Clare Balding introduces coverage as Cambridge and Oxford meet in the 160th Boat Race in south west London. She is joined by guests including Sir Matthew Pinsent.
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The University of Cambridge hereby challenges the University of Oxford,
to row a match. One of the greatest finishes of all time.
There is a man swimming. This is some contest. Both using every bit
of lung power they have. . Now it is down to guts and
determination. Now #24er starting to make it count. Dig deep. Big man's
work here. -- now it's starting to make it count. For Cambridge, all
about celebration Oxford are the winners.
Good afternoon, welcome to the banks the River Thames for a sporting
event that was first contested in 1829. This the 160th running of the
Boat Race. And this is an event that is so physically demanding, so
mentally tortuous that, honestly, you wonder why on earth people do it
at all? Eight men, verses eight men. One cox each and they take on four
and a quarter miles of the River Thames. There is no second place,
you either win or lose. For the winner, all the glory. For the
loser, all the pain. Welcome to a very traditional, historic, British
event. And being a British event, it has all the quirks we like to
associate with our major events. Big crowds gathering in Putney and all
along the river to Mortlake on the four and a quarter mile course.
Lovely dogs. I like to see that. There is no dress code or tickets to
be bought. They are fighting for this trophy, delivered by the Royal
Marines. Everyone choosing if they are a light blue or dark blue, if
they have affiliation for Oxford or Cambridge or picking which colour
they like best if they have no affiliation at all? Around 250,000
people expected on the banks and in all the pubs, they will be packed.
It is a very late boat race. Due off at 5. 55pm. It hasn't been that late
for ten years. The crews arrived early this afternoon in their
liveried minibuses. This year the Cambridge crew taller, heavier. But
this year Oxford are favourites. They have four Olympic medals. There
is Mike Thorp and Steve Dudek, the Cambridge President. They will have
been staying lobely. They went out for a paddle this morning. --
staying locally. It was more eventful than they hoped. The
President, there, Malcolm Howard. The Oxford cox at the rear, Laurence
Harvey. So, it's overcast. At the moment it is not raining. There is
rain due later. We are expecting it to be choppy on the river, the 2014
BNY Mellon Boat Race. It is the last of the great amateur events. It is
free for everybody who comes to watch it. If you want to see it live
and you are not too far away, there is still time to get down to the
bank. There is some spa.s you will get a good view. Over -- some space.
Over the next hour-and-a-half we aim to keep you entertained and
informed. This is how. Hard work, dedication and sacrifice,
is the least you need earn a seat on one of these boats. It's not been
plain sailing for all the President's men Someone comes up to
me - why am I not getting a shot in the Blue boat? I have to straight up
with them. 100 years since the start of World
War I and the history man, Dan Snow, looks at the role the great river
played in winning the Great War. What goes up must come down. The
tide is high and we are having fun with Jon Culshaw. How is it that the
moon, our natural satellite can create the tides?
He is the smallest guy, with the biggest voice? Madness or mental
toughness? Motivation is all part of the mindset when you are barking out
the orders. The cox there, when we had the
swimmer in the river. Katherine Grainger alongside me. Olympic champ
gron London 2012. You think back two years -- champion. You think back
two years and all the recent events at the Boat Race. You think it is a
straight-forward race, two boats. It is never like that. Always something
happens weird. Outdoor sport. Weather can play a part. Obviously
as we saw, people can get in the way. Clashes, injuries andp
accidents happen. Never dull. It will be choppy out there. What
difference will that make to the rowers and to the coxs actually? It
is quite blustery. The winds are unpredictable. It is a twisty-turny
route. Around different parts of the corners of the bend. The crews on
differ sides of the river will face different conditions every time they
turn a bend which throws up the unknown. We can seat conditions
there and rather different vehicles on the river. I should call you Dr
Katherine Grainger. You have completed your PhD in criminal law.
Is there any chance at all of you considering going back to university
to study at either Oxford or Cambridge? I ask this because this
time next year will be the first women's race on The Tideway. You
could be part of that. I could be in many different ways. I haven't
thought of a fourth degree. I don't think I can afford T it is expensive
being a student. It is hard work to get in the Boat Race It is. But for
women's rowing, it'll transform it. A lot of people will talk about it
around Cambridge now. A lot of people will talk about the history
and how it will be made next year. Let's look at the course with our
commentator, Andrew Cotter. Four miles, 374 yards of the winding
Thames upstream with you with the in-coming tide, a very slight bend
worth about a quarter of a length to the boat on the right. Then under
Hammersmith Bridge, the large bend favouring the Surrey side. Past half
way, over two miles n a brief straight down Chiswick Reach, past
the island there, Chiswick eighth. Then the crossing as the two boats
come. The bend favouring the Middlesex side. Bass the Bandstand,
they go through the central arch at Barnes bridge as they had to do at
Hammersmith Bridge and 1,000 meeteders or so. Of course, cover --
1,000 metres. Of course covered by Cambridge, in
the past in a record time of 16 minutes and 19 seconds.
We look there at Barnes bridge. The tide is still to come in a little
bit. The race is raced an hour-and-a-half before high tide. It
is the fastest tide coming N it might not be the fastest sighed
today. We have water down off the land T may not be the fastest race
this year. It is the deepest channels in the river, if you look
down from above, that the coxes have to find. The deepest water is the
fastest shallow water is slower. And looking down there from the
embankment and the houses and the people there and this is' where the
crews will come out. Before the main event we have Ises against Goldie,
the Oxford and Cambridge reserve boats. That's before the main event.
Given the conditions today - I have moved further down towards the start
- lots of people here leaning over the rails. Given the conditions
today, it is unlikely the record time will be broken. It is going to
be very difficult. We suspect quite choppy. The interesting thing about
the Boat Race is this isn't just an amateur convenient for rowers at
university. It is also very much the place where international rowers are
made and amongst the victorious rowers at the 2012 Olympics, no less
than six Blues were among Team GB's medallists. That's how important a
training ground it is. But the big blue riband event is the men's 8.
