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Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Saturday, 29 March 2008

Oxford power to Boat Race victory

By Martin Gough & Sam Lyon

Oxford crew celebrates
The Oxford crew celebrates after completing their six-length win

Oxford and their cox Nick Brodie gained revenge for last year's defeat on the Thames by beating Cambridge in the 154th Boat Race by six lengths.

Brodie's crew got off to a flier but, against the odds, were pulled back.

Cambridge actually pulled ahead under Hammersmith Bridge, but it was a brief foray at the front as Oxford hit back.

And the Dark Blues made the most of their weight advantage on the choppy waters to win by 22 seconds in the slowest winning time since 1947.

We're quite a young crew and perhaps our lack of experience might have told a bit

Cambridge cox Rebecca Dowbiggin

It was a gruelling race in poor conditions, with pre-race favourites Oxford crossing the line in 20 minutes, 52 seconds.

Cambridge - hampered by the 11th-hour loss of stroke Shane O'Mara on medical grounds - came home in 21:14 for a comprehensive defeat, their fifth in seven years.

Cambridge lead the series 79-74, with one dead heat in 1877.

Brodie admitted Oxford were below their best as Cambridge overcame a deficit of almost a length with a mile gone to take their own a lead of almost a length.

BBC Sport's Martin Gough

"There were definitely some tense moments in the race where we weren't rowing very well," he said.

"We were slightly concerned - we weren't expecting them to be quite that fast for quite so long.

"But we managed to stick to what we were doing; we put in a good push along the island [just past halfway] and moved through them fast."

Cambridge won the toss and chose the Surrey station - on the inside of the biggest bend of the course.

With 23-year-old Ryan Monaghan replacing O'Mara, they put their all into the first half of the race but could not stay with Oxford once the race turned into a strong headwind at Hammersmith.

Nick Brodie
Brodie enjoys the tradition of being flung in the river after the win

Rebecca Dowbiggin was denied the chance to become the first female to cox Cambridge to back-to-back wins but she refused to blame the last-minute substitution.

"We actually made good progress in the last few days with Ryan at stroke," she said.

"He's been thrown into a role of huge responsibility. He's coped with it really well and there are no excuses. We lost our stroke man but that's not why we lost the race.

"We're quite a young crew and perhaps our lack of experience might have told a bit.

"We threw everything we had at them in the first half of the course because we knew we had to do that on the Surrey station and unfortunately it didn't pay off this year.

"We put in some big moves, and every time we put in a move it worked, but it took a lot out of us every time we did it.

"In the second half of the course I was still calling moves and it made no difference because we had nothing left."

There was reason to celebrate for Oxford's Mike Wherley - at 35 four years older than any previous Boat Race oarsman.

This is a great race and I loved taking part in it and it's fabulous with the win

Oxford's Mike Wherley

The American, who won three World Championships in the 1990s, came out of retirement after three years for the race.

"This is a great race and I loved taking part in it and it's fabulous with the win," he said. "It was something I've always wanted to do and I had no idea it would be so much fun rowing for Oxford.

"We put some pressure on them early but we knew they would come back and when they did we just had to stay patient.

"We knew there would be a point in the race when we would have a chance to open it up and when we did we just had to step on them."


Cambridge: Colin Scott 13st 8lbs, Tim Perkins 15st, Henry Pelly 13st 13lbs, Tobias Garnett 14st 10lbs, Peter Marsland 16st, Tom Ramsley 15st 11lbs, Tom Edwards 13st 11lbs, Ryan Monaghan 15st 3lb; cox - Rebecca Dowbiggin 7st 9lbs.

Oxford: Jan Herzog 14st 3lbs, Toby Medaris 16st 2lbs, Ben Smith 15st 5lbs, Aaron Marcovy 16st 1lb, Michael Wherley 15st 8lbs, Oliver Moore 15st 13lbs, Charles Cole 15st 1lb, William England 15st 4lbs; cox - Nicholas Brodie 8st 5lbs.

see also
Wherley is oldest Boat Race rower
05 Mar 08 |  Other sport...
In photos - Cambridge win Boat Race
07 Apr 07 |  Photo Galleries
Team GB for Beijing
17 Mar 08 |  Team GB
Rowing on the BBC
02 Jul 07 |  Rowing

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