‘Super primal’ boat race is sport in its purest form – Cambridge’s Luca Ferraro

Ferraro became a world champion in the men’s eight with Great Britain’s Under-23s last summer.

Rachel Steinberg
Wednesday 13 March 2024 22:10 GMT
Crews for the 2024 Boat Race were announced at Battersea Power Station (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Crews for the 2024 Boat Race were announced at Battersea Power Station (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Returning Cambridge rower Luca Ferraro believes the reason people flock to the Boat Race year after year is to see sport in its “purest form”.

The 22-year-old classics student was part of the crew that beat Oxford to win last year’s edition, extending a dominant run for the light blue boat that has seen them come out on top in four of the last five years.

Ferraro, a world champion in the men’s eight with Great Britain’s Under-23s last summer, moves from stroke to the seven seat for his third Boat Race and was one of 36 athletes named on Tuesday night to the crews for the 78th women’s and 169th men’s races, taking place on March 30th.

He told the PA news agency: “It really feels like a new race, a new group, the dynamic just changes so much every year and that’s part of the fun. It’s a new challenge. I’m super excited to see if we can get out there and see if we can defend our title.

“The Boat Race is so random. There’s so many variables. Anything can happen on the day, so it’s quite hard to prepare in that sense, other than just being prepared for anything, so I’m super excited to see what twists and turns will happen.

“Its appeal is so hard to pin down. It’s across so many different factors – the tradition, the history plays a massive part. It’s that iconic university rivalry; it’s Oxford, it’s Cambridge.

“I really think that in a world where sport is so flashy – it’s so high-profile these days, there’s so much money involved – the Boat Race is still sport at its purest form.

“It’s almost spartan. It’s just you and the other guys and you’ve got to go faster than them if you want to win. There’s something super primal about it.”

Ferraro’s Cambridge crew contains five men returning to defend their 2023 title, while Oxford has just one left over from last year’s defeat.

There was little between the rivals after the weigh-in – in which only the men participate – with Oxford coming in at an average 92kg, just half a kilogram heavier than their Cambridge counterparts.

The women’s crews also contain a mix of experienced and returning crew members, with 20 Brits involved across all four men’s and women’s boats and others coming from countries including France, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Germany and Australia.

This year, the Boat Race is taking inspiration from Drive to Survive and other sports documentaries, launching a behind-the-scenes YouTube series ahead of the race.

Cambridge have dominated the women’s race for the last six years but Oxford’s Annie Sharp is confident her crew has what it takes to turn the tide.

Sharp, an MSc water science and policy management student stepping up from the Oxford reserves for the first time, told PA: “We’ve had a really good season, really good vibes from day one.

“We are definitely excited to have the opportunity to go side by side and see what we can do.”

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