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Cambridge University make history with victory over Oxford in first Lightweight Women's Boat Race on the Championship Course

Cambridge University Women's Boat Club lightweight captain Catherine Walker. Picture: Keith Heppell (32354510)
Cambridge University Women's Boat Club lightweight captain Catherine Walker. Picture: Keith Heppell (32354510)

Catherine Walker described a plan well-executed as Cambridge University created history to win the first Lightweight Women’s Boat Race to be held on the Championship Course on the Tideway (Sunday, March 15).

The Gonville & Caius student, the captain of the Light Blues, was full of praise as her crew fought back to win by six lengths.

It was an eventful race, which was sponsored by Interactive Investor, as some early clashing of blades with their Oxford rivals forced cox Emily Insanally to steer Cambridge out and surrender an early lead to the Dark Blues, who were up by four seconds at Hammersmith Bridge.

But the Light Blues showed great resolve to dig deep and go clear approaching Barnes Bridge to secure victory by 21 seconds.

“It’s a visualisation we have done so many times,” said lightweights captain Walker, “we’ve probably rowed through Oxford about 10 times in our head.

“So when our cox told us that we were going to row through them, we knew exactly what to do.

“It’s a testament to the work we’ve put into visualising, specifically for this course. We knew we were going to row here and there was never any question what we were going to do. So we’re very happy.”

Florence Alexander, in Cambridge’s No 7 seat, added: “They took a fair amount off the start, but we knew we had our bend.

“We wanted to go out hard. They had a good start but we visualised it.

“No matter how far ahead they could get, we knew we could come back through and we did.”

Unfortunately, it was not to be a Light Blues double as the men lost their Lightweights Boat Race to Oxford by three lengths.

Cambridge University Lightweight Rowing Club president Teague Smith said: “We did our best. We put in a good performance but Oxford were just faster.

“You can’t control the outcome, you just do what you can and what happens, happens.”

Meanwhile, Imogen Grant secured first place in the 2020 GB Rowing Team Olympic Trials at the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake.

The 24-year-old Bar Hill-based Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club oarswoman was first in the lightweight women’s single sculls.

Emily Craig was second, and Ellie Piggott third.

Former CUWBC oarswoman Melissa Wilson was sixth in the women’s single sculls final, which was won by Vicky Thornley.

CUWBC alumni Oonagh Cousins and Holly Hill won a fantastic B final for the women’s pairs.

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