Going at the Speed of Light (Blue)

Matt Edge, stroke of the victorious Cambridge boat, demonstrates his pleasure at his crew winning the 2022 Oxford – Cambridge Lightweight Men’s Boat Race by 5 lengths. In last year’s race at Ely, he was in the same seat – but had a less joyous result, losing by 1 1/2 lengths.

22 March 2022

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch’s report on the 2022 Oxford – Cambridge Lightweight Boat Races contains words and images that persons of a Dark Blue disposition may find distressing.

My reports on boat races that I have followed from a launch always flag the difficulty of taking photographs while making mental or written notes of the unfolding contest. However, my coverage of the 2022 Men’s and Women’s Oxford – Cambridge Lightweight Boat Races does not have this problem as both races can be accurately and simply reported by saying that Cambridge went ahead very early and established a commanding lead, relaxing into a strong and powerful rhythm, while Oxford, though battling through to the finish, could never settle, spending much of the race in their opponent’s puddles. To add much more text would be superfluous – and cruel to the Dark Blues. Thus, I will let my pictures tell both stories – and perhaps Oxford will find some solace in the fact that some of the better images show “a terrible beauty”. 

Umpire Judith Packer keeps a watch on the women’s crews racing along Putney Embankment, a few seconds off the start. It was a warm, calm day with a following breeze and a strong tide.
Before the end of the Embankment, Cambridge were already looking confident.
Oxford, also pictured near the end of Putney Embankment, but looking less settled than their opponents.
After Barn Elms, two-and-a-half minutes into the race, Cambridge had clear water and cox Jodie Cameron decided on the bold move of switching stations.
Twenty-seconds separated this picture and the one above. Umpire Packer warned Cambridge constantly during this move but there was no clash and the Light Blues got away with their risky manoeuvre.
Oxford, voluntarily or not, accepted the change of stations, the gap between the two boats continued to increase and Judith Packer had little to do for the rest of the race.
At Hammersmith Bridge, with 40 percent of the race gone Cambridge were 16 seconds ahead.
Passing St Paul’s School.
By the Old Ship pub, Cambridge take a look.
The rates at Chiswick Eyot were Oxford 35, Cambridge 36. The Tabs were not content to just sit on their opponents, they seemed to want as much open water as possible.
Eleven minutes in and, for those in second place, it was probably starting to sting a bit.
At Chiswick Pier, Oxford stay sharp. At Chiswick Steps however, they were 28 seconds behind.
The rates at Barnes Bridge were 32 for Oxford and 34 for Cambridge with a gap of 40 seconds.
At “7”, Oxford’s Harriet Thomas looks as if she is giving the “110 percent” beloved of football players.
Approaching the former Mortlake Brewery, now closed and no longer producing the distinctive brewing smell that signalled the finish for generations of rowers.
Cambridge celebrate at the finish while Oxford still have more than 45 seconds of rowing left.

Cambridge won by 15 lengths in a time of 19m 59s. Last year at Ely, Cambridge won by 2 1/2 lengths. In the only other Lightweight Women’s Boat Race held on the Tideway, in 2020 Cambridge won by six lengths in a time of 23m 26s.

At the start of the men’s race, supporters gather outside London Rowing Club, the host venue for the event.
Cambridge had a good start, Oxford a poor one and, by London Rowing Club, the Light Blues had established a good lead (though not as great as the parallax error here indicates).
As in the women’s race, the Cambridge men soon settled….
While Oxford were somewhat “splashy”. 
Passing Barn Elms, Cambridge in command.
After Barn Elms, Oxford seemed to finally settle into a more comfortable rhythm…
But, approaching the Mile Post, the seat of Oxford’s “3” man came off the slides and took some time to fix. The live stream camera did not record this as it was fixed on Cambridge at the time.
Cambridge reached Hammersmith Bridge in 6m 53s, 12 seconds ahead of Oxford. 
Corney Reach: It is not plain sailing for Oxford.
The Barnes Bridge times were 14m 52s and 15m 06s.
Approaching the Ship, the pub that has seen all the Boat Race finishes.
Cambridge won by 5 lengths in a time of 18m 01s, 15 seconds ahead of Oxford.
Cox Felix Craig-McFeely leads Cambridge’s celebrations, the first for their lightweights on the Tideway.
Oxford at the end of three consecutive victories. They won by 1 1/2 lengths at Ely last year. On the Tideway, they won by 3 1/2 lengths in a time of 19m 28 s in 2020, and by 2 1/4 lengths and a time of 17m 43 s in 2019.
Cambridge stroke Matt Edge faces his crew.
The difference times between the two races are interesting. In the women’s race, the gap continued to increase but, in the men’s race, it stayed at 12 – 15 seconds. Graphic: Twitter/@lwtboatraces.
A special mention must go to Oxford’s Matt Hudson, Aggy Crumpton, Olly Featherstone and James Halsall for their post-race interview on the live stream (01.50.50). It was a great example of sportsmanship and humility and it reflected well on them and on the sport of rowing.
Finally – Cambridge supporters on Hammersmith Bridge sum up the Light Blue Day.

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