Oxford comfortably beat Cambridge in 159th Boat Race


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The Independent Online

Oxford University beat Cambridge by a length and a half to win the 159th BNY Mellon Boat Race.

The Dark Blues, who won the toss and opted for the Surrey station, made a strong start and finally broke a spirited

Cambridge effort just as the river turned towards the finish at Barnes Bridge.

Twelve months ago, Oxford felt aggrieved and angry after they had lost one of the most dramatic and controversial Boat Races in history.

Today, the race was clean and tightly fought with no swimming protesters or broken oars.

And it was ferociously fought.

Oxford led by half a length by the time the crews reached Fulham Football Club, where the river began to bend in Cambridge's favour.

The Dark Blues moved sharply in on Cambridge as they entered the corner. Both crews were warned for overlapping oars by the umpire Sir Matthew Pinsent - a four-time Olympic champion and two-time Boat Race winner with Oxford.

Oxford looked to break Cambridge as the river began to turn in their favour but the Light Blues fought back with a 20-stroke push just before Hammersmith Bridge.

Henry Fieldman, the Cambridge cox, learned his craft on the Tideway while at Latymer Upper School and he did well to keep the Light Blues in touch by the half-way mark at Chiswick Eyot.

Oxford led by two-thirds of a length past Chiswick Steps but just before the river began to turn into Cambridge's favour the Dark Blues produced the decisive move.

That push allowed Oxford to open clear water, they moved across onto the optimum racing line and then pulled clear to win.

President Alex Davidson and his predecessor Karl Hudspith were the only returning blues in the Oxford boat and victory for them, after the bitterness of last year, was particularly special.

Hudspith's Oxford crew had been in a strong position to win last year when the race was interrupted by a protestor. On the resumption, Oxford suffered a broken blade in a clash and lost.

But there was more drama after the finish with Oxford bowman Dr Alex Woods collapsing in the boat before being rushed to hospital in an ambulance.

Hudspith said: "A year ago I was carrying my friends body on a stretcher and it was the worst moment of my life. This is a very different feeling.

"That was a really epic race. That was the race I have been waiting for these last couple of years.

"Alex and I had our own individual motivations and that was pretty strong."

Davidson added: "I sat on the stakeboat and I said to Karl, 'This is going to be our day'. It was our day."

Oxford cox Oskar Zorilla put their victory down to an "indestructable and devastating rhythm" before being thrown, in the traditional manner, into the Thames.

Cambridge president George Nash has suffered the pain of defeat twice in his three Boat Races and the events of this one, his last, will live with him forever.

"Eventually they put in one too many moves, they asked too many questions and we were just unable to come up with the goods," Nash told the BBC.

"It is something that will replay in my head for the rest of my life. I am proud of the guys and what they have committed to over the last year.

"This is my final Boat Race."