Six CUBC crews took to the Tideway Course this weekend as CUBC’s crews took on crews from university, club, schools, and national teams.
Lightweight Women vs. Godolphin
The weekend opened on Satruday with CUBC’s Lightweight Women racing Godolphin and Latimer. A strong lightweight crew which was also preparing for Sunday’s internal seat racing put up a strong showing against a well-drilled Godolphin crew fresh off a good result at Quintin Head.
The crews would face each other over three pieces, firstly from the Start to Harrods, then from Harrods to Chiswick Steps, and a final piece from the Steps to the Finish Line. The first two pieces were wins for CUBC on Middlesex, who swapped to Surrey for the final piece, which resulted in a draw.
Lightweight Men vs. Thames RC
As the Lightweight Women were rowing back from a productive fixture, their counterparts were lining up against perennial Henley powerhouses Thames Rowing Club for a pair of pieces that would take them from the start line to Chiswick Eyot, and then from the Eyot to the finish.
A fast start to the first piece saw the Lightweight Men take an early advantage against Thames and they took the lead on Middlesex into the Fulham Bend and used it to their advantage, holding off a heavier Thames crew as they won the first piece by a length.
The Lightweight men regrouped along the Eyot, and employed a similar strategy, controlling the race against Thames and were able to handle anything thrown at them by the crew in black, red, and white, running out victors by over a length.
Sunday dawned with promising conditions for the Openweight Fixtures, headlined by both CUBC A crews taking on crews from the Dutch National Rowing Federation. These development crews are composed of athletes who were considered for Olympic selection, and included a number of U23 and Senior World Championship medallists.
Women’s A Crew vs. KNRB
CUBC’s Women’s A crew drew Middlesex on their first piece to Harrods, and along the boats the Dutch drew out to nearly a 1 length lead, looking extremely long and composed. CUBC were not daunted though, improving their speed and matching the Dutch through the Fulham bend, taking the margin back to inside 1 length. The CUBC surge continued through the piece, taking seats as the crews moved up the Crabtree Reach, but the Dutch ran out victorious by just a few feet.
With the inside of the Surrey Bend, CUBC would be at a disadvantage. Their opponents were keen to make the best of this, and with another fast start CUBC found themselves clear water down past Hammersmith Bridge. Although rowing in their opponents’ wash, CUBC regrouped and pushed back to their opponents, holding the Dutch to a 1 length margin at the finish at Chiswick Steps and showing good mid race pace for January.
The final piece from Chiswick Steps to the Finish was the final chance for CUBC to turn turn over their opponents, who sought to follow the same pattern with their fast start and control the piece. Although on the outside of Barnes Bend, they were able to establish a clear water lead, leaving CUBC with the inside of the bend but with work to do. They responded in a similar fashion, closing to put their bow ball level with the stern, but unable to move further on their opponents.
CUBC Women B vs. Imperial College Boat Club
Taking on the top boat of one of the UK’s most consistent university clubs, CUBC B attacked from the start and established a lead along the boats. Finding their race rhythm, they consolidated throughout the piece and extended their lead to 3 lengths by Harrods.
Ceding the Surrey Bend advantage to ICBC, both crews had an excellent piece, running bowball to bowball from Harrods to the end of the Eyot, where IC pushed to a ½ length margin at Chiswick Steps.
Stung by the ICBC push, CUBC made no mistake and was not distracted by the later start to the piece caused by sailing boats on the course which caused the piece to begin at Chiswick crossing. Blondie established another early lead and continued to pull away to win by 3L.
CUBC Men B vs. Thames Rowing Club
The Openweight Men ‘B’ raced a strong Thames crew featuring CUBC alumni Reggie Mitchell and Rob Harris (both GLD ’18, ’19, ’20 and ’21). Thames were ready for fast starts and took the advantage in the first piece but were unable to hold onto CUBC as the races progressed, with CUBC winning by about 2 lengths.
The second piece put CUBC “B” on Middlesex, and after a better start were on the verge of breaking contact at the bandstand but were directed towards a sailing marker buoy in the middle of the fairway. In the process of avoiding that there was a clash. CUBC went went on to win the piece by roughly 2.5 lengths by were deemed to be at fault for the coming together- hopefully there won’t be any sailing buoys on the course on Boat Race day.
CUBC Men A vs. KNRB
The highly ranked Dutch crew had received substitutes the day before the race, as two members were forced to withdraw due to illness. Their places were filled by strong substitutes, both of whom had medalled at last year’s U23 World Championships. Illness had also struck Cambridge, with President Seb Benzecry stepping out for the weekend, replaced by former Cal athlete Dane Halkiw, with Thomas Marsh moving from 3 to bow. Neither boat appeared affected by the change in circumstances and lined up for pieces from the Start to the Eyot, then the Eyot to the Finish.
Both crews came off the line together, level up to the minute then Cambridge moved ahead, although the Dutch were able to draw near level in as they used Fulham to their advantage. Passing Craven Cottage, the crews clashed, with Cambridge getting the better and gaining a few seats. The clashing resumed later, with Dutch cox Sara Kalf being warned as both crews came together and the Dutch 2 man catching a boat stopper. Umpire Matt Pinsent would have disqualified the Dutch in race conditions, but in order to get a good match, the race was re-started. Cambridge took an immediate lead, breaking to clear water through Hammersmith and a three length margin by the end of the Eyot.
The Dutch were looking to square the ledger in the second piece, attacking Cambridge off the start and trying to get ahead to make the best of the inside of the Barnes Bend. The half length margin did not seem to worry the Cambridge crew, who drew back to level as the crews passed the Bandstand. As they shot Barnes Bridge, both crews were being warned and clashing but again Cambridge weathered the storm and came out to a ½ length margin past Tradesmen. Capitalising on a tiring Dutch crew, Cambridge extended their lead and won the second piece by three lengths.