The Brookes men’s squad were glad to return to calmer conditions on the Tideway this Sunday, following a challenging conditions against the University of Oxford the previous weekend. Brookes fielded two eights against the Cambridge University and Goldie, their reserve crew. Brookes III and IV raced against Thames I and II in a warmup fixture for the Eights Head of the River in three weeks time.
1st VIII vs CUBC
Brookes won the coin toss and chose the Surrey station for the first piece, which ran from the Boat Race start to Chiswick Steps. Brookes had the better start, gaining a couple of seats as the crews passed the town buoy. As the Fulham bend approached, Cambridge began to push and following some clashing between the crews, Cambridge came right back into contention. As the crews approached the mile Brookes pulled out to a 3/4 length lead, eventually breaking clear at Hammersmith and stretching out to a comfortable lead, finishing the piece a few lengths up.
Both crews remained on their original stations for the second piece, which ran from Chiswick Steps to the Boat Race finish. Brookes started aggressively whilst trying to use the initial bend to Surrey to take control of the race. Cambridge held the pushes made by Brookes and although Brookes had initially taken 3/4 of a length, Cambridge narrowed the gap as the crews passed the Bandstand. Both crews were in a ferocious fight through Barnes Bridge, with Cambridge sneaking ahead but the race was not won yet. Brookes, on the outside of the Middlesex bend, clawed back the deficit lost at Barnes and demonstrated their power and determination in a remarkable sprint finish which allowed them to take the lead in the latter stages of the race, taking the victory by just a few seats.
2nd VIII vs Goldie
Cambridge won the coin toss, and the Goldie cox chose the Surrey station for the first piece. Both pieces followed the same course as the 1st VIII fixture.
Goldie got off to a clean start and were able to push out to a narrow lead as the crews passed Putney Embankment. As both crews settled, the longer rhythm of Brookes showed and they drew level, eventually taking the lead as the crews passed the town buoy. After 2 minutes, Brookes had taken a lead of a full length and capitalised on the Fulham bend, which allowed them to push out to clear water. Brookes dominated the second half of the piece, taking significant clear water from Goldie up to Hammersmith, where they were able to stretch further to win the piece by some 5 lengths.
Brookes gave Goldie the favoured Middlesex station for the second piece, which had a rolling start. Brookes started hard and quickly broke to clear water, allowing them to pull in front of Goldie as they approached the Middlesex bend. Brookes had a comfortable lead as the crews passed Barnes Bridge, and were able to move further away in the final stages of the race.
3rd VIII vs Thames I
The 3rd VIII completed two pieces against Thames I over 2 first halves of the HORR course, spanning from Chiswick Bridge to Chiswick Eyot. Brookes started on the Surrey station, taking an early lead and opening the gap to one-length by Barnes Bridge. Thames held the gap until the final 300m when Brookes broke free and extended their lead to 1 2/3 lengths. The second piece had Brookes on the Middlesex station. Thames stuck with Brookes for the first minute before Brookes moved to open the gap to 1 1/2 lengths by Barnes Bridge. Final verdict 4 lengths.
4th VIII vs Thames II
The 4th VIII, racing over the same course as the Thames I fixture, started on the Middlesex station. Thames took an initial lead, and agrresive steering from both coxes provided an entertaining race. As the crews passed Barnes, Thames had a lead of half a length, extending that to a length at the bandstand. With two minutes to go, Brookes started to advance on the Thames crew, and a strong sprint saw them sneak to a win of 1 seat.
Brookes took the Surrey station for the second piece. Brookes this time had the stronger start, taking three seats. They quickly broke to clear water and by Barnes Bridge, Brookes led by a full length of clear water that they stretched out to finish by five lengths of clear water.
The next race for the full squad is the Head of the River Race on 21st March. Brookes will look to retain the Headship, which they have held since 2016.