Rowing: Oxford enjoy crushing double on historic day for varsity race

LONDON (REUTERS) - Oxford's rowers ruled the waves in Saturday's varsity boat races with the men crushing their Cambridge counterparts after the women's crew had powered to an historic victory on the River Thames.

For the first time since it's introduction in 1927, the women's race was held on the same day and on the same 7,000m stretch of water as the men and Oxford marked the breakthrough moment with a processional victory.

That set the tone for the later action, when Oxford's men won the 161st men's race by six lengths to triumph for the sixth time in eight years.

In sunny conditions and with huge crowds lining the river from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge, Oxford's women moved a boat's length clear after a minute and powered away.

Oxford's crew had to be rescued from the choppy tidal waters of the Thames during a training session in the week after getting into trouble, but neither boat suffered any alarms.

"It's a really special moment, something I've been working towards for three years," Oxford team member and president Anastasia Chitty told BBC Sport.

"It's even more special because so many women (have) not had this opportunity so it's really humbling."

The women's race has been held since 1927 further up river at Henley on a straight 2,000m course, but after years of campaigning for equal billing they were finally given equality with the men this year.

Oxford's men, despite being the lighter crew, took longer to establish their superiority, but once they attacked halfway through the race Cambridge had no answer.

The winning margin was 19 seconds.