Monday, March 23, 2015

Video Of The Week: Inside the Oxford University Boat Club Training Programme



This week's video offers an intense look at life as a member of Oxford University Boat Club. The crews for the 2015 Boat Races were announced on Friday, and this year's event will be historic in that it will be the first time that the men's and women's races have been held on the Tideway together on the same day. While there's evidence that the Cambridge men and women have made strides over the course of their winter training, so far the bookmakers and the pundits agree that Dark Blue is the favored colo(u)r to win again this year.

The official weigh-in and crew announcement took place last Thursday in London, and it's hard not to interpret an advantage for Oxford (despite their being the lighter crew by some 5.25kgs per man) even just by reading the comments of the head coaches following the ritual.



If Bowden is this confident that the 2015 crew is in fact in advance of the 2014 crew that dominated (albeit after the unfortunate clash and crab for Cambridge's two-man Luke Juckett), then the Dark Blues must be in pretty good shape. They're coming off a very solid performance over the weekend against a strong Molesey crew—the men in black included GB Olympian (and 2012 boat-mate of Oxford stroke Constantine Louloudis) Moe Sbihi, as well as GB lightweight international Adam Freeman-Pask, and Boat Race-veteran coxswain Henry Fieldman.



Still, Cambridge's stout racing with an excellent Dutch men's eight should not be ignored. The Light Blues also raced their last Tideway Fixture over the weekend, against a crew from the Netherlands that included double-Olympian (and Cal alum) Olivier Siegelaar, and 2013 world champion Robert Lücken (in the M4-) at stroke. Not only did Cambridge hang tough, but the Light Blues responded admirably to rough conditions on the Boat Race course, and battled their talented adversary to a standstill—certainly great preparation for close racing and no doubt Steve Trapmore will be very pleased with the results.


Avid British rowing blogger Daniel Spring recently published a side-by-side comparison of the OUBC and CUBC crews, and suffice it to say, given the pedigree, experience, and coaching of Oxford, it's hard not to agree with the bookmakers—the Dark Blues look very strong again this year, and should they win, Sean Bowden will have been victorious in 11 of his last 15 races.



Meanwhile, on the women's side, the Dark Blues look similarly advantaged. The presence of U.S. double Olympic champion Caryn Davies alone is a tremendous benefit to the program, and Oxford also boasts former GB junior/U23 internationals Anastasia Chitty and  Lauren Kedar, as well as Princeton alum (and former junior world champion) Emily Reynolds. Still, there's a strong NCAA and international presence on the Light Blue squad as well, in the form of 2014 Pac-12 champion Daphne Martschenko (Stanford), and Reynolds' former teammate at Princeton, Ashton Brown. (You can read a full side-by-side comparison of the women's crews here thanks again to Daniel Spring.)


Oxford recently capped off their Tideway fixtures with races against Imperial College Boat Club, which saw OUWBC get the better of their opponents while relying on a long, low rhythm thanks to Davies at stroke. (For a gallery of photos from the event, see the Boat Races' Facebook page.)

Even in these early days, it's interesting to note the increased influence of NCAA Rowing already making its way into the Boat Races—a trend that is sure to continue in the years to come. Also, looking ahead on RR: Newly named 2015 Oxford Blue Boat oarsman Mike DiSanto will check in one more time prior to the main event, set for 11 April at 4:50 and 5:50pm GMT in London.

-RR

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