Early pointers towards the 154th Boat Race on March 29 were undertaken last weekend when Oxford, and their reserve boat Isis, took the Reading Head by storm, writes Mike Rosewell.

The potential Blue Boat won the whole event by a comfortable half-a-minute margin from Leander, with Oxford Brookes, the senior 2 winners, in third place overall.

Brookes were four seconds ahead of the Oxford Isis, who won the senior 1 honours, in spite of receiving a time penalty for a marshalling infringement.

Meanwhile, Cambridge on the Tideway on Friday, suffered two training defeats by a Canadian crew of internationals.

The crews for this year's Putney-to-Mortlake contest will be announced on Wednesday, when Oxford president - former Abingdon School pupil Nick Brodie - will lay down the challenge.

Back at Reading, the Oxford's women's Boat Race squad also had a field day.

Their senior 2 winning eight were the fastest women's crew on a programme, and they also took the women's Senior 3 and senior 4 honours.

The top two crews from St Edward's went to Worcester, and their first eight won the senior 4 class.

Back on the Isis, there were changes of leadership in both the men's and women's echelons at the Torpids. Magdalen ended the week as the top men's crew and St Catherine's head the women.