That's the one where the international coaches are walking
and an important marker was laid down last summer. It is also
fascinating. Energy comes along. It is just great. They are a gold medal
or nothing kru. That's what he is about. If we are not reaching that
top standard. We are not achieving the goal We are away with the final
of the men's eight. This is an event we have never won at the World
Championships. It is a good start from the British. We thought it was
going to be close here but the intrish had an outstanding second
500 and these guys "no" fear. Heads up. They are rising to the
occasion. Great Britain have got it to the line. Jurgen's boys have done
T we have made history in the men's 8 at the World Championships. Great
Britain World Champions in the men's 8. And that is the aim, perhaps, for
the next Olympics in Rio. Well Tom James and Matthew Pinsent is here.
You have won Olympic gold medals galore between you. Six in tote A
both in coxless 4s. How big a deal is the men's 8? -- in total. It is
the blue riband event often at the end of the Olympics. It is
aggressive. It is fun to be in. It is a very powerful event. When you
are competing in it, it is just very, very dominant.s is something
that a lot of coaches and teams want to win. -- it is something. It is a
flagship event for a lot of nations. Matt, what is our history in the
men's 8? We have won an Olympic gold medal. . More than one, most
recently in Sydney 2000. Before that you have to go back nearly 100 years
for another Olympic 8 for Britain who won a gold and World
Championships last summer in Korea. Presumably to have success in the
8s, Tom, you have to have in incredible strength and depth. You
have to have 16 decent rowers. It is definitely a numbers game. The more
people you have, the more you can compete. Competition is massive in
driving things forward. The 8 is a tough convenient to get right. It is
hard to get everyone in the boat competing on the day together. It is
much more about the mood and momentum leading up to it. I think
they are fickle compared to other rowing boats. The relationship is
key in a 4. The balance is important. Yes, but also, 8 or 9
brains, it is a difficult unit to get right. They can come good for
inexplicable reasons and equally they can go off the boil as well.
Lots of countries in the past have gone into a Championships favourite
or the Olympics and come fourth or fifth. At Sydney when we won the
gold, it was unexpected. It was. In fairness to the British crew then,
they would have said -- look, we went into that with a positive
attitude, we set our stall out especially for the final. They said,
we are going to believe we can win from start to finish. Tom, how
important is the Boat Race in terms of providing a springboard to
international competition? Has proven to be very, very important.
We see a lot of Olympic medals - probably about half of the boats
have been someone who has been through the Oxbridge system. There
is quite a legacy there. The nature of the event, it is a big occasion.
Both clubs have very good set-up facilities and the coaching is
internationally recognised, so you will produce good athletes who are
used to racing 8s. As Matt says, they are fickle boats, it is
difficult to get right. If you have been through that system, you are
naturally placed to go and compete. You are watching here today and
maybe some people may compete in Rio. The British rowers were at a
training camp in Portugal. Last week they were here on the river and
rowing in redifferent and complicated-look looking boats. --
in rather different. This is in support of the RNLI who
have saved hundreds of lives around the British coast. You can see there
part of the Cambridge crew who won in 2010. If you want to get into
rowing, you can go on to the Get Inspired website. There are links
and opportunities to get in a boat and give it a go. It doesn't matter
whether you rowed early in your childhood or whether you take it up
late, there is still a chance you could become a top level competitor.
Well, the boat race is as much an event as it is a sporting spectacle.
Bringing you the atmosphere at the riverside is Helen skeleton, at a
pub near the Hammersmith Bridge, I hope getting a round in
Unfortunately, I have forgotten my purse. That happens to me a lot!
Thousands lining the river. Lots focussing their attention on the
pubs. We know this race attracts attention from all over the world.
It also attracts visitors from all over the world. I was talking to
these guys earlier. We are from Germany, Switzerland and Russia. And
Australia An article crowd. What made you -- an international crowd.
What made you want to come and watch Boat Race. We saw on the TV that it
is a very big, important event in the British calendar and we are
excited to be here Enjoying it so far? Absolutely. We have having a
great time and enjoying Who are you cheering for, Oxford or Cambridge?
Cambridge. Yes. I think you have your mascot. This young lady is
cheering for Cambridge. Why? Because I live there. I'm really going for T
They are slightly the underdogs. You are going to have to cheer loud. Can
you manage that? Yes. Whatever your reason for cheering for Cambridge or
Oxford, you can let us know on the BBC Facebook page or you can tweet
us at BBC Sport or use the hashtag BBC boat race. None of the action
can get under way until the all-important coin toss.
can get under way until the of the coin toss.
Mitchell Harris from our title sponsors BNY Mellon is here.
Mitchell has a sovereign from 1829, the year of the very first Boat
Race. That will be handed to Malcolm Howard who will make the coin toss.
Steve Dudek will make the call as the challenging team.
Malcolm and the call is? Tails. It's landed heads.
So heads Malcolm, you have the choice? Surrey. How are things in
the Oxford camp this morning, this afternoon? How are you feeling ahead
of the race? Good. Anything Emms you would like to say?
Steve Dudek, how are you? Well, how are you? Very good. All these people
gathered here ahead of the race. What would you like to say to them?
Not much. Always my favourite bit. Good luck. Richard phlegms, what are
you hoping for today -- Phelps? Good, fast, good wind, two good
crews, it will be a great day. Richard, thank you. My pleasure.
Richard Phelps luckily having something to say. Surrey is the
South Bank and Middlesex the north bank. He chose Surrey. Oxford will
be on the south side and they won from Surrey Station last year.
Cambridge won from Surrey for the disrupted race the year before. The
last three have all in fact been won by the crew starting on the south
side of the river. Overall, it's very close. Surrey 74 and Middlesex
fractionally ahead with 75. Today, given the choppy conditions, is
there a significant advantages to be the side closest to us, as we look
down the river it's the left side? I spoke to Matthew about it. He's had
more more experience, and it's mainly the conditions that will play
a part, but also the bends. You want the biggest bends ideally and they
are on the left side. It's a tradition that the Presidents on
that stage should say absolutely nothing! ? Monosyllabic. It's
difficult because they are just ready to go out on the water. The
Presidents are under pressure because this is the cull ination not
just of their rowing year but this is their organisation, their set up.
The Presidents are the key men in the boat club, almost, not more than
the coaches but they are very much hand in glove with the coaches and
so they are under a lot of pressure. Talking about Malcolm Howard and
Steve Dudek, they have had a long journey to this point and they are
more than just captains of this boat. They are expected to be
leaders, role models, father figures. This is how they've got
their charges to this point in the journey.
