Oxford Men battle to Boat Races victory

Oxford avenge their defeat last year and the women's defeat earlier in the day

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Oxford celebrate their victory (Photo: BBC)

Oxford’s men’s boat claimed victory in the 163rd Men’s Boat Race after a tactically complex race on the Thames.

Cambridge were seeking their first back-to-back wins of the century, while Oxford were seeking revenge for their defeat last year—as well as the Women’s defeat earlier on in the afternoon.

Both crews got off to a strong start, but Oxford got the better of the early strokes.

From the starting line, Cambridge had the better route around the course, but Oxford took the most slim of early leads off the start.

They had a half-length advantage, but Cambridge were resilient and refused to be left behind.

Such was the physicality of the race that both boats were excruciatingly close together. It was left to the coxes, watching calmly, to observe their races and manage their tactics.

Light blue oars almost clashed with dark blue as neither crew wanted to yield, but it was Cambridge who were forced wide. The dark blue crew took the inside, advantageous line.

Cambridge had to rally as Oxford consolidated their better line and subsequent better pace. Two seconds was the difference between the boats, despite Cambridge’s superior stroke rate—36 to 34.

At the ten minute mark, Oxford held that inside line, but again Cambridge refused to be blown away, keeping up their pace to maintain touching distance.

However, as the race edged into its final stages, Oxford pulled away once more. They left clear water between the two boats, and Cambridge’s waters were choppy as the light blue crew battled in the wake of Oxford’s oars.

Even as Oxford bore down onto the finish, both boats were well-matched in terms of speed, but Oxford’s start and early tactical triumph handed the men’s boat victory in a time of 16:59.

The victory goes some way to mitigate the disappointment of the women’s defeat earlier in the day after the Blues boat hit a crab with their first stroke.

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Oxford battled on but Cambridge took the win in record time.

The results mark a complete reversal of last year, when the women won convincingly on choppy waters, while the Cambridge men’s boat edged out Oxford’s to win the second race.