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Cambridge triumph over Oxford in 162nd Boat Race

Wind and rain lashed down on the River Thames as thousands of people braved chilly conditions to see Cambridge win the 162nd Boat Race.

Lightning had struck ahead of the annual Oxford-Cambridge university duel.

The sky cleared, leaving a nasty chill in the air as spectators lined the banks of the four-and-a-quarter mile course in London.

Uniformed police patrolled Hammersmith Bridge, one of the favourite viewing spots, as families and dog walkers joined spectators, some of whom had nipped out of the nearby pubs for a glimpse of the famous race.

Loud cheers rang out as spectators watched from the big screens set up on the river bank.

Sandra Gibson, from Lincolnshire, wondered if "anyone else felt seasick" just watching the contest as the rowers powered through the choppy River Thames.

Organisers estimate that more than 250,000 people lined the course to cheer on the rowers, while millions more watched on television.

There was some joy for TV presenter and Cambridge alumna Carol Vorderman, who tweeted: "No pressure @Cambridge_Uni but I've already opened the bottle...go Light Blues."

This was followed by: "YAYYYYYYYYYYYY ....... wonderful Cambridge win ... my god I love that place .... congratulations Light Blues ...."

The four-and-a-quarter mile course starts from Putney Bridge, travelling on to its midway point at Hammersmith and moving through Barnes before finishing at Chiswick Bridge.

For the second year in a row, the women's boat race took place on the same day as the men's.

Oxford claimed it s fourth women's victory in a row as Cambridge narrowly avoided sinking.

Scotland Yard said it had not received any reports of protests or incidents at the event.

It was Cambridge's first win in the Boat Race since 2012, and it extended their overall lead over Oxford to 82-79.

Head coach Steve Trapmore, a formidable oarsman in a career which saw him win gold in the eight at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, said his team "had a lot to prove".

Trapmore, 41, said of his team: "It's a tough ask to go up against what we've been challenged with in the last few years. We knew we had a lot to prove."

Cambridge built a lead of two-and-a-half lengths to win in 18 minutes and 38 seconds.

Trapmore said: "We'd been practising (rough water) all year, and one of the fantastic things about the race is the variety of conditions you could be presented with. We haven't had a race like this in a long time.

"I'm really proud of how the guys mentally approached it. Today was a culmination of the process we've been working on for so long and so hard.

"It makes it all the sweeter to know we've beaten their tenacity. I think it's the start of the turn of the tide for Cambridge."

Oxford coach Sean Bowden described the conditions as the "worst I've ever seen in a Boat Race", adding: "We didn't get a lot of rough water in training so you have to make the most of it in the last couple of days.

"It was a lot worse today. You react as best you can and produce as good a plan as possible."

He described the result as "disappointing".

The rough waters caught both teams by surprise in the 71st women's Boat Race. Despite a stuttering start, Oxford secured their 13th win in 17 years by one minute and 11 seconds, or 24 lengths.

The main problem for Cambridge looked to be staying afloat, as their vessel took on a lot of water.

Coach Rob Baxter, whose team finished in 23 minutes, said: "I think our cox (Rosemary Ostfeld) did amazingly well.

"She very nearly got us back into a winning position, but Oxford had the gas to pull away and we nearly sunk in the rest of the race."

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