LONDON (AP) — Cambridge won its first Boat Race in four years on Sunday, defeating university rival Oxford by 2 ½ lengths in the 162nd annual contest on the River Thames.

Despite extremely rough and choppy waters, pre-race favorite Cambridge looked more comfortable throughout the 6,800-meter (four-mile) course in south west London, finishing in 18 minutes, 38 seconds.

Cambridge leads the series 82-79, with one tie. The race between the universities first took place in 1829 and is one of the oldest sporting events in the world.

Cambridge has led overall since 1930.

Race favorites Cambridge won the toss and chose to start on the same south side of the river as Oxford's women. In rough conditions on the Tideway course, the teams began competitively but with the more experienced — and heavier — Cambridge slightly edging ahead while rowing more tidily.

Approaching the first bend, Cambridge was building a promising lead but a determined Dark Blues crew remained in contention when approaching the second bend by Hammersmith bridge.

Cambridge built on its advantage in the unfavorable conditions caused by strong winds, and by the time the Light Blues reached Chiswick they were set up for victory.

Earlier, the Oxford women's crew won for the fourth straight time by a massive 24 lengths with Cambridge coming close to sinking in the 71st contest. Despite Oxford's 13th victory in 17 years, Cambridge has a 42-29 overall lead.

A difficult race for Cambridge descended into a struggle to finish as its boat took on increasing levels of water. The crew declined an offer from race organizers to stop before the finish line.

On the second consecutive year the women's race was staged in London, Oxford finished in 21:49.