Members of Canada's National Rowing Team raced Friday on the Thames in England against top rowers from Cambridge University.
Friday's "fixture" with Canada was part of Cambridge's preparation for the 2008 Boat Race against Oxford University, which will take place this year on Saturday, March 29.
"The fixture with Cambridge was very exciting," said the coach of the Canadian eights crew, Terry Paul. "The conditions were challenging for both crews; a headwind against a current makes for very rough water. The first piece (race), which covered the first half of the Boat Race course, saw us gradually move out to an eight-seat lead. Cambridge then threw everything at us and raised its rate to 37 compared to our 33 (strokes per minute). We held off their push, and just as we were pulling away again, the Cambridge rower in two seat caught the blade of (Canadian) Derek O'Farrell's oar and caught a boat stopping crab, which allowed us to cruise to a win."
The Canadians also won the second race with the British university crew.
"The other part of the course was unrowable (for Cambridge) so we raced the first half again. This piece was controlled - start to finish - by our crew, which ended up with a comfortable victory," said Paul.
The crews raced on the part of the Thames' Tideway that makes up the first half of the course (the Boat Race distance is exactly 4 miles 374 yards).
"The whole trip has been a great experience and we hope we helped Cambridge prepare for their race versus Oxford next month," said Paul.
Next month's Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race will be the 154th in the series (www.theboatrace.org), which dates back to 1829. Last year, Canadian Kip McDaniel of Cobble Hill, B.C. helped Cambridge row to victory by one and a quarter lengths in a time of 17:49. McDaniel was in the Canadian boat for today's races.
Full crew lists are below.
Canadian Crew - with hometowns and career highlights
Derek O'Farrell, Unionville, Ont. (U23 medalist, Bronze M2+ 2006, 2007)
Kristopher "Kip" McDaniel, Cobble Hill, BC (Bronze M2+ 2007)
Jamie Faris, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. (U23 gold medalist 2003)
Robert Gibson, Kingston, Ont. (U23 Gold medalist 2006)
Christopher Aylard, Victoria, BC (U23 Gold medalist 2006)
David Calder, Victoria (World Champion 2003)
Peter Dembicki, West Vancouver (Bronze M4- 2005)
Max Lang, Lumby, BC (U23 Gold medalist 2006)
Mark Laidlaw, coxswain, Mississauga, Ont (U23 gold medalist 2006)
Coach: Terry Paul
Cambridge Crew - with colleges
Colin Scott (Trinity Hall)
Ryan Monaghan (St. Edmund's)
Henry Pelly (St. Edmund's)
Tobias Garnett (Trinity)
Peter Marsland (Clare Hall)
Thomas Ransley (Hughes Hall)
Thomas Edwards (Gonville and Caius)
Timothy Perkins (Jesus)
Rebecca Dowbiggin, coxswain (Emmanuel)
Coach: Duncan Holland