Saturday, 16 December 2017

Former Leander oarsmen help Light Blues triumph

FOUR former Leander athletes had cause to celebrate after Sunday’s Boat Races were played out in the

FOUR former Leander athletes had cause to celebrate after Sunday’s Boat Races were played out in the most atrocious conditions for years, writes Robert Treharne Jones.

A strong south-westerly wind was bound to cause problems against the tide over the second half of the course, and so it proved.

The Oxford women took an early lead, in predictable fashion, and managed to maintain the advantage as both crews battled through the rough water. Emma Spruce rowed at two, but it was the Dark Blues’ cox, Morgan Baynham-Williams, who got her share of the limelight after making the bold decision to steer their boat close to the bank and avoid some of the roughest water.

In the chaos that ensued water poured over the sides of the losing Cambridge boat. It was more than the on-board pumps could handle, and for a moment it seemed that the crew would sink, as their men’s crew had last done in 1978. But the women refused to be rescued and battled on bravely to finish the course. Emma Spruce knew her crew could cope but hadn’t anticipated conditions being that bad.

“I felt strong and confident all the way through – that’s part of the programme, a belief that we could come through it, and that didn’t falter. I can remember getting to Hammersmith and from then on it was just a matter of getting my blade in, trying to stay ahead,” she said.



Roles were reversed in the men’s race, an hour later, where Cambridge took the lead as they attempted to reverse a recent Oxford run of success.

The Light Blues’ crew included former Leander athletes Charlie Fisher at bow and Ladies’ Plate winner Lance Tredell at stroke.

Cambridge already had a clear lead as the two crews rounded the Hammersmith bend, and the white water began to fly as the boats tried to gain ground amidst standing waves.

As the two coxes searched for more tranquil water, the Cambridge cox Ian Middleton hugged the Middlesex bank, with his crew going on to claim a memorable victory.

Tredell, a first year land economy PhD student at Hughes Hall later showed off his ‘lucky’ Leander socks which he had worn throughout the race.

“Conditions got pretty crazy out there – we anticipated that after we saw the forecast,” he said.

“I’m chuffed to win, it was my first Boat Race, so I’ve got two more years yet — it’s looking good for Cambridge,” he added.



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