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Henley Boat Races
by Liz Wray
posted on March 27, 2005

Officials on the Henley Reach
Oxford 4 - Cambridge 1

With most of the media’s attention focused on Sunday’s Oxford Cambridge boat race, it’s easy to overlook the other Oxford / Cambridge races which take place annually on the Henley Reach. The Henley races feature the Women’s Blue Boats; the women’s reserve crews; the women’s lightweights; the men’s lightweights and the men’s lightweight reserves, whilst Sunday’s races on the Tideway are limited to the men’s Blue Boats and their reserve crews.

Although the event doesn’t receive the same level of media attention as Sundthe Tideway races, the good weather brought out the crowds and there are few regattas who can claim foreign heads of state amongst their spectators. Indeed there were a few double takes on Saturday afternoon, as people realised that Mary McAleese, the Irish President, was watching the racing from the bank.

The reason for the impromptu visit was her daughter Sara, who was racing in the 2 seat of the Oxford University women’s lightweight crew. Oxford won by 1/2 length in what turned out to be the closest race of the day, but only after the race was restarted because 2 in the Cambridge crew came off her seat (The Henley races are one of the few races left in the UK where the 100m equipment failure rules still exists).

The main event of the day was the women’s Blue boat race, which Cambridge won by a convincing 2 1/3 lengths. Oxford had a fast start but settled at a high rate (38) which they couldn’t maintain. The light blues had found their rhythm by Remenham Club where they slowly edged ahead. The win was the first for the light blues since 2001 and the first for Coach Roger Silk since he took back over the squad again. Roger lost his son to cancer just over two weeks ago and the Blondie crew (the women’s reserves) were rowing in a boat named "Andy Silk" in his memory.

Oxford also picked up wins in both men’s lightweight races and the women’s reserve race, so as Cambridge won the Veteran’s race on the Tideway earlier this week and Oxford won Thursday’s spare pair’s race, Oxford are currently up 5 to 2 in the 2005 series with two races to go.

See the full photo gallery here.