The Oxford and Cambridge Women’s Boat Race – a seat by seat guide

womens boat race

2015 marks an historic milestone in the history of the Boat Race. For the first time the women’s race is being held on the same day, and over the same course as the men. This is a massive “shop window” for women’s rowing, so how do the relative crews stack up and what can we expect on April 11th?

Bow

Oxford

Scheske

Name: Maxie Scheske

Nationality: British

Age: 21

Height: 172cm

Weight: 66.6kg

Last year’s winning President, Scheske was also part of the winning Blue Boat in 2013. She’s very familiar with the Tideway course having learnt her rowing at St.Pauls Girls School. She raced in the JW4- at the 2011 Couple de la Jeunesse and then won a silver and bronze at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival. Born in Baden Baden she has dual British and German nationality

Cambridge

Evans

Name: Hannah Evans

Nationality: British

Age: 24

Height: 169cm

Weight: 69.2kg

A former women’s Captain of St.John’s College, Oxford, Evans is now studying for he PhD at Cambridge. In 2014 she was part of the Blondie crew that suffered a narrow half a length defeat to Osiris.

Verdict: advantage to Oxford. Scheske is an excellent oarswoman and is a name to watch for the future.

2

Oxford

Chitty

Name: Anastasia Chitty (President)

Nationality: British

Age: 21

Height: 175cm

Weight: 69.9cm

This year’s President, Chitty is another highly talented oarswoman. Returning for her 3rd Boat Race she has two victories already to her name. She also has a host of international medals to her credit as well. Junior world silver in 2011 was followed by a gold and silver at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in 2013. Last year she was part of an exceptional silver medal winning GB U23 W8. In August last year she was part of the Kariba Moon Row team that rowed 250km non-stop along the Zambezi.

Cambridge

Ashton Brown

Name: Ashton Brown

Nationality: Canadian

Age: 26

Height: 173cm

Weight: 80.8kg

The heaviest member of the Light Blue Boat, Brown has already rowed in the varsity 8’s at both Princeton and Ottawa universities. Whilst at Princeton she won both the NCAA and EAWRC championships and was part of a dominant Tigers crew in 2011 that had a 13-0 win/loss record. She raced for the Canadian U23 team from 2008-10 winning a bronze in the W8 in her final year.

Verdict: Even. Both these women are experienced international racers. Perhaps Chitty just has the edge with her two successful Blue Boat appearances to her name, but there’s not much in it.

3

Oxford

Pearson

Name: Shelley Pearson

Nationality: USA

Age: 23

Height: 176cm

Weight: 70kg

A Junior World gold medallist in 2009. Pearson, from Bermuda, was part the Harvard-Radcliffe Varsity crew that won the Ivy League Championships in 2012.

Cambridge

reid

Name: Caroline Reid (President)

Nationality: British

Age: 24

Height: 178cm

Weight: 66kg

Returning for her 4th Boat Race, veterinary student Reid has 1 win and 2 losses to her credit. Her win came in an epic encounter in her first year in 2012 where Cambridge emerged as winners by just ¼ length. But, this has been followed by 2 successive losses, including a heavy 4 length defeat last year. As President she will be desperate to even her win/loss record.

Verdict….close, but advantage (just) to Oxford. Pearson has great experience both as a junior world champion and also as an Ivy league champion with Radcliffe.

4

Oxford

Kedar

Name: Lauren Kedar

Nationality: British

Age: 19

Height: 178cm

Weight: 75.4kg

A returning Blue from the dominant crew of 2014, Kedar, from the school of St. Helen and St. Katherine in Abingdon, learnt to row at Reading rowing Club. She was a member of the GB junior squad in 2012 and 2013. In 2012 she placed 7th in the JW4- and the following year she made the “A” final in the JW2-

Cambridge

watkins

Name: Claire Watkins

Nationality: British

Age: 22

Height: 175cm

Weight: 71.2kg

Another of the Cambridge squad returning for her 3rd Boat Race. So far it’s 2 defeats from 2 races for Watkins. She is a great example of how Cambridge develops its athletes. She only started rowing when she went to up to Cambridge and made the Blue Boat at her first attempt in her 3rd year of a 6 year veterinary medicine course. She’s also produced some good results at the GB trials in 2014.

