Weigh Enough*?

Steve Trapmore, the Cambridge Men’s Coach, with a date that is much on his mind. Here, he is interviewed by a television crew from China.

16 March 2017

Tim Koch is taken by surprise:

In a shock development at the ‘Crew Announcement and Weigh In’ for those men and women from Oxford and Cambridge Universities taking part in what are now called the 2017 Cancer Research UK Boat Races, it was revealed that the rowers who have been chosen to compete on Boat Race Day, 2 April, are mostly tall and heavy, while, conversely, those who will be steering the crews are all short and light. This revelation was immediately followed by what soon became a paradox when each of the four coaches present announced in turn that they were confident that their respective crews would win. HTBS will keep you up-to-date should there be any changes in this state of affairs. A press release expanded on the situation, I have reproduced it below and included my own pictures and captions. Of the men, it said:

The 163rd Boat Race will see Cambridge, weighing in at 93.5kg per man, start as the heavier of the two men’s crews, with Oxford weighing in at 90.2kg per man. Cambridge are also taller than their opponents, reaching 194cm per man compared to Oxford’s 191cm. Oxford are the older of the two boats though, with an average age of 27 years as opposed to Cambridge at 24.

The bow men, left to right, William Warr for Oxford (Cambridge Blue) and American, Ben Ruble (Blue) for Cambridge
Freddie Davidson, the CUBC ‘2’. His opposite number in the Oxford boat is an American, Matthew O’Leary.

The Cancer Research UK Boat Race competitors cover six nations, with American, Canadian, Australian, French, Dutch and British representation. Eight of the eighteen athletes hail solely from the UK, although six of these will be competing for Oxford – the Dark Blues have one American, in Matthew O’Leary, and one Dutch athlete in Olivier Siegelaar. The 30-year-old becomes the fifth Dutchman to earn a Blue and has also represented the Netherlands at two Olympic Games.

In the ‘3’ seats, Oliver Cook and American, James Letten.
Joshua Bugajski (Blue) and American, Tim Tracey will be at ‘4’ in their respective crews.

William Warr, who will be sitting in the bow-seat for Oxford, becomes only the third Blue to represent both universities, having competed for Cambridge in 2015. Abingdon School are extremely well represented within the Oxford Blue Boat, with three alumni on board. Brothers Jamie and Oliver Cook make up two of these athletes, with Jamie returning for his third Boat Race. Oliver has previously competed for the Great Britain senior team at international level.

In the big ‘5’ seats, Dutchman, Oliver Siegelaar and Canadian, Aleksander Malowany. Whatever the scales says, Siegelaar is not 1.2 kg – he is in fact 101.2 kg.
The Americans at ‘6’, Michael DiSanto (Blue and OUBC President) and Patrick Eble.

Cambridge are more diverse, with four Americans and a Canadian, whilst stroke Henry Meek has dual British Australian nationality. Meek maintains a long tradition of Geelong Grammar School alumni competing in the Boat Race, although he is the first for fifty-two years. Hugo Ramambason will be the first French British Blue since 2011 and only the third Frenchman of any kind to compete in the Boat Race.

A firm handshake between the men at ‘7’, James Cook (Blue) and Lance Tredell (Blue and CUBC President).
There was a (presumably pre-arranged) ‘stare out’ between strokemen, Vassilis Ragoussis and the Australian-British, Henry Meek.

Cambridge contain two returning Blues, including President Lance Tredell, whilst Oxford have three. OUBC President Michael DiSanto raced and won for OUBC in 2014 and 2015, before taking a year’s break to compete at the Rio Olympic Games for the USA.

The noisy deadweights in the stern, Sam Collier (Blue) and the French-British, Hugo Ramambason.
Sean Bowden, the Oxford men’s coach, does at least two things well: producing Boat Race crews and inscrutability.
The Blue Boys.

