Oxford have had their challenges this year as they prepare for The BNY Mellon Boat Race, having to abandon their boathouse in Wallingford due to flooding with most training taking place at GB Rowing’s home at Caversham or at Dorney site of the 2012 Olympic regatta.
However they have an experienced squad, which was reflected in the line-up for their fixture with a representative German Under 23 crew. With Olympic medalists Storm Uru from New Zealand at bow, Stan Louloudis from the GB eight at stroke and Malcolm Howard of Canada at 5, the Germans were always going to find this a tough match. The German crew all have international experience but nothing of the calibre that Oxford boast.
The crews raced two pieces, the first from The Boat Race start at Putney to Chiswick Eyot. In bright spring sunshine it was Oxford on the Surrey station who set the pace from the start. Rating 47 strokes a minute compared to the Germans’ 43, the Dark Blues had a ¼ length advantage before the end of the Putney boathouses.
The Germans were warned by Boat Race umpire Richard Phelps 3 times before the Town Buoy and as they adjusted to steer away from their rivals, Oxford piled on the pressure. By Barn Elms Oxford led by 1 length and as they settled into a steady rhythm of 35 continued to pull away from the Germans at 36.
At Harrods Oxford’s lead had increased to 1 ½ lengths of clear water and from there on the verdict was a foregone conclusion, eventually running out at 5 lengths.
The second piece from the Crossing, just below Chiswick Steps, saw the crews change stations and Oxford Coach Sean Bowden give the Germans a length start. This gave his crew a target to aim for. Again Oxford got off slightly quicker, pulling back half of the German advantage within the first 30 strokes.
The Germans were tenacious on this occasion though, keeping the rate at 37 and with the advantage of the Surrey bend made a competitive race of it. However Oxford’s cohesion and power saw them creep back onto terms, man by man. At Barnes Bridge the lead was down to a canvas, then at the apex of the bend Oxford accelerated, going the long way round with a decisive move seeing them take a length out of the Germans in 20 strokes.
Soon there was clear water with Oxford’s lead increasing with every stroke to 4 lengths at the finish.
Bowden was pleased with the day’s work, “We wanted to see a way of rowing that was going to translate into The Boat Race rather than just a punch up on the Tideway. It was good to see the discipline and composure and to stick to the plan. The second piece put us under more pressure but the crew performed well and it’s always good to win.”
Crew lists were as follows:
Bow: Storm Uru
2: Chris Fairweather
3: Karl Hudspith
4: Tom Swartz
5: Malcolm Howard
6: Michael DiSanto
7: Sam O’Connor
Stroke: Constantine Louloudis
Cox: Laurence Harvey
Bow: Jonas Wiesen
2: Finn Knuppel
3: Malte Daberkow
4: Maximilian Korge
5: Johannes Weissenfeld
6: Arne Schwiethal
7: Ole Schwiethal
Stroke: Eike Kutzki
Cox: Torben Johannesen
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