Cambridge celebrate with champagne@veronicainthefens with permission for Varsity

Cambridge’s Women’s Blue Boat proved unstoppable at this year’s Boat Race. With a dominant display on the Championship Course, they sealed their sixth consecutive victory over Oxford.

On a very successful day for the entirety of Cambridge University Boat Club, the success of the Blue Boat followed victory for Blondie (the women’s reserve boat) by three lengths.

A blanket of grey clouds had settled above, and choppy waters set a scene that foreshadowed the dramatic clash between the two historic rivals. The weather just about held out, but still added some jeopardy, as the strong northerly winds made for some tricky and rough racing along the four mile stretch of the twisting Thames.

Cambridge won the toss and elected to row on the Surrey side. At ten past three, the crew emerged, greeted by loud cheers as they marched out of the Thames Rowing Club boathouse, led by club president Caoimhe Dempsey, the only Blue Boat returnee.

Oxford made an aggressive start, taking an early lead. However, this did not threaten Cambridge who, despite being a fresh-faced crew, were unfazed by the pressure. It was not long before they eased back level with the Dark Blues. James Trotman, coxing the Light Blues, was outwardly clear and calm with his instructions though his heart rate measured at 145 bpm, revealing that the favourites were certainly feeling the heat.

Just before Hammersmith Bridge things started to get interesting. Some bold coxing by Trotman led to several umpire warnings, as a collision might have seen Cambridge disqualified. Olympic Champion Grace Prendergast, who was part of the 2022 Cambridge recording breaking crew and now turned commentator, joked that it might turn into an Oxford-Cambridge Bumps. In a one-on-one race, both coxes equally jostled for the fast water line. Trotman’s comments to The Guardian revealed that while, his line could be considered aggressive, he was “just trying to steer the best line for the crew and it paid off”. During the race he confidently held his position, stating: “When you get warned, get back on your station. It’s pretty simple. Job done. That’s what I did.”

From that moment on Cambridge assumed control of the race, settled into a strong rhythm, and pulled away. As they passed St. Paul’s School a large gap had developed between the Cambridge crew in front and Oxford lagging further behind. Having secured an important lead, Cambridge women were cruising at Barnes Bridge. However, a camera close-up captured the pain writ large across Freya Keto’s face as she powered through, demonstrating how Cambridge were still digging in deep, determined to maintain the gap.


Mountain View

Boat Race crews announced

With the few final pulls on the oars by Cambridge, they crossed the finish line just shy of Chiswick Bridge with a convincing four and a quarter length margin. There was a slight moment of concern as Oxford’s cox Tara Slade protested over encroachment, but this was quickly dismissed by the umpire as no contact was made. It was a combination of delight, relief, and exhaustion for the Cambridge women as they cheered, congratulated each other, and soaked up their victory. Relishing the moment, Trotman showcased impressive balance as he stood up with arms outstretched in jubilation. Only a slight wobble when congratulating stroke seat rower Dempsey nearly saw him fall overboard.

A joyous Dempsey told BBC Sport after the race: “That was a whirlwind of a race. The conditions changed so much from start to finish. I’m so proud; it is still sinking in. The girls are so tenacious, strong, and brave”. Their victory paved the way for a clean-sweep of Cambridge wins.