The Light Blues’ double victory was their first since 2018Nordin Ćatić

Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC) recorded two wins yesterday afternoon (20/3) in this year’s Lightweight Boat Races on the Championship Course. CUBC smashed the 39th Women’s Race after winning by a margin of fifteen lengths, then going on to beat Oxford in the 48th Men’s Race by five lengths.

CUBC Women also set a new time record on the water with their 19:59:53 finish, beating the 23:24 time set back in 2020, which was the event’s debut on the Tideway.

Last year’s Races took place on the River Great Ouse in Ely, Cambridge due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Light Blue Women came out on top for a second successive year, while the Men fell to defeat for the third time in as many years.

But on a completely different course this time around, the Tideway looked like a fine, blue carpet thanks to perfectly calm weather in the capital, primed for record-breaking times. All four crews undertook the traditional weigh-ins and coin tosses, ready for the Women’s Race at 1:25pm and the Men’s at 2:25pm.

Lightweight Women’s President Casey Shepheard elected to start on the Surrey station after Oxford lost the toss, giving the Light Blues an inside advantage at the Hammersmith bend but conceding the advantage on the opening Middlesex turn.

Speaking before the race, Shepheard detailed the readiness of her crew: “Fortunately, a lot of our squad has already done a year with CUBC, and we’ve all learned to be pretty good at managing our own time.” Shepheard and seven-seat Freya Sutcliffe were two returning Blues in the boat.

CUBC Women lead the overall Race record with 22 wins to Oxford’s 17Nordin Ćatić

Cambridge also had identical twins in their ranks, a first for the Light Blues. Gemma and Catherine King, sitting at the two and four seats respectively, commented on their unique circumstances going into the race: “I guess it’s very different to how other people experience trialling.

“We’re very competitive with each other, so that always adds a news aspect because we’re always trying to compete with each other as well as push everyone in the squad to be their best. It’s always nice to know you’ve got support and family around. Some days it’s a nightmare, but most of the time it’s great.”

Turning to the first race, the two women’s crews were level after the first 150m, with Oxford bursting to 41 strokes per minute (SPM) and Cambridge close behind at forty.

The Light Blues, however, began to pull away as they rounded the Middlesex bend despite their outside disadvantage, stretching to a two-third length advantage. Cox Amy Richardson soon steered Cambridge into clear water, moving over to Oxford’s line and creating a tricky wash for the Dark Blues to deal with.

Given the V-shaped river bed of the Tideway, gaining supremacy in the middle is vital for optimal racing.

With five minutes gone, Cambridge settled into a dominant rhythm at 34 SPM, while Oxford dropped down to 32.

The Light Blues led for the entirety of the 39th Women’s Lightweight Boat RaceNordin Ćatić

Cambridge continued to power ahead. They scored a sixteen-second margin over Oxford going under Hammersmith Bridge, which was later stretched to forty seconds at Barnes Bridge. The Light Blues kept things tight but relaxed, while Oxford’s bladework was a little scrappy.

In a final push for the line, Cambridge notched up 36 SPM, as Richardson steered her crew to the record-breaking time and a hat-trick of wins over the last three years. Richardson and Jodie Cameron, who sat in the bow seat, both erupted to their feet in pure jubilation.

After the race, Shepheard commented: “I think that was the best race we could possibly have put down. Coming into this, we knew we had a really strong squad and it was just a case of putting down what we knew that we could do, and I think we showed that today. I hope this is the start of a round of Light Blue success this year.”

In answer to Shepheard, more Light Blue success certainly did follow, as CUBC Men made it a double defeat for Oxford with their victory.

Unlike their women counterparts, the men lined up on Middlesex station. Weighing in to ensure both crews were under the 70kg average limit, Oxford totalled 69.5kg, while Cambridge squeezed in at 69.9kg.

The Light Blues took an early lead, moving away to a three-quarter lengths margin as they passed the Putney boathouses. Cambridge pushed at 37 SPM and Oxford at 36, with the latter looking to have regained control with some sharp bladework despite the opening setback.

Cambridge, however, began to stretch a sizable lead in the face of Oxford’s rhythm, getting into clear water as they raced past Craven Cottage. Still outpacing Oxford with 36 SPM to their 35, Cambridge were also nailing blade placement, powering through the stroke, and finding neat exits, while the Dark Blues were getting splashy on the bow side.

Cambridge’s five-length victory margin in the Men’s Race more than doubles Oxford’s 2019 resultNordin Ćatić

Cambridge had a clear advantage going into the Hammersmith bend, with Oxford firmly where they wanted them as they approached the halfway mark.

But, the Dark Blues briefly responded, kicking SPM up to 34 against Cambridge’s 31, but they continued to look scrappy on the bow side in the face of a well-oiled, cohesive Cambridge machine.

Coming out of Barnes Bridge, the Light Blues looked set to beat Oxford’s 2019 winning time of 17:43. However, with the margin between the two boats remaining stable for the second half of the race, Cambridge appeared to sit into a triumphant rhythm that just came up short of breaking the record, crossing the line in 18:01:19, with each man hugging the man in front of and behind him.

Cambridge’s win put an end to three years of consecutive defeats, putting on a dominant display in just their second Boat Race on the Tideway.

Lightweight Men’s President and Blue-boat stroke, Matthew Edge, commented after the victory: “We got off to a really good, clean start, and were able to blast off the blocks and get into a good position.


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“We took a nice, early lead, and we really felt it in the legs - I was hanging on for dear life! But, we just held them [Oxford] off and controlled the race. Every time they came back, we hung on and pushed off.”

The double victory marks Cambridge’s first since 2018, and their first on the Championship Course.

As the Lightweight rowers now enjoy a well-deserved rest from competition, all eyes turn to the Openweight Boat Races that are set to take place on Sunday 3rd April, where Cambridge will hope to continue this ‘round of Light Blue success’.

Women’s crews


Cox: Amy Richardson (Pembroke)

Stroke: Rosa Millard (Trinity Hall)

7: Freya Sutcliffe (Jesus)

6: Brigid Kennedy (Peterhouse)

5: Miranda Clements (Hughes Hall)

4: Catherine King (Gonville & Caius)

3: Casey Shepheard (Jesus)

2: Gemma King (St John’s)

Bow: Jodie Cameron (Homerton)


Cox: Ben Carroll

Stroke: Katie Wellstead

7: Harriett Thomas

6: JoJo Blyth

5: Katherine Ferris

4: Helena Pickford

3: Phoebe Mountain

2: Hazel Wake

Bow: Rosie Thorogood

Men’s crews


Cox: Felix Craig-McFeely (Fitzwilliam)

Stroke: Matt Edge (St Catharine’s)

7: Ben Wood (Emmanuel)

6: Cameron Mackenzie (Gonville & Caius)

5: Ed Townsend (Downing)

4: Orlando Morley (Girton)

3: Freddie Markanday (Queens’)

2: Zuhri James (Fitzwilliam)

Bow: Harry Fieldhouse (St John’s)


Cox: Rollo Orme

Stroke: Alex Wythe

7: Ed Campbell

6: Nick Ryan

5: James Halsall

4: Matt Hudson

3: Harrison Kieffer

2: Aggy Crumpton

Bow: Olly Featherstone