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Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Saturday, 3 April 2010 17:49 UK

Cambridge beat Oxford in 156th Boat Race


Cambridge upset the odds to win the Boat Race

Cambridge upset the odds by coming from behind to beat favourites Oxford and win the 156th Boat Race in style.

Oxford, on the favoured Surrey side, made a strong start and looked set to make it three wins in a row.

But Cambridge stayed in contention and made their move after Chiswick Steps, going on to win by one-and-a-half lengths in 17 minutes and 35 seconds.

The result means Cambridge lead Oxford in the overall rankings by 80 wins to 75, with one dead heat.

Since the Second World War, 60% of crews taking the southern side of the river have triumphed, and Oxford president Sjoerd Hamburger did not hesitate to select that station when he won the toss.

We focused on second half - Weitemeyer

But the forecast rough weather, which would have made a powerful Oxford crew confident of victory, failed to arrive.

And Cambridge's smoother style was always going to favour them if they stayed in contention late in the four-and-a-quarter mile race.

Coach Chris Nilsson's decision to change their line-up and seating order in the weeks before the race was vindicated as the Light Blues moved away late on.

Oxford started slightly better but could not make the most of their advantage.

Some dubious steering by the Dark Blues' American cox Adam Barhamand just before Hammersmith Bridge allowed Cambridge to keep a slight overlap.

Cambridge moved back from there and by Chiswick Steps, just past the half-way mark, were just half a second back.

They took the lead for the first time shortly afterwards and Oxford looked increasingly rattled as they attempted to come back.

Only twice in history - the last time was Oxford in 2002 - has a crew come from being behind at Barnes Bridge to win.


Cambridge president Deaglan McEachern said he felt victory was secure just after Hammersmith, with his crew still in touch.

"Our plan was to choose Surrey so it was probably better that we lost the toss. We proved that we were a tough crew out there," he admitted.

"Nobody thought we were going to do it in terms of where they put their money but I didn't take heed of the fact we weren't favourites. I knew we were even crews going in."

"We had an opportunity, with just a canvas overlap, but we couldn't finish it off and we slowly ran into trouble," said Oxford's president, Dutch Olympian Sjoerd Hamburger.

"We kept on fighting and I'm extremely proud of the boys but it wasn't enough today."

I couldn't open my eyes at the finish line. I always felt that we hadn't done quite enough but we got there in the end

Cambridge oarsman Henry Pelly

"Around the Surrey bend, I knew how they were feeling," said Cambridge oarsman Henry Pelly, who finally tasted victory in his third race.

"But it's a long race nowadays and that kind of race is going to happen year after year now.

"I couldn't open my eyes at the finish line. I always felt that we hadn't done quite enough but we got there in the end.

"I always felt we had it under control. I can imagine how they were feeling as we moved back on them because I've felt that in the last two years," he added.

"Even when they were up they were probably thinking, this isn't going how we thought it might."

Pelly's team-mate Rob Weitemeyer said: "We really focused hard on the second half of the race. It's easy to overcook the goose in the first three kilometres.

"We really worked on using economy and making the best of our power and knowing that we would come through in the end."

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see also
Oxford select Facebook row twins
01 Mar 10 |  Rowing
How the eight work
27 Mar 06 |  Rowing
Oxford triumph in 155th Boat Race
29 Mar 09 |  Rowing
Rowing on the BBC
15 Oct 10 |  Rowing

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