Oxford beat Cambridge by a length and a half in the 159th university Boat Race on the River Thames in London, a year after the event was disrupted by a protester.
Yesterday’s race went off without incident as Oxford clinched a fourth win in the past six editions. It now trails Cambridge 81-77 in the 4.25-mile (6.8-kilometer) annual rowing contest, which started in 1829 and this year took place on Easter Sunday.
“It was fun, tough, but that was what we expected,” Oxford cox Oskar Zorrilla told reporters. “We had a plan and we stuck to it ruthlessly.”
Pre-race favorite Oxford started well after winning the toss to choose position, building a half-length lead. As Cambridge tried to fight back on the first bend the crews’ oars overlapped and Oxford’s rowers were warned for coming too close to their opponents’ by referee Matthew Pinsent, a four-time Olympic champion and two-time Boat Race winner with Oxford.
The Dark Blues consolidated their lead before Hammersmith Bridge and took advantage of inside position on the next bend while the Light Blues of Cambridge tried to stay in contention.
Oxford built a 3/4-length lead as Cambridge hung on. Oxford then surged ahead to neutralize the Light Blues’ advantage on the final bend near Barnes Bridge and built a lead that they never relinquished, winning in 17 minutes 27 seconds. Cambridge President George Nash praised the Oxford performance.
“They put together a really fantastic race. They put in one too many moves and we couldn’t answer it, which is something that is going to probably replay in my head for the rest of my life,” he told the British Broadcasting Corp.
Oxford’s Constantine Louloudis described it as “one hell of a race. It’s fair to say we fancied our chances beforehand, but that was tough.”
The race, a fixture on the British sports calendar, was hit by controversy last year when a protesting swimmer was almost struck by the Dark Blues’ blades. After a re-start on that occasion, a clash of boats left an Oxford rower with a broken oar, giving Cambridge an easy win.
The protester was subsequently jailed for causing a public nuisance. This year security was stepped up, with Royal Marines in inflatable craft stationed along the route, the BBC reported.