Oxford claim 163rd Boat Race

On a day when the Cambridge women's team crushed their rivals by 11 lengths in a record time of 18min 33sec after capitalising on a disastrous start in which Oxford's Becca Esselstein nearly lost her oar, racing had been threatened by the discovery of a second world war shell submerged in the murk near the start at Putney Bridge.

Pre-race favourites Oxford won the toss, and chose to start on the same Surrey station on the south side of the river as Cambridge's women, who had earlier won the women's race.

Thousands of people are expected to line the banks of the Thames to watch the 163rd edition of the Boat Race between the two universities.

Oxford's Rebecca Esselstein made an error with her oar - known as catching a crab - and her crew never recovered.

They secured victory in 18 minutes, 34 seconds and with an 11-length lead after Oxford's damaging, stuttering start gave them an exceptional advantage.

It was Bowden's 14th victory in the Boat Race - he led Cambridge to two wins in the early 1990s - but Sunday's nail-biting win saw him tie the Oxford record held by legendary coach Dan Topolski. Oxford finished in 19 minutes, five seconds.

Oxford, which included Wanganui's former world championships rower Harriet Austin, had a disastrous start to the 6.8km race from Putney to Mortlake in south-west London.

The victory, breaking a four-year cycle of Oxford success, was all the sweeter for the favourites after their boat nearly sank in rough conditions last year.

"We got to have the race we wanted to have".

Speaking after the race, she said: "I'm just so proud of my squad, so proud of the team this year. This year I have just had an fantastic team with me and we did it right to the end".

The Cambridge crew get to work throwing team members into the Thames after winning the famous boat race against Oxford. "In the autumn nothing was going our way and we have been building and it has culminated in this".

The men's contest was more closely fought than the women's race; however it was clear still from the start who would win and Oxford looked ferocious.

"It was a good race but today was Cambridge's day". Asked what he had said by way of commiseration to his vanquished former team-mates, Warr revealed: "I just said "good race", nothing much more than that". "There were a few calls from Sean in that race, and we really picked up".

  • Leroy Wright