Returning Blue Constantine Louloudis stroked the Great Britain Olympic VIII to a Bronze medal at London 2012. Today he sat in the stroke seat of the Oxford Blue Boat, behind him two more Olympians, President Malcolm Howard at 5 and at bow New Zealander Storm Uru. Opposite Louloudis, Will Satch stroke of the 2013 GB World Champion VIII and 2012 Bronze medallist in the Pair, behind him two more members of that World Champion Eight Alex Gregory at 6 and Pete Reed at 5, both also current Olympic champions from the coxless four.
Racing in a Leander crew made up entirely of current members of the GB squad including two more Olympians, Charlie Cousins and cox Phelan Hill who steered both the 2012 and 2013 eights, former Dark Blue Reed knows what it’s like to sit on start in Putney and weigh up his opposite number, in this case Canadian, Howard.
Oxford for their part had made one change since the crew announcement two weeks ago. Coach Sean Bowden had been hinting that the line-up was not entirely settled ever since their race against the German U23s, so it wasn’t a big surprise to learn that the successful Isis stroke of the past 3 seasons, lightweight Tom Watson has been brought in at 2.
Leander are plotting on taking back the Head of the River Race title next weekend from the Molesey crew who raced against Cambridge two weeks ago and so proving they are the fastest crew in the country. For them the fixture would be a good test of speed while for the Dark Blues the race promised to offer a much sterner test than the Germans, giving a good indication of the shape they’re in for The BNY Mellon Boat Race itself.
In bright but blustery conditions, Oxford on the Middlesex station moved away from the first stroke. Rating 44 strokes a minute, compared to Leander’s 41 the Dark Blues showed their power immediately. By the time they hit their rhythm at the Town Buoy rating 35 they had a lead of 1 length, by the end of the Fulham Wall it was 1 ¼.
Leander sat at 36 working hard but had no way back into the race. By the Mile Post the lead was 2 lengths and at Harrods Depository 2 ½. Satch in the Leander boat continued to try to find a way back, however Oxford could now choose which course to take on the river negating any advantage the men in pink may have had from the Surrey bend.
With the full force of the strong southwest wind kicking in Leander’s rate dropped to 33 while the Dark Blues held their form at 35 and continued to paddle away. At the finish at Chiswick Steps Oxford had a 3 length advantage and had never looked troubled by the much-vaunted Leander eight.
OUBC President Howard was pleased, though not carried away by the outcome, “I was happy with our performance out there. We’d made a crew change” he said, “so I’m pleased with the way we bedded in. We stuck to our race plan and did what we set out to do.”
This was Oxford’s final official fixture prior to The 2014 BNY Mellon Boat Race, which takes place on April 6th.
Full crew lists are as follows:
Bow: Storm Uru
2: Tom Watson
3: Karl Hudspith
4: Thomas Swartz
5: Malcolm Howard
6: Michael DiSanto
7: Sam O'Connor
Stroke: Constantine Louloudis
Cox: Laurence Harvey
Bow: Matt Gotrel
2: Dan Ritchie
3: Nick Middleton
4: Charles Cousins
5: Pete Reed
6: Alex Gregory
7: Al Sinclair
Stroke: Will Satch
Cox: Phelan Hill