Oxford win 160th Boat Race

Oxford (AFP)
Oxford (AFP)

London - Oxford University beat Cambridge University by a crushing 11 lengths, the biggest victory margin since 1973, as they won the 160th Boat Race on London's River Thames on Sunday.

The decisive point in the contest came when Cambridge's Luke Juckett lost control of his oar and was almost knocked over by onrushing water as he came out of his seat after a clash of blades between the crews near Harrods' Depository.

After Cambridge trailed in, they lodged an official protest but race umpire Richard Phelps rejected the complaint from cox Ian Middleton, having warned the Light Blues to move away shortly before the clash.

Even before that key moment, it appeared Oxford, with four returning Blues (as those who've competed in a Boat Race are known) and four Olympic medallists, were starting to make their experience count.

Victory gave Oxford coach Sean Bowden his 10th win in 15 years with the Dark Blues and saw Oxford reduce Cambridge's overall lead to 81-78 with one tie.

There was nearly a clash early on as both crews went in search of the fastest water before Oxford, on the Surrey side of the river and with a seeming advantage through the middle section of the winding course, started to impose themselves.

But the result was still in the balance when American rower Juckett, a Boat Race debutant, came off his seat following the clash of oars and missed at least five strokes.

From then on, there was no way back for Cambridge and Oxford, last year's winners, eased to victory in a time of 18 minutes and 36 seconds.

Cambridge rower Steve Dudek, reflecting on the incident that effectively saw Juckett come to a stand-still, told the BBC: "It's a very, very difficult way to lose... That's the nature of the Boat Race."

And there was some sympathy for Cambridge's plight from Karl Hudspith, a member of the victorious Oxford crew.

"It's a really awful way to end a whole year of training," he said.

"I think we showed after the incident that we kept on pulling away. We put quite a big margin into them in the end.

"I think we were the better crew and that did show in some of our previous fixtures as well.

"Like I said, it's just unfortunate it had to end that way," Hudspith added.

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