Top University Rowers Hope to Follow in Footsteps of Olympic Greats


Photo: Tom Hosking

Oxford and Cambridge eights are in the final stages of preparation for the Henley Boat Races, which take place on the famous Royal Regatta course in Henley-on-Thames on Sunday, 24 March 2013.


Sir Matthew Pinsent will reprise his role as umpire of the races, where the top women’s, men’s lightweight and women’s lightweight crews from the two universities will race over a 2km course. Sir Matthew won two Boat Races during his time at Oxford, and went on to win four consecutive Olympic gold medals.


Sir Matthew said: “I am much looking forward to umpiring the Henley Boat Races again and know from first hand experience just how much racing for your University means. For all of those racing the event marks the end of a long period of training and preparation.


“It’s an exciting time for the Women’s Boat Clubs particularly, given the move to London in 2015. It’s high time that the phrase ‘The Boat Race’ means exactly the same to aspiring men or women alike.


“As for this year I’ll be hoping for good conditions and an opportunity for all the crews to row to their potential. Good luck to you all.”


Sarah Winckless will be providing commentary of the days racing. Winckless herself raced in a Boat Race during her time at Cambridge before taking bronze at Athens 2004. Cam FM will be assisting us in streaming this commentary live via our website, before the BBC begin presenting their coverage of the Rowing World Cup from the Henley Boat Races. Tom James, MBE, Cambridge University Boat Club President 2007, will end the day with the presentation of the prizes.


The openweight women’s clubs of Cambridge and Oxford Universities are continuing their sponsorship partnership with Newton Investment Management, a BNY Mellon company. The substantial sponsorship has improved the development of rowing at both clubs, reducing the cost for individuals. The partnership will also bring the Women’s Boat Race to the Thames in London from 2015, on the same day and the same course as the men’s race.


Newton Investment Management, the title sponsors of The Newton Women’s Boat Race, is led by CEO Helena Morrissey, who in 2010 was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Asset Management’. Morrissey set up the 30% Club, which aims at increasing the proportion of women in the boardrooms of the FTSE 100 to 30% within the next five years, but without using quotas.


A wide range of excellent food and drink will be provided by Tapenade catering, as well as Brakspear Brewing Company, the Official Beer of the Henley Boat Races. The Reading Spring Gardens Band will keep the crowds entertained between races, while the Balloon Fairies will be on hand to provide free entertainment for our younger supporters.


Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club President, Helena Schofield, said: “With just days left until the big day the CUWBC are into the final stages of preparation. We have had a great season so far, with solid results in sparring and racing, and training camps in Soustons, France and at Dorney Lake under our belts. This year has seen the start of historic changes for the Women’s Boat Race and I have been so impressed with how the squad has risen to the challenge, raising the bar for women’s rowing in Cambridge. As we move to Henley we have the drive and enthusiasm to make our last few sessions count, ready to give our all on the Henley Reach on the 24th.”


Her Oxford counterpart, Bridget Fryer, said: “After over 6 months of training on the water and in the gym the Oxford University Women’s Boat Club is ready and excited to face Cambridge at the 2013 Henley Boat Races. This year we have a mix of 5 returning Blues and some exciting new faces forming the Blue Boat and Osiris. The club has also welcomed the arrival of our new coaches Christine Wilson and Natasha Townsend who have set a high standard of rowing that the girls have successfully striven towards throughout the season. We are hugely grateful to our sponsors, Newton Investment Management, whose support over the last 2 years and in the years to come promises a bright future for the Women’s Boat Race.”


President of the Oxford University Lightweight Rowing Club, Benjamin Walpole, said: “Now in the final fortnight of our preparations, the pressure’s on to ensure we deliver the right result the weekend after next. Inevitably, the atmosphere is a bit tense, given this is what we’ve all been working towards for the last six months. It’s a good kind of pressure, though, stemming from our confidence in our own speed and the accompanying desire to demonstrate it.”


His counterpart at Cambridge, Simon Morris, said: “CULRC have been going from strength to strength this season with a strong core of returning athletes, including four-time crew member Chris Kerr, and some excellent new recruits. A productive training camp in Soustons, France set the squad up for a fantastic term involving plenty of excellent performances in fixtures and races. The crew have been getting quicker every session and we’re looking forward to showing our top-end pace on race day.”


The Henley Boat Races would like to thank event sponsors Invesco Perpetual and Brakspear Brewing Company.