The Boat Race 2012: The Preview

With The Boat Race coming to town this weekend, JONATHAN FUHRMANN takes a look at Cambridge’s chances. GDBO.

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At 2.15pm this Saturday, the Blues boats embark on their gruelling race from Putney to Mortlake.

The light blue eight, as well as reserve crew Goldie, have been in London for the past week for their final training and preparations for the big day.

But race week is only a drop in the ocean of training the squad were put through by coaches Steve Trapmore (stroke of the 2000 GB Olympic eight) and ex-Jesus boatman Mark Beer. A squad of thirty oarsmen and seven coxes was whittled down to the eighteen men in the two eights and the spare pair, along with coxes Ed Bosson and Sarah Smart.

The Cambridge boat lining up in front of the Olympic Stadium

In the run-up to The Boat Race, all CUBC and OUBC crews raced in a number of official fixtures. This year, it was particularly difficult to draw conclusions, as the crews raced by the two clubs tended to be somewhat different so that relative speeds were meaningless.

CUBC were beaten early on in the season by a University of London crew which prompted many to doubt their speed, although they have since overcome injury and performed far better. They beat a Leander crew by about a length in one piece over part of the Boat Race course in early March, while OUBC beat a slightly different crew by 20 seconds.

Since then line-up changes have been introduced to the Cambridge Boat, although the crew remains the same. A bucket rig at 4 and 5 sees bowsiders Thorp and Ross behind one another, with Scharp replacing Ross in the 7 seat. In the bows, this new rig sees President Nelson at bow, with Schramm now rowing at 2. The Molesey crew CUBC raced in this line-up had come third at the Head of the River Race, a highly respectable placement – the Blue Boat won one race against them and lost the other.

Undoubtedly, this year’s Boat Race will be a closely-fought battle: those who doubted Cambridge after initial performances have become quieter, although Oxford are, of course, not to be discounted. Coxes Ed Bosson and Zoe de Toledo will probably have a lot of work on their hands to gain their respective crews the crucial edge that has so often decided Boat Races.

Goldie, meanwhile, are younger and heavier (88kg average) than their counterparts in Isis – and predominantly British, with American Moore the only foreigner. There is plenty of schoolboy talent featured in the crew, including Wood (Abingdon), Lawson (Eton) and Dewhurst (St Paul’s), as well as a returning Blue in Jennings. In their fixtures, Goldie were beaten by London Rowing Club’s 1st VIII and beat Imperial College, while Isis lost to the University of London. Goldie row at 1.45pm on Saturday, before the main event.

The spare pair, finally, will be racing Oxford on Thursday afternoon over a mile-long course.

If you fancy your chances, betting odds currently have CUBC as the underdogs while Goldie are slight favourites. Either way, though, we have two exciting races to look forward to, and a walkover similar to last year’s looks very unlikely. GDBO!