Oxford overcome courageous Cambridge in 2013 Boat Race

Lucy Wark 31 March 2013

The 2013 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race was won in a powerful performance by the heavily favoured Oxford eight this afternoon, who were constantly challenged but never beaten by a courageous Cambridge crew.

In a race which avoided the controversy and heartbreak of 2012’s interrupted contest, the Oxford eight established a half-length lead from a very fast start and never fell behind, finishing with a margin of one-and-a-third lengths. Around the first bend, traditionally a stretch which favours the crew starting from the Middlesex position (Cambridge), this lead was reduced to a quarter of a length, and coming into the straight Cambridge were catching up well.

The grueling 2-mile Surrey bend which favoured the Oxford crew in the inside position proved decisive. Cambridge’s incredible effort around this bend was designed to prevent the Oxford lead from becoming insurmountable, and a strong 20-stroke push at the seven-minute mark left the gap at half a length.

With Cambridge’s efforts at neutralization working effectively, Oxford coxswain Zorrilla knew he needed to make a call in order which would make their lead unchallengeable before the final bend offered Cambridge a chance to overtake. With the Surrey bend ending, the thirteenth minute provided the turning point, and the Oxford eight, urged on by a spot of foul language from Zorrilla, upped their stroke rate and moved fully clear of the Cambridge boat.

By the time the crews reached the final bend at the three-mile mark, Cambridge were refusing to give up but Oxford’s decisive lead was holding. With only two crews in the history of the Race winning from behind at this point, it was a near-certainty that Oxford would avenge last year’s painful loss, and they carried their lead to the finish line.

Crossing under the final bridge after the finish line, Oxford’s rowers gasped for air, splashed and lifted their arms in triumph, with Cambridge slumped in defeat. The Oxford celebrations on shore were jubilant, as Oxford captain Alex Davidson was visibly delighted as he remarked: “We knew that Cambridge were going to hang on for a long time, but we just had that little bit of extra speed at the end.”

A disappointed Cambridge crew declined interviews while they regrouped from a race many participants have called harder than the Olympics.

Lucy Wark