LIVEBLOG: The Boat Races

Sam Rhodes 11 April 2015

Live from up and down the banks of the Thames, TCS is bringing you the premier coverage of this years Boat Races. 

With exclusive commentary from our crack team of reporters, inside info galore from a victorious lightweight rowing Blue, and better chat than Clare Balding, this is the place to be whether you eat, drink, and breathe rowing, or just want to see Oxford get battered.

18:19 Well, thanks very much everyone who's endured the afternoon of disgraceful cheating by Oxford, etc etc. It's been a real pleasure to liveblog, thanks to all of the contributors, particularly Christina Ostaccini. Commiserations to the Cambridge teams, you're still in a lot better shape than the rest of us. Rhodes out. 

18:17 Getting confirmation that it was a victory by 19 seconds for Oxford. It seemed so close for so long, but Oxford clearly were rowing very much within themselves until they decided it was time to win. 

18:15 You can't exactly say it was close, but nonetheless a valiant effort from the boys in Light Blue. Oxford complaining about all the pressure of winning so much, oh it must be so difficult for them. 

18:13 Well, very similar scenes to an hour ago. Oxford overjoyed, Cambridge clearly in pieces. 

18:11 Questions really do need to be asked about the way Cambridge deals with sport. We've been left in the dust this year, with the notable exception of Women's rugby. Time to revisit Milo Edwards' call of Wednesday afternoons free for sport? 

18:10 Well, it's a clean sweep for the Dark Blues. 

18:08 Cambridge at least stil have all their oars, but really there's not much more you can say. It's been a bit of a repeat of last year's brutal victory for Oxford. 

18:06 Just out from Barnes Bridge and the final sprint, Cambridge are basically out of sight for Oxford. Poor buggers. 

18:04 Chiswick Steps coming up, and Cambridge are now a good four lengths behind. 

18:03 Anyone for a bit more cricket?

18:02 Of course you have to keep the faith, but even the most ardent Tab must be tempted to start suggesting that rowing is just a bit silly anyway.

18:01 Blimey, that was so smooth you barely even noticed. Oxford have just made a move and are now leading Cambridge by a length and a half, and now Cambridge are trailing in their wake. 

18:00 Cambridge would be hoping to hold a lead by now however, but Oxford have held them off around the long left turn, and now will start to benefit from the right bend under Barnes Bridge. Not looking great for the Light Blues.

17:59 You do slightly get the feeling that Oxford have a real last minute sprint in them, but so far it's still close. 

17:57 Hammersmith bridge sees both crews still pretty much neck and neck, with Oxford a nose ahead. The course now really starts to look better Cambridge. 

17:56 Oxford making use of the Middlesex bank by taking a bit of an advantage at the first bend, but Cambridge are still holding on going into the long left turn, which will favour the light blues. 

17:55 A Cambridge boat is winning for the first time today! This is already a much closer race than the Women's. 

17:54 Cambridge are very much in touch, Oxford perhaps a nose ahead. 

17:52 Oxford's position on the Middlesex bank gives them a bit of an early advantage, but Cambridge are absolutely staying in touch. 

17:50 Minor delay for Oxford to straighten their boat (can they do anything right), and we're off!

17:49 The crews are currently psyching each other out. Apparently Oxford did win the reserve race, oh dear. Let's deny them the clean sweep, shall we boys? 

17:47 Apparently the Oxford boat has been struggling after illness has struck the boat, surely further evidence that even microorganisms prefer Cambridge.

17:44 Ok, no more cricket, the men are starting to take their places. Still glorious sunshine down in London. 

17:42 Further comment coming in, with Freya Sanders requesting that we ban Olympians from rowing. Sounds sensible to me. 

17:39 Cambridge's Goldie unfortunately a length behind ISIS at Barnes Bridge, as Cambridge win the toss and choose the Surrey side. 

17:36 The Men's race will be kicking off (this is not appropriate rowing terminology) in only fifteen minutes. In the mean time, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are struggling to get moving against the purple and gold of KKR, with Chris Gayle only able to score a single off the first over. Yeah, that's right, cricket in a rowing liveblog. Here at TCS towers, we don't play by the rules. 

17:34 The BBC are being even more casual than this Liveblog when it comes to reporting on the reserves race, by refusing to admit that it's actually happening. 

17:32 In happier news, we have reports from Rohan Last that Cambridge Men's Reserves have made a strong start from Putney bridge, with people sitill thronging the banks and drinking in the sun. Sounds positively idyllic, unless you happen to be in a boat. 

