Last year’s Women’s Boat Race was the first to be held on the famous Tideway course. Oxford dominated that day with an exceptionally talented crew.
So how do this year’s combatants stack up?
Name: Emma Lukasiewicz
The lightest rower in the race, Lukasiewicz is a Harvard graduate. As a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe lightweight team she won the LW8 division had the Head of The Charles in 2012 and followed that up with a win at the Eastern Sprints in 2013 (recording the largest ever margin of victory0 and a silver at the IRA’s
Name: Ashton Brown
Facing her fellow Canadian at Bow, Brown is one of five graduates and three returning Blues in the Cambridge boat. The former Princeton and Ottowa universities graduate, Brown rowed in the 2 seat in last year’s defeat. She’s a highly experienced oarswoman, with an U23 bronze medal and an NCAA gold to her credit. She’s trialed for the Canadian squad and also rowed for the University of Ottawa.
Verdict: advantage Cambridge – in the battle of the Canadians Ashton has the edge both in terms of experience internationally and of the Boat race.
Name: Emma Spruce
The first of Oxford’s five graduates in the crew, Spruce raced for Reading University (before they switched to being a sculling-only programme). She’s won the club pennant at the women’s 8’s Head of the River and has a European University Championship silver to her credit. Spruce learnt to row at Royal Chester Rowing Club.
Name: Fiona Macklin
The lightest member of the Light Blue crew, Macklin was a Lightweight Blue in 2014. In September last year she was a member of the Cambridge University crew that won gold at the European Universities Rowing Championships. In November she was part of the CUWBC crew that won Elite 4+ at the Head of the River Fours (although they were only the 7th fastest W4+ that day).
Verdict: I going to say this is evens.
Name: Joanne Jansen
Nationality The Netherlands
The 2nd former lightweight in the Oxford boat, Utrecht University graduate Jansen, has is an experienced international. She represented the Netherlands at the 2012 U23 World Championships and followed that up in 2013 with her first senior medal, taking bronze in the LW4X at the European Championships. She also raced in the U23 championships that year finishing 15th in the LW2X.
Name: Alice Jackson
As a University of London graduate Jackson will be more familiar with the Tideway course than just about anyone else in the race. As a member of ULBC she won the Academic 8’s at Henley Women’s regatta in 2013 and was a junior triallist 3 years prior to that.
Verdict: advantage to Oxford. Despite Jackson undoubted local knowledge, Jansen is a highly experienced international athlete.
Name: Ruth Siddorn
Siddorn learnt to row at Royal Chester Rowing Club, the same club as crewmate Emma Spruce. She was one of four OUWBC oarswomen to compete at the February National Trials where she finished an excellent 8th (the 2nd best OUWBC performance).
Name: Thea Zabell
Zabell is the youngest member of the Cambridge crew and was part of the same Cambridge 8 as Macklin that won gold at the European University Rowing Championships last year. She raced at the head of the River Fours in the 3rd Cambridge 4- finishing 4th in class.
Verdict: Siddorn’s strong showing at Trials just gives her the edge – advantage Oxford.
Name: Elo Luik
The first Estonian to win a Blue, Luik is a graduate of Aberdeen University. In 2014 she was a member of the last Osiris crew to race on the Henley stretch, winning by just half a length. She’s now stepping up to the Blue Boat and on the full championship course, she’s possibly the least experience member of the Oxford boat but has been given the crucial 5 seat.
Name: Daphne Martschenko
Her opposite number in the Oxford boat may be the least experienced of the dark Blues, but Martschenko is one of the most experienced in the Light Blues. The Stanford graduate is one of three returning Blues and has rowed for the US at U23 level in 2012 and 2014. Her experience will be of vital importance to the Light Blues.
Verdict: Clear advantage to Cambridge
Name: Anastasia Chitty
Last year’s victorious president, Chitty is set to win an incredible 4th Blue. She is one of the outstanding young oarswomen in Britain. At the February national trials she finished 1st overall. This would’ve secured her a place at the Olympic Trials had they not been taking place a few days before the Boat Race! It wouldn’t surprise me to see her win senior representative honours if GB decide to send a W4- to the World Championships this year. I would also expect Chitty to feature in the GB squad post-Rio. She already has a host of international medals to her credit including Junior and U23 silvers and a gold from the Australian Youth Olympic festival.
