Cambridge (and Newnham) power to victory in the 75th Boat Race

In the 75th year of the Women’s Boat Race, Cambridge beat Oxford by a length to claim their 4th consecutive victory.

The first Women’s Boat Race saw only Newnham students compete against Oxford (Girton, the only other women’s college at the time, did not row competitively). This year, no fewer than three Newnham students formed part of the crew – testament to our Boat Club’s strength and encouragement of all its rowers.

The first Women’s Race took place in 1927 along Oxford’s Isis River, watched by hostile crowds of men. This year, due to the pandemic, the race took place on the Great Ouse, with the audience watching entirely from home, and cheering our students on.

The narrow, shorter and straighter course presented its own challenges to the rowers, not least the unexpected gusts of wind from across the fens.

It was a hard fought race, with Oxford apparently taking the lead at first, before a strong and resilient Cambridge overpowered them.

Our Newnham crew members:

Adriana Perez-Rotondo is the first Spaniard to row in the Boat Race – and only took up rowing on her arrival at Newnham. Adriana is studying for a PhD in computational neuroscience, and told the Cambridge Independent that she was first encouraged by Newnham’s enthusiastic Boat Club members to give the sport a go.

‘I believe most of the team culture comes from facing challenges together which brings you closer’ said Adriana

Cheering Caoimhe Dempsey on were her colleagues in the Centre for Family Research, where she is doing a PhD in developmental psychology.

Already an experienced student rower when she arrived at Newnham, she had inspiration from her family – Caoimhe’s mother and grandmother were both international athletes, representing her native Ireland.

‘I am part of a club of resilient and supportive teammates who I want to succeed for and with,” said Caoimhe.

JCR Member Sarah Portsmouth, who learnt to row at school, faced an additional challenge – competing against one of her best friends. Her school friend and fellow rower Katie Anderson was selected for the Oxford Boat, and the two spoke to the Guardian about their experience

‘We have been really open as a team about how we are feeling or coping, as well as viewing the uncertainty as an opportunity’, said Sarah.


Fellows, alumnae, staff and current students sent their best wishes and congratulations through social media – we couldn’t be prouder of our rowers, and the NCBC culture, in this anniversary year.