Verdict: slight advantage to Oxford, although there’s not much in it. Watkins has the advantage of Blue Boat experience, but she’s yet to win a race. Kedar has a win under her belt and is an experienced junior international.

5

Oxford

Iberg

Name: Nadine Gradel-Iberg

Nationality: Swiss

Age: 27

Height: 175cm

Weight: 72.4kg

Another returning Blue from the 2014 Blue Boat and the 2nd oldest competitor in the race. In last year’s race she was one of the least experienced members of the crew, now, with another year and a successful 2014 campaign under her belt she’s a big force in the engine room of a strong Oxford boat.

Cambridge

wilson

Name: Melissa Wilson

Nationality: British

Age: 21

Height: 176cm

Weight: 77.8kg

Competing in her 3rd Boat Race, Melissa Wilson is the most internationally successful member of the Cambridge boat. In 2014 she raced in the GB U23 W8 (along with Oxford’s Anastasia Chitty) that won a silver medal at the U23 World Championships in Varese. At this year’s 5K GB trials she finished a very respectable 23rd overall in the W1X and was the 5th fastest U23. Clearly she has a big future in the sport and I would expect to see her on the U23 medal podium again this year.

Verdict: Advantage to Cambridge. Wilson is a rising star in British rowing, but with 2 defeats in the race so far she’ll be looking to end her time at Cambridge on a positive note.

6

Oxford

Reynolds

Name: Emily Reynolds

Nationality: USA

Age: 24

Height: 178cm

Weight: 67.4kg

Reynolds is a graduate of Princeton and was in the Tigers crew with Cambridge’s Ashton Brown which won the NCAA Championships in 2011.  In 2008 whilst at the prestigious Kent School in Connecticut, she won a gold medal in the JW8 at the Junior World Championships.

Cambridge

Holly Hill

Name: Holly Hill

Nationality: British

Age: 21

Height: 182cm

Weight: 78.8kg

Another “rising star” of British Rowing, Holly is a member of the “GB Start” programme and rows for the Isle of Ely club in Cambridge. She’s already posted some strong results in this season’s national trials with an 8th place finish in November.

Verdict: Advantage to Cambridge. Holly is a big strong athlete with a big future in the sport.

7

Oxford

Badcott

Name: Maddy Badcott

Nationality: British

Age: 19

Height: 178cm

Weight: 74kg

Maddy learnt to row at The Lea Rowing Club in the East End of London, a club renowned from producing tough, no nonsense racers. As a junior she’s already made a mark on the national and international stage. In 2012 she won 2 golds at the National Championships and then in 2013 she competed for GB at the European Junior Championships (The Coupe de la Jeunesse) winning gold in the JW2X. She a very promising oarswomen, but is very young and (relatively) inexperienced to fill the crucial 7 seat.

Cambridge

MArtschenko

Name: Daphne Martschenko

Nationality: USA

Age: 22

Height: 178cm

Weight: 76.4kg

Dogged by an injury for most of the season, Martschenko has recovered just in time to take the critical 7 seat. Martschenko is one of the most experienced members of the Cambridge squad. She studied Anthropology at Stanford with whom she won the PAC-12 Conference Championships in 2014. She has represented the US at the U23 World Championships in 2012 and again in 2014 finishing 6th and 9th respectively.

Verdict: Advantage Cambridge, Martschenko is a tough, experienced racer, but Badcott is a great young talent, it remains to be seen how she copes in the all-important 7 seat.

Stroke

Oxford

Caryn Davies

Name: Caryn Davies

Age: 32

Height: 190cm

Weight: 78.4kg

A true superstar of the sport of rowing. The first triple Olympic medallist ever to compete in the race (women’s or men’s). She has two golds and 1 silver medal from three Olympics and 4 world championship titles. She’s such a strong athlete that when she spent a term at Pembroke College in 2013 she stroked the College men’s 1st VIII that won both the Torpids and the Summer Eights – a feat unique in Oxford rowing.

