OXFORD Boat Race winning cox Jack Tottem again got the better of the Light Blues when he steered his Leander Club boat to two wins in a private fixture on the Tideway.
The Old Monmothian, who guided Oxford to glory in the 167th varsity race last April, is currently targeting more success with world rowing’s oldest club at Henley, whose members have won more than 120 Olympic medals.
And while most of its current Olympians sat out the private fixture on the Boat Race course, the latest crop of Pink Palace talent showed loads of speed downing Cambridge ahead of the Light Blues’ March 26 clash with Oxford.
Starting at the traditional Boat Race start in Putney, the first race was around 2.5-miles through Hammersmith Bridge and on to Chiswick steps.
Cambridge, on the Middlesex side with the advantage of the first bend around Fulham football ground, got off to a strong start and led Leander in the initial stages.
But the crew of the Devauden steersman were in a good strong rhythm and drew back level around the outside of the bend and continued to move through as the river swung their way into the Surrey bend to take the first race by clear water with the verdict being one-and-a-half lengths.
The second race started from Chiswick Steps to the Boat Race finish just before Chiswick Bridge, a distance of around 1 3/4 miles.
Leander got off to a better start and led by 1/2L early on with the rest of the Surrey bend advantage, before the river swung back to Cambridge on the inside from the Bandstand on.
It was nip and tuck with the Wye cox keeping his crew’s bows just in front, but a Leander crab in the last few strokes brought the crews even closer with the Henley outfit just holding on to win by 1/4L.
Tottem and his squad, which will probably be strengthened by GB’s returning Olympians, will now be focussing on the men’s Head of the River Race over the reverse Boat Race course on Saturday, March 18.
Their main rivals for the Tideway head crown will be champions Oxford Brookes, who beat the Dark Blues on Saturday in their own fixture to secure local derby bragging rights, winning two races by 3L and 2L, with the winning boat including Wales and GB rower Sam Bannister in the four seat.
Before the men’s time-trial, the tidal stretch hosts the world’s biggest women’s rowing race this Saturday (March 4), with a maximum 320 eights entered for the Women’s Eights Head, including Monmouth RC who will be starting 100th.
Monmouth RC’s men will also be in action in the March 18 race, having finished 104th last year.