Cambridge weigh in at a total of 591.6kgImran Marashli/Varsity

The Oxford and Cambridge crews for the 72nd Women’s Boat Race were revealed on Tuesday 14th March at the Francis Crick Institute in London, finalising the dramatis personae for the grand contest to be held on Sunday 2nd April. Presented by the BBC’s Andrew Cotter, the Boat Race Crew Announcement served as the main opportunity for the crews to face off before the race itself next month.

Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC), weighing in with a total of 591.6 kg (excluding the cox), enjoy a 31-kilogramme advantage over their Oxonian adversaries going into the race. Oxford University Women’s Boat Club (OUWBC), meanwhile, came in at a total of 560.4 kg.

Speaking with Cotter on stage, Oxford’s Chief Coach, Ali Williams, discussed the prospect of another keenly contested race on the Tideway. “There’s been a lot of changes within the staff, but we’ve been very fortunate that we’ve only been supported by other university teams, as well as world-class athletes in OUBC and OUWBC. It’s a very great race to be a part of, and it’s great that the women are sharing the same stage now with the men.”

For Cambridge, President Ashton Brown told Varsity about the women’s boat’s outlook for 2nd April. “We have a very loud and boisterous crew this year, and we have a lot of fun together. But we’re also very aware that every day is an opportunity to do something new and to move on, so we’re just working together to make as much out of the couple of weeks as possible, and enjoy it.”

The Canadian was also confident that last year’s defeat – which saw the women’s boat sink into the Thames during the race and lose by some 24 lengths – would not play on the minds of the crew. “There are only two women in the boat who were in the boat last year, and we’re focusing on this race – there’s no point dwelling on the past. Last year was an unfortunate loss, but I don’t think it changes our preparation in any way.”

The Fitzwilliam student enthused about the vital help provided by recent investment, particularly the recently completed £4.9 million boathouse, for the crew’s preparation. “The new boathouse is huge for us. We have a lot more space and capacity to make the most out of every training session. It’s also huge to be able to have meetings and the training sessions in a warm place, whereas before we’d go to a coffee shop or Sainsbury’s to try and warm up on the weekends!”

Cambridge have had a fantastic year, performing impressively at the British Rowing Senior Championships in Nottingham in October, with eight rowers qualifying in the top 10 of the GB Rowing Team Assessment in November, and taking the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race by storm on 11th March as the only club with two crews in the top 15.

In seeking to avenge past losses, therefore, Brown identified this momentum and form as Cambridge’s key assets: “I think that we have built on the momentum of the past few years, and every year we’ve made steps on, so there’s building momentum – both from returning members of the squad and from some powerful new members – that have added to the spirit and experience of the crew.”

Rob Baker, Cambridge’s Chief Coach, agreed with Brown, claiming that “this is the best crew we’ve ever had.” He said: “We’re definitely feeling confident and we’re pretty hungry to get faster all the time. They [the crew] want to be exceptionally good at what they do, so it’s never hard to push them to strive for that. There’s a really good vibe, we’ve had some good results, and that means the confidence comes a bit easier.

“You can’t make a crew out of nothing. You need good talent, and you need to hone that talent. If you haven’t done that in the previous six to seven months, then it’s not going to happen on the day. But the Boat Race is a volatile event,” he admitted, alluding to the treacherous conditions of the 2016 race, “so you need to be prepared for all different circumstances and all different sorts of conditions, as we saw last year.”

The Cantab finished his interview on an optimistic note, assessing how the Light Blue women are better equipped to triumph in 2017: “We have better rowers, better programmes, we have a different boat – there are lots of different pieces, and every year we try and refine those pieces further and further. It’s a very different boat to last year.”

The 2017 Cancer Research UK Boat Races will take place on Sunday 2nd April between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames, with the women’s race starting first, at 4.35pm, and the men’s race will follow with a 5.35pm start.

Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club:

Ashton Brown (bow), 82kg

Imogen Grant, 58.2 kg

Claire Lambe, 64.8 kg

Anna Dawson, 78.6 kg

Holly Hill, 75.1 kg

Alice White, 76.3 kg

Myriam Goudet, 79.5 kg

Melissa Wilson (stroke), 77.1 kg

Matthew Holland (cox), 52.3 kg

Oxford University Women’s Boat Club:

Florence Pickles (bow), 60kg

Alice Roberts, 67.5 kg

Rebecca Esselstein, 70.8 kg

Rebecca te Water Naudé, 67.2 kg

Harriet Austin, 76.5 kg

Chloe Laverack, 75.3 kg

Emily Cameron, 76 kg

Jenna Herbert (stroke), 67.1 kg

Eleanor Shearer (cox), 46.9 kg

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