Cambridge

Belais

Name: Fanny Belais

Nationality: Switzerland

Age: 19

Height: 165cm

Weight: 60.8kg

13 years younger, 18 kg lighter and 25cm shorter than her opposite number it’s a daunting prospect for the young Swiss medical student to take the stroke seat for the Light Blues. The contrast between the two strokes is striking. Belais is the shortest, youngest and lightest in the Cambridge Boat (she’s 3cm shorter than the Oxford cox) and Davies is the tallest, oldest and heaviest in the Oxford boat. But, she’s no novice, she has junior and U23 international honours to her name, including a bronze in the U23 LW4X last year.

Verdict: Massive (physically and metaphorically) to Oxford. Davies is not only a powerful oarswoman her vast experience will be vital in the all-important stroke seat.

Cox

Oxford

Ehr

Name: Jennifer Ehr

Nationality: USA

Age: 19

Height: 168cm

Weight: 50.4kg

A former pupil of St. Pauls Girls School in Hammersmith, Ehr has spent her formative years along the banks of the Tideway. She’s seen off the challenge of the experienced Stanford Varsity cox, Ayesha Rasheed to win the coxes berth. The first woman ever to cox an Oxford Women’s Blue Boat on the Tideway course is an historic, and extremely daunting prospect.

Cambridge

Ostfeld

Name: Rosemary Ostfeld

Nationality: USA

Age: 26

Height: 158cm

Weight: 49.8kg

Ostfeld is no stranger to the Boat Race course either. She was the cox for Goldie last year – in the luckless 13 length defeat – and in 2013 she was the spare cox. That level of experience could prove vital in a close race.

Verdict: Advantage to Cambridge. Ostfeld has experience of Boat Race day and in steering the course in the heat of battle.

Overall then….Oxford have a massively powerful and talented crew. Cambridge look to be a strong university crew with a number of U23 internationals, but Oxford look to be a class apart. Led by the outstanding Caryn Davies I can’t see any other outcome than a big Oxford victory – but, the Tideway is a fickle beast and there are plenty of examples of the massive underdog overturning the odds. It remains to be seen if the Cambridge women can do just that. Oxford to win by at least 8 lengths.

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8 thoughts on “The Oxford and Cambridge Women’s Boat Race – a seat by seat guide

  1. GrizzlyFrontBum

    Right, so, when you leave out Caryn, you think that the crews (seat by seat) are pretty even – with Cambridge slightly better than Oxford? So Caryn is single-handedly going to not only win Oxford the race, but win it by a ridiculous margin?
    Lucky Oxford, those other poor scrubs in the bow 7 clearly would be in for a dog fight without her. It’s not like their second 4+ (at the time – some of whom are no longer even in their top 8) were within 10 seconds of their top 4+ (containing Caryn, who by your logic must be worth at least 2minutes of speed in a 4+) and beat up on all of Cambridge’s crews at the 4s head, nor that OUWBC crushed CUWBC last year despite a lack of Caryn in the crew.
    Caryn should take up sculling in an 8+ shell and try for one more gold in Rio in the W1x race – she’s clearly very fast all by herself in one of them!

    Reply
    1. fatsculler Post author

      Oh dear….where to start with your slightly puerile post….If you actually read what I say I’ve made it 5/3 to Oxford in terms of the seat by seat comparison. But as anyone who knows anything about rowing will testify, the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts. Davies is an exceptional athlete, the most successful athlete ever to compete in the Boat Race (man’s or women’s) but the crew as a whole have come together as a very exceptional unit. The purpose of my preview was to compare the individuals against each other. Whilst, on paper, this gives quite a close comparison, having seen both crews row I think (and I’ve stated in the past 2 blogs) that Cambridge are an excellent university crew, but Oxford have blended together into a truly exceptional W8.

      Reply
    2. Another pedant

      To be fair, I imagine Cambridge’s top two fours would have been much closer to each other if Baker had managed to enter them so the 2nd started on a similar tide rather than a few hundred places later…
      Interesting to see (I think) 2 of last years Oxford blues and 3 of Cambridge’s not in the boats – must be some good new faces.

      Reply

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