Time now to look at the Oxford and Cambridge Women’s Blue Boats.
Name: Patricia Smith
Last year’s Vice=President, Smith is a great example of the Cambridge development system. She first picked up an oar as a fresher in 2013 and rose rapidly through the ranks, securing a seat in the winning Lightweight Blue Boat in 2015 before moving up to the open-weight squad and rowing in the Blondie crew of 2017 and then the victorious Blue Boat last year. She has trialed for the GB Rowing squad and finished 10thin the W2- at the 3rdGB Team assessment last year.
Name: Issy Dodds
A former Kingston Grammar School pupil, Dodds raced in the 2016 and 2017 Osiris crews losing by 3 ½ lengths and 13 lengths respectively She’s also represented Oxford at Henley Women’s Regatta losing in the 2ndround of Elite 2- in 2017.
Verdict: advantage Light Blues, Smith has competed in the race before and that experience will be invaluable.
Name: Sophie Deans
Nationality: New Zealander
The Kiwi moved to Australia 10 years ago and learnt to row at Queenwood School in Sydney. She then studied for her undergraduate degree at Yale University (one of three Yale Alumni in the Cambridge Boat). Whilst at Yale she won medals at the NCAA Championships & the Ivy League Championships, including a spell in the Yale 1stVarsity boat.
Name: Anna Murgatroyd
Oxford’s Vice-President, Murgatroyd was stroke of the losing Osiris crew in 2018.She’s another rower who has come up through the Oxford development squad having learnt her rowing at Christ Church College.
Verdict: Another advantage to the Light Blues with the highly experienced Yale grad Deans.
Name: Laura Foster
A graduate of Michigan University, Foster spent her Senior year alternating between the 2ndand 3rdVarsity 4’s winning the Big 10 Conference title in the 3rdV4. Since arriving at Cambridge for the 2018 season she rowed in the successful Blondie crew last year and followed that up with an A-Final appearance in Champ 4- at the BUCS Championships.
Name: Renae Koolschijn
Dutch woman, Koolschijn, is a graduate of the University of Groningen. But she didn’t pick up an oar until she went up to Oxford. She progressed quickly and sat in the bow seat of last year’s Blue Boat.
Verdict: This is fairly close. Koolschijn has the experience of racing in the Blue Boat, and that is a big advantage. But Foster is no novice on the Tideway and the American collegiate racing season breed tough racers. Honours even.
Name: Larkin Sayre
Born and raised in Cambridge, Sayre was a member of the winning Blondie crew in 2018. She studied as an undergraduate at MIT where she majored in Mechanical Engineering. Whilst at MIT she rowed in the Varsity 8 at the Head of the Charles and the Princeton Chase and was in the crew that finished 3rdat the Patriot League Championships.
Name: Lizzie Polgreen
The oldest and lightest woman in the race, Polgreen has more Boat Race experience than just about anyone else in the event. She rowed for the Cambridge lightweight crew in 2009 and then the Blondie reserves in 2010. 2011 saw her elected as Cambridge President where she rowed bow in the losing Blue Boat. She’s one of a very select band of Boat Race rowers who have been President of one University and subsequently won a Blue for the other.
Verdict: Another tight contest, but Polegreen’s greater Blue Boat experience just gives her the edge.
Name: Kate Horvat
The lightest and equal tallest member of the Cambridge Boat, Horvat is the 2ndof three Yale graduates in the boat. Whilst at Yale she rowed in the 2V crew that won silver at the Ivy League Championships and made the Grand Final of the NCAA Championships.
Name: Tina Christmann
Possibly the no.1 rower in the Oxford boat, and the only one with any international experience. Christmann made her senior international debut in 2015 as a member of the 2ndGer W4X at the Varese World Cup. This crew went on to finish 5that the U23 World Championships that year. She returned to the quad for the 2017 season and won bronze at the U23 World Championships.
Verdict: Clear advantage to Oxford with Christmann’s strong international pedigree.
Name: Pippa Whittaker
Whittaker learnt to row under the tutelage of Chris Boothroyd at Henley Rowing Club. As a junior she represented Great Britain at the Coupe De La Jeunesse and then as a senior she sculled for England at the Commonwealth Regatta, winning gold in both the 1X and 2X. She did her undergraduate degree at Loughborough with whom she won gold in the 1X at the BUCS Regatta and in the W4- at the World University Championships. She’s also raced with Leander Club and Thames Rowing Club. At the British Championships in October last year she was a member of the CUWBC W4- that won gold.
Name: Beth Bridgman
Another product of the Oxford University Women’s Development squad, Bridgman raced for Osiris in 2017 going down to a 13 length defeat to Blondie. As a member of the OUWBC development squad she was in the Intermediate W8 that made the final at Henley Women’s Regatta in 2016. In 2018 she occupied the crucial stroke seat of the crew that went down to a 7 length defeat.
Verdict: Advantage Cambridge, Whittaker is an outstanding technical athlete and knows the Tideway well from her time at Thames Rowing Club.
Name: Ida Goertz Jacobsen
The only athlete in the Woman’s race with senior World Championship experience. Jacobsen rowed for Denmark at the 2018 World Championships where she just missed out on the medals in the W4-. She made her international debut as a junior in 2012 and won a bronze medal. In the JW2X in 2013. 2017 saw her race in both the W4- and W8 at the U23 World Championships in 2017. Her first senior medal came in the W4- at the Lucerne World Cup where she won silver in the W4-. Once her time at Cambridge is over she’ll be looking to win a spot on the Danish team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Name: Liv Pryer
Medical student Pryer, raced for Osiris last season and is the current Vice President for St Edmund Hall Boat Club
Verdict: a clear advantage for Cambridge
Name: Lily Lindsay
The final member of the Yale triumvirate in the Cambridge boat. In her Junior year at Yale she stroked the Varsity 8 that made the final at the NCAA championships and took bronze at the Ivy League championships. As a Senior she sat at 2 in the Varsity 8 that won silver at the Ivy League Championships. She spent two years on the US junior team winning a bronze medal in the JW2- in 2014. In 2018 she moved up to the U23 team and took bronze as a member of the US U23 W8.
Name: Amelia Standing
It’s a bold move by Coach Andy Nelder to place his youngest athlete (and the youngest in either men’s or women’s race) in the crucial stroke seat. The teenager learnt to row at The King’s School in Chester and already has representative honours to her credit, with an appearance for Great Britain at the 2017 Coupe de La Juenesse. But, she faces a much more experienced rival in the Cambridge Boat and if the racing gets tight will she be able to face down her rival. Clearly Nelder feels she is the best person for seat so it’ll be exciting to see how the youngster performs.
Verdict: Another clear advantage for Cambridge
Name: Hugh Spaughton
A former pupil of Westminster School, Spaughton probably knows this stretch of river better than anyone. He’s been coxing crews on this stretch for over 7 years.
Name: Eleanor Shearer
The Oxford President, Shearer is another product of Westminster School, albeit at school she rowed. Switching to coxing when she went up to Oxford, she steered Osiris in 2017 and then the losing Blue Boat in 2018.
Verdict: In the battle of the Westminster students, it’s Shearer who has the edge, with two appearances to her credit so far.
So, who will win? My money has to be on a Light Blue victory. Cambridge have been a bit more visible in some public races. They competed well against Nereus from the Netherlands (who’s crew contained the bulk of the Dutch U23 W8 that won silver at the World Championships last year). They also took wins against Oxford Brookes and won Hammersmith Head by 19 seconds. Oxford have only had one official fixture where they dispatched Imperial College. Cambridge just look to have too much power and experience for their Dark Blue rivals. Cambridge for the win.