The Cancer Research UK Boat Races – Women’s race preview

CRUK BR

This year is the 90th anniversary of the first Oxford v Cambridge Women’s Boat Race and April 2nd sees its 3rd running since its move to the Tideway course in 2015. Oxford have been the dominant force since that move. Their crew in 2015 was truly outstanding, led by triple Olympic medallist, Caryn Davies they were a crew of international standard. In 2016 Oxford were again a more dominant crew and coped much better in the torrid conditions.

cambridge-sink.jpg

Cambridge almost swamping in 2016. Photo: The Independent

So, will Oxford make it a hat-trick of wins in 2017, or will Cambridge record their first Tideway victory?

Let’s take a look at the two crews:

 

Bow:

Oxford

Flo Pickles.jpg

Name: Flo Pickles

Nationality: British

Age: 20

Weight: 60kg

Height: 169cm

A graduate of the Gloucester Hartpury College’s “Start” programme (a joint initiative between GB Rowing and Gloucester Rowing Club) Pickles is an outstanding talent. A double Henley winner she won bronze at the Junior World Championships in 2014 and has raced at the U23 World Championships for the past 2 years. More renowned for sculling than sweep (she won bronze in the W1X at the 2016 European University Championships) she has been out of the boat earlier in the year through injury and her return has definitely strengthened the boat.

 

Cambridge

Ashton Brown

Name: Ashton Brown

Nationality: Australian/Canadian

Age: 28

Weight: 82kg

Height: 173cm

The heaviest rower in the race is perhaps an odd choice for the bow seat, but Brown is one of the most experienced athletes in the race. This year’s Cambridge President, she is set to win her third Blue and, and after two successive losses will be desperate to make it “third time lucky”.  The 28 year old is reading for a PhD in education having already studied at the University of Ottawa and Princeton University. She represented Canada at the 2009 and 2010 U23 World Championships, winning a bronze medal in 2010. Whilst at Princeton she won gold in the NCAA championships and Head of the Charles.

Verdict: a slight advantage to Cambridge, but it’s close.

 

2 seat

Oxford

Alice Roberts.jpg

Name: Alice Roberts

Nationality: British

Age: 19

Weight: 67.5kg

Height: 169cm

Alice Roberts learnt to row whilst at Cheney School in Oxford. The state school only started rowing in 2011 in partnership with Falcon Rowing Club. Coached by former Olympian Peter Haining the school has quickly gained a reputation for producing some outstanding talent. In 2012 a 14 year old Roberts is quoted in an Oxford Times article saying “I never thought I would have been able to become a rower – it always seemed too expensive. But now it has me hooked”. The youngest rower in the women’s race she is definitely another rower with a bright future ahead of her and she becomes the first athlete from Cheney Falcons to win a Blue.

 

Cambridge

Imogen Grant.jpg

Name: Imogen Grant

Nationality: British

Age: 21

Weight: 58.2kg

Height: 168cm

The shortest and lightest member of the Cambridge crew (she’s 1cm shorter than cox Matthew Holland!), Grant is, nevertheless an extremely talented oarswoman She only started rowing when she went up to Cambridge and quickly progressed through the development squad. In 2016 she was part of the Blondie crew that won the Reserves race by 3 lengths and also raced in the Lightweight Blue Boat. The 21 year old also won gold and silver medals at the 2016 British University Championships and medals at both the 2015 and 2016 European University Rowing Championships. In 2016 she was also part of the Cambridge University LW2- that won the Parkside Trophy at Henley Women’s Regatta.

Verdict: Despite giving away 9kg’s to her opposite number, this is advantage Cambridge.

 

3 seat

Oxford

esselstein.jpg

Name: Rebecca Esselstein

Nationality: American

Age: 24

Weight: 70.8kg

Height: 170cm

A Rhodes Scholar from the United States Air Force Academy reading for a DPhil in Astrophysics, Esselstein is a relative novice when it comes to rowing. Whilst at the USAF Academy she was more renowned as a runner posting some of the best 800m and 1500m times in the Academy’s history. She only started rowing when she came up to Oxford, but her undoubted athletic prowess has seen her win her seat in the Blue Boat.

 

Cambridge

lambe.jpg

Name: Claire Lambe

Nationality: Irish

Age: 26

Weight: 64.8kg

Height: 178cm

The complete opposite of her Dark Blue opponent in terms of rowing experience, Lambe is the most experienced rower in the race. Lambe has been racing at senior international level since 2010 and in 2016 she competed in the LW2X at the Rio Olympics finishing 6th with her partner Sinead Lynch. A graduate of University College Dublin she also made the final of the World University Championships in 2012.

