December Trial Races,
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On a cold December afternoon the Oxford and Cambridge University lightweight squads took to the waters of the Henley course for their trial races.

The Cambridge men were the first to race with their crews “Banging” and “Bending”. Conditions for the race were good and fair with a brisk tailwind. Off the start “Banging”, on the Berkshire station and with President Giovanni Bergamo-Andreis at bow, edged into a lead of a third of a length. By Remenham Club they had extended this to half a length and looked to break their opposition and move away. But, “Bending” stroked by Christ’s Colleges Tom Chess, had other ideas. They would not let “Banging” escape and maintained contact throughout the race. But “Banging” were able to hold them off to take the win by two-thirds of a length.

20 minutes after the Cambridge men had raced it was the time for their Oxford counterparts to do battle with their crews “Carpe Diem” and “YOLO”. The tailwind that had been brisk for the Cambridge race had strengthened significantly by the time the Oxford crews came under starters orders. Fortunately it was still a direct tail-wind and fair for both crews. Off the start “Carpe Diem” opened a quick lead of half a length. But “YOLO” responded and held them through to the Remenham Club, receiving warnings from Umpire Peter Knowles. But “Carpe Diem’s” sharper bladework began to tell over the second half of the course and they began to pull away inch by inch to take the win by one and half lengths.

Next it was the turn of the Cambridge women to race over the Henley course. Cambridge had decided to race in two coxed fours called “Chicken” and “Egg”. “Chicken”, on the Berkshire station, took the early lead but “Egg”, stroked by Emma Clifton and backed up by President Ella Barnard responded, and by Remenham had taken a narrow lead. By Fawley they had increased this to half a length. But “Chicken”, stroked by former USA junior international and Harvard alumni Kirsten Van Fossen, would not let them get away and charged for the line. Unfortunately for them the line came just too soon and “Egg” held on to win by one-third of a length.

The final race of the day saw the Oxford women face-off with their crews “Roast” and “Scramble”. Off the start both coxes took radically different courses, Stefany Wragg in “Scramble” on Berks and Madeline Briggs in “Roast” on Bucks, both headed to opposite sides of the river. “Scramble”, stroked by Ellie Backhouse, took an early lead which they never relinquished moving steadily away from “Roast”. But “Roast”, with President Jo Green in the five seat, responded and never let “Scramble” break away. By the line the verdict was one and a half lengths to “Scramble”.

Daniel Spring

Members of the Cambridge Women's Lightweight squad relax at Leander following the Trials Races.

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