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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 April 2006, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Oxford triumph in 152nd Boat Race
Oxford won for the fourth time in five years
Oxford won for the fourth time in five years
Oxford beat Cambridge on a turbulent River Thames to win the 152nd Boat Race from Putney to Mortlake.

The Dark Blue boat won in 18 minutes 26 seconds to clinch Oxford's second straight win and fourth in five years.

Oxford, this year lighter by a pound per man, now trail Cambridge by 73 victories to 78 overall with one draw.

The crews were level at Hammersmith Bridge but Oxford put in a powerful surge in the choppy water and pulled five lengths clear at the finish.

"It was very, very hard (but) it's great to win a race that worked perfectly," said Bastien Ripoll, the first Frenchman to row in the event for more than 150 years.

We were happy to be called underdogs, that fitted in to our mentality, but we raced like favourites
Oxford president Barney Williams

"It was exactly what we expected. We were very confident during the warm-up and we knew it was our chance."

Oxford President Barney Williams of Canada, the only survivor from last year's crew, said they started as underdogs but raced like favourites.

"All we did was train against the ghost of Cambridge, when you train against the ghost, you have to assume it is going to be so fast," said Williams, who along with Jake Wetzel, was second to Matthew Pinsent's four in the Athens Olympics.

Cambridge president Tom Edwards said: "I have to give full credit to Oxford, they handled the conditions very well.

"We really struggled outside Hammersmith to find a strong rhythm and they seemed to handle it a little bit better on the inside.

It's pretty hard to row with a boat full of water
Cambridge coach Duncan Holland

"That part was crucial, they got ahead and in those conditions we fought hard but struggled to come back."

Oxford made an explosive start after winning the toss and choosing the left-hand Surrey station, and took the early initiative to negate the Light Blues' inside advantage on the first bend.

The Dark Blues held half a length lead by Fulham Football Club but Cambridge drew level by the mile post.

The crews were neck and neck by Harrods Depository and in danger of clashing but they were warned off and reached Hammersmith Bridge together.

Oxford put in a surge just after the Bridge to make the most of the inside station as the conditions worsened, with the wind creating big waves and chop.
Cambridge were forced to drop in behind Oxford to find flatter water as they passed Chiswick Eyot.

By the Bandstand on the approach to Barnes Bridge, Oxford had established a lead of more than two lengths as Cambridge struggled with water in their boat.

And from then on it was a procession for British cox Seb Pearce and his men.

Cambridge: Luke Walton, United States; Tom Edwards (Aus, president), Sebastian Thormann (Ger), Thorsten Englemann (Ger), Sebastian Schulte (Ger), Kieran West (Eng), Tom James (Wal), Kip McDaniel (Can), Peter Rudge (Eng, cox).

Oxford: Robin Ejsmond-Frey (Eng), Colin Smith (Eng), Tom Parker (Eng), Paul Daniels (USA), Jamie Schroeder (USA), Barney Williams (Can, president), Jacob Wetzel (Can), Bastien Ripoll (Fra), Seb Pearce (Eng, cox).

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