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‘This is my Olympics’, says Ben Dyer as Cambridge University celebrate 166th Men’s Boat Race victory

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Cambridge University Boat Club celebrate winning the 166th Men's Boat Race. Picture: Lucinda Douse/Row 360 (45823360)
Cambridge University Boat Club celebrate winning the 166th Men's Boat Race. Picture: Lucinda Douse/Row 360 (45823360)

Ben Dyer has described winning the Gemini Boat Race with Cambridge University as “my Olympics”.

In the shoot-out on the River Great Ouse in Ely, the Light Blues clinched victory in the 166th renewal by just short of a length over Oxford.

It meant that Cambridge made it three wins in a row.

A flying start was the key to their success, and they set a measured and relaxed rhythm to withhold the surges of Oxford to cross the finish line at Littleport first.

For No 2 man Dyer, a student at Gonville & Caius College, it was the pinnacle of a rowing career that only started in Cambridge four years ago.

“It’s just incredible,” said Dyer. “We just got off to an absolute flyer of a start, clean, clinical, powerful.

“I thought we were going to get clear but then Oxford did an incredible job. They just stuck in there, did exactly what they should have done, and they got pretty close.

“It was a dogfight, a boxing match, exactly what we said, but thankfully it was exactly the same as the Trial VIIIs.

“We got out to two quarters [ahead], maybe a couple more seats, but they came back and it was literally a carbon-copy of the Trial VIIIs.

“We just stayed clinical and trusted the boys. About 200m to go, it started to sink in and people started to say ‘we’re going to win’.

“It’s been four years in the making for me. I learned to row three-and-a-half years ago, three seasons for CUBC, I was a spare, then Goldie and it was cancelled.

“It all came down to one race. It was a bit like the Olympics really, this is my Olympics and we won - simple as that.”

Cox Charlie Marcus steered a steady and strong line for Cambridge to counter Oxford, with some words of caution from umpire Sarah Winckless, and made the crucial calls at key moments.

“Our boat, we don’t have as huge amount of experience and we have guys who have rowed in American third eights, second eights, and haven’t really made a mark against guys who have been pretty big deals in many programmes across the world but we are Cambridge and the programme Rob Baker has got here is really strong and really gets the most out of everyone,” said the Trinity College student.

“We knew that the first two to three minutes would be really important and we really wanted to take the race to them, in the second minute especially.

“We called that at a minute and the momentum minute where we were going to get momentum for the rest of the race.

“In eights racing, margins don’t often get reversed and that was the same here.

“We knew we had pretty good speed. We had done 2.41 for 1km, which was pretty quick.

“We knew we could rattle them off the start.”

Cambridge University Boat Club celebrate winning the 166th Men's Boat Race. Picture: Lucinda Douse/Row 360 (45823356)
Cambridge University Boat Club celebrate winning the 166th Men's Boat Race. Picture: Lucinda Douse/Row 360 (45823356)

St Edmund’s College student Garth Holden, who was in the No 5 seat, was delighted to have been part of the victorious crew.

“Everyone in that boat is my brother and I love them so much and it was great to cross the finish post with them,” he said.

“It’s incredible. People were pretty disappointed when it wasn’t on the Tideway this year, when it wasn’t in the middle of London, but I think it is better.

“We love this course, this is where we do all our stuff.

“Crossing the finish line first is good for me, much better for the team. It feels nice to come first, it feels nice to help my brothers get across the line first.

Theo Weinberger, a St John’s College student, was in the bow seat and was almost lost for words with Cambridge’s success.

“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “I’m not entirely sure what just happened there really.

“I never expected the race to go like that. Ecstatic is all I can really say.

“We went out hard, took the lead and then absorbed any pushes the Oxford guys made, then walked when we could walk. I’ve got to really commend the Oxford guys for that, they stuck in.

“They scared me down the course; at the same time I’m really proud of the guys in our boat, we kept as calm as you can do.

“I still really can’t believe that just happened. You dream about this moment, but there is nothing that can quite describe it.”

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