A year ago, Cambridge upset a Dark Blue dominance which had lasted for a generation, with an emphatic win by lesser individuals rowing much better as a unit. Now, as they try to become the first Light Blue crew in 20 years to win two in a row, it is Cambridge who are manned by Olympic talents and Oxford who are hoping youth and desire will be enough to take them to victory.
The Cambridge president, Jon Bernstein, a graduate of Harvard, who have dominated Yale for even longer than Oxford have been taking the Beefeater Trophy, has picked two German world champions as the stern pair with Thorsten Strepplehoff at stroke and Peter Hoelzenbein at No 7.
Cambridge have picked two other internationals, the Britons Matthew Parish and Richard Phelps, in the No 6 and No 4 seats, relegating last year's stern pair of Will Mason and Sinclair Gore to the bows. Bernstein has found no trouble uniting the range of nationality or achievement in his squad. 'The role of president has little place on the water. The crew builds its own identity and my tasks are mostly organisational.'
But Kingsley Poole, a fifth- year medical student at Oxford, has had to provide the inspiration for the Dark Blues to pick themselves up from last year's surprising defeat when the all- star line-up flopped. His strength is that he has no record outside Oxford. He and his chief coach, Richard Tinkler, have been able to insist on building the squad from within and have not been tempted, as Oxford have in the recent past, to drop men who have worked all season in order to bring in a wandering scholar who fancies a Blue for two months' work.
Poole has picked two Norwegian internationals, Sverke and Snorre Lorgen, but they have only missed training when injured. The stern is likely to be dominated by Harry Macmillan, Chris Mahne and Adam Pearson, who all shone in the national trials in January.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY: A S Gordon-Brown (Hyde Park HS, South Africa, University of Cape Town & Keble), Snorre Lorgen (Lycee Corneille, France, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Iffley), Sverke Lorgen (Spelkavik VGS, Norway, Harvard & University), H J Macmillan (Eton & Worcester), C N Mahne (Eton & St Catherine's), *J G Michels (St John's College HS, USA, La Salle, USA & Pembroke), A J Pearson (Canford School & Worcester), *K K Poole (Magdalen College School and St John's). Cox: *H E Chick (Helsby HS & Christ Church).
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY: R D Taylor (Shrewsbury & Trinity Hall), *W T Mason (Shrewsbury & Trinity Hall), *S M Gore (Methodist College, Belfast & Jesus), *R C Phelps (Latymer Upper School & St Edmund's), *J A Bernstein (Phillips Andover, Harvard & St Edmund's), M H Parish (Eton, University College, London & St Edmunds's), P J M Hoeltzenbein (Gaesdonk and Rats Gymnasium, Munstyer, Ruhr Universitat Bochum & Magdalene). Stroke: T Streppelhoff (Private Gymnasium St Ursula, Dorsten, Ruhr Universitat Bochum & St Edmund's). Cox: R S Slatford (Kings College, Wimbledon, Durham University & Hughes Hall).
(* denotes Blue)