The press release then turned to The Women’s Boat Race crews:

In the bows for Oxford is Flo Pickles. Although she is the lightest oarswoman in the race, she was part of the remarkable Gloucester-Hartpury four that did so well at Henley Royal and Henley Women’s. The Cambridge bow is the Australian-Canadian, Ashton Brown (Blue and CUWBC President). Isabell von Loga, OUWBC President, is not in the Oxford crew due to a shoulder injury.
Alice Roberts, ‘2’ for Oxford, next to the trophy that she hopes to lift on 2 April. Her opposite number in the Cambridge boat is Imogen Grant.

Once again, Cambridge are the heavier of the two women’s crews, tipping the scales at 74kg per woman compared to Oxford at 70.1kg. The height difference is around 4cm per athlete, with Cambridge at 177cm per woman and Oxford at 173cm. 

From the U.S., Rebecca Esselstein and from Ireland, Claire Lambe, both at ‘3’.
The two ‘4’ seats are occupied by British-South African, Rebecca te Water Naudé and New Zealander, Anna Dawson.

The women’s crews are slightly more diverse, with eight nationalities represented across the two boats. Oxford have athletes from Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, America and the UK, whilst Cambridge contain Irish, Canadian, American, New Zealand, French, Australian and British rowers. 

At ‘5’, New Zealander, Harriet Austen and Holly Hill (Blue).
American, Chloe Laverack is at ‘6’ for Oxford, her opposite number for CUWBC is British-New Zealander, Alice White.

CUWBC President, Ashton Brown, is returning for her third Boat Race, and will sit in the bow seat for Cambridge whilst Myriam Goudet of France will look to record her first Boat Race win in her second attempt. The crew will be coxed by Matthew Holland, who steered Westminster School to successive titles at the National Schools’ Regatta in 2015 and 2016. Claire Lambe, who will sit at 3 for the Light Blues, raced in the lightweight double for her native Ireland at the Rio Olympic Games, whilst Holly Hill returns to the Boat Race program after a year’s absence. She earned her first Blue in 2015 as part of the first CUWBC crew to compete with Oxford on the championship course. 

Myriam Goudet (Blue) from France will row at ‘7’ for Cambridge. At ‘7’ for Oxford will be Canadian, Emily Cameron.
Melissa Wilson (Blue), the Cambridge stroke. Jenna Herbert from the United States will stroke OUWBC.

Oxford have a completely fresh crew this year to match the fact that coach Ali Williams is also in her inaugural year as head of the OUWBC program. Harriet Austin, who hails from New Zealand, competed internationally for her home country in the women’s eight back in 2010, whilst Flo Pickles represented Great Britain at the U23 World Championships last summer. At 34, Emily Cameron is the oldest athlete in this year’s Boat Races across all four crews and has a long history of international representation for Canada. Oxford’s average age is 25 years and Cambridge are a year older at 26. 

The coaches. Oxford’s Ali Williams from Australia (left) watches the BBC’s Andrew Cotter interview Cambridge’s Rob Baker (right).
Oxford cox, Eleanor Shearer, and Cambridge cox, Matthew Holland, stand at the head of their respective crews. There seems to be a weigh in photograph custom that Oxford scowls and Cambridge smiles. Oxford Stroke, Jenna Herbert (on the right, 2nd step up), may be fighting the urge break this tradition.
Sue Brown, Oxford cox, at a weigh in on the Putney Embankment in 1981 or 1982. In those simpler times, I would not be surprised if each rower had to bring a coin for the scales. Some more images taken by rowing photographer Peter Spurrier at past weigh ins and crew announcements are here.

The 163rd Boat Race and The 72nd Women’s Boat Race will take place on Sunday 2 April 2017. The Cancer Research UK Women’s Boat Race will start at 16:35, with The Cancer Research UK Boat Race an hour later at 17:35.

* An American coxing term meaning ‘stop rowing’. The British equivalent is ‘easy all’.


  1. Some of these coxes weigh more than enough. What happened to the good old days when coxswains were adopted by the UNHCR for fear they were victims of an Ethiopean famine? [Cue: When I were young…]

  2. As at other regattas, the coxes have to weigh at least 55 kg and must carry deadweight if they are under this weight.

    *Unlike* at other regattas, the coxes are weighed wearing only an all-in-one rather than the kit they will actually wear to race, so end up effectively being heavier for the race.

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