Cambridge University’s top women rowers and the men’s Lightweight crews are racing Oxford at Henley this Saturday 1 April.

Racing starts at 1.30pm with the Men’s Lightweight Reserves, followed at half hourly intervals by Women's second boats Blondie and Osiris, the Women's Lightweights, the Blue Boats and then the Men's Lightweights.

The Henley Boat Races were founded in 1975 by Richard Bates, an undergraduate at St John's College, Cambridge, when he arranged the first Lightweight Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge over Henley Reach. This echoed the first Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, which took place at Henley in 1829.

The Women’s Boat Race was first raced in 1927, in the form of a time and style contest. It enjoyed a revival in the 1970s and the event joined the men’s Lightweights race at Henley in 1977. The Blondie-Osiris race followed, and with the inauguration of the Women’s Lightweight race in 1984 a successful 4-race formula ran for more than 15 years. The increased standard of Men’s Lightweight rowing in recent years has resulted in the formation of another race for the reserve crews, Nephthys and Granta, who have led the afternoon’s programme since 2000.

Prizes will be presented by a Cambridge rowing alumna of Gonville and Caius College, Dr Alison Mowbray, who won a silver medal in the Women’s Quadruple Scull at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

The smallest ever weight difference between the crews was recorded at the weigh-in this week at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley. Just 0.9kg per athlete separates the two Women's Blue Boats as they make final preparations in advance of Saturday's Boat Race. The Oxford crew equalled their own record set in 2002 with an average of 73.7kg per athlete (11st 8 1/2 lbs) while Cambridge weighed in at an average 72.8kg (11st 6 1/2 lbs).

Cambridge, winners of the Women’s Boat Race in 2005, will take some comfort from the fact that the lighter crew often wins - in only two of the five races since official weights were recorded has the heavier crew gone on to win, in marked contrast to the Women's Reserves race (Osiris v. Blondie) where the heavier crew has won four of the last five encounters.

Cambridge University Women's Boat Club Captain Lorna Collins, who will be rowing in Blondie, said: “This year’s squad has been very determined and hard working in every training session. We are going to go out there with a winning attitude, and although Oxford may look faster on paper, as they did last year, we believe we have the winning edge.”

CUWBC has produced 35 Olympic rowers over the last 20 years, including six medal winners at the Athens Olympics. Three women from the Club are currently training with the British Olympic Squad.

Racing schedule

  • 1.30pm Lightweight Men's Reserves - Nephthys v. Granta
  • 2.00pm Women's Reserves - Osiris v. Blondie
  • 2.30pm Lightweight Women's Boat Race - OUWLRC v. CUWBC Lightweights
  • 3.00pm Women's Boat Race - OUWBC v. CUWBC
  • 3.30pm Lightweight Men's Boat Race - OULRC v. CULRC
  • 4.30pm Trophies presented at Remenham Farm by Alison Mowbray, Olympic silver medallist 2004, GB women’s quadruple scull.

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