Lightweights win Henley thriller

The 2006 Henley Boat Races saw CUWBC lightweights overcome their dark blue opposition in a hard fought contest, during which they were behind for large portions of the race before taking control in the latter stages.

Lightweight Captain, Sarah Farquhar describes her perspective:

“The wait at the start was agonising. The exceptionally strong stream conditions meant that it was difficult for the VIII to stay straight on the stake boat and there was a lot of re-alignment. Finally the Umpire was ready. As he called ‘Attention’ I began to feel more settled and ready to race, but then there was a large gap. Our bows swung round to point towards the enclosures – a long way off course. Then ‘Go!’.

The first stroke took forever because of the huge current we were having to push against. Fortunately some of the discussion earlier in the week had involved CUBC starting their Boat Race on the Tideway and how it usually takes what feels like 3-4 seconds for them to make the first stroke, so at least no-one panicked when it happened to us. The first stroke out of the way, we stormed the rest of the start, hitting 46 on the wind and striding down to 39 – a little over what we’d planned to be on at this point, but I guess that’s what racing nerves do! The stream had forced us out of alignment off the start and now we were out of the stream itself. I was aware that Oxford had gone up on us, but I knew that they were going to pay for going off fast, that they were in the stream and that we would move back in through them during the rest of the race.


Photograph courtesy of Alex Collins

As we approached the 500m mark, we settled into our racing rhythm and Kathryn reclaimed her water from the Oxford cox. We had conceded only a length to Oxford over that first part of the race, but now we were back in the stream, and it was time to reclaim our position. A strong middle 1000m and a call to ‘shatter their dreams’ moved us up level by Remenham Farm. I knew we could row through them and as we did, I knew that there was no way we were going to let them have it back.

As we approached Temple Island, we were still in the lead, but Oxford were attacking. We didn’t have the best push for the line and they managed to move back to a canvas, but we still crossed the line first in a course record of 6 minutes dead – I was a little disappointed that it couldn’t have been 05:59 in appreciation of the Central Trains service from Cambridge to Ely, but then you can’t have everything!

I’d like to thank everyone that has made this year possible – the dedicated coaching team and all those other souls who have helped out in numerous ways, including all of our Sponsor-a-Seat donors. Thanks especially to Pat Marsh – I did tell you that you would cross the line first! To the crew, I’m proud of what we achieved, and that we’ve shown everyone that CUWBC Lightweights are back!”


Photograph courtesy of John Farquhar