Oxford win the BNY Mellon Boat Race

The capacity of the Boat Race to generate drama seems apparently inexhaustible – even in the wake of Oxford’s eleven-length drubbing of their Light Blue opponents. Just two years ago a dramatic clash of blades had resulted in the Dark Blues snapping one of their blades, thus handing victory on a plate to Cambridge. Now, in 2014, the roles were reversed. This time, while in close contact, and just five minutes into the contest the Cambridge ‘two’ man, Luke Juckett, lost control of his oar for five strokes. It was a ‘ripcord, boat-stopping moment’ for the challengers, who lost so much speed, so quickly that the race was effectively over before Hammersmith Bridge.

“It was an incredibly light touch but it seemed to have a really dramatic impact,” explained Oxford’s victorious ‘seven’ man, Sam O’Connor. And there can have been few more dramatic crabs caught in the history of the race. A nudge from the Dark Blue Kiwi’s blade was just enough to knock the handle out of the hands of Cambridge’s luckless two man. The out-of-control oar handle smashed into the American’s stomach, with such a force that the body of the St Edmund’s oarsman was violently knocked back. And his head briefly submerged.

“It was such a serious crab that I was relieved that the Cambridge rower wasn’t seriously injured and could carry on rowing,” explained race umpire Richard Phelps. Just moments before the incident, Phelps had warned Cambridge for getting too close to Oxford. So the appeal of the Light Blue cox, Ian Middleton, at the end of the race was in vain.

In truth, Oxford were already doing serious damage to the fast-starting Cambridge crew. With the Dark Blues’ Surrey bend yet to unfold, it’s likely that they would have been clear a little after Hammersmith. “We were just coming into our rhythm and moving when it happened,” said Oxford’s President, Malcolm Howard afterwards.

Official times: Oxford 18:36 Cambridge 19:08

For more details, visit http://theboatrace.org/

Report by Martin Cross

Photos by BigBlade

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