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Oxford coach thrilled to overcome big setbacks

By Declan Warrington

Oxford head coach Sean Bowden has revealed their victory over Cambridge in the 163rd Boat Race came after they encountered significant difficulties in preparations.

Their fourth win in five years, which after defeat in 2016 reduced the overall deficit to 82-80, came in a time of 16 minutes and 59 seconds — four seconds and one and a quarter lengths ahead of their rivals.

The latest victory was the 12th Bowden has overseen in 14 years, but was only secured after his crew had struggled to gel throughout the race’s build-up.

“It was a challenge,” said Bowden. “We had some strong guys in the team but there was a real lack of compatibility from a technical point of view. We struggled week-in, week-out with boats that were just pretty awful.

“We all knew it and we worked systematically through it and it just took a bit of time just to get the gears to mesh, combinations that would work. It took us until the end of February to finally hit the target we wanted, to where it’d take a great boat to beat us.”

Cambridge counterpart, Steve Trapmore MBE — who won Olympic gold with Britain at Sydney 2000 — recognised the early lead Oxford built had proved too much to overcome.

He said: “We were on the front foot for a little but didn’t quite have the horsepower to sneak up in the middle (of the race), where we needed to. They did immensely well to stick in there.”

Cambridge did, however, win the 72nd edition of the women’s race, and in a record time for the Tideway course, to further their overall lead to 42-30.

They secured victory in 18 minutes, 34 seconds and with an 11-length lead after Oxford’s damaging, stuttering start gave them an exceptional advantage to hold on to.

Cambridge’s women’s head coach Rob Baker said: “Oxford had a mishap at the start, which was really unfortunate; we would rather that doesn’t happen.”

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