Cambridge has won the 72nd women’s boat race, setting a new time record, while Oxford fought to maintain a narrow lead in the 163rd men’s.
While the Cambridge women’s boat set an astonishing time of 18:33- the first time the 19-minute mark has been broken- the Oxford boat suffered an early crab, which left a lead that could only grow overtime. The Cambridge women came in 11 lengths ahead crossing the finishing line, a dramatic turnaround from their near-sinking in last year’s competition. Finally, Cambridge have ended Oxford’s four-year streak in the women’s race.
The men’s race was tightly fought, with a stronger start from Oxford giving the men’s crew a slight lead, which was eventually built to one and a half lengths by the end of the course. While Cambridge built to a higher stroke rate (36 vs. 34), it sadly did not prove enough, and the Oxford men’s crew set a time of 16:59, maintaining the inside line for much of the river. With 2017, Oxford have now counted 80 victories in the men’s boat race.
In the reserve crews, the Isis rowed to victory in the men’s competition, while the women’s race was won by Cambridge’s Blondie.
There were doubts about whether the race could go ahead, with the discovery of an unexploded World War Two bomb near Putney Bridge; nevertheless, the ordinance was removed, and the races carried on as scheduled. In the words of Clare Balding: “A day that started with a bomb threat has ended with an explosion of dark blue.”
Conditions were warm, sunny and clear this year (as opposed to the difficult waters the crews contended with in 2016), with the crowds thick along the course.
“It was good rowing from all the crews, just a shame we didn’t shoe the Tabs as hard as we could,” said Oxford student Jake Hutchinson. As this journalist knows very little about rowing, but was still impressed by the athleticism on display, I am inclined to agree.