Taking control from the start at Putney on the sunlit River Thames, Oxford’s eight quickly moved a boat’s length clear and never faltered during the 7,000m slog to Chiswick Bridge.
Oxford’s crew had to be rescued from the choppy tidal waters of the Thames during the week after getting into trouble, but neither crew suffered any alarms on Saturday as large crowds lining the river cheered.
The women’s race has been held since 1927 further up river at Henley, but after years of campaigning for equal billing they were finally given equality with the men.
Oxford are also favourites to win the 161st men’s race later when the Dark Blues aim for a sixth success in eight years.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)