University Stone to Furnival Steps
Saturday 1 April 2017
When Cambridge won the Veterans’ Boat Race ten Leander members were at the heart of the action which ended in disqualification for Oxford.
With average ages of 42 and 45 the crews, comprising former Boat Race athletes, included Olympic silver medal cox Zoe de Toledo steering Oxford, with another Leander legend, Sir Matthew Pinsent, in charge as umpire.
The veterans, boasting eight Olympians among their ranks, set off the start at a brisk 38 strokes a minute but the Dark Blues, stroked by former Leander Olympian Tom Solesbury, began to take the early lead.
As the inside of the Middlesex bend continued to favour Oxford so the lead increased, with two lengths separating the crews past Fulham Football Ground.
But Cambridge were not out of the running and began to inch back as the crews approached the Mile Post, and then began a serious push.
Oxford struggled to answer the attack, and Cambridge closed rapidly past Harrods, where Pinsent started to warn Oxford continuously to get back on their station.
As de Toledo held her line a clash looked inevitable, and just as the crews passed beneath Hammersmith Bridge the blades started to interlock and the Cambridge 3-man, Toby Backhouse, struggled to regain control of his oar as they raced the last 20 strokes.
Oxford cleared the finish line opposite Furnivall Sculling Club a length to the good, but Pinsent already had hold of his red flag, eventually disqualifying them for interference and making Cambridge the victors.
“Cambridge came on so strongly – it was either a case of letting them through or risking the clash” said de Toledo after the race.
Cambridge now lead the 22-year series by 15 wins to 7.