Boat Race: Bowden's boys play fast and loose

Oxford coach enjoys 10th victory after his crew keep tension to a minimum by blowing favourites Cambridge out of the water

Even in a two-horse race it does not always pay to back the favourite. Cambridge were 2-1 on with some bookmakers to win yesterday's Boat Race but the Light Blue crew were out-thought, out-manoeuvred and out-raced in a remarkable contest on the Tideway. Having taken the lead with a powerful surge in the second mile, Oxford's Dark Blues won by four lengths and 14 seconds, which in terms of this contest over four and a quarter miles is a handsome margin.

Oxford's 76th victory, which leaves them four behind Cambridge, was revenge for last year's defeat and a triumph for their coach, Sean Bowden. This was his 10th victory in the race, which puts him just two behind the record that is held by Dan Topolski. The tone was set when Isis, the Oxford reserve boat, easily beat Cambridge's Goldie.

Having trained for most of the week in glorious sunshine, the conditions were murkier but still perfect for racing, with only a light breeze. Bowden had changed the set-up of the Oxford crew to accommodate a "tandem rigging". In eight-man crews the oars usually alternate on either side of the boat, but Oxford had their No 4 and No 5 men, Ben Ellison and Karl Hudspith, rowing on the bow side. That meant the man at bow, Moritz Hafner, had his oar on the same side as Simon Hislop, the stroke.

Having won the toss, Oxford chose the Surrey station, despite the fact that they made the same decision when losing last year. Cambridge appeared to make the sharper start, stroking at a faster rate from the off, but for the first mile the two boats raced side by side. Oxford, who were warned as the two boats came close to each other as they passed Craven Cottage, made their big push as they approached Hammersmith Bridge and very quickly put clear water between themselves and their rivals. In barely a minute Oxford pulled two lengths clear. Thereafter they continued to extend their advantage.

Hislop said that he had sensed victory as early as the halfway point. At Chiswick Steps his crew led by three lengths and they kept forging ahead, even as Cambridge upped their stroke rate. Oxford seemed calm and composed and Cambridge soon had the look of a beaten crew.

Hislop, who had surgery for testicular cancer only 11 months ago, said: "They put up a good fight initially, but then we started inching away. Their start didn't scare us. We just consolidated what we were doing. After halfway it was really enjoyable.

"We had a big push just as the Surrey bend started. Sam, our cox, called a fantastic push, we jacked the race up and took really big chunks out of them. They couldn't come back from that. It was how we had planned it. We had one or two mantras. One of them was that every time we've been loose we've been fast and every time we've been tense we've been slow. We just went out there and we knew that we couldn't let the pressure get to us. We had to stay loose and that really paid off in the end."

Bowden coached Cambridge in the 1990s, when he made a losing debut before enjoying two victories. He has worked with Oxford since the turn of the century and he described his eighth victory with them as one of the most satisfying of his career. He said the seeds for victory had been sown in last year's defeat.

"We didn't have enough staying power last year so we modified our training and our testing to improve that and it worked," he said. "I'm delighted with the way the whole season has turned out."

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
tv

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
film
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher Thetford Secondary

£110 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: An Academy based in Thetfor...

Secondary Teacher Great Yarmouth

£115 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad are currently work...

Teaching Assistant to work with Autistic students

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

Special Needs Learning Support Assistant

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education Leicester ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes