The 2022 Boat Race Trials: Keeping in the Stream

The Cambridge Men battle it out in the 2017 Trials.

18 December 2021

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch on student tests with a fifty percent failure rate.

It is just over 100 days before the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race returns to the Thames Tideway on 3 April 2022. However, Sunday 19 and Monday 20 December will see previews (of sorts) take place over the famous stretch of rowing water when the Trail Eights are raced.

The Trials are not contests of Light Blue v Dark Blue, they are men’s and women’s intra-university races, Oxford v Oxford and Cambridge v Cambridge, where the last sixteen rowers and last two coxswains from each squad in battle it out, usually in theoretically matched boats, all hoping to impress the coach who has to pick their final crew. The Trials are an important learning experience for rowers and coxes as well as an intense selection test as they are usually held over the full 4 1/4-mile course. The races give the coaches the opportunity to see how their athletes fare in side-by-side racing in the unique and unpredictable conditions produced by the Tideway.

Trials come at the end of the autumn academic term and are the last key event before the Christmas break and the January training camps (the latter are usually held abroad but in 2022 they will be held in the UK for obvious COVID-related reasons). 

The Oxford Women’s Trials in 2018.

Sadly, the women’s races have had to be postponed. A press release states:

After a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in both (women’s) Clubs, the decision has been made to postpone the races to a later date in January. The affected athletes have started self-isolation as per Government guidelines. Subsequent internal contact tracing identified a number of close contacts and they are also self-isolating.

However, the men’s races are currently scheduled to go ahead. Oxford will be the first on the start line at Putney at 1 p.m. on Sunday 19 December. Just over 24 hours later it will be the turn of Cambridge who will start their Trial Eights race at 1.35 p.m. on Monday 20 December. The Oxford crews are named here and those of Cambridge here.

The 2015 Cambridge Women on Trial.

A press release has exciting news:

For the first time at Trial Eights, Ludum (a sports training management & performance analysis company) will record & provide streamed athlete performance data in real time, bringing a whole new dimension to the racing action. Viewers will be able to see live pace, stroke rate, distance travelled and exact boat locations throughout the two races. The action will unfold like never before, and the intricacies of technique and tactics will be unveiled to those watching at the clubs, home and across the world.

Oxford’s Men at Hammersmith in 2020.

The press release continues:

You will be able to follow the live stream action on The Boat Race Social Channels; YouTube HERE and Facebook HERE.

There will also be updates provided on our social media channels in the build up to the races, during the race itself and post race reports and videos.

The best way to keep up to date about The Gemini Boat Race 2022 is to sign up to our e-newsletter HERE.

Of course, to be in a losing boat does not mean automatic exclusion from Blue Boat selection but, as Matthew O’Leary (left, foreground, 2016) and Reggie Mitchell (right, 2018) demonstrate at the end of their Trial Races, winning is still better than losing.

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