Two universities, two Presidents. Chosen by my team-mates to be
President and it's almost given me a men date, I know that they believe
in me and it gives me confidence. Yes, you are their leader but it's a
play between the coach and the coaching staff, trainers and the
athletes themselves. I always want to know what the coaches are
thinking. Steve Dudek's first task is to issue the challenge. You are
interacting with the Oxford guy force the first time, sizing them
up, of course -- Oxford guys for the first time. I challenge Oxford
University boat club to a race. Everyone will leave a bit more
motivate and train a little harder tomorrow because of it. The squad
had returning blues. A man who never lost the Boat Race... , lo
Constantine Louloudis -- lost the Boat Race. I want to leave never
having lost. Team-mates would become rivals in the pursuit of a seat in
the Blue Boat. Trial 8s are looking for people to step upment. Up. Both
boats want to prove themselves and two out there and win. The marker
boy was steered... We have frustrated Coxon and they need to be
picked up and reminded that it's just a trial and it's time to move
on. At least Cambridge had competed. Thanks to illness, Oxford never even
got on the water. Their Tideway trial would have to wait until
France where hard decisions would have to be made. Any time we had a
selection, we are going to get stressed and there'll be emotions.
There'll be guys upset not to have made the blue boat. That's the real
sport. This was a time to test combinations and with Storm URU
injured, Dawson took his place alongside Watson, three times a
trialist but never a blue. It's great to be considered for the top
boat. I've been in a position where I've been able to row in the boat
before and I know what I need to do. In Spain, Cambridge found that
success in trial 8s guaranteed nothing. Gupta was losing ground to
Middleton at Cox, while Luke Juckett who, tasted defeat in Putney was
drive driving -- thriving in the squad. I'm going to beat you.
We have a huge challenge. We are massive underdoings this year.
Hopefully, come race day, we are in a position to put up a good fight.
-- underdogs. Alongside Andrew in the commentary
box will be the winning President of 2004, lovely to see you here again.
What did you make of Steve Trapmore describing Cambridge as massive
underdogs? It's intention. He's trying to put the pressure on Oxford
and say, we have nothing to lose, you have everything to lose, put the
pressure on you. Cambridge went out for a paddle and Ian Middleton got a
shock because, as they were rowing along, there was a problem. I think
they must have hit something under underneath? Yes, I think they hit a
log and it knocked the fin off the boat. You can see the boat's not
going straight any more, it's fallen off and they are wondering what is
going on. You can hear Ian Middleton
explaining to the boat what's happened. They had to replace the
fin. Is that a practical problem or does it affect you psychologically?
No physical damage to the boat. If they had to change boats, that would
have been a big problem, they change the fin, no big deal. But
psychologically, their last row before the race got cut short as a
result of that. That could have a little effect on them. That is the
Cambridge Boat House looking quiet at the moment. What do you make of
it in terms of the race? Oxford are heavy favourites. The crew normally
have an advantage as a heavy crew. Oxford seem so experienced though?
Yes, three Olympians versus none, five internationals versus none.
It's a big e mismatch on paper than we have seen, so very interesting.
Do conditions and the fact that it's choppy out there bring things closer
together? They could and Cambridge is as the heavier crew might be able
to blast through the water, but Oxford have been more clean in the
rough water. Again maybe that's advantage Oxford. Thank you so much
for joining us, look forward to hearing from you in the commentary
box later. Great Britain and this stretch of
water was affected by the Great War, 16 million were killed, including
the great oarsmen who rode in this race. 100 years ago, two crews took
to the river for the 1914 Boat Race, but within a few short months, the
world was turned on its head. The Great War had begun. The war changed
this city and this river. The Boat Race was suspended, the #19ed 14
race the last time it was rode until 1920, but in the meantime, this
river continued to play a vital parks as it has down through the
centuries in our nation's history -- vital part. This is where food would
arrive. It would have been packed with barges, supplies travelling
from factories up river? Absolutely. It would have been a very, very
industrial, arterial route. The Thames was crucial in keeping the
lights on and the population fed. It also played a key part in the
military conflict with the first aeriel attacks on the city. It's not
like the Second World War blitz, but hundreds of people are killed are
killed and injured and there is lots of damage done. They would have used
the Thames to navigate their way in? Absolutely. The National Portrait
Gallery has an exhibition of the images of the men and women who
served during the First World War. The Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race
crews of 1914 virtually all served. We are able to find war records for
17 out of the 18 oarsmen. That's Cambridge crew. Was this all
blissful naivety or have they been reading between the lines when
reading the newspapers? Ritson and Livingston. He makes it, he doesn't.
He dies in the war, aged 23. He's dead slightly a year after the Boat
Race. Of the 18 men who rode on that March day, five would not be coming
home. In all, 42 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race rowers died
during World War I. Perhaps the one that's left the most lasting legacy
was a man who won a gold medal at the Olympics in 1912 and then wrote
the most beautiful piece of music for the war poet, his friend, who
was killed at Gallipoli. Kelly died in the Somme in 1916. Why do we see
such high casualties for those who rode in the Boat Race? It was in the
title, the university Boat Race, strong, well-educated young,
talented men. They are not the senior officers, these are the
young, keen men who have to show that they are willing to put their
necks out in front of their ranks and that cuts a swathe through them,
inevitably. The Oxford and Cambridge rowers killed during the First World
War were a tiny handful of the hundreds of thousands of young men
who gave their lives in Britain's bloodiest war. This time, spring 100
years ago, they, like many other millions of people around the world,
were a carefree group of young people focussed on sport with little
inkling of the tragedy that was about to engulf them and their
world. Fascinating stuff from Dan. Familiar
territory this for you because you are a historian but also a rower? It
brings it back. I start to get deeply nervous this time of year.
Nothing's changed. 15 years ago now I was out here on this river. Three
times in the Boat Race you were, once as President? Yes. Mixed
fortunes? Yes, lost and won, but lost twice and won one. In terms of
looking back at the history, and connecting it, were you surprised at
how many were involve and how many died? I was really surprised. I was
lucky enough to do some research on this. I could only find one member
of the group, I couldn't find his war record, doesn't mean he didn't
serve, but apart from that, they all served, five out of the 18 served,
extraordinary. It's an amazing story. This river played a really
key part, didn't it? Well, we forget London was a big industrial city at
the time so this river would have been absolutely packed, there would
have been so much going on. As we saw in the film, this river was fate
NFL a way because the German navigators could follow the river in
from the Thames Estuary and they knew when they were in Central
London so it's as if the river was a mixed blessing for London. Where are
you watching the race from? Standing there amongst all my Oxford buddies
going grey and getting fat. Do you feel the rivalry? Not now. I think
it's great fun and I'm a forest man but I don't want to kill Derby fans
any more, you calm down a bit. I'm always surprised how tribal people
are. The two camps, you can see it, when the coin toss was taking place?
