The Championship Course, London

1 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 06.02.23

The Trial Eights, sees evenly matched crews from the same club race against each other over The Championship Course, these races form a key part of the Boat Race season. They come at the end of the autumn academic term for the student-athletes and are usually the last key event before the Christmas break.

Cambridge Women

On the second day of Trial VIIIs, snow replaces fog, but aside from the icy-cold air conditions are great for racing and the Tideway grants another day of flat water. The Light Blue women are the first to take to the water. Their crew names reference football legends Megan Rapinoe, a US World Cup winner, and England’s Women’s Euro 2022 winner Beth Mead, both strong advocates for women’s sport.

A slick start sees Mead establish an early lead. Inside the first two minutes Sam Clark’s crew snatch two thirds of a length on Rapinoe but umpire Matt Smith is already warning the green-haired cox for his line. Unflappable, Rapinoe hold their ground. They dig-in and limit the damage. The margin remains unchanged despite the Fulham bend. Ragged, rugged and racy, Rapinoe refuse to yield and they set light to the Crabtree Reach, rating 36. Mead settled lower and their smooth, consistent rhythm is in stark contrast to their steering. “Move Mead!” Smith commands Clark before the two crews clash in front of Harrods Depository and again beyond Hammersmith Bridge.