Verdict: Advantage Cambridge

 

4 seat

Oxford

te water naude.jpg

Name: Rebecca te Water Naude

Nationality: British

Age: 20

Weight: 67.2kg

Height: 182cm

The tallest member of the Oxford crew, Wales’s Rebecca te Water Naude is another relative newcomer to rowing having only taken up the sport in 2014. But her talent was quickly spotted by the Welsh Rowing Academy in Cardiff and she was put on their fast track development scheme. She just missed out on a place in the Blue Boat last year and raced in the losing Osiris boat.

 

Cambridge

dawson.jpg

Name: Anna Dawson

Nationality: New Zealander

Age: 26

Weight: 78.6kg

Height: 180cm

One of six U23 internationals in the Cambridge Blue Boat, New Zealand’s Anna Daswon is another outstanding athlete. Winner of a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 2008 she followed this up with a silver medal in the W8 at the 2011 U23 World Championships. A Psychology graduate from Stanford University she raced in their Varsity 8, and in 2014 was in the crew that won the PAC-12 Championships and in the same year was voted the PAC-12 female athlete of the year. In 2012 she won gold in the W4X at the New Zealand National Championships and narrowly missed out on selection for the 2012 Olympics.

Verdict: Advantage Cambridge

 

5 seat

Oxford

austin.jpg

Name: Harriet Austin

Nationality: New Zealander

Age: 28

Weight: 76.5kg

Height: 178cm

The most experienced member of the Oxford crew, Austin made her senior international debut in 2008 as part of the New Zealand W8 at the Munich World Cup and just missed qualifying for the Beijing Olympics.  In 2009 she switched to the quad winning bronze at both the Munich and Lucerne World Cups and took 7th at the World Championships. In the 2010 season she raced in three different boat classes, finishing 8th in the W4X at the first World Cup, 12th in the W1X at the 3rd World Cup and 8th in the W8 at the World Championships. In 2015 she was named as part of the Central Regional Performance Centre squad in New Zealand but has come to Oxford for the 2017 season to read for an MBA at Christ Church. Once completed she could well be back in the mix for a seat in the New Zealand squad for the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Cambridge

Hill.jpg

Name: Holly Hill

Nationality: British

Age: 23

Weight: 75.1kg

Height: 183cm

Hill was part of the losing 2015 Blue Boat and after taking a year out of her studies in 2016 to focus on her rowing, she’s back for her 2nd Blue. She’s one of the most talented young women rowers in Britain. She made her international debut in 2015 winning bronze in the W4- at the U23 World Championships and last season she went one better as part of the British U23 W8. She has her sights firmly set on representing Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics and is part of the British High Performance squad. At the GB National trials last month she finished 2nd with teammate Melissa Wilson in the W2- losing out by less than 1 second over 5Kto a Leander Club pair containing Olympic silver medallist Karen Bennett. I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t make her senior international debut in the very near future.

Verdict: A draw!

 

6 seat

Oxford

laverack.jpg

Name: Chloe Laverack

Nationality: American

Age: 24

Weight: 75.3kg

Height: 177cm

Laverack took up rowing at Northeastern University as a “walk on” and progressed from the 3rd to 1st Varsity boats in her 3 years at Northeastern. In her freshman year she finished 3rd at the Eastern sprints. As part of the 1st Varsity crew in 2015 she raced at the Eastern Sprints and won the CAA Championships. At the NCAA Championships they finished 1st in the D Final (19th out of 22). She has a strong connection with Oxford, her uncle Bill Lang, was a winning Oxford Blue in 1983 and 1984.

 

Cambridge

white.jpg

Name: Alice White

Nationality: British

Age: 24

Weight: 76.3kg

Height: 176cm

Born and educated in Hamilton, New Zealand, White raced for the Kiwis at the 2011 Junior World Championships taking a bronze medal in the JW4-. She then studied at UCLA and rowed in the Bruins Varsity 8 throughout her 4 years of study.  She switched to racing for GB in 2015 and was part of the U23 W8 that won bronze at the World Championships. At the recent GB Trials, she and partner Lucy Pike, finished 8th . She’s another athlete that will be looking to gain senior international honours in the near future, and has eyes on a place at the 2020 Olympics.

Verdict: Advantage Cambridge

 

7 seat

Oxford

cameron.jpg

Name: Emily Cameron

Nationality: Canadian

Age: 34

Weight: 76kg

Height: 165cm

The oldest rower in the race, she has a wealth of international experience to her name. She made her senior debut in 2010 racing to an 8th place in the W4X at the World Championships. In 2011 she took a 13th place in the W2X. 2013 saw her best ever result when she was part of the W4X that took silver at the World Championships in Chungju. In 2014 the same quartet finished 6th. A graduate of the University of Toronto, she’s at Mansfield College reading for a Masters in Public Policy.

