Jasper celebrates with his crewAllMarkOne

“I was a pretty lazy kid, still am”, are not the words you expect to come out the mouth of any Blues athlete, never mind a rower. Jasper Parish is not your average Blue though. Few coxes would have made the decision to change line for cleaner water by Craven Cottage, but fewer still have two Boat Race victories (one with the women and one with the men) at the age of 19. The son of an Olympic standard rower, and a cox, and with older brother Ollie also in the Blue Boat, rowing is in his blood. Too skinny to make playing Rugby a pleasurable experience, he started rowing “at school at St Paul’s in London which is on the Boat Race Course at about 13". He started coxing and says it simply “worked out very well for me, I mean I’ve loved it ever since”.

Parish’s love of rowing is matched by his love for his teammates. He says that Boat Race preparations mean that “you sort of connect with people on a different level” which means you “have friendships which last a long time”. One of these friendships is with his brother Ollie, who Jasper says “it’s been really fun” to row with. However, he argues that media focus on the brothers has overhyped the situation: “When we’re in the boat, we’re just two guys in the boat” although he concedes that their relationship means that there’s “maybe a bit of extra communication ability, maybe it’s a bit quicker”. The bond between the crew is strengthened by the fact that they live together in the week before the race. Parish says that in the week before the race, ‘everyone’s quite excited’, but that “race day is a crazy day”.

“Last year I was very nervous,” he says, “this year was a little bit different. I felt a lot more relaxed. Maybe it was having done it before but I felt a little bit better about it and that little bit of extra calmness helps quite a lot especially in the coxing seat because I can sort of offload that to the crew a little bit”. However, this calm was interrupted by a rudder issue just before the race. The discovery of the issue was “not good at all” as problems with the boat at that stage are a crew’s worse nightmare. Thankfully, the problem was “just caused by some of the BBC people [who] had put a bunch of crap in the stern of the boat” and there was nothing seriously wrong.


Mountain View

Cambridge men complete clean sweep

The race started without a hitch and it was very even in the opening stages, until the Cambridge boat dramatically changed line in search of clear water, gaining a crucial length on Oxford in the process. I ask Parish if he knew that the move was critical when he made it: “When we first got to the end of the line of boats, which is about a minute and a half in, and we saw the waves really picking up, that’s when it first maybe came into my head that we should move over.”

“I start to make the move maybe just under two minutes in and then in the next 30 seconds basically I’m just looking over every other stroke and we’re like taking a seat, a seat, a seat and then when we came out the bend I’m a bit more confident”. He was right to be, Cambridge took a length on Oxford and never gave it up.

I was interested in the psychology of coxing and what calls a cox uses to motivate and intimidate their crew in equal measure. This is dependent “not only on the kind of race but also where you are in the race” and is “always a balance, always difficult”.

Coxes were important in both Blue Boat races this year, and with adulation of his recording prevalent on Rowbridge (for our readers not acquainted with this page “JP you can do whatever you want with me” is an indicative comment), does he think he’s made coxing cool again? “I hope so because it is really cool ... Coxing is a role which people often underestimate because you can make a big difference and often do. The best crews have great coxes and people often forget that”.

As we come to the end of our interview, I ask him what his plans for the rest of this season are. Undecided on whether to race at Henley, he says “I might do Bumps” which will strike fear into all of Clare’s rivals come June.