You spend the whole year doing this, and you don't even race anywhere
Emms. I've got nothing to show for the years I lost, the #kubed is bare
cupboard is bare, but it means so much. You are going to be heavily
involved in the centenary programmes marking the 100 year since World War
I, and this is going to be the BBC's biggest, most ambitious project ever
they commissioned, 25010 hours of programming, already planned across
television, radio and online. In terms of rowing history, it will
be rewritten here next year on this stretch of the Thames because 2015
will see the very first women's race taking equal billing on this
Championship course. It's a fight for equality and it's taken a long,
long time. Henley-on-Thames has been the home
of the women's race. But this year will be the last time they'll race
here N 2014 they'll move to race in the centre of London on The Tideway.
It's taken 150 years. The announcement the women will have
parity with the men was made back in 2012. Behind the scenes, there has
been a lot to do. We learned a lot about how to fit together the puzzle
pieces that come with varied academic schedules and where to
train and when to train and when we can push and when we need to rest
the athletes. The first thing we are trying to do is get our squad rowing
to the best standard and run our team to a performance standard and
then we can take it on to the Tideway Both clubs have had to make
changes, there is more money, media sponsors, and the prospect of a
trickier course We try to make the women as fit as we can. Whether it
is a 2,000 metre race or a 6 k race. There will be alterations. We will
take it in our stride. Of course we will be aware of the heightened
expectations and the public eye. But, we know it is going to come. So
we can prepare for it and focus on what we need to do.
Tradition is a key part of the Boat Race. So it has not been an easy
change for everyone. Have you been aware of any resistance to the fact
that women are now joining the men, so to speak? Yes, I have. Within the
university? Yes. A range? Definitely not from within the university. I
think it comes from a pride and a tradition that has always been held
very tightly, within a small, select group of athlete. Some people I have
probably worked with in the men's team before were a little resistant.
I think that's changing quickly. I would like it to be the case that
when people say, Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, people think of
both genders and it is not just the men and - oh, the women have one as
well? We are starting to see that. I think there is a general trend to
parity across sport in Britain in general, I'm excited that our club
gets to be an integral part of that. And in what was the last women's
Boat Race at Henley, it was the dark Blues who were in dominant foorm. --
the Dark Blues who were in dominant form.
Oxford crossed the line a full 10 lengths ahead of Cambridge. Oxford
have really owned the women's Boat Race in the last several years,
winning six out of seven. It will be a different challenge next year.
Katherine Grainger is with me and joined by your Olympic
gold-medal-winning pal, Anna Watkins who is making the trophy
presentation this year. I'm excited. It is the champagne every time. How
different a challenge will this be? It is about three times the length.
Normally at the Henley race it is a six-minute race. Here it is closer
to 20. It is a very, very different physical challenge for the athletes.
Also, when you look around, the crowd - there are great crowds at
Henley but the media attention, the sponsorship, the crowds, it is a
different set-up. How significant is it, Anya, for women's rowing? The
impact you and Catherine have made, means we have more talent in women's
rowing than there ever has been We have a good groundswell and the
Olympics has made a huge difference but this is a big piece of the
puzzle which has to fall into place. We are happy it has finally got to
this stage. Everybody watching, well the young girls watching, that's who
it needs to watch out to. We are seeing Cambridge now taking their
boat to the river. You need to seat faces and learn about them and care
about them -- to see the faces. Talent-wise is a race is a race, you
want it to be competitive or close. Nobody will be wondering,
necessarily how fast they rowed today, it is whether they win or not
Thisries is special. It is 9 local -- this race is special. It is the
local derby of. Two football teams training in the same down. Whether
people watch or not, these athletes put their heart and souls into this
and do it in their spare time. I was trying to persuade Katherine to do
another PhD so she can row in the race. Would you be tempted?
International row something over for you. I'm tempted. Everyone who has
rowed it, will be thinking - for the women's showcase next year, who
wouldn't want to be a part? Listen, they would have you back in a
heartbeat, wouldn't it be amazing? With the baby and everything? I have
my own challenges. I can't wait to see it happen for real. You said
earlier - you smiled when I said you are making the trophy presentation.
Are you honoured to be doing so? I am. I think it is a sign of the
times T wouldn't have happened with a female rower so long ago.
Katherine did it last year. I follow in your footsteps a bit. It is great
to have you here and wonderful to have you alongside each other again.
Out on the river, the wind is picking up a bit. You saw the crews
carrying their boats out. There is no glamour in rowing. It is not like
you have a team of people to do that for you. If you are a rower, you do
your own donkey work, out there on the river. We will be hearing from
Sir Matthew Pinsent. Let's find out from him now, what it is like out
there, Matt? I'm out on theory. It is benign at the moment when we are
here. The rumour is further down the river, it is bumpy. We are expecting
this wind to be against the tide when the crews are down Chiswick
Eyot. It could be testing for both these crews further down the course,
maybe 10 or 12 minutes into the race. And now it is time for the
crews to take to the water. And there is plenty of people
waiting here expectantly. That is the shot from Putney Bridge, looking
down the river. And look at those crowds building up. That's
Hammersmith Bridge in the background. A stretch of pubs and
places to hang out and enjoy the afternoon's entertainment.
Well,ing ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for the crew -- well,
ladies and gentlemen, it is now time for the crews to take to the water.
Emerging from their respective boathouses, these are the 18 men who
will challenge for this year's race. He is 20, and studying for a degree
in physics at St Hugh's. The Oxford objection is Laurence Harvey.
-- the Oxford cox. His Cambridge counterpart is
younger, at 18 but was the cox for the Great Britain 8 that finished
fourth at the 2014 Junior World Championships. He is in his first
year of a geography degree at Queens college, the Cambridge cox is Ian
Middleton. At bow for Oxford an Olympic bronze medallist from London
2012 and former World Champion in the lightweight double skulls.
