The Boat Race 2013: Preview

Tab old hand HARDY CUBASCH returns with some final words before this afternoon’s crucial clash.

boat race bronze medal Cambridge fieldman george nash hardy cubasch Olympics Oxford Rowing Varsity Boat Race

Sunday 31st March 2013, 4.30pm. Two universities, two crews. One race – one winner, one loser. These are the simple fundamentals of The Boat Race.

Since the beginning of September, both the Oxford and Cambridge squads have dedicated themselves to training twelve times a week, continually driven by the simplest of goals: crossing the almost four and a quarter mile stretch of Thames waterway, from Putney to Mortlake, in front of the opposition crew.

The crews line up for the weigh-in earlier this month

You can view the full team line-ups here.

The first time this occurred was in 1829 after two old friends from Harrow, Charles Merivale (Cambridge) and Charles Wordsworth (Oxford), met during a vacation in Cambridge where Wordsworthʼs father was the Master of Trinity. After a row on the Cam, the challenge was set up, an event that has grown to become one of the most famous university sporting rivalries and possibly the world’s largest rowing event.

This afternoon, we are set for yet another amazing clash; Oxford have a stern combination that is usually only found in the highest calibre of international crews; Cambridge boast a crew six members of which have represented their nation.


The Cambridge Crew

Certainly one of the strongest crews we have boated in recent years. At the beginning of the season, what appeared to be a possible shortage of big name athletes in comparison to Oxford, was made up for in depth and competitiveness. Almost the entire crew has had international rowing experience and they are being led by the legendary Catz ginger engineer, George Nash. One of the most talented athletes in Britain, George represented GB at the London Olympics, picking up a bronze medal behind a New Zealand pair widely regarded as the greatest ever.

The Cambridge boat had its final warm up on the Thames on Friday

It is often said that a key ingredient to an extremely competitive eight is the man you have in the ‘engine room’. These are the seats in the middle of the boat that add the horsepower and drive to the rhythm and race strategy being established by the stroke and seven man.

This is where Cambridge excel, and these guys firing as one unit will be vital if we are going to break the dark blues. In six seat is American powerhouse Stephen Dudek (St Edmundʼs, Land Economy) who earlier this season set the second fastest time in CUBC history over the traditional 5km indoor rowing ergometer selection test.

Success: Nash won Bronze at the Olympics last year

He is backed up by Nash in five seat and American Ty Otto (Hughes Hall, Nuclear Energy) and Australian Alex Fleming (Pembroke, Management) in four and three respectively. With an average height of 198cm, it will be critical that Cambridge establish a stroke pattern and rhythm that can maximise these natural levers and stroke length.

Cambridgeʼs depth of talent also stretches all the way into the bow. In two seat is Milan Bruncvik (Peterhouse, Engineering) who is set to become the first ever Czech to compete in the Boat Race. Coming off the back of a 10-year international rowing career that included two Olympic Games, Milan brings a wealth of experience to the light blues.

At the opposite end of the boat sits Cambridge’s secret weapon: their cox. Often overlooked as they are close to half the size of their crewmates, in a race such as the Boat Race, they are equally if not more important than any individual crewmember. Henry Fieldman (Homerton, Psychology and Education) will be the captain of the ship on race day, and his close to ten years of coxing on this section of water will be invaluable.

Coxing knowledge is vital, especially as the elements play such a critical part in racing

You could sit and analyse these crews for days on end. However, absolutely none of it matters come this afternoon. Both crews will have done everything within their powers to be as prepared as possible, but all that matters come this afternoon is your execution and willingness to hurt yourself more than your opposite man.

Check back this afternoon for more build-up, including LIVE text updates of the race and witty anecdotal nonsense from The Tab’s ‘expert’ pundits, Will Pithers and John Bardsley.