Good afternoon and Happy Easter! I’m Alex Tyndall and for the next hour or so I’ll be giving live updates of this year’s Boat Race. By which I mean I’m watching the BBC coverage from my sitting room and writing about it. This page won’t auto-refresh so for the latest updates tap F5 or the refresh button on your browser.
To keep things interesting I’ll be offering a few debate topics up so to weigh in with your opinions tweet me at @attyndall with the hashtag #oxstuboatrace or drop a comment in the box at the bottom of the page.
OXFORD WIN THE 159TH BOAT RACE
17.00 Now they’re all busy deconstructing the result, I’m going to say a fond farewell. Thanks for joining me, and enjoy the rest of Easter. Now let’s go and get drunk on Pimm’s or whatever we’re supposed to do after winning.
16.59 Balding trying to talk to George Nash, losing team president. He doesn’t want to talk to her. He really doesn’t.
16.58 The Tabs have broken out a really very silly looking set of wellies for everyone. Wellies of shame? Maybe they’d have got a less silly set if they’d won.
16.55 Clare Balding looking bewildered. Lots of manly hugs. Geordie Macleod’s most cogent thought so far is “Paul is so tall!” In fairness he is quite tall.
16.54 Constantine Louloudis thanks his sister for her help this year. Oxford lads don’t look all that tired. But I suppose that’s what winning does.
16.52 the crowd can be heard singing “I’d rather be a leper than a Tab.” I think that’s what they’re going for. Maybe I wouldn’t go that far but you wouldn’t want to be in the Light Blue boat right about now. A good clean Boat Race, no drama, no funny business, no tragedy. A fair and square win for Oxford.
16.49 To quote Oskar Zorilla, “F**K YEAH!” A length and a half wins it for the Dark Blues in the end. Oxford made their push just after the Surrey bend and after that it was only going one way.
16.48 Oxford cox now seems to be sponsored by various energy drinks, he’s screaming about “RELENTLESS.” Whitewash for Oxford. We are the best university at rowing.
16.46 Getting to the business end of the race. Cambridge are looking a lot more wobbly in their boat. And they’re losing by a length and a bit. Surely it’s the clean sweep for the last race?
16.45 And Oxford have suddenly shafted Cambridge. Firmly in the driving seat and have neutralised any advantage from the Middlesex bend. COME ON BOYS. You know what? Journalistic integrity can go to hell, I’ll be heartbroken if Oxford lose. And it’s definitely Zorilla who’s got his swearing on, he’s described his crew as “f***ing tenacious.” I’m takng out all previous swearing references, I’ve got cold feet.
16.44 Oxford are still moving, but Cambridge are pulling back ground. I think. Oscar Zorilla just said something like “f**king sick”, which hasn’t gone down well with the commentators. Good lad, mate. Apologies if anyone is offended.
16.42 No sign of Trenton Oldfield copycats yet. Oxford apparently need to get clear here or they’re going to be psychologically up the creek.
16.41 I’d guess Oxford have half a length on Cambridge. Light blues not out of this by any stretch of the imagination.
16.38 Oxford haven’t pressed the advantage, or at least Cambridge have neutralised them. we’re getting into the Surrey bend now, where Oxford really have to get a shake on.
16.36 Six minutes gone. Nobody looks like they’re having fun. I can only imagine how massively awful they must feel by the end of this. I’m tired just watching.
16.35 Cambridge cox allegedly doing very well. He’s been rowing on the Tideway for 10 odd years. No doubt that is actually quite a useful skill. Looks like Oxford are pulling away a touch.
16.33 Boats are getting pretty close together. Stroke rate roughly the same. Cambridge are getting back, probably ten feet in it. I have no idea what I’m doing.
16.32 That said, Oxford have taken a stand and they’re off and running. about twenty feet ahead so far. Excuse me if I forget how to spell or use complete sentences.
16.31 We’re racing! Cambridge seem to have the better start. Crikey.
16.30 I’m actually nervous. Yes, that needs to be in bold.
16.29 sixty seconds. Here. We. Go.
16.27 Oxford have taken the Surrey station, getting the advantage of the big Surrey bend. If they haven’t broken away by the time the river starts to bend back again they’re shafted, though.
16.26 These montages for the rowers are ridiculous. And have you seen Steve Dudek’s hair?!
16.25 Five minutes. Ohhh, feel the pressure.
16.22 And Oxford have taken the Goldie and Isis race. Just one left and the clean sweep is coming to Oxford. As if you wanted to add any more pressure pomp or circumstance to this race.
16.19 the Beeb seem to be rating the Dark Blues for today’s race. Dare to disagree? GET INVOLVED. Tweet, comment, smoke signals, you choose. I’ll have updates on the Goldie and Isis results as they come in.
