The Oxford and Cambridge Blue Boats – a seat by seat guide

Boat Race

Today saw the announcement of the Blue Boats for the BNY Mellon Boat Races. What I want to do is a seat-by seat comparison of both the men’s and women’s crews to give a bit of a form guide.

First, the men’s crews

Bow

Oxford

Geffen

Name: Will Geffen

Nationality: British

Age: 19

Height: 186cm

Weight: 82.2kg

Will is the youngest member of the Oxford boat and has fought off a number of more experienced athletes to win his seat. He’s not particularly big but he learnt his rowing at Eton and was part of last year’s exceptional Isis crew. He has junior international honours with an “A” final placing in the Junior 4+ at the 2013 World Championships. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Robin, who was also a Keble man and rowed in the college 1st VIII in 1979.

Cambridge

Holst

Name: Jasper Holst

Nationality: Dutch

Age: 22

Height: 198cm

Weight: 86.8kg

A graduate of Newcastle University, Jasper was part of the exceptional coxed four that won the Prince Albert Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 2014 this was followed up by a gold at the European University Championships. He was also part of a dominant Newcastle crew that won both Champ 8 and Champ 4 at the BUCS regatta in 2013.

Verdict on the bow seat….advantage slightly to Cambridge, Holst is a proven racer and has extensive experience from the powerhouse of Newcastle Uni.

2

Oxford

Thomas Swartz

Name: Tom Swartz

Nationality: USA

Age: 25

Height: 189cm

Weight: 76.6kg

A former lightweight, Swartz was part of the superb Oxford Blue Boat last year. Prior to coming up to Oxford he was an undergraduate at Yale where he was part of an exceptional lightweight eight that won gold at the 2011 IRA’s (by 1 foot over Harvard!)

Cambridge

Luke Juckett

Name: Luke Juckett

Nationality: USA

Age: 24

Height: 185cm

Weight: 85.2kg

The shortest member of the Cambridge Blue Boat, Juckett was part of the Blue Boat last year that suffered one of the heaviest defeats for decades. He is one of 2 University of Wisconsin graduates (along with Ben Ruble in the seat ahead of him).

Verdict: Advantage to Oxford – a terrier of a racer and Swartz has the advantage of a successful 2014 campaign behind him

3

Oxford

Goodier

Name: Henry Goodier

Nationality: British

Age: 25

Height: 197cm

Weight: 88.2kg

The tallest member of the Oxford crew, Old-Etonian Goodier was an under-graduate at Imperial College in London with whom he won the Prince Albert at Henley Regatta in 2013. In 2011 he was part of the Great Britain U23 4+ that finished 5th in 2011.

Cambridge

Ruble

Name: Ben Ruble

Nationality: USA

Age: 24

Height: 187cm

Weight: 84.8kg

The 2nd Wisconsin alumni in the Cambridge boat, Ruble was a US U23 trialist in 2012.

Verdict: Advantage Oxford, Goodier is a proven winner and has international representation under his belt.

4

Oxford

J O'Connor

Name: James O’Connor

Nationality: NZ

Age: 24

Height: 187cm

Weight: 83.4

Along with his brother Sam in the 7 seat, James O’Connor were part of a superb New Zealand 8 that won the World Junior Championships in 2006 (when James was just 16). James followed this up with a junior world silver in 2008. He followed is brother to Harvard where he had an illustrious career winning Champ 8’s at the Head of The Charles in 2011, the Ladies Plate at Henley in 2012 and the Visitors Challenge Cup in 2013.

Cambridge

Leichter

Name: Alexander Leichter (President)

Nationality: Austria

Age: 25

Height: 194cm

Weight: 99kg

The first Austrian to compete in the race, Leichter has made the Blue Boat on his 3rd attempt. He’s spent the last 2 years in Goldie, losing both times – 2013 by an agonising 1/3 length and in 2014 by an even more agonising 13 lengths (the biggest margin of victory since 1995). Given his pedigree it’s perhaps a little surprising that he hasn’t been in the Blue Boat before. He was part of the Austrian U23 team from 2008-2010 and made his senior international debut at the Munich World Cup in 2011

Verdict: Even. Very little to choose between these two. Both are very experienced racers. Perhaps O’Connor just has the edge with all the match racing experience he would have gained at Harvard. But Leichter is a big force in the boat and has that international experience under his belt.

5

Oxford

J Cook

Name: James Cook

Nationality: British

Age: 22

Height: 188cm

Weight: 83.8kg

Younger brother of senior British international Ollie, James Cook is a graduate of the University of London with whom he won the Prince Albert Challenge Cup at Henley in 2012. He’s also been a member of the British U23 squad from 2012-2014 making the “A” final each year. He won his first senior international vest at the Dorney World Cup in 2013 rowing as GB2 in the M2- with Ertan Hazine. They finished 5th, two places ahead of the GB1 crew, Oxford Blues Karl Hudspith and Paul Bennett.

