A distinctive, devastating rhythm was the key to the last two Cambridge victories. The 1995 crew have looked good enough on paper but have yet to set the Thames on fire.
In the past 10 days, Matthew Parish, the No 6 in 1994, has been promoted from No 2 to No 4 and on to No 6. Behind him, now, at No 5, is the lightest man, Dirk Bangert. So close to the race this is very unsettling but, if at 3pm on Saturday Cambridge have won, Mahon will be praised for his brilliant fine-tuning. For Oxford, underdogs for the last two years, things are no different except that the chief coach, Penny Chuter, made her changes two weeks ago in Nottingham. The strongest men are now in the bows and the smoother, longer oarsmen in the stern. Photograph: Peter JayReuse content