16.13 Out on the water at the moment, the Goldie and Isis boats (reserve crews in normal people English) are racing. In terms of other crews, I believe that Oxford are bossing the head-to-head this year, the lightweight men, lightweight women, women’s reserve and women’s Boat Race all going to the Dark Blues.
16.11 Obviously last year was dramatic for all sorts of reasons – protesters, broken blades and a bow rower passing out at the finish. Much as I’d love to have something as exciting as that to comment on, it’ll probably be more fun for everybody to see a full race to the end.
16.05 To get away from the banality of Louloudis and Nash walking off into the sunset holding hands, here’s a selection of my favourite famous-people Tweets about today’s race:
“Sadly Al-Qaeda won’t be blowing up the #boatrace as it’s almost impossible to get a watertight seal on a scuba mask with a big bushy beard.” – Frankie Boyle clearly not a fan.
Actually, scrap the selection, the majority of famous-people Tweets are about as entertaining as seeing Constantine Louloudis and George Nash’s mums. If only Trenton Oldfield had a Twitter feed…
16.00 Clare Balding seems as unconvinced about this whole Dino Golf thing as I am. Good on you, Clare. I can’t say I’m overwhelmingly surprised that they’ve run with George Nash and Constantine Louloudis being best mates because of the Olympics, the Times was all over this too. But to dedicate a segment of the build-up to this is just silly.
15.58 Bettany Hughes, historian. Talking about the mystic power of the Thames. If the Kraken comes out of the water and swallows the Cambridge boat, I’ll be convinced. Until then I’m pretty sure the Thames is the least important part of this race. But what the BBC have coming up seems dominated by filler material. I mean, playing Dino Golf as a run-up to the Race?
15.57 Time for some predictions, I think. Given their form and the extra punch they’re packing, I’m offering this one to Oxford. Although do read the caveats at the start of this blog to see the weight of expertise behind that call. That said, at the moment the BBC seem to be more preoccupied with history lessons. What have the Romans got to do with the Boat Race?
15.54 What can I tell you about the crews? Well, Oxford have a heavier crew by 6lbs per man. That’s the size of two roast chickens. Sort of. 8 of the past 11 meetings between these two boats has been won by the crew packing the bigger weight, so we assume that’s what Oxford are going for. Oxford have had the easier time in the run-up, their most notable scalp coming in the form of a boat featuring four German Olympic champions. It’s been a little shaky for Cambridge who had a worrying loss to the University of Washington’s boat, although more recently they’ve been heading back in the right direction.
Now, I don’t want to be a curmudgeon about this but I can’t shake the feeling that this is all a little bit cheating. There are only two undergraduates in the entire race and the oldest rower has ten years on me. What do you think? Has the Boat Race become so competitive that it’s lost its connection to the universities, or are you all in favour of the boat clubs importing whoever they can to find an advantage? GET INVOLVED, people.
Meet the Crews (aka. The sixteen people with whom you least want to start a fight) Returning Blues in italics, Olympians underlined
2 seat Geordie Macleod, Christ Church – 6ft2, 13st10
Bow Patrick Close, Pembroke – 6ft2, 14st2
Cox Henry Fieldman, Homerton – 5ft4, 8st8
Stroke Niles Garratt, Hughes Hall – 6ft4, 13st8
7 seat Alexander Scharp, St Edmund’s – 6ft6, 14st9
6 seat Steve Dudek, St Edmund’s – 6ft8, 16st
5 seat George Nash, St Catharine’s – 6ft4, 14st3
4 seat Ty Otto, Hughes Hall – 6ft7, 14st4
3 seat Alex Fleming, Pembroke – 6ft5, 15st5
2 seat Milan Bruncvik, Peterhouse – 6ft1, 13st
Bow Grant Wilson, Pembroke – 6ft3, 14st2
I’d better get the worst admission out of the way first; the sum of my own rowing experience was solo sculls aged thirteen, my career tragically cut short when I fell out of a whiff into the river Cam in sub-zero temperatures. Needless to say I never went near a blade again. So, in-depth tactical knowledge of what the hell is going on may be thin on the ground. I’ll be trying to substitute it with witty remarks but you will be the judges of my success.
We’ll begin with a quick history lesson for the very few people with less expertise than me. Today is the 159th Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, the first having been held in 1829. History is on the side of the Light Blues, who have won 81 encounters to Oxford’s 76. There has only been one dead heat, in 1877. I assume there’s enough technology on our side today to ensure that doesn’t happen.
The race will run between Putney Bridge and Chiswick bridge, a course just over four miles long which takes in two bends in the river, the Surrey bend and the Middlesex bend (can you tell I’m relying upon the official website yet?) The record time was set in 1998, 16 minutes and 19 seconds by the Cambridge boat.