Despite the odds, CUBC women take the 2024 Gemini Boat Races

By Mark Taylor

Jenna Armstrong relished helping Cambridge University Boat Club overcome the underdogs tag to triumph in the Gemini 78th Women’s Boat Race.

The president helped the Light Blues make it seven wins in a row, and collected a personal double, as they turned predictions on their head, with Oxford having been made pre-race favourites.

“I almost can’t believe it,” said Jenna. “I think this year we were kind of slated as the underdogs, going in.

“Our race plan was to just go out and row our best race, go as fast as we possibly could and, to be honest, just hang on for as long as we could and just wait for an opportunity to pop up.

“For us, this year, the opportunity happened under Hammersmith Bridge, that’s where we really found our rhythm and that’s where we moved.

“I knew that our base pace was fast enough so it was just a case of trusting in each other and knowing that was going to be enough.

“Last year, I think we went in as the favourites and this year we went in as underdogs and I actually found it a lot more calming to go in as the underdogs.”

Women’s chief coach Paddy Ryan was delighted with the performance, and the way the crew stepped up to the challenge, with seven ex-Blondie rowers in the Blue boat.

“I’m very proud,” he said. “In a Blondie group, coming through the colleges, there is so much untapped talent there. So we drove really hard into that. 

“Physically they’re stronger than probably everything other than the 2022 crew. From there, it was like, ‘okay, well, form the crew as quick as we can and then embed trust and commitment and a belief in each other’.

“I was pretty certain it was going to be hard fought and we needed to be able to win on any station.

“They’re an incredible group.”

Official Times:

Milepost: Oxford 4:15*, Cambridge 4:17
Hammersmith Bridge: Oxford 7:49*, Cambridge 7:51
Chiswick Steps: Cambridge 12:34, Oxford 12:29
Barnes Bridge: Cambridge 17:23, Oxford 21:22
Finish: Cambridge 21:01, Oxford 21:22
Cambridge beat Oxford by 7 lengths.
* denotes eventual loser leading

Image Credit: Nordin Catic