Oxford claim clean sweep in landmark Boat Races
Oxford’s men and women recorded handsome victories over eternal rivals Cambridge in a landmark moment for the Boat Races on London’s River Thames on Saturday.
For the first time in the event’s 88-year history, the female eights from the prestigious British universities raced on the same stretch of the river and on the same day as the male crews.
Oxford’s female “Dark Blues” came in six- and- a- half lengths clear of Cambridge to claim a 12th victory in 16 years, with their male counterparts prevailing by the same margin an hour later.
“It’s an amazing moment. To pull something off like that is amazing,” Oxford University Women’s Boat Club President Anastasia Chitty told the BBC.
“To row on the same stage as the men, there were so many women before us who have never had this opportunity and it’s extremely humbling. We started moving away early on and kept ourselves ahead.”
Oxford’s men have now won four of their last five encounters with “Light Blues” Cambridge after their one-sided success in the 161st men’s Boat Race.
It was their 79th overall victory, taking them to within just two race wins of Cambridge’s tally of 81 (there was also one dead heat in 1877).
Outgoing Oxford President Constantine Louloudis, who claimed a fourth victory in the race, said: “I felt much more pressure this year, especially as I was leaving the guys.
“There were some pretty dark moments going in, but I’m so pleased for the guys. We just stuck to our plan and executed a really good race.”
Both races took place over a 6.8-kilometer length of river between Putney and Mortlake in west London, with the women having previously competed over 2 kilometers at Henley, some 100 kilometers upriver.
In the first women’s race, in 1927, the crews took to the river separately and were judged on “steadiness, finish, rhythm and other matters of style,” according to a contemporary report by The Times.
It was not until 1935 that the two boats were allowed to actually race and there were several more false starts before the event finally became a permanent fixture.
In another first, the women’s race on Saturday was broadcast live on BBC television, while a crowd of around 250,000 turned out to witness a breakthrough moment in the history of women’s sport.
The Oxford University boat crew celebrates after beating Cambridge in the boat race between Oxford University and Cambridge University, in London on Saturday, April 11.