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Cambridge University Boat Club’s rowers step up preparations for Boat Race day with Trial VIIIs on River Thames

There was plenty of entertainment and incident during Cambridge University Boat Club’s Trial VIIIs on Monday.

The Trial VIIIs are the one and only opportunity that the Boat Race clubs have to simulate race day, which this year is scheduled to take place on March 26.

After their Oxford counterparts went on Sunday, 24 hours later it was the turn of the Cambridge rowers as two women’s crews and two men’s crews went head to head on the 6.8km River Thames course between Putney and Chiswick Bridge.

Cambridge University Boat Club squad in training on the River Great Ouse earlier this year. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge University Boat Club squad in training on the River Great Ouse earlier this year. Picture: Keith Heppell

The women went first, with the two squads being named after famous footballers – Megan Rapinoe and Beth Mead.

CUBC’s women’s president Caoimhe Dempsey said: “Paying tribute to a huge year in women’s football, seeing the Lionesses receive some of the most attention ever paid to women’s sport and the US announcing equal pay for male and female athletes, we named our crews after two of the world’s greatest footballers.

“Both are inspirational and huge advocates for women’s sport.”

In a race that saw some aggressive steering from the coxes, a clash resulted in a crab for the Mead boat and proceedings having to be restarted before Rapinoe came out on top courtesy of an impressive sprint on the outside of the bend.

Meanwhile, snow started to fall as the men’s race got under way between crews named Youth and Experience.

Pre-race, CUBC men’s president Ollie Boyne said: “We’ve been in our set crews for a few weeks now, gelling well and producing two high quality units.

“One of our crews has six undergrads, and the other seven postgrads, so, as well as testing our crews over the Championship course, we’re hoping to answer the age-old question with our Trial IIIs names: which is better, youth or experience.”

It was Youth that looked to pull away on several occasions and establish a lead, only for the Experience boat to respond.

However, in the closing stages the Youth boat did manage to go clear and hold out for victory.

The crews will now break for Christmas before returning to training in the new year.

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