LONDON (AP) — It's four wins out of five for Cambridge in one of England’s oldest sporting events after it powered to victory over Oxford in the men's Boat Race on Sunday.
And it was a bold move by Cambridge cox Jasper Parish, whose mother is Canadian, on the River Thames that proved the difference in the annual contest between the two universities which started in 1829. Cambridge now leads the rivalry 86-81.
Cambridge had rudder issues before the race and Oxford, with the weight advantage, pulled ahead. But Parish's decision to steer his crew closer to the bank in Fulham, in a bid to find friendlier waters, ultimately paid off as Cambridge took a half-length’s lead.
While Oxford would not let their opponents get away, it turned out to be an inspired move by Parish as Cambridge carried its advantage over the finish line.
The winning Cambridge men's boat included Thomas Lynch, who was born in Ireland but grew up in Vancouver, and English-born brothers Jasper and Ollie Parish, whose mother, Zoe, is from Toronto. Jasper, the younger brother, coxed the Cambridge women to victory last year.
Lynch rowed for Cambridge's reserve crew in a losing cause last year.
The Oxford crew featured Vancouver's Alexander Bebb and Swiss-Canadian Jean-Philippe Dufour, whose mother is Canadian with family in Toronto and Kingston, Ont.
Bebb, 25, made the Oxford reserve crew in 2020, only to see the race cancelled by the pandemic
Bebb became president of the Oxford University Boat Club in 2021, following in the footsteps of Canadian Malcolm Howard, a two-time Olympic medallist who was Oxford president in 2014. Bebb and Dufour were both in the losing Oxford boat in 2021 when the race was contested on the River Great Ouse near Ely, Cambridgeshire.
Bebb took last year off to focus on his studies. In 2018, he placed fifth in the Canadian eight at the World Rowing U23 Championship in Poznan, Poland.
Last year, Oxford had halted its rival’s run of three straight wins, but it proved to be a temporary pause of Cambridge's recent dominance.
In the women's race, Cambridge made it six straight wins after beating Oxford with another dominant performance in the 77th edition.
Oxford got out to a strong start but Cambridge recovered. By the halfway point, the defending champions were well ahead and steered to victory.
“I’m just so proud of the girls,” Cambridge women’s president Caoimhe Dempsey said. “That was a tough race, there was so much going on and they handled it so well.”
Montreal's Claire Brillon was in the winning Cambridge women's boat. So was German Carina Graf, a fellow University of British Columbia alumnus.
Brillon, 26, competed for Canada at the 2018 world university championships in Shanghai and the four at the 2022 world rowing championships in Racice, Czechia, moving to Cambridge immediately after.
She took up rowing in 2015 in her first year at UBC where she was a five-time academic all-Canadian.
Brillon is studying music cognition/psychology, specializing in how music is processed in the brain and perceived. She hopes to row internationally again once she finishes her master's degree.
Cambridge also won the women's reserve race over an Oxford crew that included Winnipeg's Kate Friesen.
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The Associated Press