On a Tideway in biblical conditions, OBUBC’s men raced Oxford, in their first official Boat Races media fixture. Both crews raced their respective Blue Boat and Isis counterparts over two pieces – from Putney to the Eyot, then restarting again at the Eyot, and finishing at the University Finish Post by Chiswick Bridge.
As with Cambridge, Brookes found themselves up against a stronger Oxford crew than in 2016’s fixtures, this time containing two Olympians. In the first half course, Oxford took an early lead out the blocks from the Surrey station and maintained a 1-length lead to Hammersmith, where the conditions then became progressively worse, with swirling winds and breaking waves. OBUBC rowed a cleaner middle of the race however from the outside of the bend, and brought the Dark Blue lead back within contact at the end of the first piece, finishing around 1/2 length down. The second piece took off with both crews remaining level, until Oxford moved up to 3/4 length by the bandstand. Once again though, on the inside of the final bend, Brookes started a steady yet spirited charge from Barnes, bringing their bows back in front in the last 100m, until an athlete came off their seat, allowing Oxford to reach the Finish Post a seat ahead, with both crews collapsed in a heap across the line following the racing. A lesson to learn from this – make sure you tape your seat-pad down.
You can watch race footage of the 1st boat’s fixture against Oxford HERE.
In the 2nd VIII’s fixture with Isis, Brookes took an early lead of 2/3 length. As the bend swung round toward Hammersmith, Isis began to reel the lead back in, gaining a 1-seat advantage by the Eyot, and the end of the first piece. In the second piece though, Brookes went out with an even stronger rhythm, rowing away from Isis from stroke 1, to finish around 3 lengths ahead.