Rowing: Oxford prepared to pull weight amid choppy waters

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Oxford weighed in 12lb per crew member heavier than Cambridge for the 154th Boat Race, giving them a slight edge statistically if all other things are equal on Saturday at 5.15pm. But all other things seldom are equal in the great tussle from Mortlake to Putney, and foul weather could play a much greater role this year.

As happens when the stars are playing away in an Olympic year, current internationals and returning Blues are thin on the ground. Rebecca Dowbiggin, who steered Cambridge to victory last year, coxes them again, and the Tasmanian Tom Edwards who rowed in 2005 and 2006 returns to the seven seat. Dan O'Shaughnessy, the president of Cambridge, says his crew are stars of the future, underwritten by his own presence in the reserve boat.

Dowbiggin's opposite number is Nick Brodie, who steered Oxford last year and is now their president, and their big international intake includes Mike Wherley who, at 36, becomes the oldest oarsman to row in the race. Wherley has rowed in two Olympics for the US, and Jan Herzog is a very experienced German international in the bow seat.

Sean Bowden, Oxford's coach, said: "When I've seen them at their best, I think they're a very good crew. If they row their best, they'll be very hard to beat. It'll be a tough race, and I have no expectations beyond that."

Cambridge's Duncan Holland said: "I think we'll be very quick. I'm happy with the crew, but Oxford are classy opponents."

Oxford: Bow J Herzog (Humboldt Univ, Germany, and St Catherine's) 14st 3 3/4lb; T Medaris (Harvard, US, and Kellogg) 16st 2 1/4lb; B Smith (Imperial Coll and Christ Church) 15st 5 3/4lb; A Marcovy (Columbia Univ, US, and St Edmund Hall) 16 st 0 3/4lb; M Wherley (Univ of Minnesota, US, and Oriel) 15st 8 1/4lb; O Moore (Imperial Coll and Oriel) 15st 13lb; C Cole (Yale and Kellogg) 15st 1 1/2lb; Stroke W England (Princeton, US, and Christ Church) 15st 4 3/4lb; Cox N Brodie* (Abingdon Sch and St Catherine's) 8st 5 3/4lb. Average 15st 6 11/16lb.

Cambridge: Bow C Scott (RGS Worcester and Trinity Hall) 13st 8lb; T Perkins (Univ of Western Aust, Australia, and Jesus) 15st 0 1/4lb; H Pelly (Newcastle Univ and St Edmund's) 13st 12 3/4lb; T Garnett (KCS Wimbledon and Trinity) 14st 10 1/2lb; P Marsland (Nottingham Univ and Clare Hall) 16st 0 1/2lb; T Ransley (King's Canterbury and Hughes Hall) 15st 10 3/4lb; T Edwards* (Univ of Tasmania and Gonville & Caius) 13st 11lb; Stroke S O'Mara (Northeastern Univ, US, and Hughes Hall)14 st 2 3/4lb; Cox R Dowbiggin* (Impington Int Sixth Form Coll and Emmanuel) 7st 9 1/2lb. Average 14st 8 3/4lb.

* denotes Blue