Name: Zara Goozee
The 2nd lightest in the Cambridge boat – and significantly lighter than her opposite number. Goozee only started rowing when she went up to Cambridge in 2009. Having spent 6 years rowing for her college she decided to try out for the Blue Boat and has been rewarded for her efforts. The difference in experience between her and her opposite number is striking, and could be crucial in the heat of battle.
Verdict: clear advantage to Oxford.
Name: Maddy Badcott
This year’s President and returning Blue, Badcott was another of the OUWBC quartet to race at February trials securing a top 20 finish. She already has GB honours having raced at the Coupe de La Jeunesse in 2013.
Name: Hannah Roberts
Another rower who learnt her trade on the river Dee in Chester, Roberts wins her first Blue after two years in losing Blondie crews. Last year’s reserves race (held the day before the main race, so officially the first ever Oxford v Cambridge women’s race on the Tideway) was a sobering affair with Osiris heading Blondie a 15 length drubbing. She’ll be looking to avenge the hurt from last year.
Verdict: Advantage Oxford
Name: Lauren Kedar
Despite being only 20 Kedar is set to win her 3rd Blue. This year she’s got the all-important stroke seat, filling the shoes occupied by the great Caryn Davies in 2015. Kedar has represented Great Britain at junior level in both 2012 and 2013. The 4th of the dark Blue National Trialists she finished a strong 12th in February and will be hoping for her first U23 vest this year.
Name: Myriam Goudet
The heaviest woman in the race, Goudet is also one of the most experienced. In 2012 she was part of the French W4X that narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics when they finished 3rd at the Final Qualifying Regatta. She’s been winning international honours for over 10 years with appearances at the Junior World Championships in 2005 and 2006 followed by U23 appearances in 2007, 2009 and 2010. As well as racing at the FOQR her senior honours include racing at the European Championships in 2009 and 2010. More recently she’s won medals with Imperial College at the European and World University Rowing Championships and also won the Women’s Head of the River and Scullers Head. Clearly she knows the Tideway extremely well and brings a wealth of experience to the Light Blue boat
Verdict: It takes something special to get the edge over Lauren Kedar, but Cambridge’s French international is one of the most experienced athletes in the entire race. Advantage Cambridge
Name: Morgan Baynham-Williams
Coxing a Blue Boat is unlike any other form of coxing and they make a massive contribution to the success or failure of a crew. This year sees two hugely experienced coxes going head-to-head. For Oxford Baynham-Williams is seen as the natural successor to Zoe de Toledo in filling the coxes seat in the Gb W8, indeed she has already filled that role at the European Championships. She’s also coxed the Great Britain U23 W8 for the last 3 years winning a bronze and two silvers. A graduate of Oxford Brookes she is recognised as one of the finest coxes in the country.
Name: Rosemary Ostfeld
Last year’s Blue Boat cox and the cox of Goldie in 2014 Ostfeld knows the Tideway well. In 2015 she steered Cambridge to victory at the European University Rowing Championships and also won two golds at the British University Championships. A graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut she’s one of five graduates in the Cambridge boat.
Verdict: Ostfeld has the race experience, but Baynham-Williams is a superb cox and gives Oxford a definite advantage.
So the result…I’m calling this 5-3 to Oxford with 1 tie. So in a seat-by-seat comparison the crews are level. Some of the fixture results have also been inconclusive. Both crews have beaten a good Molesey line-up. Oxford had the advantage at the Head of the River Fours but it’ll be very interesting to see how Cambridge get on at the Women’s Head of the River race this weekend. It’s a bold move by Rob Baker to enter – a good result could be a real boost to the crew and it gives them experience of racing on the Tideway, but a disappointing performance could alternatively play into Oxfords hands.
So, I’m not going to sit on the fence, I’m going to call this an Oxford win by 2 lengths.
Just as an aside, and an interesting little piece of trivia, as far as I am aware this is the first time both the men’s and women’s races have had the same title…The Cancer Research UK Boat Races….it’s a great sense of unity for the two races.