Cambridge Men win Boat Race as Trapmore bows out

Image credit: Moni Zolczer

The Cambridge men’s team won in 17 minutes 51 seconds in the 184th instalment of the Boat Race after three wins by the women’s and both reserve teams. Oxford finished 10 seconds back after beating the men’s team last year and secured the quadruple back in 2015. It was the 83rd win for the men’s team and it was the first time all four races have gone to the Light Blues since 1997.

Cambridge won the coin toss and chose the Surrey side of the 4.2-mile (6.8 km) tidal stretch.

After a short delay to ask for more time to steady the boats with the tide rising, the Light Blues had a strong start and were leading a length clear early on.

Despite the early lead, stroke Freddy Davidson admitted later that it “never feels like you’ve got anything in the bag, so it’s just a matter of continuing the attack” and they were warned of cutting in front of the Oxford boat early on. The president and coxswain Hugo Ramambason was cautious of the quick start: “I was surprised by how early we were in a position to kill the race. It was easy to make mistakes.” Indeed, by his high standards, the first 10 strokes were “scrappy”. Overall, though, Ramambason was of course a happy man.

After already leading by five seconds at the mile post, Cambridge continued to have a steady pace and led by four lengths while crossing under Hammersmith Bridge. At this point, the rowers were greeted with orange flares which turned out to be a protest by the Cambridge Zero Carbon Society.  The aim was to spread awareness of the universities’ multi-billion pound endowments from fossil fuels.

The rowers were unfazed by the flares and the rest of the race continued without any further disruptions. Cambridge continued to have a gap of four to five lengths as they passed under Barnes Bridge and easily crossed the finish line with 3 lengths ahead of Oxford. Chief Coach Steve Trapmore could not be more pleased with the team because, as he ominously put it, “they’ve tried very, very hard”.

“We had something to prove this year”, he added, “we learnt a lot from last year and I think we put some real positivity in place. We had the belief and resilience in the race and I couldn’t be more happy.” He was also quick to praise Oxford. “They have exactly the same challenge of balancing the commitments with the academics,” he shrugged. He also commented on how it was a big challenge for Hugo, who was president and cox at the same time, a dynamic the team hasn’t had for a long time. “He has really driven the guys and led [them] really fantastically from the start,” he remarked.

This was Trapmore’s last year of being the Chief Coach for the team and he will take up a new role with the GB Rowing team. Ramambason reminisced on how he was very nervous about meeting Trapmore when he walked into the boat club for the first time. But Trapmore soon became a mentor – and more than just a coach to him and the other team members. “He has an infectious energy about him, we were very fortunate to have him as a coach in the last few years.” he eulogised.

For Trapmore, this valedictory victory brought more relief than wistfulness right now, but he was really excited during the race. “I’ve worked with Hugo here for four years now and to be out there seeing him leading the guys I’m most proud of and this kind of stuff will be hard to walk away from if I go,” he said. He adds that “once you’re within the club you never really leave.”

The atmosphere was electrifying after four Cambridge triumphs. It was certainly a wonderful farewell for Trapmore, a fitting testament to the legacy he leaves at CUBC.



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