Oxford have been tipped as favourites ahead of the race.
This year’s boat race is undeniably one of the hardest to pick for years.
While Oxford, with three Olympic medallists in their boat, have been tipped as the favourites ahead of the race, Cambridge’s younger and heavier crew have the potential to spring an upset.
Cambridge president Steve Dudek believes the effort his side has put in to improve this year will see them through.
“Pretty much everything about this crew gives me confidence,” he said. “They match up really well, more so than years past, they’ve really bonded with the changes that they’ve been asked to make this year.
“I think the hallmark of really good rowers is that they can take weaknesses and make them into strengths.
“When this squad is asked to make a change they not only make it easier but are willing to do so. Everyone’s really bought into that and it’s paid off hugely this year.”
Dudek will be competing in the race for the final time, and added that the nature of the victory in 2012 has only spurred the crew on to want to win a clean race.
Oxford lost a blade in a clash, after the race was restarted due to a protestor in the Thames. They went on to lose by four and a quarter lengths, and bowman Alexander Woods was carried unconscious out of the boat after giving it everything.
“You never consider that a real win,” Dudek said. “I think when it came down to it we did everything right on the day, we focused on what our cox was saying and we deserved to be called the winners.
“But you don’t feel the same sense of accomplishment that you would have otherwise, so there’s always the desire for that type of win.”
Meanwhile Sean Bowden, Oxford’s coach, believes his squad will be more than powerful enough despite their lighter weight.
He said: “The crew is quick. Despite being one of our smaller boats they have a terrific amount of power for their size.
“They have a lot of focus and get on well as a crew, and row with an efficiency and a fluidity when they’re on pace.
“Age in itself is probably not a quality that you’re after,” he added. “But with that comes experience which certainly helps. The ability to be able to make the right decisions along the way is important in these long races.
“Being smaller is of course never usually an advantage in rowing, particularly if its a long race with a big headwind,” he added. “But I think the power they produce is very high and I am satisfied that we should have enough there.”
Oxford’s experience cannot be overlooked. Three Olympic medallists in Storm Uru (NZL), Constantine Louloudis (GBR), and President Malcolm Howard (CAN) will make the dark blues incredibly tough to beat, a fact Cambridge coach Steve Trapmore could not overlook.
“They have three olympic medallists in their boat, so I would say that makes them the favourite, regardless of weight,” he said. “The most important thing is how you prepare the crews to tackle the event. They’ve got to row efficiently and fast and be able to deal with everything on the day.”
The light blues have shown their desire is there to pull off a Boat Race shock, but the smart money is surely on Oxford who will hope their power and experience will make up for the weight disadvantage.
Photo courtesy of Chmee2, with thanks.
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