Friday, April 10, 2015

The 2015 Boat Races: RR Picks and Predictions, Plus Rowing Resources to Follow All the Action

The buildup to this year's Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races has seen the bookmakers heavily favor Oxford for both the men's and women's events, and, given the results from the Tideway Fixtures and the indirect comparisons to be made, that seems a logical conclusion. On both counts, Oxford has had arguably stronger results, and a side-by-side comparison of the athletes seems to show that the Dark Blues have the experience and talent edge in 2015.

A photo posted by Rowing Photography (@rowingphotography) on

However, all of that is out the window as soon as the flag drops and the races begin on Saturday, and Cambridge will be keen to prove the doubters wrong.

The Newton Women's Boat Race
Time: 4:50pm GMT
Women's Blue Boats

The Oxford Blues have the single best athlete in the event this year, in the form of double Olympic champion Caryn Davies of the United States. She's in a great position to exert her influence on the race, sitting at stroke of the Dark Blue boat, and the lineup behind her also boasts a great deal of international experience, including former GB junior/U23 internationals Anastasia Chitty and Lauren Kedar, as well as former junior world champion (and Princeton grad) Emily Reynolds. The CUWBC crew that they'll be facing is formidable, and includes further NCAA rowing alums with standout college rowing resumes (including Daphne Martschenko, formerly of Stanford and veteran of of two USRowing U23 teams) but we have to think that the overall level of experience will show through the second half of the race.

Our prediction: Oxford by 3 lengths.

An engraving from the 1841 Boat Race (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The BNY Mellon Boat Race
Time: 5:50pm GMT
Men's Blue Boats

The men's Boat Race again seems to favor Oxford on paper, but Steve Trapmore and Cambridge have turned in some very gutty performances over the course of the Tideway Fixtures, and might just surprise some people coming out of the gates on Saturday afternoon. Last year's race was quite close through the early stages, until a clash and resulting crab effectively ended the contest before it could really get interesting. (Most people had predicted a walkaway victory for Oxford last year, but the Light Blues held onto them well.)

This year, we're looking for more of the same from Cambridge—by all accounts, the Light Blues have looked good in training, and while we expect the talent and experience to once again carry the day on behalf of Oxford (with a lineup replete with returning Blues who know what it feels like to win on the Tideway, including Olympian Constantine Louloudis. and Sam O'Connor and Mike DiSanto of Harvard), we think that, barring catastrophe, it may be a little closer than many people think. Just look back at the Tideway Fixture between Cambridge and the Netherlands men's eight, and you'll understand why.

Our prediction: Oxford by 1 length.

"Launching for the Boat Race" (Watercolor sketch for the RR 2015 Calendar by Bryan Kitch)

Boat Race Resources:

For a full breakdown of the crews, as well as further background on the Oxford program, check out our Video Of The Week following the 2015 Boat Races crew announcements. You can follow along with all the activity today and tomorrow via the official Twitter account of the Boat Races, as well as those of the respective programs, linked below:

Oxford men's team: @OUBCsquad
Oxford women's team: @OUWBCsquad
Cambridge men's team: @CUBCsquad
Cambridge women's team: @CUWBC

We've also created an RR Twitter list for the Boat Races, including athletes, squads, and Boat Race personalities (embedded below).



And, from the Boat Races website, here are all the ways to watch and/or listen to the Boat Races live.

There's a very nice rundown from Tideway Week by Tim Koch on Hear The Boat Sing (including some very nice photos), that gives a strong sense of the progression toward the main event. You can also watch a live camera feed from British Rowing HQ (right next to Hammersmith Bridge) via YouTube, if you want to get a sense for the conditions and check out the view from Dove Pier. For quick Boat Race facts, there's a solid Wikipedia page that includes a description of each of the most commonly referred to markers along the course.

Whatever the outcome, it's sure to be another inspirational race—finally, both the women's and the men's crews pitted against one another in an all-out battle to the end over the traditional 4-mile, 374-yard course, from Putney to Mortlake.

 Which Blue  are you? 

-RR

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