Rowing: Light Blues no lightweights

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The Independent Online
TOMORROW morning the Boat Race crews will pack up after their training outing and travel down the M4 to Henley to cheer on their shade of blue in the women's and lightweight races, writes Hugh Matheson.

Since 1975, when the Oxford and Cambridge men's lightweights first met on the Henley reach, the event has been gathering momentum and now ranks with Women's Henley, in June, as one of the most idiosyncratic and best days out in the rowing calendar. There are only four races and in each event - in contrast to the Putney to Mortlake jamboree a week later - Cambridge lead the series by a large margin.

Sunday's will be the 10th race between women's lightweights and Cambridge have won all bar one. Julia Heasman, the Oxford president, has taken on Ben Hunt-Davis of the British Olympic eight to train them this year and he has transformed their approach.

Like next week's men's event there is a sprinkling of foreign postgraduates. Kris Collins of the Oxford women's boat and George Washington University is doing it because 'it's quite different from the States, where we have regular six-lane races. Here there are months and months of labour with just one chance to prove that it's been worthwhile.'