The 2022 Boat Race Fixtures: Beating the Blues?

In a Boat Race fixture run in February 2020, Oxford University Boat Club took on Oxford Brookes University Boat Club – but found that they were not the fastest crew in their shared city.

31 January 2022

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch looks forward to a lot of Putney to Mortlake action over the next two months. 

With the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race only nine weeks away, another significant step towards the 3 April races took place on Sunday when the so-called “fixture season” began with Cambridge’s “A” line-up taking on a Leander crew in two separate pieces at Henley. A press release says:

Each season, the four Coaches of the Oxford and Cambridge squads will invite other teams to race their ‘A’ and ‘B’ line ups. These races form vital experience and preparation for the crews, with races taking place on The Championship Course or elsewhere. With Coaches looking for opportunities to test the crew performance, these races are a key element in the annual selection process for a seat in a crew…

The 2022 series of fixtures has attracted some of the best teams in the world to race Oxford and Cambridge; Leander, Oxford Brookes, Imperial College and, from overseas, University of Washington, USA, and Nereus Rowing Club, Amsterdam.

This PLA Notice to Mariners (slightly amended by me) gives a succinct summary of the Tideway based fixtures in February and March. It also gives notice that the men’s and women’s Lightweight Boat Races will take place on 20 March.

The Boat Race website says of the Henley fixture:

This will be the first time that an A line-up from Cambridge will race external opposition this season, and Coach Rob Baker and President Charlie Marcus will be looking to see how the crew performs under pressure from a strong Leander line up. Three-time Oxford Blue and World U23 champion Felix Drinkall will be rowing for Leander, and will be keen to avenge the recent track record of Oxford losses in his new colours. The Cambridge crew contains 3 returning blues, Olympic Gold medallist Simon Schürch, and Olympic Bronze medallists from Tokyo Oliver Wynne-Griffith and Tom George.

The crew lists are on the Boat Race website.

Leander and Cambridge raced two 1500-metre pieces downstream, and Cambridge won both by 3/4 length. James Lee and Robert Treharne Jones took some nice pictures, both showing Cambridge ahead.

Picture: James Lee @JLee_Row
Picture: Robert Treharne Jones @voiceofrowing

Some pictures from fixtures past:

March 2020. The Oxford women lead the Amsterdam student club, Nereus.
January 2020. The Oxford men getting a canvas up on Leander.
March 2019. Brooks ahead of the Oxford Men.
February 2017. The Cambridge women finish ahead of the University of London.
February 2016. The Cambridge reserves watch their Blue Boat race Oxford Brookes.

On Monday, 7 March 2022, the names of the men’s and women’s Blue Boat crews will be made public at a venue in Central London. It may or may not be significant that the publicity material calls it “The Gemini Boat Race Crew Announcement” and does not include the term “weigh-in”. Is the Boat Race abandoning putting the open-weight rowers on the scales and following Henley Royal Regatta in putting less emphasis on “heaviness”?

The 2016 bow men, Oxford’s Iain Mandale and Cambridge’s Patrick Elwood, weigh-in at London’s City Hall. The combined average weight of the oarsmen that year was 87.7 kg (193 lbs).
The weigh-in for the 1874 Boat Race, probably at London Rowing Club. The average weight that year was 75 kg (165 lbs), almost the same as the average for a contemporary Women’s Boat Race crew.

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