19 March 2022
By William O’Chee
On the eve of their fixtures with Cambridge University, Oxford University’s women’s and lightweight representative rowing clubs have received a windfall distribution worth tens of thousands of pounds each. The capital grants have been made from the O.U.B.C. Trust Fund, which was originally established to provide funding for the Oxford University Boat Club, the university’s representative men’s club that races Cambridge University in the Boat Race.
Unlike Cambridge University, which united their representative clubs under one banner in 2020, Oxford maintains four representative clubs which each field a Blue Boat to race Cambridge: Oxford University Boat Club (O.U.B.C.), Oxford University Women’s Boat Club (O.U.W.B.C.), Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club (O.U.L.R.C.) and Oxford University Women’s Lightweight Rowing Club (O.U.W.L.R.C.).
The O.U.B.C. Trust Fund has announced that it will release a grant of £46,000 to each of the four clubs. The grants are particularly important for the women and lightweights, who have historically been somewhat impoverished relative to the original O.U.B.C.
It is also recognition due recognition for the achievements of lightweights and women’s representative clubs. While the heavyweight men and women have struggled against Cambridge over the last four years, Oxford’s lightweight men have won three years in a row.
The donation will perhaps make the biggest difference to the women’s lightweights, who have been the least well funded of the four clubs.
O.U.W.L.R.C. President, Katherine Ferris, told Hear The Boat Sing that they were not yet sure how they would use the money. O.U.W.L.R.C. will be racing this year in an eight which has been lent to them by Filippi.
“Given the significant size of the donation, especially in comparison to our normal income, we will be taking the time to consider carefully how best to invest the money to benefit both the current squad and future athletes,” she said.
Ferris went on to say, “It is certainly great to see all four squads receiving equal support from the Fund, especially in light of the highly competitive crews that both lightweight squads have been producing through the hard work and diligence of our athletes, coaching team and the many volunteers that support us.”
Not only does Oxford have four representative clubs, but it also has two separate trust funds: the O.U.B.C. Trust, and the Topolski Fund. The former was established in the 1940s to support Oxford rowing, and has a corpus of over £185,000, as well as annual income of about £9,000. It has previously helped fund the purchase of the Wallingford site in 2001, and then the construction of the Fleming Boat House.
The Topolski Fund is a more recent institution and differs from the O.U.B.C. Trust Fund in that it enjoys pound-for-pound matching funding. These grants are part of a transition to the Topolski Fund.
O.U.B.C. Trustee, Tom Barry, explained that the O.U.B.C. Trust made an initial £100,000 donation to the Topolski Fund some time ago, which was matched to make £200,000.
“Through the good offices of Colin Smith,” Barry said, “today’s £185,000 grant the Trust is making will also be matched, pound for pound. So, with the previous £100,000 grant, and this one of £185,000, we have been able to turn £285,000 into a donation to Oxford University Rowing of £570,000.
“This total amount will be split between the Topolski Fund and the four University Clubs, who this week will each receive over £46,000 from the Trust. This is a grant made possible only from your regular donations over the years which the Trust has accumulated and put to this wonderful use today.”
The Men’s and Women’s Lightweight Boat Races are on the Tideway on Sunday, the 20 March.
The Women’s Lightweight Boat Race will be at 13:25 GMT, with the Men’s Lightweight Boat Race at 14:25 GMT. The races can be viewed on livestream here.