Despite the sunshine in Henley, it was a dark day on the Thames for the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club. Oxford Women’s Boat Club stormed ahead to win all three of the day’s races against Cambridge’s Blues, Reserve boat, and lightweight crews.
Cambridge’s Reserve Boat, Blondie, met Oxford’s Reserve boat, Osiris, in the closest race of the day, with Osiris winning by only half a length. Osiris pulled away with a slim lead, and in true battle, finally managed to widen the gap after several clashes of blades. After an appeal from Blondie, the result was sustained with Oxford winning the race in 6 minutes 1 second.
Although not all of the races were so dramatic, they all did demand outstanding dedication and drive.
“I felt pretty confident going into the race, and I genuinely believed that my crew could not give me any more training – any more practice – than we gave. We went out there, and we gave it absolutely everything we could give them. And they were faster. These things happen. There was nothing more we had to give,” said Priya Crosby, cox of the Cambridge Lightweight crew.
The Cambridge Women’s Lightweight crew lost by 3 ½ lengths, with a quicker Oxford completing the course in 6 minutes 8 seconds. But, that didn’t stop Fiona Macklin, in 7 seat, from feeling proud of their performance.
“I think we gave all we had. Priya took from us everything that we did have. I couldn’t be prouder of my crew for rowing for Cambridge today,” she said.
But it wasn’t all dark clouds for Cambridge, with the Cambridge University Lightweight Men’s crew providing a ray of sunshine with their win over Oxford by 3 ½ lengths, completing the course in an impressive 5 minutes 30 seconds. That is an entire 1 minute and 20 seconds faster than the winning Oxford crew the year before.
“It’s amazing. All the pain, all the hard work that we’ve put in throughout the year. It feels amazing,” said Niko Szumilo, in 5 seat.
Szumilo was overjoyed with the win,but knows the end result cannot be the focus when racing.
“I was thinking 'execute the race plan'. Exactly what we wanted to do. Stay in the bubble. Stay with the crew. Do my job and keep doing it until you’re across the line,” he said.
When did Szumilo know they had won?
“When we crossed the line. We were told not to allow ourselves to think that the race was won before then. We were racing up until the very end.”
And the result speaks for itself.