Cambridge win the 78th Women’s and 169th Men’s Boat Races

It was a Light Blue tide, with Cambridge decisively winning the Women’s Blue boat and both Men’s races, and Osiris securing Oxford’s one win in the Women’s reserve race on Saturday, 30 March

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Credit: Row360 / The Boat Race

A rare sunny day greeted all watchers along the Thames for the 2024 Oxford and Cambridge Gemini Boat Race – perfectly setting the scene for the four epic grudge matches which played out over the 6.8 km Championship Course.

The 78th Women’s Boat Race

The Women’s Boat Race was predicted to be a close one, with the Fixture Series earlier this month suggesting an Oxford win was on the horizon. Oxford, having called Middlesex in the coin toss, inched ahead at Barn Elm Boat Club and led by almost a length past Craven Cottage.

Richard Phelps issued Cambridge with a warning for steering as cox Hannah Murphy took their bend early past Harrods – but the gap closed on the Surrey bend and Cambridge pulled ahead. The Oxford cox Joe Gellett called for a bump which could have led to disqualification had Cambridge been in Oxford’s water, but Cambridge came off better from the move and rowed a calm path to victory, stretching their lead to seven lengths by the time they passed under Barnes Bridge. Oxford appealed, but Phelps adjudicated that Cambridge had been fully on their station before and at the time of the bump and confirmed their victory.

Hannah Murphy said: “It was really everything you want in a Boat Race. There was some conversation after we crossed the line, but it didn’t matter to us – we knew that was the strongest race we could put down. We found a really solid rhythm coming through the first part of the Surrey bend, then we just started walking. If you’re coxing the Tideway – never think that you know what’s coming!”

Osiris V Blondie

Oxford’s win came in the Women’s reserve race, where Osiris crossed the finish line with a decisive five-length win over Cambridge’s Blondie.

Osiris cox Tara Slade, who coxed last year’s Oxford Blue boat, said: “At the end of the day, these things aren’t a single crew effort. The work of everyone goes into every win. I’m so proud of my crew, even if today was tough for the club – we’re looking forward to next year.”

Isis V Goldie

Goldie secured Cambridge’s second win of the day with a four-length victory over Oxford’s Isis. Six seat Luke Beever was buzzing after the victory.

“We always knew that our base pace would be better than theirs – we had the utmost trust that we were going to be able to execute our plan and flow down the track. All we’re thinking about now is that legacy – putting as many wins as we can on the board. Going into next year I’m looking for more – I’m on two for two with Goldie wins now!”

The 169th Men’s Boat Race

Oxford’s men were tipped to win with a top performance in this year’s Fixture Series, but there was no tide turned by the Dark Blues in this year’s Men’s Boat Race, as president Seb Benzecry saw his third victory as a Cambridge Blue.

“It’s been the most incredible season. Oxford had a very classy unit this year, but there was always belief – we knew that as individuals, we’d really pushed on. I know the calibre of guys that they had, so to come into the race and feel like we were in control of so early was an amazing feeling.”

More warnings were issued to Cambridge off the start as cox Ed Bracey moved into Oxford water early. Two minutes on and Cambridge were two seats up – after blades briefly interlocked, Cambridge stretched to a 5 seat lead coming up to the Crabtree stretch.

Oxford made a move heading into Hammersmith, but Cambridge held onto their lead and took clear water past St Paul’s.

Light Blue stroke Matt Edge gave everything he had in the first half of his race, leaving nothing for the last stretch. Keeping his blade out the water, he maintained Cambridge’s rhythm as they finished three and a half lengths ahead of Oxford, who put in a valiant effort in the last moments of the race to shorten the winning distance.

“I’m so proud of Goldie, so proud of Matt, who basically ended himself! And so thankful for our coaching team – they’re really the most incredible coaches.”

Lightweight and Veterans’ Boat Races

In much rougher conditions the previous day. Cambridge dominated the lightweight men’s race, leading from the ‘go’ and winning by five and a half lengths. The light blues recorded a similar verdict – of five lengths – in the women’s race, but this margin concealed a much more dramatic tussle in which Oxford ground down Cambridge’s early lead down just one length shortly before half way.

The veterans’ races, which took place on a shorter course from the Championship Course start to just after Hammersmith Bridge, were the closest of the weekend. Oxford won the men’s contest by two and a half seconds, while the women’s race was declared a dead heat. Oxford had led most of the way, but Cambridge took advantage of being on the inside of the Surrey bend to catch them at the line. Both women’s crews and the Oxford men were presented with the new Senior Cup, named after Boat Race Chairman Tim Senior who tragically died in 2023.

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