 

Cambridge

goudet.jpg

Name: Myriam Goudet

Nationality: French

Age: 28

Weight: 79.5kg

Height: 183cm

One of three returning Blues, Goudet is a highly experienced international athlete. She has progressed through the French national team, starting with the juniors in 2005 and 2006, finishing 5th in the JW8 in ’06. She then moved up to the U23 team in 2007 finishing 7th in the W4X and then 4th in the W4- in 2009. She made her senior debut the same year finishing 6th in the W8 at the European Championships. At the same event the following year she was part of the W8 that finished 8th. In 2012 she was part of the French W4X that tried to qualify for the London Olympics, just missing out in 3rd place. She knows the Tideway extremely well, not only as a returning Blue, but as a graduate of Imperial College. Whilst at IC she won Elite 2X at Henley Women’s Regatta and then bronze in the W4- at the World University Championships.

Verdict: a very narrow win for Oxford

 

Stroke seat

Oxford

hebert.jpg

Name: Jenna Herbert

Nationality: American

Age: 23

Weight: 67.1kg

Height: 165cm

The 2nd Rhodes Scholar in the Oxford boat, Hebert is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.  She spent four years as part of the Penn Quakers Varsity 8 and helped them to their best ever finish at the Ivy League Championships and was awarded the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Academic performer of the Year.  In 2013 she made her international debut, finishing 5th in the LW4X at the U23 World Championships.

 

Cambridge

Melissa Wilson.jpg

Name: Melissa Wilson

Nationality: British

Age: 23

Weight: 77.1kg

Height: 178cm

Wilson already has three (losing) Blues to her name and will be desperate to make it 4th time lucky! Along with crewmate Holly Hill, she finished 2nd at the recent GB National trials and will be looking to establish herself as a regular in the senior GB team.  She competed for the GB U23 team twice, winning silver in the W8 in 2014 and a bronze in 2015. Also in 2015 she and Holly Hill won gold in the U23 division at the Essen International Regatta.  In 2016 she was part of the Leander Club/Reading Rowing Club composite that won the Princess Grace Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta. Like her crewmate, Holly Hill, I expect Wilson to become a regular in the senior GB team and could well feature at the Tokyo Olympics

Verdict: advantage Cambridge

 

Cox

Oxford

Shearer.jpg

Name: Eleanor Shearer

Nationality: British

Age: 21

Weight: 48kg

Height: 155cm

Shearer is no stranger to the Tideway, the former Westminster school pupil grew up coxing on the championship course and since going up to Oxford coxed the University Lightweights at the Head of the River and the Head of the River Fours.

 

Cambridge

Holland.jpg

Name: Matt Holland

Nationality: British

Age: 19

Weight: 51.3kg

Height: 169cm

Another old Westminsterian, Holland coxed the outstanding school 1st VIII in 2015-16. Under his guidance the school won the school’s Head of the River and the National School’s Regatta twice and were finalists in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley in 2015. In 2014 he coxed the Imperial College W8 at the Women’s Head of the River and competed for GB in the Anglo-French match in 2014.

Verdict: advantage Cambridge.

 

Those are the crews, so who will win? I’ve put Cambridge ahead in 7 of the 9 seats and their performances so far this season have shown that coach, Rob Baker, has put together an outstanding boat, possibly the finest Cambridge crew for a number of years. In recent fixtures Oxford had a good battle with Oxford Brookes, having to come from behind on both occasions to win. Whilst Cambridge haven’t had a match race against Brookes, they both competed at the recent Women’s Head of the River with the Light Blues finishing 38 seconds ahead of Brookes. At the Reading University Head of the River Oxford were the fastest women’s crew, 13 seconds faster than Brookes. I think it’s clear from the pedigree of the crew and their performances so far this season that Cambridge will be favourites on April 2nd. I’m picking a Light Blue win by 3 lengths.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The Cancer Research UK Boat Races – Women’s race preview

  1. Nosey

    Just an observation: Elo Luik was rowing in the 6 seat of the Molesey crew who match raced Oxford at the weekend. Elo was originally elected as the OUWBC president this year but stepped down “due to academic commitments.”

    Reply
  2. Sarah Pickles

    A small amendment: after rowing at Evesham with the excellent Alison Foister and Bill Sullivan, Flo rowed with Gloucester Hartpury, benefiting from the amazing set up that Tom Pattichis has spearheaded since 2010( 12 junior and u23 GB athletes in 6 years). Flo of course benefited hugely from training alongside Start athletes, but wasn’t herself on the programme.

    Reply
  3. Sophie

    Nosey makes interesting point. I don’t believe Elo is the only one who has not returned this year. That, on top of the loss of the world-class ex-Olympics coach Christine Wilson, is not ideal for Oxford. Is there a connection?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s