Oxford fury at umpire decision as Cambridge win Women's Boat Race again

The Women's Boat Race finished in controversy on the River Thames as Oxford protested an umpire decision.
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Cambridge University continued their domination in the Women's Boat Race once again in a controversial battle against Oxford University on Saturday afternoon. The historic varsity battle was decided in a moment of coxing madness from the dark blues' Joe Gellett.

The coxswain tried to 'bump' the Cambridge University boat shortly after the halfway point in the race as the holders moved across the water in a bid to send some turbulence towards their opponents. If Oxford had made contact with Cambridge, and the latter deemed to be in their water, the winners would have been disqualified.

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Oxford had been favourites going into the race under new coach Allan French, who had enjoyed huge success with the women's squad at rowing titans Oxford Brookes. The dark blues won the toss and made the most of their Middlesex station early by gaining a half-length lead by Craven Cottage.

Serial winners in recent years, Cambridge kept their cool, knowing that the bend of the Tideway would soon swing into their favour. Before Hammersmith Bridge, Gellett tried to use his crew's lead to send dirty water to their rivals with umpire Richard Phelps watching like a hawk.

A warning followed but a gritty Cambridge boat was undeterred with the gap closed to just two seconds coming past Hammersmith Bridge. The race looked destined to come to a dramatic final blow-out as Cambridge began to use the course to their advantage with coxswain Hannah Murphy edging her boat closer to Oxford water.

As the boats passed Chiswick Eyot, Gellett took the daring decision to try and end the race before the finish line by bumping into Cambridge in a bid to prove they had interfered with his line. The move backfired as Oxford looked shaken and took their foot off the accelerator, as a ruthless Cambridge pounced to open up more clear water.

Cambridge University win the Women's Boat Race again.Cambridge University win the Women's Boat Race again.
Cambridge University win the Women's Boat Race again.
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There was no catching Cambridge after that, with the Light Blues winning for the seventh time in a row.

After the race, Gellett raised his arm to protest the umpire decision. Cutting a frustrated figure, he told Phelps: "When they were in our water, we hit them. I didn't come out of my station. We just went forwards. They were in our water. I was still in my station. Only after we hit them you started warning me. I was still in my water."

Phelps responded by telling the Oxford crew: "My view is that you deliberately steered towards them in order to make that contact. That contact took place on the Surrey side of the racing line."

Speaking after the race, the Oxford cox told the press: "The reason I appealed the decision was because, going into it, it was Cambridge being warned which implicated to me it occurred in our water. Directly after it was us being warned. That's why I appealed.

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"It's frustrating. Just as a result as well. We've had a really strong year with Allan leading us and a lot of frustration is that we felt really strong coming into the race."

Cambridge cox Hannah Murphy said: "I knew I was on my station. I could hear the umpire warning Oxford back. The best thing for us to do was to move out in that situation. We just wanted to get out and get ahead."

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