Page last updated at 18:21 GMT, Saturday, 29 March 2008

Oxford crew win 154th Boat Race

Boat race
Oxford and Cambridge were neck-and-neck at Hammersmith

Oxford have won the 154th university boat race, on a choppy River Thames in the pouring rain.

Oxford's oarsmen were heavier and taller than Cambridge, and had been the bookmakers' favourites to win.

After Oxford took a slight lead in the first minute of the race, Cambridge pulled back and the two crews were neck and neck at Hammersmith Bridge.

But by Chiswick, Oxford were ahead again, and finished the Putney to Mortlake course several lengths ahead.

The win is Oxford's third in four years. Cambridge won last year's race, and still narrowly lead the total number of races held - by 79 to 74.

Slow race

The weather conditions meant Saturday's timings were never going to break records, and the winning team took 20 minutes and 13 seconds to finish the 4.25 mile course.

It was the slowest race since 1947.

Cambridge's problems started early when they appeared to miss a stroke in the first minute, and Oxford pulled ahead.

But the bends in the River Thames are always crucial in this race, and Cambridge could still have taken the advantage.

Close at Hammersmith

Statistically, 80% of crews which are ahead by Hammersmith Bridge go on to win the race, but this time they were neck-and-neck, with Cambridge just slightly in the lead.

But after Hammersmith, Oxford pulled out all the stops. By the time the they had reached a small island in the Thames called Chiswick Eyot, they were half a length ahead.

By the 13th minute, it was clear that unless they sank, Oxford were going to win. By Barnes Bridge they were in front by several lengths.

In the end, the race was not close. The Oxford crew had time to compose themselves to give the customary three cheers to Cambridge when they crossed the line.


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