Saturday, February 16, 2013
Who Let The Dawgs Out?
HTBS's Tim Koch reports from the Press Boat about the race between Cambridge and Washington on the Thames earlier today. Tim writes,
In the eagerly anticipated race between the University of Cambridge and the University of Washington held in two stages over the Putney to Mortlake course on today, 16 February, I was initially sure that honour would be satisfied on both sides for at least two reasons.
Firstly, the question of national pride was somewhat muddled. This was not a simple race between nine plucky Brits and equal number of sturdy Yanks. For a start, the Cambridge crew had more Americans rowing in it than did the Washington crew. As far as those pulling an oar goes, the Tabs had a Czech, two Australians, four Americans and a Brit (what was he doing there)? Two of their Americans, Ty Otto and Niles Garratt, rowed at UW. The Huskies had a New Zealander, a Brit, a Canadian, a Serb, an Australian and three Americans. This says a lot about the international nature of top level universities nowadays (though there is a very long tradition of non Brits rowing in Boat Race crews).
Secondly, I was sure that it would be a close fought and evenly matched race with either crew having the chance of a close victory. Here I was wrong. Washington were proven to be a far superior crew, even on the strange and unfamiliar waters of the Championship Course. Old Father Thames was very kind to the visitors and the benign conditions (no wind and a slack tide) took much of Cambridge's 'home advantage' away. The Huskie's cox, Lisa Cladwell, steered remarkably well on the strange river and did not seem intimidated by the occasion. She received more than her share of warnings from umpire Matthew Pinsent but I suspect she was simply an experienced steers seeing how far she could push the rules. Officially, U.W. won the first race (from the Boat Race start to Chiswick Steps) by two lengths but there was some confusion over the finish point so it should have been a greater margin of victory. The official verdict for the second race (from the half way point to the finish) was three lengths but it looked further than that to me. Washington were rarely under pressure in either race and almost certainly had more in reserve were it required. Their push from Barnes Bridge to the finish was very impressive. The Boat Race website gives a full race report.
I hope my photographs tell the same story though there is almost always a parallax error in these pictures.
It is interesting that Cambridge chose to race such an obviously powerful opponent and it is difficult to see what positives they can take from the experience. Former BBC sports reporter Marin Gough put a quote from the Light Blue's coach, Steve Trapmore, on Twitter:
Good to race under that pressure, good change after 1st piece, work to do but early days, selection not set in stone.
Of course, the Boat Race is to decide who is best out of Oxford and Cambridge and probably there is more that one university crew in the world that could beat either. However, I suspect that this fact is of little solace to Cambridge today.
Photographs © Tim Koch