18 December 2022
By Tim Koch
Tim Koch witnesses a very civil war.
As I almost wrote yesterday, with a little over 100 days before Boat Race Day 2023, Monday 12 December saw the probable last eighteen rowers in consideration for the final nine seats in both the Cambridge men’s and Cambridge women’s Blue Boats trying to impress the coaches with their performance competing over the Putney to Mortlake course.
As I noted in my Oxford piece, because of the difficulty of taking pictures and making notes at the same time, I have taken the liberty of using the uncredited race reports that are on the British Rowing website, slightly edited and reproduced in italics here (the italicised picture captions are mine).
The Cambridge Women’s Trial Eights
(The) CUBC women named their crews after two of the world’s greatest footballers: Megan Rapinoe, USA, and Beth Mead, England. Both are inspirational and huge advocates for women’s sport…
Racing on Middlesex, Mead, stroked by Canadian senior international Claire Brillon, took a half length lead along the moored boats, leading into the Fulham bend. Rapinoe, stroked by Lightweight Blue Rosa Millard, held their own around the bend, and pushed along (Fulham) Reach.
Leading into Hammersmith, Mead moved to three quarters of a length lead, but Rapinoe took advantage of the inside of the bend and three points of rate to move up and challenge for the lead. Pushing ahead past the Dove, Mead was warned for steering, and after a series of blade clashes, Mead suffered a boat stopping crab.
(Coach Paddy Ryan told umpire Matt Smith) to re-start the race at Chiswick Eyot, giving both crews the opportunity to finish out the race. The decision was vindicated, Mead taking a good start to move to the lead after the re-start, but chased past Chiswick Steps by Rapinoe.
Shooting Barnes Bridge half a length ahead, Mead took the inside, but Rapinoe were not to be denied, increasing the rate and pushing level as the crews passed Duke’s Meadows.
Mead was equal to the challenge, and the race was decided by a margin so close that the crews were unable to tell who had won. Six inches to Rapinoe! Given that the coaches had sought to select matched crews, it’s surely they who were the outright winners from this fantastic race.
The Cambridge Men’s Trial Eights
The CUBC men’s Trial Eights crews… were a polarisation of ‘youth’ and ‘experience’, noting their mix of graduates and undergraduates. President Ollie Boyne coxed Experience, while (2022) Women’s Boat Race Blue Jasper Parish coxed Youth.
Within a minute, both crews were keeping umpire Tony Reynolds busy, but around the Fulham bend Youth took a lead on their inside bend. Coming to Harrods, Experience showed, pushing back and challenging to maintain their inside station. Shooting Hammersmith Bridge, both crews were challenging for the lead, and it took until the (halfway point) for Youth to draw out a half length lead.
Up to Chiswick Steps, Matt Edge drove Experience along, making sure that they did not lose contact leading into the outside of the last bend. Experience pushed and clawed on the outside of the bend, making ground on their Youthful colleagues. The race was not, however, long enough for them to make up the margin as Youth took an exuberant third of a length win over Experience, another result to the credit of the light blue coaches who had tried hard to select matched crews.
The 2023 Gemini Boat Race is on Sunday, 26th March. The 77th Women’s Race is at 4pm and the 168th Men’s Race is at 5pm.