Boat Race athletes went from strength to strength at the 2014 World Championships in Amsterdam, with the top two British men’s boats returning home as World Champions.
As all Blues achieved a position of 8th or better across a range of events, it bodes well for future success at the mid-point of the Rio 2016 Olympiad.
Quick conditions on the Bosbaan resulted in a number of world best-times throughout the week, with Great Britain men’s four coming close to breaking a British-set world best time from 2012. Andrew Triggs Hodge (Oxford 2005) demonstrated why he is World Rowing’s number one ranked athlete in claiming a fourth World title and a third in the coxless four. George Nash (Cambridge 2010, 2011, 2013) claimed a second World Championships win in two attempts, backing up his 2013 win in the men’s eight in Chungju. The four led from the start, facing a strong challenge from the United States in the initial stages. Into the second half of the race, the British four continued to show the dominance they have had over the event throughout the year, moving ahead of the field to win in 5:40.2. Triggs Hodge said afterwards, “it was really tough out there but we knew what we had to do… We had to push on and really dominate and that’s what we did”.
The men’s eight final proved to be one of the most exciting races of the day. A typically aggressive start from all crews saw the German and Polish crews take an expected early, though slender, lead. Settling into a cruising rate of 38 led by 2014 Oxford stroke-man Constantine Louloudis, the third placed British crew wrestled hold of the lead in the second 500m and stretched out to a three seat advantage by the half-way mark. The racing remained tight, with Great Britain only able to take one extra seat of advantage into the final 500m. The British crew, containing Pete Reed (Oxford 2004, 2005), Tom Ransley (Cambridge 2008, 2009) and Paul Bennett (Oxford 2013), showed incredible strength in pushing for the line in the final minute. A late surge from the Germans saw them take back a single seat, but they were unable to make any further impression on the race. After the race, Louloudis commented, “We talked about winning, but if I’m honest, I didn’t believe we could win it until three days ago. We just came to the boil at the right time.”
In defending a British-won title in 2013, the crew overcame the loss of the top-selected British athletes who had moved into the four. Reed and Ransley added fourth and second World Championship golds respectively, whilst Louloudis and Bennett stood on the top of the podium at their first World Championship event.
Further success for the British men’s squad came in the non-Olympic class coxed pair event, where Henry Fieldman (Cambridge 2013) coxed Scott Durant and Alan Sinclair to well-earned silver, the first GB coxed pairs medal for 13 years. The event was won by the Kiwi Olympic champions who doubled-up from the coxless pair event, in a world-best time, and the Britons were also well inside the old record. Henry Hoffstot (Cambridge 2014) raced in the coxed pair for the United States finishing eighth. Adding to his rowing experience in a summer between BNY Mellon Boat Race seasons at Cambridge, Hoffstot’s pair saved their strongest performance until last, finishing second in the ‘B’ Final. In the men’s coxless pair, Charles Cole (Oxford 2008) also raced for the United States, finishing in 6th.
Zoe De Toldeo (Oxford 2012) coxed the GB women’s eight who started strongly, finding themselves in the mix battling for third place in the middle of the race. The United States and Canada, favourites coming into the regatta, led from start to finish with the American crew eventually winning by a length. As the pace increased into the second half of the race, the British crew were unable to maintain contact and finished in sixth place.
The Newton Women’s Boat Race was also represented with the selection of Brianna Stubbs and Ellie Piggott. The Oxford duo (both racing in 2010 and 2011), who won the U23 World Championships last year, were included in the British lightweight women’s quad finishing sixth. After a strong start they were overcome by the Italians and the Germans in a competitive field, yet gained vital experience in their challenge for places in Olympic-class events.