantage around the long Surrey bend, Brookes defended doggedly as Oxford’s relentless rhythm began to make an impression on proceedings. Passing Chiswick Eyot, Brookes still led but their margin was dwindling fast and the Dark Blues certainly had the momentum. The race continued at a frantic intensity around the last ebb of the Surrey bend, as Oxford slowly clawed themselves back onto level terms. The composure and poise was evident in the Oxford crew, as they refused to be flustered in testing circumstances. With Barnes Bridge looming into view, Oxford took the lead but never managed to break contact with Brookes, who fought right until the very end. Oxford eventually prevailed by around ¾ of a length.

19 February, Cambridge University Women’s BC v University of London

Imogen Grant, ‘4’ in the CUWBC boat, perhaps ‘visualises’ before the start of their fixture against Oxford Brookes.
Imogen Grant, ‘4’ in the CUWBC boat, perhaps ‘visualises’ before the start of their fixture against Oxford Brookes.

The Boat Race website noted:

The UL Women’s Eight has a mixture of undergraduate and post grad athletes from five London Universities. All are winners at Henley Women’s Regatta, and the crew contains athletes with international experience at Junior and U23 level.

It was clear from the first few strokes that Cambridge were the faster crew and had established a half length lead well before the end of the Fulham Wall. Umpire Sarah Winckless warned both crews early on but Cambridge had already taken the lead and settled into a comfortable rhythm.
It was clear from the first few strokes that Cambridge were the faster crew and had established a half length lead well before the end of the Fulham Wall. Umpire Sarah Winckless warned both crews early on but Cambridge had already taken the lead and settled into a comfortable rhythm.
Approaching Barn Elms, UL were a length down and had fallen in behind Cambridge on Surrey.
Approaching Barn Elms, UL were a length down and had fallen in behind Cambridge on Surrey.
Cambridge extended their lead over the course and were over three lengths up by the finish after Hammersmith Bridge.
Cambridge extended their lead over the course and were over three lengths up by the finish after Hammersmith Bridge.
CUWBC Chief Coach, Rob Baker, debriefs his crew after the first piece.
CUWBC Chief Coach, Rob Baker, debriefs his crew after the first piece.
UL were given a length start on the second piece but Cambridge soon began to move up on them, the Blues further helped by starting on the inside of the bend.
UL were given a length start on the second piece but Cambridge soon began to move up on them, the Blues further helped by starting on the inside of the bend.
Overlap was maintained until the Bandstand but by Barnes Bridge there was clear water between the boats.
Overlap was maintained until the Bandstand but by Barnes Bridge there was clear water between the boats.
A headwind after Barnes did nothing to help UL who continued in the wake of a strong Cambridge.
A headwind after Barnes did nothing to help UL who continued in the wake of a strong Cambridge.
Approaching the finish at Chiswick Bridge and nearly three lengths up, several members of the Cambridge Crew allowed themselves a smile.
Approaching the finish at Chiswick Bridge and nearly three lengths up, several members of the Cambridge Crew allowed themselves a smile.

Crew lists for all the fixtures so far are on the official website, http://theboatraces.org/news-articles as are the results of the reserve races.

The 163rd Boat Race and The 72nd Women’s Boat Race will take place on Sunday 2 April. The Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race will start at 16:35, with The Cancer Research UK Boat Race an hour later at 17:35.

*Some may question why I usually refer to ‘The Boat Race’ or to ‘Boat Race Day’ in the singular when I am talking about what is now four races. This is partly custom and partly because using the plural (‘Boat Races Day’) is not attractive. Neither is this some subtile dismissal of the women joining the men on the Tideway, the traditional singular terms were also used between 1965 and 2014 when Boat Race Day was comprised of two men’s races.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s