Rowing: German strongman reinforces Cambridge

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CAMBRIDGE University, not for the first time, is one cox short of a full crew, with two names put forward for the ninth seat on Boat Race day, March 28.

Yesterday, at the annual challenge for the race and announcement of the chosen crews, Alistair Potts and Suzie Ellis, who steered the Light Blue reserves, Goldie, against Isis in 1996 and 1997 respectively, both won by a comfortable margin. Whoever is picked will have a record amount of leverage to pull them along as, for the second year running, the Light Blues are the tallest on record; averaging 6ft 51/2in.

The Oxford crew, presented yesterday by the 21-year-old President, Andrew Lindsay, is an inch shorter, although this is hardly likely to be significant because the key factor in winning a Boat Race is the ability to sustain a high output of combined power from the whole crew over the four and a half mile course. As winners for the past five races, Cambridge have the edge in many areas. The strongest man in the race will be Stefan Forster, a German and world champion who has given up his place in the German national squad to spend a year on management studies at Cambridge before returning to join his country's Olympic preparation in June.

More important than the strongest man is the general level of the group which must pool its differences and emerge as a unit. This has been a key feature of the recent Light Blue success. This year the Cambridge President, David Cassidy, has stepped aside, so that, for the third year running, for different reasons the man elected by his crew to lead them has had to drop out. It is a measure of how tough the campaign has become.

Forster is joined by a fellow German international Marc Weber, with one Canadian, Brad Crombie, and two British Olympians, Graham Smith and Alex Story. This powerful group is opposed by another German international, Jurgen Hecht, Swedish international Henrik Nilsson and the British world bronze medallist Ed Coode

BOAT RACE CREWS (Putney to Mortlake, 28 March, GB unless stated):

OXFORD: Bow: C Humphreys, age 21, height 6ft 31/2in, weight 81kg; 2 J Roycroft 20, 6ft 6in, 87kg; 3 J Hecht (Ger) 28, 6ft 7in, 94kg; 4 H Nilsson (Swe) 29, 6ft 33/4in, 90kg; 5 E Coode 22, 6ft 4in, 93kg; 6 A Lindsay (president) 21, 6ft 1in, 93kg; 7 P Berger (US) 25, 6ft 5in, 85kg; Stroke N Robinson 20, 6ft 5in, 85kg; Cox A Greaney 22, 5ft 1in, 54kg.

CAMBRIDGE (positions to be confirmed): G Smith 22, 6ft 31/4in, 94kg; J Bull 20, 6ft 5in, 99kg; T Wallace 21, 6ft 7in, 95kg; S Forster (Ger) 26, 6ft 6in, 102kg; P Cunningham 20, 6ft 6in, 102kg; B Crombie (Can) 27, 6ft 31/2in, 92kg; A Story 23, 6ft 71/2in, 102kg; M Weber (Ger) 26, 6ft 31/4in, 86kg; Cox to be decided between S Ellis 28, 5ft 3in, 49kg and A Potts 26, 5ft 6in, 54.