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The Cambridge women’s boat takes on water during the Boat Race against Oxford on the River Thames in London on Sunday. (Matthew Childs/REUTERS)
The Cambridge women’s boat takes on water during the Boat Race against Oxford on the River Thames in London on Sunday. (Matthew Childs/REUTERS)

Oxford women’s rowers again swamp Cambridge crew in Thames rivalry Add to ...

Toronto’s Emma Lukasiewicz helped Oxford maintain its mastery of rival Cambridge on Sunday in the women’s Boat Race on the River Thames.

Lukasiewicz, 24, was a member of the crew that earned Oxford a fourth successive win, this one by a whopping 24 lengths as Cambridge came close to sinking. Despite Oxford’s 13th victory in 17 years, Cambridge has a 42-29 overall lead.

Calgary’s Ashton Brown was in Cambridge’s boat.

While the two women hold similar passports, there is a size difference.

Lukasiewicz, a former lightweight rower, is 5-foot-7 and 133 pounds, 45 pounds lighter than the 5-foot-8 Brown. The Cambridge crew averages 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, the same height as Oxford but 10 pounds heavier.

A difficult race for Cambridge descended into a struggle to finish as its boat took on water. The crew declined an offer from race organizers to stop before the finish line.

On the second consecutive year the women’s race was staged in London, Oxford finished in 21:49. In the past, the women competed over a two-kilometre straight course at Henley-on-Thames a week before the men raced.

It’s the ninth year of competitive rowing for Lukasiewicz after four at Toronto’s Havergal College and four at Harvard.

The 27-year-old Brown, meanwhile, started rowing seriously at Princeton where she did her undergraduate degree in economics.

Brown, who has a string of degrees, is doing a PhD (her second) on the role education can play in reducing the transmission of poverty across generations.

Lukasiewicz, whose background is in educational research, is doing a master’s degree in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation.

In the men’s event, Cambridge won its first race in four years, defeating Oxford by 2 1/2 lengths in the 162nd annual contest.

Despite extremely rough and choppy waters, pre-race favourite Cambridge looked more comfortable throughout the 6,800-metre course in south west London, finishing in 18 minutes 38 seconds.

Cambridge leads the series 82-79, with one tie. The race between the universities first took place in 1829 and is one of the oldest sporting events in the world.

Cambridge has led overall since 1930.

Race favourites Cambridge won the toss and chose to start on the same south side of the river as Oxford’s women. In rough conditions on the Tideway course, the teams began competitively but with the more experienced – and heavier – Cambridge crew slightly edging ahead while rowing more tidily.

Approaching the first bend, Cambridge was building a promising lead but a determined Dark Blues crew remained in contention when approaching the second bend by Hammersmith Bridge.

Cambridge built on its advantage in the unfavourable conditions caused by strong winds, and by the time the Light Blues reached Chiswick they were set up for victory.

With files from The Canadian Press

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