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Friday, April 2, 1999 Published at 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK


Cambridge give Oxford the blues

Every underdog has its day: Cambridge celebrate

Cambridge coasted home to win the Boat Race for the seventh year in succession.

The inexperienced underdogs proved the pundits wrong, finishing the 145th university showdown on the River Thames in 16 minutes 41 seconds - the second quickest time - and 11 seconds clear of Oxford.

[ image: Cambridge cox Vian Sharif (5ft) with team-mate Joshua West (6ft 9in)]
Cambridge cox Vian Sharif (5ft) with team-mate Joshua West (6ft 9in)
Around 40,000 spectators crowded the river banks to watch the traditional race between the UK's two oldest universities.

The Cambridge team - at an average of 6ft 6ins - was the tallest in the race's history.

But it was their smallest member, 5ft-tall cox Vian Sharif, who summed up the feeling of the team - describing the victory as "brilliant".

Her crew celebrated by throwing the 19-year-old into the river - the traditional fate of the victorious cox.

The win was also a personal triumph for Cambridge captain Brad Crombie, a Canadian international, who became one of the few rowers in history to pick up his third varsity victory.

[ image: Going: Victorious Vian gets ready for a dunking]
Going: Victorious Vian gets ready for a dunking
He said: "It was the most fun race I ever had at Cambridge. It was a great note to end on. What we had was superior speed from the first stroke to the last stroke."

Crombie, 28, stressed that it had been a team effort, saying: "It's the crew that wins, not the individual.

"They (Oxford) may have had a number of good people in their boat, but we have a good team."

Oxford captain Charlie Humphreys said his crew lost touch with Cambridge over the last third of the race.

[ image: Gone: Vian takes a traditional dip in the Thames]
Gone: Vian takes a traditional dip in the Thames
"They seemed to put in a very effective move at Hammersmith Bridge that we weren't able to keep up with."

The two crews had started well and were stroke-for-stroke in the early stages, but Cambridge were a second up after the first mile.

Cambridge also lost ground when the umpire ordered the crew to veer away to avoid a clash of oars.

At Hammersmith Bridge the Light Blues pressed home their advantage and managed to get clear water ahead of their rivals.

By Chiswick Steps the lead was more than seven seconds and at Barnes Bridge the writing was on the wall for Oxford.

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