In pictures: Record-breakers Cambridge University revel in a fifth Women's Boat Race win in a row
Grace Prendergast described Cambridge University's record in their two-and-a-quarter length win in the Women's Boat Race as “an incredible reward for a very special crew".
It was an impressive performance from the Light Blues, who made it five victories in a row over Oxford University to take the 76th Women's Boat Race, with their winning run now stretching back to 2017.
Having got off to a flying start, Cambridge were four seconds ahead by the Mile Post, were pegged back by the Dark Blues by a second at Hammersmith Bridge, but with clear water had established a six-second lead by Chiswick Steps and seven seconds by Barnes Bridge.
They crossed the line in 18min 25sec to take eight seconds off the previous women's course record, with Oxford also going under the previous best time.
“Amazing,” said Cambridge No 7 seat Prendergast, who won gold and silver at the Tokyo Olympics with New Zealand last summer, on how it felt to win the Boat Race.
“It’s such an odd race to go into when you just have no idea of your competition’s speed but we were so confident in ours and honestly it was just a really enjoyable race to be a part of.
“When you are in the race, it never feels as comfortable as it looks. It felt like we were very in control of our own rhythm, so we were comfortable in that but it never felt like Oxford were giving up or they were going to let us go away so we knew we couldn’t let up so we did that well.
“It was a surprise [the course record]. You never go out there thinking of the times, but I think it’s an incredible reward for what I think is a very special crew."
Asked how the Boat Race win compared to Olympics success, Prendergast said: “I think, honestly, that they are such different experiences but both equally as special. I think this is such an amazing event to be a part of.
“I think I underestimated how incredible it was, and how special it was, and I think to come away with the win puts all the work into practice.”
Cambridge women's president Bronya Sykes is now a double-winning Blue, having followed up success at Ely last year with victory on the Championship Course.
“It’s phenomenal,” said the Gonville & Caius No 5 seat. “To win and course record is just amazing. All week we’ve kind of been hitting splits that we thought we could do it, but to actually execute it blows my mind and you don’t expect it.
“We knew that we have a really good base rhythm, so we thought if we do end up having to sit around them on the Surrey bend then we could do that because our base rhythm is really good.
“In the end we didn’t need to know because we got off to a fast start and Jasper (Parish) did a phenomenal job coxing so that we got in front of them and had all of the nice bends.”
Also completing a winning double Blue was Caoimhe Dempsey, who was alongside Sykes at Ely last year and was a seat in front at No 6 in this year's triumph.
“It’s completely different to last year,” said Dempsey.
“Last year we were just so excited to have a race at all. We didn’t care if there were any people around, we didn’t care what course it was on, and this time it just feels like a couple of years in the making.
“To actually be back here, you realise how much a part of it is giving back to the people and having your family here, having your friends here and being able to perform on this stage is so important. It just feels great.
“Every single day this year I’ve felt so lucky just to be here this year because the crew is amazing. This was a great team to be part of.”
In the reserves' race, Cambridge's Blondie beat Osiris by two-and-three-quarter lengths.