Hailing from the New Zealand and doing an MBA at Keble, it is the
wonderfully named, Storm Uru. Cambridge's bow is in his fifth
season. The third time he has competed in the boat Boat Race with
one win and one degreet. Studying for his Masters and nicknamed
Thorpedo, it's Mike Thorp. At two, for Oxford this Canadian has
represented his country at the under-23 World Championships. He
took up rowing as both his parents learned to row whilst at Cambridge
University. Promoted from the reserve boat after stroking three
wins. He is at brace nose. It's Tom Watson.
-- brment razenose. -- Brazenose. In the two Saturday,
an American, now at St Edmund's reading natural sciences. It is Luke
Juckett. Competing in his fourth Boat Race
with a record of two wins and one defeat, this former Oxford
University Boat Club President has represented Team GB at senior
levels, studying for a PhD at St Peter's College we have Karl
Hudspith. And we have the youngest oarsman on either crew, study
studying engineering, it is Ivo Dawkins. Into the middle of the boat
and there is a Dark Blue Boat Race debutante for Oxford, hailing from
America and a Yale graduate, it's Tom Swartz.
Facing him at number four for Cambridge is their President and
another American who is also the heaviest member of their crew.
Returning for a third race and studying land economy at St Edmund's
it's Steve Dudek. In the number five seat for Oxford
is their President this year, the heaviest and oldest man on either
crew. He has won Olympic gold and silver medals for can darks reading
a mafters in clinical medicine actorle, it is Malcolm Howard. -- --
won silver medals for Canada, reading a Masters in clinical
medicine, at Oriel. And we have, a xet for from mag la
lane. We have Helge Gruetjen. Now to the sixth seat and the former
Harvard rowing captain who represented the USA at the World
Championships last year, studying for a Masters at Trinity. It is
Michael Di Santo. His counterpart for Cambridge, is a
fellow American who studried at the University of Pence vainia, reading
land economy at St Edmund's we have Matthew Jackson.
This returning Blue helped Oxford win the Boat Race last year. Part of
a New Zealand 8 that were crowned world junior Championships back in
2006. This former Harvard graduate is at Chrish Church working towards
a Masters in engineering science, it's Sam O'Connor.
At number seven for Cambridge, is an Australian who has been promoted
from the Goldie boat. Another of the Cambridge crew studying land economy
at St Edp moneyed's, we have Joshua Hooper.
-- at St Edmund's. And finally, we have the two strokes
for Oxford, a if he no Nantly talented rower, aiming for a had
trick of wins, aged just 22. -- a if he no Nantly talented. He is a
classics student at Trinity. It is Constantine Louloudis. And at stroke
for Cambridge, an American, competing in his first Boat Race. A
former student of Georgetown university. Reading geography at
Hughes Hall, it's Henry Hofstot. They train for, at least three hours
a day, six days a week, for seven months to take part in this. Ladies
and gentlemen, the two crews for the 2014 boat race take to the water.
They are in the water and still 45 minutes to G where do they go now?
They go beyond Putney Bridge towards Wandsworth Bridge. What do they do
there are this time? -- 45 minutes to go. They run through a pre-race
routine. The coxes run them through it. They are warming-up,
physiologically and psychologically, getting to their rate at race pace
when they are ready to go and come up to Putney Bridge and latch on to
the start votes A familiar voice missing from our commentary, Dan,
not 100% at the moment. We wish you well. See you back out on the river
soon. Dan, a proud Oxford man, cheering on this crew perhaps. If
you were looking at the Cambridge crushing the same concerns perhaps
you had, the gulf and experience in class. -- the Cambridge crew.
You look there at the Olympic medallists against the Cambridge
crew which does not have that same experience? On paper it is a
mis-match. I can't remember in the last decade having such a big gap on
paper. This crew are big, strong with decent boat speed but the
experience gap is a big thing for them to overcalm. And look at Steve
Dudek, in front of him, Helge Gruetjen and Ivo Dawkins. They
typify that. Big specimens but raw recruits. Yes and when you have
Howard, one of the most decorated oarsmen in the world, and up against
people who have only been racing a couple of years. There is a strong
advantage for Oxford. And technique. When you haven't quite got that
experience, technique, especially on the river, on The Tideway, where
conditions are variable, technique is so important That is a concern.
Matthew was speak being how rough it could be at the half-way point.
That's where your technique gets tested. You need to get out of the
water cleanly with the oars and step clear of the waves. I have seen
Oxford do a better job in practice, than Cambridge. Off they head, away
from the embankment. They will be back in the next 45 minutes or so.
They will be warming up until the start of the race. This is what we
have got for you over the next 45 minutes.
have got for you over the next 45 from the sinking of 78 and it's a
familiar sight as father shows son what not to do. I wasn't expecting
to go swimming on that day. They are the brains in charge. It takes a lot
to outfox the Cox. You have to be fairly eccentric and want to spend
your years shouting at people much bigger than you.
Sleep, eat, row, repeat. We get the inside track on the oarsmen's guide
to life. And meanwhile down here at the
start, the crowds are really heaving as people are trying to get into a
position and people are screaming out "come on Oxford" or "come on
Cambridge", and when you consider the factors that might affect your
race, the one thing you probably don't think about is celestial body
250,000 miles away from earth, but in fact, that has a huge influence,
as our man in the moon, John Culshaw, can explain.
The Thames. A river that has led over the centuries, to the growth of
our capital. Weaving its way through the heart of London, affecting the
daily ongoings in the city. Up here, a quarter of a million miles away
from the earth, a ball of rock is affecting the waters. Our satellite,
the moon, has the power to create great tides here on earth, dragging
tonnes of water by simply passing overhead.
That's exactly what it does to the home of the Boat Race, from its
estuary to 95 miles upstream. The Thames River is strong in tide.
