Oxford vs. Cambridge

BNY Boat Race 2015

Being an Oxford born girl I always look forward to this event every year, and as I had my eyes glued to my TV I was jealous of everyone that was on the banks of the Thames watching and marvelling at the intensity of the Boat Race wishing I was stood upon the Hammersmith Bridge.

The Boat Race between Oxford University and Cambridge University has been an annual event since 1856, the course is a 4.2-mile stretch of the Thames starting in Putney and finishing in Mortlake of West London. The popularity of the event has always been high and the competitiveness of the crowd increases with every year. Going into the race today, Cambridge were holding a strong 81-78 lead ahead of Oxford, and today’s race marked the 160th consecutive between the rivals. This year however marked a change in rowing history, as the Boat Race welcomed the women’s race to start the afternoon of action on the Thames for the first time. The escalation of the event was evident, with the inclusion of Cambridge and Oxford Ladies welcoming an extensive crowd to the riverbanks in the beautiful sunshine that accompanied an idyllic venue for an afternoon of competition. The favourites for the event were both Oxford University’s men and women and unsurprisingly, they lived up to expectations.

The build up to the women’s race was phenomenal. The BBC televised both races and directed large focal coverage and build up towards the women’s race of which gladly deserved it. The race as a spectacle. As the boats lined up for the first push the crowd roared and they were off, Oxford taking an early break to position themselves within the optimum course line. The Oxford women took the lead from the start, with a powerful Caryn Davies leading the strokes for her crew of seven other rowers. Instructed and led by cox Jennifer Ehr, the Oxford crew positioned themselves in good stead for the first bend.

Cambridge struggled to keep up with the Oxford advantage, and at just 5 minutes into the race the Oxford crew took a two stroke lead, resulting in Cambridge’s cox Rosemary Ostfield altering tactics to try and close in on the Oxford boat by increasing their stroke count. However, Cambridge struggled to gain the momentum they desired as the puddles created by the leading Oxford boat came as a tough battle for the Cambridge rowers, and caused them to lose speed, power, and position as the distance between themselves and Oxford increased. The Cambridge girls stuck at it however, and all eight rowers remained focused upon diminishing the seconds that Oxford would beat them by, as the win drifted further and further away from the light blew crew. In the Oxford boat, the encouragement from Jennifer Ehr was maintaining the girls’ fight as they sprinted over the finishing line and embraced one another with utter joy and relief after an extraordinary effort from the dark blue crew as the Cambridge boat drifted over the line 19 seconds after Oxford.

A magnificent win for the Oxford blues, and an unfortunate loss for the Cambridge ladies who were certainly devastated as they watched sadly upon Oxford holding the Trophy whilst being drenched with champagne.


The women’s race was closely followed by the mens, and as both teams stepped into their boats there was a shared expression of apprehension and distinct signs of nervousness plastered across their faces. The race began rather differently to the women’s as the Cambridge and Oxford noses rallied between poll position during the first few minutes of the race. The conditions within the river were choppy, and you could see that both boats were struggling with remaining within their lines as the official attempted to manage the distances between the boats as the Oxford and Cambridge oars swung close to one another, crossing upon occasion as they drifted towards one another. However, as both boats reached the Harrods Depository Oxford effortlessly took a half boat lead ahead of Cambridge as they took the inside of the bend as directed by their cox Will Hakim. However, as they reached the Hammersmith Bridge, Cambridge closed in upon Oxford’s advantage and the boats were neck and neck. The crowd at Hammersmith Bridge was large in numbers and as the boats passed underneath the roar consumed my TV speakers for a good few seconds and this must have spurred Oxford on as they kicked once again ahead of Cambridge and took the advantage.

As the river turned past the Fuller’s brewery it was clear that the Oxford lead was only to be increased as Cambridge started to fall away from a redeemable position and the win was slipping away.

Oxford were two lengths clear of Cambridge at 11minutes into the race and the gap was widening with every minute that went by on the clock, and at the three mile marker Oxford were truly showing their improvement within their endurance this race which they have been working on evidently throughout this years season. The finish was in sight for Oxford’s coxman Will Hakim before Cambridge’s Ian Middleton could even see it, and the Oxford blues sprinted across the finishing line with a time of 17 minutes 35 seconds, six lengths ahead of the disappointed Cambridge crew.

Cambridge’s faces said it all, they were devastated.

Exiting the boat the Oxford boys were greeted by fellow members of Oxford Rowing Club, their friends, and their families as celebrations began and the praise pilled upon them.

I ofcourse was ecstatic with the result, but my heart did go out to Cambridge who showed a great performance today!

Winning for the third year in a row, Oxford men slowly close in upon Cambridge’s current lead in the official tally where Cambridge remain victorious with a now a mere two point advantage, what will next year bring?


BNY Boat Race 2015: Cambridge 81 – Oxford 79

If you missed the race catch it on iPlayer here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05qqgvv/the-boat-race-11042015 



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