There are five separate press conferences these days, one with all the race umpires and the others with a trio of representatives (coach, president and cox) from each of the men’s and women’s Blue Boats. Traditionally, these press conferences are rather ‘tight-lipped’ affairs. The underdog does not want to appear either too pessimistic or unrealistically optimistic and can end up being defensive. The favourite has nothing to prove but does not want to appear arrogant. This usually results in very brief answers that do not give any information. When press conferences with the representatives of the women’s crews started last year, the rowers, to their credit, were a little more open and did make some attempt to engage with their inquisitors. At first, this year seemed like it would be no exception to this state of affairs – until the final question and answer session which was with Cambridge Coach Steve Trapmore, President, Henry Hoffstot and cox Ian Middleton.
Steve Trapmore became the Light Blue coach in 2011 and since then Cambridge has won only once, in the unsatisfactory 2012 Race that included a stoppage and a broken blade. Thus, Trapmore’s appearances at Boat Race press conferences have increasingly seen him in the underdog role – until now. Two days before the 2016 Race, he was relaxed, smiling and even gregarious, speaking at length. Most notably he said that ‘The guys needed to change and I needed to change’ and he clearly thinks that he and the rowers have accomplished this and have put CUBC in a very strong position. He would, no doubt, have been greatly encouraged by Cambridge’s defeat of Oxford Brookes and a German U23 crew in the recent Boat Race fixtures. If Trapmore had any feelings of schadenfreude over Oxford losing to Brookes and Leander during the fixtures, he did not show it.