So, we are here on the iconic Westminster Bridge in the heart of
London directly over the River Thames and, how do the tides play
out with the River Thames in particular? Well, it takes about
five hours for the tide to flood in from the estuary and six hours to go
back out to the earth. That happens twice a day. A big difference
between the high tide and low tide, six to seven metres? It's quite
large. From here, it takes 30 minutes to reach Putney and an hour
to reach Teddington. How is it that the moon, the natural
satellites, can exert these enormous forces on the earth and create the
tides? It's all to do with gravity and the gravitational pull can be
there. The greattering mass, the greater the gravitational pull. The
moon, an Australia-sized ball of rock orbiting around the earth. As
it goes around, the force of the orbit is pulling the oceans out with
it? That's right, yes. The moon 's pulling a bit and the earth is
rotating, so as the earth's surface goes into the bulge and back again,
this is what we experience. Good job the earth as the gravity of its own
otherwise we'd be in a pickle. So the tidal Thames sees water flooding
in and out and depending on the position of the sun and moon in
relation to the earth, at some point in the year, the tides are
particularly high or low. All of this affects the planning of the
Boat Race. We are in Putney. From here, the
water comes in from the sea on a flood tide and goes out on an ebb
tide. If you are planning a race, you want to plough your energy into
rowing, not fighting a tide. You want to go along with the tide for
an extra boost. What is exst especially impressive
about the rowers, is the way they can use terrestrial events because
they can learn them? Yes, if it's been raining, the water levels are
higher, if it's windy, that is a problem. Predicting the tide is an
art form. Who would have thought the moon was
so influential, so crucial? Indeed. But the sad thing Jon, is that we
are losing the moon, an inch per year it moves further away. Its
gravitational effects on us become less and less. Yes, the Thames will
be flat? Yes. There'll come a time when there is no moon but it's not
for many millions of year, but will there be a human race and a Boat
Race. I say we have a toast. Jon is here with me now. Regular
guest presenter on Sky at Night on BBC Four. When you do that, do you
feel em-Bewled with the spirit of Patrick Moore? I think so, you think
of astronomy and Patrick Moore and he was a fan of the Boat Race and
he'd say, it's not about oarsmanship, there are many physics
that were fascinating. He loved it. . What will be the most important
thing? To know the sling shot one will get from that. Science is the
new rock'n'roll isn't it with Brian Cox and you and everyone else and
Maggie on Radio Two this morning, she was brilliant. Everybody seems
really interested in it, they want to know more about it? Yes. And you
are bringing it alive? The image of science these day, it's not like the
Open University of the late '60s and Professor Brian Cox, he'd describe
the Boat Race of those rowing rowing from Mars to Pluto at the speed of
light. Maybe that's the way things are going. Presumably you have been
down here before and watched this? It's my first time, the tide is
rising with the crowd and the aroma of the wine. You said Patrick Moore
would find the fastest strip of water and it's called? Sounds like a
baddie in Lord of the rings. Foulweg that, strip of water under the
surface where it's deepest and fastest? Yes, they want to hit that
to get a sling shot from him. Matthew Pinsent is on the river. You
know all about that area of the water don't you? I love the idea of
certaining something new and I've rode on this river for two or even
three decades and I've never heard that term before so right, we can
talk about the tide! It's obviously out there somewhere. If you have a
look at the buoys floating, they are anchored to the bottom, you can see
the tide that's coming in from the North Sea and helping these crews
towards the finish line. The coxing, hugely important today. One final
thing before they start the race, they have to get attached to the
start. The reserve crews are attached to the start at the moment,
doing that on a moving bit of water is quite a trick. Both reserve crews
have managed it. The blue boats are expecting to do that in 20, 25
minutes. The Coxs during the race are trying to find the quickest bit
of water in the middle of the river to carry their crew hopefully
fastest from start to finish. It's just over half an hour now
until the start of the race. Although it started to spit with
rain and it still is a bit, grey threatening clouds overhead, but so
far so good. It's just a bit damp but it's not too bad - hello! It's a
race that's had so many incidents. Two years ago, we had a swimmer in
the river and then the Oxford blade broke and Cambridge won that race
and all sorts of drama taking place. There was lot a mutiny in 1987,
there was the broken boat of 1984. And what about the most famous event
of all really, the Cambridge boat that sank in 1978? You might think,
why talk about that 36 years on? The reason is that in the number three
seat that year was a man called Will Dawkins and this year in the three
seat for Cambridge is his son Ivo. I went with them on a boat down the
river to remember that incident. NEWSREEL: Cambridge come to take the
water in the 1978 university Boat Race.
Number three is Willie Dawkins. Perfect conditions today. And Will,
it was not like this in 1978? Not exactly. I have to say the start of
1978, the conditions felt normal, it wasn't as calm as this, maybe a
little more bouncy but not excessive. The weather really
changed in the second half of the race, very dramatic. What makes this
such a difficult course? I guess it's just so changeable on any given
day. It's completely different, the conditions. I guess the other thing
is there is no other big race in the world which is rode on a river with
so many bends. It plays a big part in the tactics of the race and
everything, how you react to the advantages at different points. That
is an interesting part of it. NEWSREEL: You can see the white
horses there. The weather is roughing up. Cambridge unfortunately
going to get the worst of it. Could you hear the cox at all? No,
the mic drowned out, so we could hear muffled squawking at the back
end of the boat. Otherwise, we were feeling our way and concentrating on
delivering as much power as we could to keep the boat moving in these
rather sluggish conditions. That's the thing, sad Sa sportsman, you are
just focussed on trying to win the race, you are not thinking, I might
have to bail out here? No, that thought didn't enter my head, I
wasn't expecting to go swimming that day -- as a sportsman.
As you go through the arch here, it's taking in a lot more water,
it's really kind of sloshing around your feet and coming up almost to
the level of the seats. Cambridge have really caught the water now.
Water pouring over. Cambridge are sinking. Cambridge are going down.
Just a few yards after the pier and the boat started to go down to the
stern and a wallow or two and then a ghastly halt.
NEWSREEL: There they go. And now it's panic, they have to get out. We
can see them, they have the quick release straps and now we must have
the rescue. We must come in for the rescue.
Am I right in thinking the Cambridge President offed or asked for a
rematch? Exactly. The President was completely within his rights to turn
us down because you have to live by the consequences of your own
actions. What is the confidence like in the Cambridge camp? We know how
strong our oarsmen are this year, so we are taking it a day at a time.
It's going well, but we have a pretty huge challenge ahead of us.
That's probably a healthy way to look at it.
Technology has improved an awful lot, so neither boats we hope are
able to be sunk. We never know though. The crowds at
the start have been cheering the two crews. Look what I've found! This
little puppy is only three months old.
She's called Daisy. She's a malt ease and a little bit cold so you
have been keeping her tucked away because it's a bit chilly isn't it?
