Friday, March 25, 2011

157th Boat Race Preview and Prediction: Oxford v. Cambrige 2011



It's finally here. The 157th edition of the Boat Race takes place tomorrow at 1700 GMT, and will be broadcast live in the US by BBC America. The two crews seem fairly evenly matched, but according to the London bookies, the favo(u)rites are Cambridge, as they are the heavier crew (typically considered an advantage in the often-quite-difficult conditions on the Tideway), despite the fact this is newly-appointed CUBC Head Coach Steve Trapmore's first crack at the Boat Race (though he has plenty of experience, having won a gold medal in the VIII in Sydney, among other podium finishes at the World level). RR readers seem to agree, as with just hours left in our Boat Race poll, Cambridge is holding onto 57% of the vote.

The video above, produced by Xchanging, came out just recently and details two fixtures, the first between Oxford and Molesey, and the second between Cambridge and the U23 composite boat -- a fixture that was covered by RR, and featured photographs of the racing courtesy of Iain Weir. In both cases, the University crews performed quite well, though there were tougher tests in later fixtures for both crews.

Given all the data at hand, I am going to agree with the RR readership, and take Cambridge in this year's contest. Oxford has experience and toughness, but one of their most experienced oarsmen, and stroke of the VIII, Simon Hislop, has recently struggled with a back injury that kept him out of the Oxford fixture v. Leander. To their credit, Oxford took the fixture, despite being down early -- they are certainly not lacking in tenacity. Still, there are possible question marks about physiology, and in light of the weather prediction (10-15 knot easterly winds), it could be fairly bumpy out there.

Cambridge has several returning oarsmen from last year's successful campaign, a great deal of international experience, and a significant weight advantage. CUBC President Derek Rasmussen knows just what it takes to win the Boat Race, and backed up by an engine that features Australian Hardy Cubasch and Canadian Geoff Roth, the Light Blues will have plenty of power on their side. I'm expecting Cambridge to be quite quick out of the gates, with Oxford holding well through Hammersmith. Where the race will be won or lost, as is usually the case, is the stretch from the Chiswick Eyot to the Bandstand. If CUBC can move out into clear water at that point, there will be little Oxford can do. However, if Oxford manage to keep it close though the Bandstand, they have shown that they can come back from a deficit.

Time to race!

Note: For FeedBurner Subscribers, click the title of the post to view the video.

For more on the Boat Race, go to the official website, or follow the Boat Race Twitter Feed: @theboatrace. Also, Göran R. Buckhorn of 'Hear the Boat Sing' will have coverage of the event from the Thames, along with Tim Koch.

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