Dutch coach's radical changes to engine room

VARSITY SPORTS: Oxford rowers experiment on the water while the Light Blues eye a hat-trick of victories on the rugby pitch

From the moment they appeared on the Tideway, the Oxford trial crews for the 1997 Boat Race on 29 March demonstrated the new gospel of how a boat should move, writes Hugh Matheson. Under the care of Rene Mijnders, the coach to the Dutch Olympic eight which won gold by a length in Atlanta, their approach to the transfer of power from man to craft has changed radically.

The two crews, "Y-fronts" and "Boxer Shorts", started after the University Stone yesterday, and each quickly settled into a rhythm of about 34 strokes per minute. Nick Robinson, from Hampton School and stroking Boxer, was generally a pip lower than Tim Foster stroking Y, and he fell behind by about a quarter-length after a minute.

Foster, an experienced British international, had a reshuffled crew behind him after Charlie Humphries had withdrawn with flu. The Oxford president, Ed Bellamy, moved from the four to the six seat and Dan Law was promoted from a junior trial eight.

Foster's crew, on the Surrey station, held its narrow lead around the Fulham flats. This was in part because James Micklethwait, his cox, was able to crowd Robinson's boat out of the stream. Robinson's cox Alex Greaney was on a yellow card for past steering clashes and was under orders not to push back.

After the Mile post, timed at 3min 37sec, when the bend began to turn against him, Robinson appeared to raise the game and was able to draw level as they approached Hammersmith. Behind him, the pair of Etonian junior internationals, Andrew Lindsay and James Roycroft, were sending down a lovely easy rhythm and Luka Grubor, the Croatian international who won the Henley Grand Challenge Cup with Imperial College last summer, was beginning to show the full effect of his 15st 10lb strength.

But Foster, at 27, was canny enough to use the bend and Micklethwait's aggression to pull back in front, and were a canvas ahead when they shot Hammersmith Bridge.

Bellamy, who may well find himself in contention with Humphries for the final seat in the blue boat, looked small between Damian West in the No 5 seat and Roberto Blanda at No 7, both of whom claim 6ft 6in measurements, but he was holding the rhythm well and kept the crew in good heart. Where the Hammersmith bend dies out after St Pauls, Micklethwait had his final attempt to push Greaney wide.

This time he would not go and the crews clashed blades. Foster, as expected from one who stroked London University, emerged with an extra two-seats advantage. But Robinson responded, and along Chiswick Eyot they drew level then took a canvas lead.

Neither crew looked strained at the finish, and the quality of the rowing and quantity of work never wavered. There was another small clash as the river turned, once again, in Foster's favour after Chiswick Steps, but he was unable to regain the lead. Although the stern four of Robinson's crew was giving away 18 years in experience to the stern four of Y-Fronts,they prevailed by what coach Mijnders called "a long half-length" in 17min 10 sec.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most