Rowing: Crews divided by fine margins

Half a bag of sugar and the width of a pencil will separate the Oxford and Cambridge crews racing in the 148th University Boat Race on Saturday. Oxford weighed in yesterday just 500g heavier per man, and Cambridge have one-quarter of an inch average more height: such differences are essentially negligible.

Half a bag of sugar and the width of a pencil will separate the Oxford and Cambridge crews racing in the 148th University Boat Race on Saturday. Oxford weighed in yesterday just 500g heavier per man, and Cambridge have one-quarter of an inch average more height: such differences are essentially negligible.

Not even the coxes tip the balance, as for the first time they must reach a minimum 55kg (8st 9lb) in weight on the date of the race, or carry deadweight. It is hoped to make starvation diets a thing of the past, and allow taller coxes with experience and ability to steer the race. A far cry from the days when the coxswains would shovel hops in the Mortlake Brewery for hours to shed their pounds.

Since rowing lore has it that a pound of difference in coxing weight could cost a crew as much as a canvas (one tenth of a length) over the Boat Race distance, this does take the pressure off the coxes. "If you're trying to reduce your weight so heavily, it does affect your mental faculties", said the Oxford steersman, Peter Hackworth. "You become needlessly tetchy, and can't think very clearly."

The traditional umpire's rehearsal was completed early this year, the two coxes steering the course in motor launches under the watchful eye of the umpire, Simon Harris, yesterday morning, as he talked them through the line he wants them to take on Saturday.

With the crews closely matched on paper, differences in steering, technique and form are even more crucial. "We have been making some really good improvements," Rick Dunn, double world champion and stroke of the Cambridge eight, said. "It's obviously the Cambridge rhythm, it's just got a continuous, easy flow to it, and it's coming together more and more each day."

This year they will miss the presence of their long-time mentor Harry Mahon, who died of cancer last May after seeing them beat Oxford following a dramatic restart. "Harry last year was really influential in the crew, he was just so calm and relaxed", said Dunn. "Yes, I think we are missing him, but we have lots of good people around."

Oxford, meanwhile, shuffled seats for a few outings, although they are now back into their original order. "We just changed to keep it all moving," said their president, Ben Burch, "I think the guys are really determined. We've shown it in all our races, we know we can go the distance, and we've done a lot of work at higher ratings."

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY (GB unless stated): Bow: T Stallard President, Jesus, aged 23, 6ft 3.5in, 13st 9.5lb; 2 S Brooks (US) St Edmund's, 23, 6ft 3in, 14st 4lb; 3 J Livingston St Catherine's, 21, 6ft 3in,14st 13lb; 4 S Mayer (Ger) 28, 6ft 3in, 13st 13lb; 5 J West (US) Gonville and Caius, 25, 6ft 9.5in, 15st 6.5lb; 6 L Hirst (Aus) St Edmund's, 29, 6ft 3.5in, 14st 7lb; 7 S Welch (Aus) St Edmund's, 24, 6ft 4in, 14st 2lb; Stroke: R Dunn St Edmund's, 25, 6ft 4in, 15st 1.5lb; Cox: E Griggs Robinson, 20, 5ft 5.5in, 8st 9lb; Average weight (not including cox): 14st 7lb.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY (GB unless stated): Bow: A Dunn Lincoln, 22, 6ft 4in, 14st 6lb; 2 B Dixon Pembroke, 20, 6ft 2in, 14st 6.5lb; 3 G Eggenkamp (Neth) Keble, 26, 6ft 5in, 14st 10.5lb; 4 D Perkin (US) Brasenose, 22, 6ft 7in, 15st; 5 L McGhee (US) Oriel, 22, 6ft 7in, 15st 9.5lb; 6 B Burch President, Pembroke, 22, 6ft 6in, 15st 1lb; 7 R EG Bourne-Taylor Christ Church, 20, 6ft 3in, 13st 11lb; Stroke: M Smith St Catherine's, 20, 6ft 1.5in, 12st 14lb; Cox: P Hackworth Oriel, 19, 5ft 8in, 8st 8.5lb. Average weight (not including cox): 14st 8.125lb.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?