17:30 Back amongst the plebs, Stevie Hertz reports that the party atmosphere has turned rather "fatalistic", while spirits remain predictably high amongst the less philosophically-inclined Oxonians. 

17:28 Our women at the finish line Christina Ostaccini pays tribute to the Cantab Women's crew. "It's a far smaller margin than the 15 length Osiris-Blondie result of yesterday – I'm with family and friends of the crew, we're all hugely proud of what they've achieved getting out there and never giving up the fight."

17:26 Presentations now, Cambridge looking disconsolate but with heads held high. They left it all out on the river, amongst other sporting cliches. 

17:24 Further anonymous comments suggesting "NOBODY LIKES OXFORD OK", underlining the profound moral victory won by Cambridge today. 

17:22 Just in case anyone was wondering.

17:21 The mighty Knight Riders have posted 177 though, and Aston Villa have beaten Spurs 1-0, so speaking personally it's not been a complete write-off of an afternoon, sporting wise. 

17:20 Caryn Davies, the aforementioned MBA student, is disappointingly graceful in victory, damnit. 

17:17 Reactions beginning to come in from across the world, consensus of course being that Oxford are a bunch of "cheating fuckers" to quote a 3rd year Geographer who would no doubt like to remain anonymous. 

17:14 We won't be following the Men's reserves races quite so closely as we continue to get reactions to that fairly convincing victory for Oxford. The Cambridge Women are still on the river, looking devastated. Makes your heart go out. 

17:11 Well, that's a shame. Let's start looking forward to Cambridge's swift and inevitable vengeance in the Men's races next up. 

17:09 And Oxford have taken it, with Cambridge coming in about twenty seconds behind. Jubilation for the dark blues, despair for the Light, the Tabs look absolutely knackered. 

17:07 Seriously though, both crews have been part of history, and should be unbelievably proud of themselves. 

17:05 They're rounding towards Barnes Bridge, where 95% of eventual winners are ahead looking through past races. The commentators are starting to talk about the men's reserves. 

17:03 Barring a sinking, or a dramatic return from Trenton Oldfield, it's basically over. Anyone on the banks happen to have brought their swimming trunks? 

17:01 There's not really much more to say for Cambridge, unfortunately. They're giving a brave showing, but they've simply been outclassed. 

16:59 They're approaching the Middlesex Station, and really Oxford could be easing up here quite happily, there's a great deal of open water between them. Apparently they also have four GB under 23 internationals in their boat, to Cambridge's one. 

16:57 Jolly lucky Oxford find all these incredibly academic Olympic rowers, is all I'm saying. It's looking close to three lengths under the Hammersmith Bridge.

16:55 Oxford perhaps pushing two lengths in front, or even two. Blimey, Oxford have decided to stamp their authority all over this race early on. Mind, if you do "just happen" to have taken on the most successful women's Olympic rower ever for an MBA, you'd hope the cheating pays off.

16:52 It's all happening very fast, so apologies if the spelling quality degrades rather quickly. Oxford are already a length in front, though not making a bid to move over just yet. 

16:51 The crowd are going absolutely bananas, unforunately that early lead has slipped a little with Cambridge perhaps a few feet behind. 

16:50 Right, they're lining up! Bloody hell, they're off, history is being made. Cambridge seem to have got the best of it very early on, leading by a few feet, but obviously it's far too soon for any major advantage. 

16:48 Yet more underdog chat from the BBC, obviously corruption at the highest levels. Unbiased news source my foot. 

16:45 Disgraceful fraternizing with the enemy on the banks, as Stevie Hertz compares her nail art with some Oxon. 

16:39 Oop, apparently it's all kicking off in Furnivall gardens. Harry Parker reports that "the Morris danvers have just started a dance off with a mariachi band". Good lord.

16:36 Christina, incidentally, serves as ample proof that sporting ability absolutely does not run in college families, as she's my college sister. I limit my appearances to occasionally gracing the football pitch for Caius IVs. 

16:34 More from Christina, this time on why it's taken nearly 90 years for the women to be racing on the same level as the men's boats; 

"Because there hasn't been the support and sponsorship behind it – the men's race always had a lot more money put into it, which enabled them to row on the Thames – there a potted history here.
It's historically been held a week earlier because there wouldn't be any support if it were held on the same day as the men but in a different location."

16:32 BBC are talking down Cambridge's chances. No problem whatsoever as far as I'm concerned, the British people prefer an underdog #heartsandminds. 

16:30 Anyone particularly concerned for Stevie regarding the prosecco drought, have no fear, some has been procured. She tells us that a flotilla of wooden boats full of alumni have just passed by, presumably to be burned Viking style. 

16:28 Ooh, and if anyone has any comments, complaints, requests, information, personal abuse, or music recommendations, please get in touch via twitter (I'm @leadtonowhere) or in the comments section.

16:26 Sources on the banks are telling me that it's pretty bloody windy. Will we see a repeat of 1978, when Cambridge sank? Could someone do the Tabs a massive favour and make sure that Oxford sink? Goodness only knows.

16:23 Women's coin toss has just been televised, with Oxford winning the toss and choosing the Surrey side, perhaps due to Kevin Pietersen's recent return. 

16:20 Now, the awkward truth is that the Light Blues have had a bit of a 'mare over the last few years/decade and a half. Neither Cambridge team has won since 2012, and Oxford has taken 11 of the last 15 in the women's, and ten in the men's race. I put this unfortunate fact to Christina earlier, and she had this to say: 

"Yes, but Oxford lightweight women had also won eleven out of the last fifteen races – past results aren't necessarily indicative of this years results – especially as our women's blue boat is stronger this year than ever before, and our men have posted strong results in fixtures against the Netherlands. Admittedly, Cambridge are the underdogs, but this is a race where anything could happen, the conditions and length of the course could shake things up a bit. I have a lot of confidence in the women's blue boat – they are all extraordinary athletes, they recently posted the fasted university time at the women's Head of the River Race, and they've got a lot of excellent support in terms of sports psychology to handle the race. Yes, Oxford do seem to be a very strong crew and having a triple Olympian on board (Caryn Davies, the Oxford stroke seat) is going to give them an undeniable advantage, but we shouldn't dismiss Cambridge by any means."

16:17 Hooray! Bargain Hunt has finished and Clare is telling us about rowing on the BBC. For some reason they're using the Inception music though, not sure what they're trying to say there. If Edith Piaf starts playing, everyone jump in? 

16:14 Pending intervention by radical leftists (anyone seen Whose University recently?), the women's race will be starting at 4.50pm and the men's at 5.50pm. 

16:11 Christina has been able to take a minute off from her social climbing to let us know how she felt hearing the result of the photo finish last week. "It was the culmination of nearly two years of hard work (starting from taking part in development squad of 2013) in which pretty much my entire life become devoted to rowing and pursuing that boat race victory. When we lost in 2014 it was completely soul destroying but winning this year was probably the happiest I've ever been."

16:09 Of course the boat race is not the only example of elite sport this weekend. As I am writing, my boys the Kolkata Knight Riders are 58/0 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier league. Get in. 

16:05 The TCS Liveblog is very blessed to have on the team Christina Ostaccini, Lightweight Rowing Blue and part of the crew that dominated Oxford last week at Henley by a truly decisive three feet. We'll have a great deal of inside info from her throughout the afternoon, and she's hinted that she's at the finish line with some fairly important bigwigs. I'm not saying we definitely will have selfies with Steve Redgrave in TCS stash, I'm just saying I would like some. 

16:02 Crowds are beginning to throng up and down the banks, as most of the term-time populations of Oxford and Cambridge shifts from North to West London. Apparently the westerners simply weren't ready, with reports of chronic prosecco shortages at Sainsbury's coming in from TCS News Editor Steive Hertz, taking up her station at Barnes Bridge. Oh dear, we really don't help ourselves sometimes. 

16:00 Hello and welcome! My name is Sam Rhodes, and I'll be bringing you all the buildup and excitement from this year's boatraces. This is promising to be a truly historic occasion, as for the first time, the Women's boat race will be held on the same course as the men's as well as being nationally televised. Clare Balding is sacking off the Grand National to commentate, and if that's not a sign of the impending apocalypse I don't know what is. The world's media has inexplicably descended on London to watch 36 amateur student athletes push themselves to their very limits, and my goodness isn't it marvellous. 

Whether you don't know your bow from your stroke, or if you rowed your way out of the womb, my hastily assembled six hours of research and ludicrously over-qualified support team will be providing the finest coverage known to man. The liveblog itself will be written from the TCS war room, i.e. my living room, but we will have interviews and pictures from six reporters on the scene. Goodness knows what's going to happen (most likely some rowing) but wherever the day takes us, TCS will be there. While we're warming up, why not have a look at some vintage boat race highlights from yesteryear.