This year is the last when the women’s race is run at Henley before it moves to the Championship course in 2015 when it’ll be held on the same day as the men’s race. It feels like the build-up to this has already kicked off. Both Blue Boats are doing plenty of training on the Tideway and their pre-race fixtures have both been conducted out of Putney.
So how do the crews line-up?
For Oxford: Elizabeth Fenje
As with the Oxford Men’s Blue Boat the women have an experienced lightweight international at bow. Fenje maybe the lightest and shortest oarswoman in the race, but she is also the most experienced. The Stanford Graduate has raced the LW2X 3 years running from 2010 – 12 at the U23 World Championships, finishing 5th in 2010 and 2012. 2012 also saw her step up to the senior Canadian squad racing in the LW4X at the World Championships.
For Cambridge: Caroline Reid
One of 6 returning Blues in the Cambridge boat, Reid is winning her 3rd Blue and has one win and one loss to her name. She’s also one of three athletes in the light blue boat reading veterinary medicine. At the start of the season she competed at the 1st Assessment Trials for the GB squad finishing 34th out of the 43 competitors
For Oxford: Alice Carrington-Windo
One of 3 returning Blue’s from the victorious 2013 crew. Carrington-Windo is one of 4 Graduates in the Oxford Boat, having previously studied at University College London (where she rowed in the 1st VIII at Henley women’s Regatta).
For Cambridge: Kate Ashley
A relative novice, Ashley started rowing at Cambridge and stroked her college crew, Peterhouse, to their best ever finish at the 2013 May Bumps. She may not have the experience of her opposite number, but Ashley is a big, natural talent.
For Oxford: Maxie Scheske (President)
Last year’s stroke the German born Scheske is no stranger to the Tideway having learnt her rowing at St.Pauls Girls School. Whilst still at school she won Senior 4+ at Henley Women’s Regatta and in 2013 she also competed for Great Britain at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival winning bronze in the W8 and silver in the W4X
For Cambridge: Holly Game
Another returning Blue and another of the Veterinary Medicine students. Game was also part of the victorious 2012 crew. Like crewmate Caroline Reid, Game raced at the 1st GB Trials in November and placed 30th and the Suffolk rower has set her sights firmly on representing GB in the future.
For Oxford: Nadine Graedel Iberg
The oldest woman in the race, Graedel Iberg is a graduate of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and also the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich. She rowed in the 4 seat for her college, Lincoln, at the Oxford summer eights finishing 9th in Division 2. A strong college oarswoman she’s one of the least experienced of the Oxford boat. She travelled with the OUWBC to the Head of the Charles and raced in the Championship eights finishing a creditable 21st.
For Cambridge: Isabella Vyvyan
The tallest and heaviest woman in the race (possibly the heaviest ever in the women’s Boat Race – although for some reason this isn’t discussed as much as for the men’s race…I wonder why 😉 ). Vyvyan is another Graduate having previously studied at Newcastle University. Whist at Newcastle she was part of their incredibly strong Boat Club and crowned an impressive season with representational honours for England at the Home International Regatta and also a gold medal at the 2013 European Universities Rowing Championships.
For Oxford: Amber De Vere
Educated at Sir William Borlase School in Marlow, renowned for the strength of its rowing programme. De Vere won the 2- at the National schools in 2011 and followed that up by representing Great Britain at the 2011 World Junior Championships winning a silver medal in the JW4-.
For Cambridge: Catherine Foot
Educated at Wycombe High School and reading English at Girton, Foot learnt to row at Marlow as a junior and raced in the Championship Girls 2X at the National Schools Regatta in 2012.
For Oxford: Lauren Kedar
Despite being the youngest oarswoman in the race Kedar has already notched up significant international honours. In 2012 she raced in the GB JW4- winning the “B” final at the Junior World Championships, the following year she raced in the final of the JW2- at the World Championships. As with a number of other athletes competing in this race Kedar took part in the 1st GB Assessment Trials in November, finishing 22nd overall and 6th in the U20 category. Clearly she has the potential to play a big part in the future of British rowing.
For Cambridge: Melissa Wilson
Another returning Blue. Last year Wilson was the youngest member of the Cambridge Blue Boat. This year she the 2nd youngest but her experience last year will be vital. She also has aspirations to represent GB and is trialling for the U23 squad.
For Oxford: Anastasia Chitty
One of three returning dark Blues, Chitty raced with crewmate Amber de Vere in the silver medal winning JW4- at the World Championships in 2011. In 2013 she also competed at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival winning a full set of medals; gold, silver and bronze. Another GB trialist this season she finished 13th at the 1st trials and was 7th in the U23 category. She is another athlete I strongly expect to see achieve senior representational honours in the coming years.
Another returning Blue and another Veterinary Medicine student. Watkins had never stepped into a rowing boat before coming up to Cambridge and is now set to win her 2nd Blue. She has taken to the sport like the proverbial “duck to water” and has risen rapidly through the ranks. She too raced at the 1st GB trials in November and was the highest finisher for CUWBC placing 16th. With 2 years of her course at Cambridge still to run she could well feature as a key member of the 2015 crew when the race moves to the Tideway.
For Oxford: Laura Savarese
One of 4 graduates in the Oxford boat, Savarese rowed for Harvard Radcliffe winning the Varsity 4 in her Junior year at the Ivy League Championships for the first time in Harvard’s history. As a Senior she raced in the Varsity 8 finishing 8th at the NCAA championships. Another rowing hoping for international honours she’s on the verge of selection for the US U23 team.
For Cambridge: Emily Day
A returning Blue from 2013, Day also has a lightweight half-Blue to her name. She’s also the lightest oarswoman in the light Blue boat. She’s a dynamic racer and a determined stroke. Her battle with Savarese in the Oxford boat will be fascinating.
For Oxford: Erin Wysocki-Jones
A qualified swimming instructor (a skill she will hope she won’t have to utilise on 30th March!) Wysocki-Jones learnt to cox at Oxford and has already shown in the pre-race fixtures that she’s a very talented cox.
For Cambridge: Esther Momcilovic (President)
Already a double Blue, Momcilovic coxed the Lightweight Blue Boat to victory in 2011 and the Blue boat to a narrow defeat in 2013. She is much more experienced than her opposite number and will be desperate to drive her crew to victory.
So those are the Blue Boats for the Women’s race. As to who do I think will win? It’s going to be very close. Both crews have shown good form so far this season with Oxford defeating Molesey and Cambridge doing the same to Thames.
Oxford have more pedigree in terms of international experience with the likes of Scheske and Chitty and also the only senior international with the Canadian Fenje. But, the Light Blues have 6 of last year’s crew returning and that sort of experience is vitally important. But, I’m going to stick my neck out and pick Oxford to sneak a narrow victory.