CUBC wins 5 of 6 of the 2024 Boat Races

by Mark Taylor

Cambridge University Boat Club had an Easter to remember on a thrilling weekend of racing in the Boat Races on the Championship Course.

High drama and epic contests were the theme on the Tideway as the Gemini Men’s and Women’s Boat Races captured the imagination of the public.

Heroic displays from the Light Blues, in so many different guises, helped to secure five wins out of six of the students’ eights across the two days.

“A race for the ages” was one description of the Gemini 78th Women’s Boat Race, which Cambridge won by seven lengths.

President Jenna Armstrong had lost the toss, and they were given the Surrey station, with Oxford looking to make the most of a lack of stream and a fast start on the Middlesex side.

The Dark Blues got away quickly, taking two seats inside the first 20 strokes, but Cambridge had learned their lessons from the fixtures and soon settled into their race rhythm.

WIth the river in their favour, Oxford had established a length lead by the Mile Post, going past Barnes wetlands. However, approaching Hammersmith Bridge, and with the Surrey bend set to unravel in their favour, Cambridge started to claw back the difference.

In a two-minute burst, Cambridge went from two seats down to two seats up and, as they passed Chiswick Eyot, they were pulling clear.

There was near-contact between the crews at the end of the Eyot, but that gave Cambridge the opportunity to race away for a seven-length win – their seventh success in a row.

Cox Hannah Murphy said: “We were just really proud of the race that we put down, and we knew that was the fastest race that we could have done today.

“I think we knew that they were going to be hot off the start and all season we’ve shown the base pace is really where we excel.

“They got out to a really strong start, but it was basically that we needed to reset and we needed to find our rhythm. As soon as we found that it was like, ‘this is gold’. We closed almost a length lead in less than about a minute and that gives you the confidence to keep going.”

The description of the Gemini 169th Men’s Boat Race was no less grandiose, with it being described as “fantastic”.

President Seb Benzecry had lost the toss, and so Cambridge were handed the Middlesex station.

The Light Blues made a sharp start to put the pressure on their rivals, and were five seats up after passing Craven Cottage.

Oxford made a move heading towards Hammersmith Bridge, but the power, rhythm and length that was being set by stroke Matt Edge had put Cambridge in a position to break clear at a time when the Surrey bend should have been unravelling in the Dark Blues’ favour.

By Barnes Bridge, the Light Blues were around three-and-a-half lengths clear. However, Edge had ‘emptied the tank’ but he heroically continued to dip his oar in rhythmically to the finish as No 7 Luca Ferraro took up stroking the boat.

It meant that Cambridge won by three-and-a-half lengths in 18min 56sec, the fifth success in six years.

Cox Ed Bracey said: “It was very noisy through the middle of the race and then very quiet those last few minutes there, but we got it done. We got it over the line in the end.

“We wanted to keep close to them. We wanted to get in there especially around Hammersmith, but once we were up far enough you start running a ‘no-chances’ version of the race; just get to the finish line and keep pushing, but don’t take those risks. 

“It became clear to me about halfway through that bend that we didn’t need to take the risk, that we were just slowly going away so I stopped being so close to them and moved out a little bit.”

Good Friday had already lived up to its name for Cambridge’s Lightweights, who started proceedings for the long weekend.

The Women’s Lightweights kicked things off, earning their fifth victory in a row with a five-length margin.

That was followed up by the Light Blue men, who clinched a third win in a row, this time by five-and-a-half lengths.

Goldie won the Men’s Reserve Race by three lengths, but there was defeat for Blondie in the Women’s Reserve Race, by three lengths.

Stream all six races on The Boat Races Youtube channel.

Image Credits: Keith Heppel / Nordin Catic / Row360