In the worst possible conditions, Oxford University lost to Oxford Brookes on the London Tideway as they build to next month’s Boat Race, writes John Wiggins.

The two universities had not met for a fixture since 1994.

Brookes meanwhile have established themselves as one of very few student boat clubs capable of giving the Oxbridge crews a competitive race.

Against the Dark Blues on Sunday in a fierce headwind, they set off at a much more measured, yet competitive pace than they did against Cambridge three weeks before.

Brookes allowed Oxford a small lead in the first mile before their more solid rhythm took control.

With repeated warnings from the Cambridge umpire, Simon Harris, to Brookes cox Harry Brightmore, they had moved out to a two-thirds of a length lead approaching Hammersmith Bridge before a ‘crab’ in the Brookes stern allowed Oxford back on terms.

As they rounded the bend almost level into roughest water, the crews were confronted by a dozen or more sailing dinghies which prematurely halted the race at the start of Chiswick Eyot.

Within a minute, another stray sailing boat blocked the path. On the re-start with a small amount of the Surrey bend still in their favour, Oxford leapt a length ahead.

With the bend now turning Brookes’ way and with Oxford struggling in rougher water, Brookes eased past for a small lead under Barnes Bridge.

The rhythmic Brookes crew showed no mercy to finish over two lengths ahead.

Comparisons between might be clouded by crew changes and the extreme conditions in which these races were held, but, after this, Cambridge will be seen as favourites for the Cancer Research UK Boat Race.

Brookes coach, Henry Bailhache-Webb said: "To come out on top against a programme that is unbeaten in fours years is a testament to the hard work all our Brookes athletes are putting in."

Oxford head coach, Sean Bowden was disappointed, but is grateful that his relatively inexperienced crew will have learned much from the encounter.

The wind that troubled Oxford University completely frustrated City of Oxford RC as the City of Bristol Head was cancelled.

l Abingdon School did well in the Hammersmith Head where their 2nd VIII finished ninth overall and second in the IM3 event.

Many of their first crew were in Boston for the last of the open GB junior trials. Tom Digby made his mark, winning the coxless pairs on the Saturday with schoolmate Adam Teece.

The pair split to race with new partners on Sunday. Teece finished third, while Digby excelled to win again but in the double sculls.