It is. What is your name? Peter. One day would you want to be a rower or
a cox 1234 A rower. Probably right. Big strong rower but the ninth man
in each crew is the smallest of the lot and can be the most influential.
Matthew has been looking at the vox pops of the cox!
In the Boat Race, one Voice is heard above all others. The cox. Small,
compact, often highly eccentric. The cox is said to have one of the most
complex roles in sport. But what does a cox actually do, and how do
they influence the psychology and performance of their crew? I don't
think it is a clear role that people understand. Probably some people
think Boat Racing and the guy is banging a drum going, "left right,
left right". It's about playing different roles. Some might need a
bit of gentle encouragement, or a mother or whatever, it's working out
what each individual needs. The rowers hate coxes. There is this
endemic thing, that you do all the work, they sit there, they get the
medal for winning and the glory as much as you do and like, throwing
the cox in at the end is partly, you haven't done a bit of work so we are
going to teleyou in, so it's a very interesting relation relationship.
The eight guys put their sole trusts in you. That's the spovenlt I
started at school. There was a friend a few years older than me.
She knew I was mouthy and bossy so she thought the characteristics
would be useful. I'm usually one of the most foul-mouthed people I in
the boat. You have to be eccentric and want to spend your years cramped
in a tiny space getting cold and shouting at people much bigger than
you. Being a cox is like being a Keir. , a goal Keir. If he makes a
mistake, it's clear and visible and he gets shot down for it. If you
have a cox who is reliable and can steer straight, you have got a
phenomenal package. You can have a brilliant cox, but if they don't get
on with the crew, it won't work. There has to be a complex balance to
win the crew's trust. Too assertive and aggressive and the crew may not
trust them because they will think the cox has too much interest, too
big an ego. If any cox thinks they have too big a role to play, that
can potentially be dangerous. The cox exists in a world of many deep
irisnies. They don't have to physically exert themselves but they
have to make many of the key judgments under pressure on the big
day. Part coach, part psychologist, part confidante. The cox will always
play the defining role in the Boat Race.
viewers at BBC World News to live coverage of the 1160th Boat Race. --
160th Boat Race. We are live here at the start of the race. It is due off
in 25 minutes' time. Very late. Very choppy conditions as well. It is
grey overhead at the moment. Not raining. We have been discussing the
influence of the cox. We have last year's winning cox with us. And
Matthew Syed and Olympic gold medallist from London 2012,
Katherine Grainger. Oscar, you got animated a lot last year, you
shouted a lot. That is true. Like I said last year, the event is this
great public thing. But, you go to the starting line and everything
else melts away. It is your crew, the crew next to you and the umpire
behind you. Nothing else seems to matter. At that point, you are just
talking to the guys. You completely forgot there's so many people, in
fact watching. Did you almost shock yourself, when you watched it back,
at how aggressive you got? I don't think I coxed differently I had the
fixtures or any other pieces. You don't want to do it differently. The
crew expect a particular tone from the cox. Here we g here we go. I
think when I saw it again, what I was actually surprised, is that I
cursed more than came out on air. Yes, we did fade your mic at points
when we could. Matthew, you are an expert, if I say so, I have read
many of your books in sports psychology. How do you think the
psychology of cox differs from other people in sport? Fascinating. When I
spoke to the rowers, they are rather skating initially about the cox.
They describe them as eccentric and gobby. But when you probed into
later about what they felt, there was a deep level of respect. The
coxes are often making key strategic decisions under pressure during the
course of the race. It seemed to me that they also have to develop a
strong relationship with their team. They are almost like
pseudopsychologists. It is a range of different skills they need to
deploy. I left having done that film, with a great deal of respect
for the jobs they do. Katherine, you have worked with and without a cox.
How much of an influence do they have? On a day like today, when
nerves build up from a long way out? ? They have a crucial role. They are
part athlete and part coach. In rowing, when you get into the boat
and you are in the water, no-one else can reach you. The coaches
can't have an influence. You are kind of a alone and the cox's role
becomes crucial. The steer of the bend in this race will make a
ditches between winning and losing. Oscar, could there be a different
course to be taken today, it could be tricky? Given the conditions, I
don't think it is going to be a particularly eccentric type of boat
race. I think it will be pretty straightforward for the coxes. I
think that you have to remember that by the time they are on the water,
even though the coxon is calling the shots, the crew have agreed on the
shots. The coxon - the best way to put forward, it is like jazz,
improvising but not winging. You are there, and everyone is dialled in.
So, they will have gone through alternative race plans and scenarios
and when they hit the water and the cox is making the calls, the key
thing is that the crew won't be surprised. Even if the cox is maybe
changing the plan a little bit. It won't be a surprise to anybody.
People will be ready for the calls. Well, you can tell from Oscar's el
quans and poetry, I would say, why you were such a good cox. There we
are looking at the Cambridge cox, who is only 18 and is going to be
taking - Ian Middleton - taking his boys down the course and hoping for
the best. This is a like a challenge like no other. They have to combine
their rowing and studies and everything else involved with
student life. We followed the Oxford number six, Michael Di Santo, for a
day and discovered basically there just aren't enough hours in a day
When it comes to rowing, you have to love it. If you love it, then it
doesn't feel like a job. # Admit that the waters around you
have grown # And accept that you too will be
drenched to the bone # if your time to you is worth
saving # Then you better start swimming
# Or you'll sink like a stone # Oh, the times they are
a-changing... # # Keep your eyes wide
# The chance won't come again # Don't speak too soon
# The wheel's still in spin # And there's no telling who that
it's naming # Because the loser now will be
later to win # Oh, the times they are a-changing
later to win # The line it is drawn
# The curse, it is cast # Later they fast
# The present now will later be past # For the times they are
a-changing... # I heard the Cambridge guys turn up
as well-coiffed on race day as they were for the weigh-in. This is a day
in the life for an Oxford rower. Michael Di Santo there, letting us
in with his cameras and Tom James, double Olympic medallist is a
professional rower and he is alongside me. Your life, in relative
terms, is simpler, you only have to worry about staying fit and healthy
for rowing. Yes, when you are studying as well, your day is full,
it is a taken up, there's no time to recover. That's a big thing, how you
recover, in a busy lead -- busy week, leading up to selection. It is
tricky. Katherine, I suppose on the positive time, when you are
studying, you have that sense of perspective, as you are always doing
other things. Oxford have come into shot I studied alongside my rowing
career. I thought it made me a better athlete. But as Tom says, it
is a massive challenge to get everything N there are priorities on
both sides. -- to get everything in. After living like that for weeks and
months, a rowers' position in a boat is not secure. How they combine
together as a crew is the crucial thing. The coaches are looking for
balance in the boat. In the last few weeks as Boat Race day has crept
closer, the pressure got cranked up a notch and Oxford have had a lot of
catching up to do. January, the first day of term and
timely Oxford's trial 8s: It is anp opportunity to show your team-mates
you deserve to be in the vote. Ivo Dawkins continued to press his case
for selection with Storm Uru still absent. How long could the coaches
wait for the can I which? If it is somebody you know a lot about and
know they can perform, you can wait a while. This is my third year
trialing. It is a competitive squad. It could be up to perhaps 8 people
looking for two seats. Veteran Tom Watson never made the Blue Boat. Now
he had a rival. Chris fayreweather. In terms of selection, I have given
what I had. I'm not disappointed In Cambridge, Luke Juckett was looking
secure in a settled line-up, except at cox where three were battling for
one seat. The uncertainty keeps you on your toes. That creates more
pressure. With race day weeks away, change was coming at Oxford. Joseph
Dawson had a fight on his hands, Storm Uru was back in contention.
