Happy To Be Blue

The women’s bows, Cambridge’s Carina Graf from Germany and Oxford’s Laurel Kaye from the US, take the stage at the 2023 Boat Race Crew Announcement. As last year, the women declined to be weighed.

9 March 2023

By Tim Koch

Tim Koch sees who will P to M very soon.

On 6 March, with just 20 days to go before the 2023 Boat Race, the official crew announcements were made in a simple ceremony in the appropriately historic and distinguished surroundings of the Apothecaries’ Company’s Great Hall of 1670 sited in London’s Blackfriars. 

Four crews of student athletes representing nine nationalities came in, like the animals in the children’s nursery rhyme, two by two, each pair ascending the dais for their names and degrees to be read out by the television commentator, Andrew Cotter. 

As the chosen ones faced the audience of media and rowing’s great and good, some looked delighted, some a little embarrassed, some were not sure whether to adopt a serious or a nonchalant demeanour. The incongruity of wearing only a minimal outfit of figure-hugging Lycra in otherwise formal surroundings did nothing to ease any self-consciousness. The only comfort must have come from the fact that thirty-five others were in the same situation. 

A “new tradition” was enacted when each athlete was presented with a Blues zephyr by their coach. Here, Cambridge women’s coach, Paddy Ryan, presents the Light Blue’s “2”, Rosa Millard, with her coveted vest.
The “5s”, Freya Keto (USA/GBR) for Cambridge and Alison Carrihgton (GBR) for Oxford give each other the rowers’ secret handshake.
Cambridge’s Claire Brillon (CAN) and Oxford’s Sarah Marshall (GBR) will be in their respective “7” seats.
The Strokes, Caoimhe Dempsey, left, from Ireland and Esther Austin, right, from New Zealand.
The crews and their coxes (James Trotman for Cambridge and Tara Slade for Oxford) are flanked by their coaches, Paddy Ryan for Cambridge and Andy Nelder for Oxford.
A pause while the dais is set up for the men.
Bowmen Matt Edge (Cambridge) and James Forward (Oxford) take the stand. The Oxford men’s coach, Sean Bowden looks on.
In the “4” seats: Seb Benzecry for Cambridge and Tom Sharrock for Oxford.
Swiss/Canadian Jean-Philippe Dufour and British/New Zealander Nicholas Mayhew will be in the “6” seats.
Stroking Cambridge will be Luca Ferraro and stroking Oxford will be Felix Drinkall.
The Boys in the Boats.
Left to right, Matt Parish (CUBC 1994, 1995) with his sons, Jasper (CUBC Women’s cox 2022, CUBC Men’s cox 2023) and Ollie (CUBC 2021, 2022, 2023). The decision to put Jasper in the boat with his brother resulted in the unusual situation of the President, cox Ollie Boyne, not getting a place in the Blue Boat.
In the courtyard of Apothecaries’ Hall, photographer Ben Tufnell captures the men’s crews.
The Oxford Men from left to right. Bow: James Forward (Pembroke), 2: Alex Bebb (St. Peter’s), 7: Tassilo von Mueller (Hertford), 3: Freddy Orpin (St. Catherine’s), Cox: Anna O’Hanlon (Somerville), 5: James Doran (Oriel), Stroke: Felix Drinkall (Wolfson), 4: Tom Sharrock (Magdalen), 6: Jean-Philippe Dufour (Lincoln). The average weight (minus cox) is 91.95 kg.
The Cambridge Men from left to right. 7: Ollie Parish (Peterhouse), Bow: Matt Edge (St Catharine’s), Stroke: Luca Ferraro (King’s), 5: Thomas Lynch (Hughes Hall), Cox: Jasper Parish (Clare), 3: Noam Moulle (Hughes Hall), 4: Seb Benzecry (Jesus), 6: Nick Mayhew (Peterhouse), 2: Brett Taylor (Queens’). The average weight (minus cox) is 89.15 kg.
The Oxford Women from left to right. Bow: Laurel Kaye (Worcester), Stroke: Esther Austin (St Anne’s), 4: Ella Stadler (Exeter), 7: Sarah Marshall (Jesus), Cox: Tara Slade (St Peter’s), 3: Sara Helin (St. Peter’s), 5: Alison Carrington (Hertford), 6: Freya Willis (Magdalen), 2: Claire Aitken (Oriel).
The Cambridge Women from left to right. 3: Alex Riddell-Webster (Murray Edwards), 5: Freya Keto (St. Edmund’s), Bow: Carina Graf (Emmanuel), 7: Claire Brillon (Fitzwilliam), Cox: James Trotman (Sidney Sussex), 6: Isabelle Bastian (Jesus), Stroke: Caoimhe Dempsey (Newnham), 4: Jenna Armstrong (Jesus), 2: Rosa Millard (Trinity Hall).
Oxford patiently waiting for the photographers to stop fiddling with their f-stops.
Cambridge, also waiting for the snappers, find different ways of keeping warm on a cold day. 
The stars of 26 March 2023. Full crew biographies are here. Picture: Benedict Tufnell/Row360 via @theboatrace.
Matthew Holland coxed the Cambridge Women to victory in 2017 and the Cambridge Men to the same result in 2019. So far this is a unique feat – but Jasper Parish could match it this year.

The 77th Women’s Boat Race, the 51st Women’s Reserve Race (Osiris v Blondie), the 58th Men’s Reserve Race (Isis v Goldie) and the 168th Men’s Boat Race will be on Sunday, 26 March 2023.

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