Rowing: Winkless leads Cambridge's women to clean sweep

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Cambridge University made a clean sweep of the women's boat races at Henley yesterday, winning the Blues race by four seconds, after taking one second per quarter through the race, led by Sarah Winkless, whose six and a half blues make her one of the most successful Cambridge women athletes ever, writes Hugh Matheson.

Oxford's women have not won this race since 1991, but have made big strides towards a revival. Coached by Ben Hunt Davis of the Olympic men's eight, and Dot Blackie of the women's Atlanta eight, the light and open weights trained together throughout the winter and in aggregate have closed the gap. But Cambridge yesterday had a stronger group of athletes with an ingrained habit of winning.

Winkless matched her father, who won as the light blue men's president in the 1969 Boat Race. She said: "This is not comparable. Dad had a really tough time as president I have been wonderfully supported throughout by the coach and committee. I was really pleased to take all three women's race and ours felt easy."

Lene Hansen, at No 2, said: "You have done it a thousand times before, but suddenly there's half a ton of you going off the start and you want to be inside this huge effort. You get a sense of power that women aren't often able to develop and enjoy."

The light blue lightweight women had to chase all the way against the slightly heavily geared Oxford crew and broke through in the last 300 metres to win by six feet.

In the reserves' race, Blondie for the light blues took an early lead and stayed cool enough to hold against the Osiris crew, which attacked at five strokes a minute higher throughout the race and finally went down by a bare quarter of a length.

Dark Blue pride was salvaged with victory by a length in the men's lightweights. Oxford took an early lead which had stretched to a half-length at Remenham club. It was threatened by a clash of blades which led to a crab caught by Christoffer Van Tulleken, the dark blue stroke. But backed by his brother, Alexander, in the No 7 seat he recovered quickly. For the next 500 metres Cambridge closed the gap, but he raised the rate of striking to 39 a minute in the closing sprint and won by a full length.

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