Cambridge

Warr

Name: William Warr

Nationality: British

Age: 23

Height: 195cm

Weight: 90kg

Warr started rowing as part of the Durham University Freshman programme. He rose quickly and in 2014 represented Great Britain at the U23 World Championships finishing just outside the medals in the coxed four. An outstanding natural talent he’s a big engine in the middle of the Cambridge boat.

Verdict: Advantage Oxford. Both these rowers are exciting natural talents, but Cook has more experience which just gives him the edge.

6

Oxford

Mike DiSanto

Name: Mike DiSanto

Nationality: USA

Age: 25

Height: 185cm

Weight: 90.8kg

A returning Blue DiSanto is one of four Harvard graduates in the Oxford boat. Disanto was the Crimson’s captain for the 2011-12 season. He has two Henley medals from the Ladies Plate in 2010 and 2012 (the 2012 race by just 1 foot over Leander). In 2011 he raced for the USA at the U23 World Championships and in 2013 he won his first senior international vest racing in the M2-.

Cambridge

Matthew Jackson

Name: Matt Jackson

Nationality: USA

Age: 24

Height: 198cm

Weight: 94kg

Another returning Blue, Jackson is a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania and learnt his rowing at Tabor Academy in Maine.  Whilst at Penn he rowed in the Varsity 8 for in the 2012-13 season where they finished 13th at the IRA’s and 12th in the Championship 8’s at the Head of the Charles.

Verdict: Advantage Oxford. Mike Di Santo is an experienced international and has a win from last year’s race under his belt as well.

7

Oxford

Sam Oconnor

Name: Sam O’Connor

Nationality: NZ

Age: 27

Height: 186cm

Weight: 88.6kg

The second of the Kiwi O’Connor brothers. Sam is a two-time Blue with two wins to his credit. As with his brother James, Sam is a Harvard graduate and former world junior champion. An outstanding oarsman and part of an outstanding Harvard boat and also the 2014 Oxford Blue Boat, one of the finest Blue Boats for many years.

Cambridge

Josh Hooper

Name: Josh Hooper

Nationality: Australia

Age: 26

Height: 194cm

Weight: 92.6kg

A graduate of Monash University in Melbourne, Hooper raced for Goldie in 2013 and the Blue Boat in 2014. Like his Oxford counterpart he fills the same 7 seat as in 2014.

Verdict: clear advantage to Oxford. Both of these rowers are in the same seats they occupied in last year’s race. O’Connor is a superb 7-man and is a fearsome racer.

Stroke

Oxford

Stan

Name: Stan Louloudis (President)

Nationality: British

Age: 23

Height: 190cm

Weight: 93kg

Many consider Louloudis to be the talisman of the GB team. He struggled throughout the 2012 season with a back injury, recovering just in time to stroke the GB 8 to a superb Olympic bronze. He returned to the GB team at the Lucerne World Cup last year and then led the crew to a successful defence of their world title in Amsterdam. Racing in his 4th Boat Race he’s one of the most outstanding young oarsmen in world rowing today…’nuff said!

Cambridge

Hoffstot

Name: Henry Hoffstot

Nationality: USA

Age: 24

Height: 197cm

Weight: 90kg

A product of Groton School and Georgetown University, Hoffstot is the most experienced member of the Light Blue boat. He was selected to race for the USA in the coxed pair for the 2014 World Championships finishing 8th. He is another returning Blue and like Louloudis is again in the all-important stroke seat.

Verdict: another clear advantage to Oxford, Louloudis has been compared to Matthew Pinsent – both Eton educated, both President of Oxford, both Olympic medallists before they turned 22, both apparently monsters on the erg!

Cox

Oxford

Hakim

Name: Will Hakim

Nationality: British

Age: 23

Height: 170cm

Weight: 54.6kg

A former Harvard cox, Hakim coxed the British U23 coxed 4 in 2013.

Cambridge

Middleton

Name: Ian Middleton

Nationality: British

Age: 19

Height: 173cm

Weight: 55kg

At 173cm (5ft 8) Middleton is pretty tall for a cox. He steered the Cambridge boat last year and was cox of the GB U23 M8 in 2014 and the Junior M8 in 2013.

Verdict: even. Middleton has Blue Boat and international experience, Hakim has the international experience and the experience of regular match racing at Harvard.

So, overall what do I think? On paper Oxford are a much stronger crew than Cambridge, but, the race aint raced on paper. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Cambridge have really found some speed in the past couple of weeks and surprised me in the way they beat a talented Leander crew. I’m still convinced that Oxford will win on April 11th, but it will be a closer race than I thought it would be a few weeks ago. My prediction….Oxford by 3 lengths.

The women’s race preview will follow tomorrow….

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