Nothings a changed from the way I was. You focus on the next thing,
rather than the overall goal. Otherwise you get lost. Next up,
race fixtures. Both Presidents, would need to manage the pressure in
the squads, as ever before. People don't talk to you in the same way as
they used to. They are aware they are not talking to just a rower any
more. They are aware that what they say and think is likely going to
make it back to the coaching staff. If someone says - why am I not
getting a shot at the Blue Boat, I will be straight up. I will not
sugar coat it. So for Cambridge, the tenacious, Luke Juckett would row at
3, while Ian Middleton would guide Cambridge at cox. There was no room
in the Oxford crew for Jason Dawson as Storm Uru was selected and in the
two seat was Chris Fairweather mean meaning Dawson's dream was over, at
least for today. Flooding in Oxford had disrupted the coach, Sean
Bowden's programme, and there was a late change. It is never nice
telling people their best isn't good enough but because we had tests on
the performance, it is easy to pick the guy who is the quickest. That
was Tom Watson, Chris Fairweather lost his seat Chris is a great rower
and good friend. I try not to think of it as too much of me verses
another person. You try to do your best. And on race day, the President
are part of the crew There are eight other guys around me who will do
everything they can to win. They will kill themselves for me. It
commands your respect and effort. The guy behind me and in front of me
that motivates me and keeps me going. Well, we have downed to the
river's edge. Katherine, Tom and myself have our lifeboats on, we
will head down the river in the speedboat to get to the finish ahead
of the race. And Helge Gruetjen, he has lost 20 kilos and didn't row
before he came to university. He has the office next to hue kin. It is
amazing seeing someone to rowing so late. To be here and winning a Blue
today in the Boat Race. I find it amazing sometimes the ability people
have. The technique is a big hurdle. It is a big barrier to entry to
getting into the boat. But if you get the basics right and have a
coach that can progress people quickly that's the first thing to
get over. If are big and have the physiology, but the techniques are a
difficult thing. That's whys is surprising. What is your prediction?
We know Oxford are quick off the start and they'll get into their
pace. Cambridge have to make sure they will not get dropped. 23 they
do that and get settled and row, it'll be a close race. -- if they do
that. I think Oxford will be difficult to beat but if Cambridge
can stick early on through the rough water, it is up for everybody. I
will let you get into the boat and ask Katherine what show thinks?
Oxford are the favourites but the conditions are changing.
Traditionally, you think the heavier taller crew would win but if
conditions come into play, the extra weight could help. We'll hand you
over to the commentators. We'll commentator Clare getting into the
boat. Fine techniques so far. Katherine Grainger, oh, slight
hesitation. No refusal, though. Oh, dear.
Right, they are fine, they are in there and on water. It is murky out
there. The rain is coming down as we look at Cambridge. Of course, Isis
Goldie, looking like a convincing win for Isis. This is the live shot
to the finish at Mortlake. It is going to be victory for Isis. Goldie
a long way behind. That is a convincing victory for Isis. And
that's a trend of recent years. Isis have now won four of the last -
well, six of the last seven races now I make that. The last four
races. It is a big win, a huge victory win. A huge margin. I'm a
bit surprised by that. It is ominous for the Boat Race as well. The
Isis/Goldie race is an indication of the depth of each squad. You have to
be concerned. Looking at Goldie, I'm wondering if something went wrong. I
wonder if something went wrong? Isis went out quick. They had the victory
and celebration under Chiswick Bridge but that was a big, big win.
Clare Balding and the gang almost caught Goldie up there, they are
flying along. I hope that wharf settles down behind the boat. It
tends to bounce bounce off the walls but Katherine Grainger as royalty,
look at that, waving out the back alongside Tom James. There is a
speed limit that must have been waved for these very special people
heading up towards the finish. Did you find out how the reserve race
went on when you were out on your warm-up? Only if the coaches chose
to tell us. Right now they will be wanting to decide - will I tell my
guys Goldie got beaten or not let them worry about that and find out
later. Well Clare and the rest are zipping up the river and past the
Blue Anchor where Helen skeleton is. zipping up the river and past the
might be grey but it's not dampening anybody's spirits. You seem happy,
yes? Yes, really happy, really good to be here. You are all rowers, so
how does this race compare, is it a tough one? I've done the Head of The
river and it's horrific, a horribler horrible race. Oxford or Cambridge?
Oxford today. Why? We know one of the rowers who won their reserve
race in Isis, Alex Bostrom, we are rooting for him today, we went to
Durham university together. How significant it that the ladies will
be here? It's only right they should be on the equal course to have the
Clare Balding introduces coverage as Cambridge and Oxford meet in the 160th Boat Race in south west London.
Oxford took a comfortable victory in the 2013 race and have included three Olympians - including London 2012 bronze medallist Constantine Louloudis - in the crew for their title defence.
The defending champions are pinning their hopes on experience rather than brute force, with their crew conceding more than two kilograms per man to rivals Cambridge.
Clare Balding is joined by guests including Sir Matthew Pinsent and London 2012 gold medallists Tom James, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins.