Oxford hammered at Henley

9 June 2009

Lightweight Rowing

George Blessley – Men’s Captain

This year’s blue boat arrived at the weigh-in to find the OULRC crew already there, silent and ominous. Whether or not they were attempting to be intimidating, we weighed in at an average of 69.4kg, 0.2kg below them. Winning the toss, Oxford fortunately chose the Berkshire station, putting us where we had planned to be in order to make the best of our race plan.

A long wait before our start proved fortunate, as we were alerted to a problem with our steering which had somehow escaped our pre race checks; a quick repair and we were ready again. The flag went up quickly, was down again, and we were off. Our boat moved ahead from the first stroke as we went through our start routine.

The crew moved with aggression, at first smoothly at rate 50 out of the blocks, then held the rate up high as we moved into the second 250m of the race, still attacking. By 500m we had half a length, and were still slowly edging ahead. We hit a rhythm striking rate 37 and Oxford began their move at 700m, bolstered as both boats passed a huge crowd of Oxford supporters. The crew responded as one, and efforts to gain control of the race were fruitless. As the Oxford push ended, so did any remaining doubts in our crew, and we moved out to clear water just before our next move. Soon enough we were chasing the distance markers through the last 500m with the luxury of being able to see Oxford with no answer as we moved ever further ahead.

Our bow passed the end of the island and our well-practiced final burst put everything we had left into the ends of our blades, we passed the finish post at full pace, a fitting way to end our Boat Race campaign.

The result was a win by a wide margin of three lengths, and follows on from a season of strong results to this point; a successful summer now in sight. Also achieving success at Henley was the women’s reserve boat, achieving a one and a half length victory to break an eight year losing streak.