The 2011 Boat Race Crews Announced

Tim Koch, HTBS’s special correspondent in London, gives a report about the upcoming Boat Race.

As mentioned on HTBS of 27 February, Monday 7 March saw the official weigh-in and crew announcement for the 157th Oxford–Cambridge Boat Race which starts at 17.00 GMT on 26 March. The crews were welcomed by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who, as always, gave the impression that the task had been sprung on him at the last minute. As an old Balliol College (Oxford) man he wished both crews good luck – “especially Oxford”.

For the first time in many years, Oxford have just one crew member from overseas. On paper they are the less experienced boat. Cambridge has five Britons, two Australians and individuals from Canada and the United States.

Oxford’s crew:

Bow: Moritz Hafner (Ger/Swiss) Oriel

2: Ben Myers (GB) Exeter

3: Alec Dent (GB/French) Keble

4: Ben Ellison (GB) St Anne’s

5: Karl Hudspith (GB) St Peter’s

6: Constantine Louloudis (GB) Trinity

7: George Whittaker (GB) Oriel

Stroke: Simon Hislop (GB) Oriel (seen up on the right)

Cox: Sam Winter-Levy (GB) New

CUBC President D. Rasmussen and the Tower Bridge

Cambridge Crew:

Bow: Mike Thorpe (GB) Homerton

2: Joel Jennings (GB) Clare

3: Dan Rix-Standing (GB) St Catharine’s

4: Hardy Cubasch (Aus/Ger) St Edmund’s

5: George Nash (GB) St Catharine’s

6: Geoff Roth (Can) St Edmund’s

7: Derek Rasmussen (USA) Hughes Hall

Stroke: David Nelson (Aus) Hughes Hall (pic. on the right)

Cox: Liz Box (GB/Aus) Hughes Hall

The PR people’s view of the crew selection is here.

I took advantage of a room full of the great and the good of rowing journalism to get more seasoned views of this year’s race.

Chris Dodd (Writer and historian, former Guardian newspaper correspondent):

It should be a good race. Cambridge has more experience and they are a heavier crew (if that counts for anything these days, probably not). Their ‘disadvantage’ is that their coach, Steve Trapmore, has not done the Boat Race before. He is a generation younger than the previous coach and he has a lot of experience on the Boat Race course as he was Chief Coach at Imperial College which is based at Putney. Also, he got an Olympic gold medal in the eight in 2000 and that crew did most of its training on the Thames Tideway…….. He was also in that crew for all of the three years it was together so he has a lot of experience of eights that are changing personnel. Also he runs a very big programme at Imperial….. so he has a lot of experience in crew selection. So, to be new to the Boat Race is not what it first seems for Steve Trapmore. Against that, Sean Bowden, the Oxford Coach, has led eight victories in the past eleven years. He is a very cool customer, he knows exactly how to produce crews to peak on the day which is the key to this race….. These crews are not packed with internationals but they are good quality student oarsmen and are not too far apart, I think.

Coaches Sean Bowden and Steve Trapmore

Dan Topolski (Commentator and Oxford finishing coach 1973-1987, which included twelve wins and an unbroken run of ten victories):

On paper, Cambridge holds the cards, but whenever Oxford has been asked to perform they have done pretty well……. You have a very British-Oxford-Eight with three undergraduates, a more experienced Cambridge crew, most of them have done the race. Not a lot of difference in the weights, more difference in the heights and ages….. and I think it will be a very intriguing race, may be similar to last year.

Martin Gough (BBC):

It’s going to be a really tight race. There is not a huge amount of experience in either crew and this makes it difficult to pick the fastest boat. Cambridge has more Boat Race experience, but having Sean Bowden as coach means Oxford will be able to draw on his experience…… It’s not the race of the last few years where you have a group of internationals going head to head……. but this makes it more exciting…… It’s the usual cycle, two years of big names and internationals and then two years of proper students as you go into an Olympic Games…… the only man in the race who we could expect to race (at the 2012 Olympics) is Constantine Louloudis, the Oxford number six. [Read Martin Gough’s article here.]

Rachel Quarrell (The Daily Telegraph):

It’s defiantly too early to make any predictions at the moment….. I think that the last week will be very interesting, I think that both crews will come on a lot (in that time)….. Normally just after the Olympics you have a lot of internationals going to Oxford and Cambridge…. It always dips again after that but this year it was dramatic because the 2010 World Rowing Championships was in November, so it ruined two academic years. Nobody wanted to compete in the 2010 or 2011 Boat Race who planed to row internationally….. so there are no current internationals in either team.

I will be interviewing these people again during ‘Tideway Week’ on 21-25 March, when the world’s press descends on Putney to follow the crews out on their final outings.

Thank you, Tim, for an interesting report. In due course, HTBS will be back with more reports about this year’s Boat Race.

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