The Putney embankment was awash with activity today as the build-up to The 2015 BNY Mellon Boat Races began in earnest.
After the excitement of the Henley Boat Races, where Cambridge won the men’s and women’s lightweight races by a combined margin of seven feet, the Monday of Tideway week saw attention return to the heavyweights and the prospect of the women’s university squads taking on the championship course for the first time.
As will be the case for the majority of the week, all four Blue Boats took to the water to train through the day. The crews were blessed with glorious spring sunshine and a calm Tideway, conditions which many will hope to see replicated on Saturday. Monday began with a smattering of seat changes within both women’s Blue Boats, full details of which can be found here. Meanwhile, in the Oxford Men’s Blue Boat, James O’Connor was omitted from training due to illness with James Mountain coming into the crew for the day.
The Oxford men were accompanied by a press launch for their lunchtime outing. The crew ran through a number of short pieces, including start practice beneath Putney Bridge. Television New Zealand were a noticeable presence on the launch as they filmed their feature piece on the O’Connor brothers, who are the first brothers to row in the same crew since the Winklevoss’s for Oxford in 2010. Siblings competing in The Boat Race has always garnered great interest from the press and public; the Livingstone brothers, who competed for Oxford and Cambridge in the 2003 races, immortalised their story in the book ‘Blood Over Water’.
Due to the historic nature of the racing this year, the women’s crews have gained much media attention and that continued this afternoon as interviews with the BBC were conducted. With the Race a mere five days away, the athletes display a veneer of focus and discipline whenever they are sighted outside the boathouses. It’s fair to say that this attitude is crucial when their every move is accompanied by the click of a camera.