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Boat Race 2011: Oxford clinch victory over Cambridge


Oxford storm to victory in the 157th Boat Race

By Martin Gough

Oxford upset the odds to win the 157th Boat Race by four lengths with a dominating display on the River Thames.

Coach Sean Bowden secured his 10th win in 17 attempts after his crew moved away just before the halfway mark.

Lighter and less experienced, Oxford nevertheless cruised home in a time of 17 minutes 32 seconds.

"We never considered we weren't in with a good chance. It's great when a crew rows to their potential and they did that today," said Bowden.

Oxford won the toss and chose the Surrey side of the river, which gave them the advantage of the inside of the big bend in the middle of the course.

Oxford coach and crew celebrate win

They made the most of that advantage, putting in a big push just before Hammersmith Bridge to extend a lead of two-thirds of a length to two lengths by Chiswick Steps.

Oxford had looked awkward in the build-up to the race, while Cambridge appeared superior technically, leading bookmakers to make them
2-1 on favourites.

But on race day, the Dark Blues found a relaxed rhythm that proved far more effective.

Former Cambridge president Wayne Pommen, watching in the BBC commentary box said: "Cambridge will be shocked. The Oxford crew were lighter, less experienced.

"Oxford did an amazing job and broke the race open on them very quickly."

Dan Topolski, the BBC co-commentator who coached Oxford to 12 victories in the 1970s and '80s, said: "It was a good victory and a very steady, solid performance right the way through. It was very well-drilled.

"All credit to Sean Bowden for putting together a less experienced crew, knitting a whole new group of people into a cohesive boat."

German bow man Moritz Hafner clambered down the boat to congratulate Oxford's stroke Simon Hislop, who proved he is back to his best less than a year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer and undergoing surgery.

They had the strength, character and went for it; we just let them slip.

Cambridge's Hardy Cubasch

Welshman Ben Myers, the only Oxford rower to have raced last year, was jubilant as he lifted the Xchanging Trophy as president.

Hislop, a 27-year-old Londoner, starts work on 1 August as a junior doctor at nearby Hammersmith Hospital and this race is likely to be the end of a career that included success under Cambridge coach Steve Trapmore when the pair were at London's Imperial College.

"It went really well, everything went to plan, we had a cracking start," said Hislop.

"They put up a good fight initially but we just started inching away. After half-way it was just enjoyable.

"As the Surrey bend started, Sam called a fantastic push, we jacked the rate up and that's when we really took big chunks out of them and they couldn't come back from that."

Constantine Louloudis, 19, who has been tipped as having an outside chance of reaching the London Olympics, played a key role in the Oxford six seat.

"It's all feeling a bit of a blur but I'm just feeling amazing," he said. "It's unbelievable how good this feels."

Trapmore, who won Olympic gold in the Great Britain eight in Sydney 11 years ago, was thwarted in his attempt to win the race in his first year as the Light Blues' coach.

"It's never easy going through losing. I'm absolutely gutted. We pushed when we could but we got beaten by a faster crew on the day," he said.

George Nash, Canadian Geoff Roth and American Derek Rasmussen - all part of last year's victory for Cambridge - were forced to taste defeat this time around.

Cambridge coach downcast after defeat

There was extra pain for Australian Hardy Cubasch, part of the losing crew in 2009 who missed out on a place last year after a prolonged wrist injury.

"They made a move just between the Mile Post and Harrods, took a few seats and they had the momentum for the big bend on Surrey, when it's make or break," said Cubasch.

"They had the strength, character and went for it. We just let them slip. It was pretty hard in the tailwind to get it back. We still had the belief but they were just too strong."

Oxford were also successful in the reserve race, their crew Isis beating Goldie by a resounding six lengths.

The Women's Boat Race takes place in Henley on Sunday, with Natalie Redgrave, daughter of five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve, competing for Oxford.

Cambridge (from bow): Mike Thorp (GB), Joel Jennings (GB), Dan Rix-Standing (GB), Hardy Cubasch (Aus), George Nash (GB), Geoff Roth (Can), Derek Rasmussen (US), David Nelson (Aus), Cox: Liz Box (GB)

Oxford (from bow): Moritz Hafner (Ger), Ben Myers (GB), Alec Dent (GB), Ben Ellison (GB), Karl Hudspith (GB), Constantine Louloudis (GB), George Whittaker (GB), Simon Hislop (GB), Cox: Sam Winter-Levy (GB)

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